Gluten-Free Pastry Cream

Yes, you can use vanilla instant pudding to fill your homemade éclairs, trifles, and cream pie. But once you take the extra time to make your own rich, flavorful homemade pastry cream, you'll never want to resort to boxed pudding mix again!

We know you’ll love this gluten-free version of our Pastry Cream recipe, a long-time favorite here on our site. Substituting Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the flour in that original yields a luscious, velvety custard that's ideal for filling gluten-free cream puffs or other gluten-free pastries. Enjoy!

Prep
20 mins
Total
45 mins
Yield
3 cups; 5 cups with the optional whipped cream
Gluten-Free Pastry Cream - select to zoom
Gluten-Free Pastry Cream - select to zoom
Gluten-Free Pastry Cream - select to zoom

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups (568g) of the milk, the sugar, salt, and the vanilla bean. (If you're using vanilla extract, add it at the end.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup (113g) milk.

  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk.

  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens; its temperature should reach 165°F. This is important: if the pastry cream doesn't reach 165°F on the stovetop it won't set properly as it cools, and may be soft and runny.

  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine strainer into a bowl set in an ice water bath. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract (if you're using it). If you're going to flavor the pastry cream with chocolate or some other flavor, this is the time to do it (see variations below).

  6. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from developing (make sure it touches the top of the cream), then refrigerate until cool.

  7. Use chilled pastry cream as is for a sliceable cream pie or stiff filling for éclairs. Fold in the optional whipped cream, just before using, for a softer filling.

  8. Pastry cream will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. After that it may start to weep.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you've never made pastry cream before, be sure to set up a bowl with a strainer over an ice water bath to chill before you begin. Once the pastry cream comes to a full boil it's important to stop the cooking immediately, or it can curdle and separate. Taking the cream off the stove and straining it into the chilled bowl can make the difference between silky pastry cream and a sad (weepy) result.

  • Butterscotch Pastry Cream: Add 1/4 teaspoon butter-rum flavor and/or 1 cup (170g) butterscotch chips to the pastry cream after straining, stirring until the chips have melted.

    Caramel Pastry Cream: Add 3/4 cup chopped caramel (213g, or 21 to 23 unwrapped individual caramels) to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth.

    Chocolate Pastry Cream: Add 1 cup (170g) chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth.

    Hazelnut Pastry Cream: Omit the butter and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (149g). Add 3/4 cup (234g) praline paste to the hot, strained pastry cream, stirring until combined.

    Orange Pastry Cream: Increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (149g). Add 1 teaspoon orange extract, 1/4 teaspoon orange oil, or 3 tablespoons grated orange zest to the hot, strained pastry cream.

    Peanut Butter Pastry Cream: Add 3/4 cup (203g) smooth peanut butter to the hot pastry cream, stirring until melted and the mixture is smooth. If you're using natural or freshly-made peanut butter, omit the butter from the recipe to prevent the pastry cream from becoming greasy.

    Pistachio Pastry Cream: Omit the butter and increase the sugar to 3/4 cup (149g). Add 3/4 cup (234g) pistachio paste or blanched puréed pistachio nutmeats.