Also commonly referred to as "English cream", Crème Anglaise is a classic vanilla custard sauce and popular French dessert. Made with just egg, milk, sugar, and vanilla, this delicious and easy-to-make French cream is the perfect complement to your desserts whether you pour it, drizzle it or drink it on its own!
The best part is that Creme Anglaise takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. You won't have to wait long before satisfying your sweet tooth with this vanilla-flavored delight!
- 📖 What is Crème Anglaise
- 📚 What is Crème Anglaise used for
- 💡 What is the difference between Crème Anglaise and Custard
- 🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- 📝 Ingredient notes
- 👩🍳 How to make this recipe
- 📚 Flavor variations
- 🥣 Equipment Notes
- 🎓 Expert tips
- ❓Recipe FAQs
- 🍰 Recipes using Crème Anglaise
- 🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
- Crème Anglaise (VIDEO)
📖 What is Crème Anglaise
Creme Anglaise is a sweet, light, vanilla-flavored French custard that translates directly to mean "English cream." However, this delicious cream has several names, including "English custard," "custard sauce," crème française ("French cream"), or simply "Anglaise."
Using just four staple ingredients (egg, milk, sugar, and vanilla) this cream can be made in no time and is a super simple dessert recipe even for beginners! Creme Anglaise is often a pouring sauce for pastries, bread pudding, tarts, and ice cream.
Although very similar to crème pâtissière, you shouldn't confuse the two. Creme Anglaise is notably thinner and best used for drizzling and pouring versus used as a filling cream.
📚 What is Crème Anglaise used for
One of the best things about Creme Anglaise is that it is very versatile. You can use it as pouring or drizzling custard to add a burst of vanilla flavor to fruits, desserts, pancakes, pies or pastries. Or, you can even thicken it and use it for other delectable cream fillings and frostings such as Chocolate Cremeux.
Another common way to use Creme Anglaise is to make Bavarian cream filling out of it by adding gelatin into the sauce and then folding whipped cream into it.
Because of its lightness, it isn't uncommon to see Creme Anglaise eaten as a dessert on its own. For example, the Floating Island is a classic French dessert with Creme Anglaise as a base topped with poached meringue. In fact, it is one of my childhood favorites!
In some places, it is even served as a drinking custard. Instead of serving eggnog over the holidays, give your guests a sweet treat with a glass of Creme Anglaise!
💡 What is the difference between Crème Anglaise and Custard
When it comes down to comparing the structure of Crème Anglaise vs Custard (the "proper" English custard) you'll find that Creme Anglaise is lighter and more refined. On the other hand, proper custard tends to be thicker. However, you can use the two names interchangeably and it will not have much difference, other than the fact that Creme Anglaise sounds much fancier!
🌟 Why this is the best recipe
- It doesn't take too much time - My recipe is quick to make, only taking 5 minutes to prepare the ingredients and another 5 minutes to cook it. You'll be enjoying your delicious Creme Anglaise sauce in no time!
- It is easy to make - My recipe doesn't require any special equipment and uses just four staple ingredients that are likely already in your kitchen. It is also very straightforward and easy to understand, so even beginners can try it
- It is super delicious - In all of my recipes, I use only the highest quality ingredients to give the most natural taste and the best overall result. You and your guests will be craving more as soon as it is gone!
- It is versatile - In addition to the base recipe, I provide you with some flavor variations as well as other dessert recommendations to try.
- It is foolproof - If you follow this easy Creme Anglaise recipe step-by-step, you'll learn how to make the perfect cream as well as how to prevent and correct the most common mistakes.
📝 Ingredient notes
- Whole Milk - Milk with high-fat content is a must to give the best results. For this recipe, I recommend using milk with 3% fat. The milk will be heated so it is not crucial to start with room temperature milk
- Granulated sugar - Regular white sugar is all you need for this recipe. Be sure to check out my sugar guide for the different types of sugars and how to use them.
- Egg yolk - You will need the yolk only. Roughly three eggs should do the trick to give you the proper amount. However, you may wish to slightly increase the amount of yolk if you want a thicker cream. For best results, the yolk should be at room temperature. Wondering what to do with leftover egg white? Why not try macaron recipe or pavlova recipe
- Vanilla Bean Paste - Pure vanilla is the key to making a delicious, intensely flavored vanilla Creme Anglaise. I personally love to make my own vanilla extract. Alternatively use vanilla sugar.
- Corn Starch (Optional) - Traditionally the cream does not contain corn starch, however, if you want it thicker, sorn starch can be used as a thickening agent versus using extra egg yolk.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. Step-by-step process
- Add the sugar, egg yolk and vanilla into a large bowl. Using a hand whisk, whisk the two ingredients together for a minute or two until it is slightly fluffy.
- Next, add the milk to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Make sure that you only simmer the milk and do not bring it to a boil!
- After you bring the milk to a simmer, slowly pour it over the egg yolk mixture in the bowl. As you pour, vigorously whisk it with your hand to temper the egg yolks effectively. It is important that you are whisking constantly. If you notice that the egg yolks start to cook, it means that the milk is too hot (a result of bringing it to a boil versus a simmer)!
- Pour the milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook it over medium heat, continuously stirring until it reaches 82C / 180F. The cream should thicken as you stir it.
- Remove the cream from the stove as soon as it reaches the correct temperature. Do not cook it any longer!
- Enjoy the cream as desired and place leftovers in the fridge for up to three days.
Plase note that the temperature is super important in case of cooking this cream as the eggs will curdle above 82C / 180F. Without measuring it, you can try to following: Once the cream can coat a spoon when dipped and not rejoin when you run a finger down the middle, you can consider it done.
💡 Top Tip: For a thicker cream, you can either increase the amount of egg yolk in the recipe or add cornstarch as I do in my pastry cream recipe.
📚 Flavor variations
While it isn't particularly common to flavor Creme Anglaise, you can use other spices such as cinnamon or cardamom in place of the vanilla.
A delicious cinnamon-spiced cream would be perfect for the Fall or for the holidays! Cook the milk and cinnamon stick together (just hot enough for the sugar to melt) prior to adding the egg mixture.
When adding flavors to a cream, I always recommend using a powdered flavoring agent. Doing so won't just save you time but also give you the best consistency and overall result. Liquid-based flavoring agents increase the amount of moisture in the cream, making it thin or even runny. However, if a liquid flavoring agent is all you have access to, add it gradually in small amounts.
🥣 Equipment Notes
Use a digital scale instead of measuring cups to get the most accurate measurement of your ingredients. Baking is a science; even the smallest difference in measurements can significantly affect the outcome.
You'll need a hand whisk to mix and fluff the sugar and egg yolk mixture thoroughly. It is also a critical tool when tempering the egg yolks.
A digital thermometer will come in handy when cooking the cream. If overcooked beyond the indicated temperature, the cream could curdle. The last thing you want is scrambled eggs in your recipe because it was too hot!
Use a rubber spatula to stir the Creme Anglaise as it cooks to prevent air bubbles from forming. You can also use the spatula to help spread the creme over your favorite pastries.
🎓 Expert tips
- Start your recipe with room-temperature eggs for the best results
- When cooking the sugar and egg yolk mixture with the warm milk, use a digital thermometer to ensure that the temperature doesn't exceed 82C / 180F. Otherwise, the egg will curdle!
- If using corn starch for thickening (versus using more egg yolk), use a sifter and whisk it well with the egg yolk sugar mixture until you achieve a smooth paste. Doing so helps to avoid lumps from ending up in your cream.
- If you want your cream to taste richer, substitute half of the milk with a 36% fat heavy cream.
- Use fresh farm eggs to achieve a bright yellow color cream. The cheaper supermarket eggs will give a pale cream color.
- Unless you want scrambled eggs, it is critical that you ONLY bring the milk to a simmer. You want the temperature just hot enough to temper the egg yolk). Remove it from the stove as soon as it starts to simmer.
- Until you become a pro at pouring and whisking the mixture simultaneously, it helps to place the bowl on a kitchen towel. This prevents it from slipping and ending up on the floor!
If your Creme Anglaise is not as thick as you'd expected, it is likely because you did not cook the cream mixture long enough after pouring it back into the saucepan. You should stir the mixture constantly as it cooks and until it reaches the appropriate temperature. The cream will also naturally thicken as it starts to cool, so you may not have let it cool down enough to achieve the desired level of thickness.
To increase the thickness of the cream, you can immediately chill it over ice once it is done cooking. You can also thickens the consistency of the cream from the beginning by either increasing the amount of egg yolk in the recipe or by adding corn starch (please refer to my pastry cream recipe for how to properly do so).
Once the cream can coat a spoon when dipped and not rejoin when you run a finger down the middle, you can consider it done.
Curdling can occur when your egg yolk starts to cook, a result of cooking the cream at a higher temperature than it should be or cooking it longer than it should be. It is imperative that you do not boil the mixture and that you remove it from the stove as soon as it reaches the indicated temperature.
If you do notice that your Crème Anglaise is starting to curdle, don't worry, all isn't lost! Immediately pour the cream into a bowl and use a handheld blender (immersion blender) to pulse out the lumps until smooth. Then, use a fine mesh strainer to strain out any remaining lumps.
Place the cream it into a clean bowl or container, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it. If you plan to store it for longer, you can place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Since Crème Anglaise is a liquid, it will freeze pretty quickly. However, I don't recommend doing it unless absolutely necessary since freezing can cause a change in the texture of the cream once thawed.
Some recipes will say that you can simply re-whip and restore it to its regular consistency, but if you want the best quality Crème Anglaise, my advice is to keep it out of the freezer!
Crème Anglaise will last up to three days in the refrigerator when adequately stored and placed in an airtight container. Some recipes say that you can keep the creme for up to 5-7 days, but I recommend using it sooner to preserve the best quality and taste.
If you're hoping to set some Crème Anglaise aside to use in another recipe later, you're in luck! When covered well, the creme will last in the fridge for 2-3 days (the sooner you use it, the better).
The only restriction Creme Anglaise has on serving temperature is your personal taste! Creme Anglaise is very versatile and can be served either hot or cold. You can serve it right out of the fridge if you choose to have it cold. Or, if you want to serve it hot, you can use it immediately after you're done preparing the recipe.
To reheat, pour the creme into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it reaches the desired temperature. It is crucial that you do NOT bring it to a boil.
Although similar in flavor and color, Creme Anglaise is notably thinner and silkier than its creme patissiere counterpart. Creme Anglaise is best for drizzling and pouring vs. Creme Patissiere which is used to fill pastries and tarts.
Yes, Creme Anglaise is absolutely gluten-free! This recipe only calls for four ingredients: Milk, egg, sugar, and vanilla.
🍰 Recipes using Crème Anglaise
You can use Creme Anglaise in a variety of ways. You can pour it over fruits, pies and pastries, or even drink it on its own like you would an egg nog! However, there are also several other recipes where this delicious French cream comes into play. Here are a couple of my personal favorite Creme Anglaise recipes:
Chocolate Cremeux: This dessert is made by pouring Creme Anglaise over chocolate and letting it sit in the fridge for a bit. The result is a creamy chocolate frosting perfect for toppings, cake fillings, or piping!
Floating Island Dessert: This classic French dessert is one of my childhood favorites, made by topping Creme Anglaise with poached meringue (a combination of egg white and sugar). The meringue on top makes it look like a floating island!
🧁 More frosting and filling recipes
Crème Anglaise (VIDEO)
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- In a large enough bowl, with the help of a Hand whisk, whisk together sugar, egg yolk and the vanilla until slightly fluffy for about 1-2 minutes.
- Bring milk to simmering in a saucepan on medium heat. Make sure it is simmering but not boiling.
- Pour the warm milk mixture over the egg yolk mixture slowly while whisking vigorously with a Hand whisk. This stage is effectively tempering the egg yolks.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat until temperature reached 82C / 180F.
- Remove the cream from the stove as soon as cream reaches the desired temperature. Do not cook it further as the mixture will curdle.
- Use the cream according to the recipe. Any leftover can be refrigerated for 2-3 days.
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy.
- High fat content milk pure vanilla are the heart of making Crème Anglaise.
- For an even richer taste, substitute half of the milk with heavy cream (36%).
- Fresh, farm eggs will provide bright yellow color cream, while cheaper supermarket eggs will result in a pale cream.
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking.
- Do not heat the mixture further than 82C / 180F as the egg will curdle.
- If you want a thicker sauce, increase the egg yolk in the recipe or use corn starch as my pastry cream recipe.