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lactose-free pastry cream in pan showing vanilla bean seeds and faint whisk marks, with whisk

Lactose-Free Pastry Cream

Classic pastry cream is made with lactose-laden milk and or cream and very often fructan-rich flour as well. Our version is low FODMAP and just as delicious and versatile.

Low FODMAP Serving Size Info: Makes about 2 cups (480 ml); serving size 1/2 cup (120 ml)

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, French
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Calories: 268 kcal
Author: Dédé Wilson


  • 2 cups (480 ml) lactose-free whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (see Tips)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (99 g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces


  1. Put the milk in a medium saucepan and scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Add the vanilla bean pod to the pot as well. Whisk well to break up the seeds. Just bring to a boil over medium heat, remove from the heat, and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Discard the bean pod.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heatproof bowl until very smooth.
  3. Drizzle about one-quarter of the warm milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining warm milk and whisk to combine. Immediately pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over low-medium heat until it begins to simmer and bubbles appear around the edge. Cook, whisking constantly to prevent scorching, for about 1 minute. The pastry cream should be thick enough to see whisk marks, but still satiny smooth and fluid. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  4. Proceed as called for in individual recipes or cool and refrigerate until needed. See Tips below; stir the pastry cream a couple of times as it cools down to dissipate heat. When almost at room temperature, scrape into an airtight container, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface, snap on the cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.


  • If you would like to use vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, simply whisk 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into the pastry cream along with the butter.
  • Pastry cream is very perishable. By stirring occasionally while cooling to release the heat, you will cool it down most effectively, and you will be able to get it into the refrigerator more quickly. However, the firmness of the pastry cream is setting up during cooling as well, so stir very gently. My approach is to make one gentle rotation of a wooden spoon or spatula a couple of times during cooling, nothing more. If you are immediately scraping it into a tart shell as in our Strawberry Rose Tart, it will cool very quickly as the layer is so thin.

If You Can Tolerat

  • Lactose: If you have passed the Lactose challenge, feel free to use conventional whole milk instead of the lactose-free.
Nutrition Facts
Lactose-Free Pastry Cream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 268 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 105mg35%
Sodium 41mg2%
Potassium 39mg1%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Sugar 36g40%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 155IU3%
Calcium 16mg2%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.