Surprisingly Perfect Substitutes for Custard Powder

If you’re like me, you will love the taste of custard desserts. It can be the perfect finish to a full course dinner with its varying available tastes.

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Now that we have online shopping opportunities, it’s easier to find some of the more obscure ingredients, such as custard powder. However, if you’re making a recipe right now and don’t have custard powder in the house, you might find yourself in a bind. The good news is that we have tons of options you can use instead. One of the easiest alternatives for custard powder is a simple pudding mix. Most of us can easily find pudding mixes, and they’re perfect for using if you have a recipe that calls for custard powder. Other options are tapioca pudding, cornstarch, and even baking soda.

These delicious custard desserts will typically be made with custard powder. This is a starch that is colored and available with various fruit flavors as well as vanilla and chocolate.

So, how does the custard’s texture change from powder? This is when a hot liquid is added to give it that unique custard feel. Custard is not for everyone though.

It has a specific, starch-like aftertaste that isn’t to everyone’s liking. Here in the US, it can be quite hard to find custard powder. That is one of the reasons why the use of custard substitutes have become more popular in the last few years.

A growing number of people are also allergic to its ingredients making it impossible to consume. Due to some of these ingredients, some choose not to eat custard powder out of personal preference and beliefs.

That said, custard is still a very popular dessert accompanying different fruits and acting as ice cream toppings.

If you can’t eat custard powder and have run out, we will discuss several alternatives to act as the perfect substitute for your dessert or snack.

What is custard powder?

Custard powder is made up of a combination of milk, sugar, and egg yolk. As well as a topping on many desserts, it also acts as a tasty base for many savory recipes.

Commercial custard powder found in grocery stores is made with cornflour, riboflavin, normal salt, and different flavors.

Many believe that the powder is made from the dried remnants of these ingredients. This is not true, however, as it is made from varying substances that have been powdered afterward, then flavored, with the addition of artificial colors.

The Substitutes for Custard Powder

Pudding Mix

A great alternative for custard powder is instant vanilla pudding mix. This can be done by adding the same amount of pudding mix as the original powder amount.

This is perfect for puddings, baked goods, different fillings, and varying sauces. You can also substitute chocolate pudding or plain pudding mix in equal measures to vanilla custard powder for a superb result.

Pastry Cream

You can use pastry cream instead of custard powder with great effect. Pastry cream is made from eggs, milk, sugar, and cornstarch.

It is recommended you use a homemade pastry cream in place of vanilla custard powder if you are making fillings or puddings.

You may be wondering how to get that vanilla taste with pastry cream. This is easy! You can use vanilla extract or real vanilla beans and incorporate them into the pastry cream.

Then cook on a stove and leave it cool. The vanilla flavor will come bursting out!


Custard powder actually contains a lot of cornstarch. Therefore, it is no surprise that cornstarch can be used as an effective substitute.

You can make starchy thickener in your very own home. Simply measure the same amount of cornstarch as custard powder and then add a sufficient amount of vanilla extract for the best taste.

Cornstarch is best used for making cakes, sauces, puddings, and various desserts.

Tapioca Pudding

This has a similar consistency to cornstarch. Its silky texture helps it become a natural thickener and an ideal alternative for custard powder.

If you need an alternative for making cakes, fillings, and baked goods, tapioca pudding will have your back!

Again, use equal measures of tapioca pudding to custard powder and an adequate amount of vanilla extract to boost the taste.

Many people confuse tapioca pudding with tapioca pearls. Tapioca pearls are actually used to make tapioca pudding and need to be soaked before use so don’t go substituting the pearls for the powder!

Water Chestnut

This is a popular choice amongst bakers around the world. This is done by using water chestnut, water chestnut flour, water, and castor sugar.

By making a batter and adding it to some boiling water, the custard can come to life.

Once the water has boiled and cooled, you will be left with a softish batter which is perfect for desserts like cakes or ice creams.

Baking Soda

This is a lesser-known method but you can use baking soda as an adequate substitute. This is made from sugar crystals.

With equal parts to custard powder, baking soda will do a good job.

Cornstarch combined with Cornflour

A fascinating alternative is the combination of cornstarch and cornflour.

Along with vanilla essence, or other types of flavors like annatto or curcumin, sugar, and milk these can be ground up and used for most standard dessert recipes.

Milk and Eggs

Another alternative could be to make custard from scratch. This will take more time but the ingredients are pretty simple and you most likely have them in your kitchen already.

All you need are 3 cups of cold milk, 4 large eggs, ½ a cup of sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

You start by preheating the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and then add the 3 cups of cold milk to the saucepan, heating to just below boiling. Then, remove the pan and allow it to cool for about five minutes.

Now, you need to beat the remaining ingredients together until they are fully combined. Then, whisk this with the warm milk into the eggs.

Pour hot water into six 6-ounce custard cups until the water is around half an inch from the cup’s top.

Divide the mix evenly and bake for 25 minutes. After cooling for 10 minutes, you should be ready to serve!

Substitutes for Custard Powder – Frequently Asked Questions

Custard powder is not, as the name suggests, desiccated custard that has been ground to a fine powder. Instead, it is a mixture consisting primarily of corn starch, colorings, and flavorings. It is combined with milk and warmed until the consistency begins to thicken and you have made a relatively instant custard.

Many people opt to use custard powder because they do not have the time, skills, or ingredients to make a traditional custard. The original custard powder was created by a man called Arthur Bird in the 1840s as his wife was allergic to the ingredients in traditional custard.

Can I use flour instead of custard powder?

Many people will substitute cornstarch for custard powder as it serves an almost identical purpose. To achieve the same result as using custard powder, you will need to combine corn starch with vanilla extract and salt.

For each tablespoon of custard powder required by your recipe, substitute 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt.

What does custard powder do in baking?

As we mentioned, the primary component of custard powder is corn starch. This is used as a thickening agent for liquids and can be used for fillings in baked goods.

A common use of this is custard tarts, custard donuts, and fruit tarts. It can also be used as a quick alternative to a traditional creme anglaise or vanilla sauce.

You can also use custard powder as an ingredient in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. Adding this powder into your batter before baking helps to give the final product a custard taste.

If your custard powder is colored, the inclusion of it when baking can give your food a slight yellow hue.

Aside from this, you can use custard powder to create an easy custard to pour over the top of your baked goods.

How can I thicken custard without custard powder?

To thicken a liquid custard, you can use corn starch. To add it into a liquid you should not just pour in the dry powder. You will need to create what is known as a slurry.

Combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of water and mix to create a paste. Add little by little into your custard, whisking constantly over heat until the custard thickens.

Another good thickening agent is arrowroot. This is also a powdered substance and again you will need to create a slurry with cold water or milk.

Once you have made a smooth and glossy slurry, pour this into the custard and whisk over heat until you reach the desired consistency.

How do you make custard powder with cornstarch?

To make custard powder at home, all you will need are 3 simple store cupboard ingredients and an optional 4th. These are powdered milk, corn starch, vanilla sugar, and powdered yellow food coloring. The last is the optional inclusion if you are looking for the traditional custard color.

If you cannot find vanilla sugar, it is simple to make yourself. All that you need to do is to blend vanilla bean seeds and granulated sugar in a high-powered blender.

If you can’t get hold of vanilla beans, extract will work too but be aware that this could form some small lumps.

Combine the ingredients in a food processor and blend for 10 seconds before transferring to an airtight container for storage. You will need 1 cup of powdered milk, ½ cup corn starch, 1 ½ tablespoons of vanilla sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of powdered food coloring.

To make this into custard, you will need ½ cup custard powder for every 2 cups of liquid milk. You can add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to taste. Make the custard over heat as you would with store-bought powder.

In Summary

There are so many substitutes for custard powder!

Nevertheless, the most recommended alternative is cornstarch because it turns out very similar to how custard powder does and is the main ingredient of the powder itself.

It is worth noting that whatever powder substitute you use, it will be hard to recreate the unique taste and texture of the original custard recipe.

Substitutes for Custard Powder

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 4 mins
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 177 kcal


  • Pudding Mix
  • Pastry Cream
  • Cornstarch
  • Tapioca Pudding
  • Water Chestnut
  • Baking Soda
  • Cornstarch combined with Cornflour
  • Milk and Eggs


  • Try our kitchen tested custard powder substitutes.


Select your option.
Use in or with your favorite recipe.


Calories: 177kcal
Keyword custard powder substitutes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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