Crème anglaise

This is essentially a creamy vanilla egg custard. It is probably one of the most popular dessert sauces, and it can be a dessert on its own.


2 c milk (full fat milk)
1 pce vanilla (on pod, split lenghways)
4 oz sugar


  1. Scald milk with vanilla pod and set aside to infuse for a few minutes.
  2. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, and whip until thick and creamy.
  3. Slowly, pour warm infused milk over the egg and sugar mixture, stirring continously.
  4. Set the custard mixture over simmering water and heat slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
  5. Remove the custard from the heat, strain through a fine sieve.
  6. Serve warm, as dessert sauce. Or allow to cool to serve as dessert or cold sauce.
Total time
45 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
3 cup


If you don't have it, substitute the vanilla pod with 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir vanilla extract into the finished sauce prior to straining.

Place a whole cookie, cookie crumbs, biscotti, a piece of cake, jam, or fruit salad at the bottom of 4 individual ramekins, distribute the custard among them, leave to cool. Dessert!

For a richer crème anglaise, use a mixture of milk and heavy or whipping cream. Use 2 parts cream and 3 parts full fat milk.


Chocolate crème anglaise - Melt 3 ounces sweet chocolate, stir into warm crème anaglaise after straining. Alternatively, add cocoa powder to the milk.

Coffee crème anglaise - Add 3 tablespoons espresso coffee to the finished sauce. You can also add 2 teaspoons instant coffe powder to the milk.

Lemon crème anglaise - Susbstitute vanilla pod with 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, better blanched, and proceed as per the normal recipe.

Spiced crème anglaise - Substitute vanilla pod with 1 teaspoon ground spice such as allspice, clove, star anise; a stick of cinnamon; or half a teaspoon saffron strands.

Natillas de huevo - For this classic Spanish dessert, follow the recipe for crème anglaise, substituting the vanilla pod with 1 stick cinnamon, without the white pith. Pour into individual containers, with or without a biscuit at the bottom, and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. Lleave to cool and then chill for 1-2 hours before serving. Natillas can be served warm, especially in winter, but they are chilled more often than not.

Brandy sauce - Add 2 tablespoons brandy to the finished sauce. Serve brandy sauce with Christmas puddings.

Other spirits or wines can be added to the custard instead of brandy, making many spirited variations. A tea crème anglaise can be prepared Infusing 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea into the milk - try a sweet tea such as Earl Grey or Jasmine. Infusing lemon verbain into the milk instead of vanilla will produce a subtle lemon custard.


British cuisine

Preparation time given includes 15 minutes infusion time.

It is fine if the tiny vanilla seeds spread into the custard.

challenging, simmer
sauces, sweet, dessert
English food recipes
Food in Europe