I have always loved a good egg custard. Maybe because it reminds me of eggnog in solid form (anyone else think eggnog should be a year round thing, or is that just me?), or it could be the wave of nostalgia that washes over me with the first bite. Subtly sweet and oh-so silky, it’s the perfect treat.
Wherever it is that my love of custard stems from, there’s only been one real problem: I never have much luck making it myself. I’ve either undercooked or curdled more batches of custard than I care to admit. My mother and grandmother always made it look so easy, and on paper it is easy. I decided to put my failed attempts behind me, and I set out to find a fail-proof egg custard recipe. And that’s just what we have for you today!
Most custard recipes will have three main components: eggs, milk, and sugar. We add a bit of vanilla for flavor and salt to balance out the sweet, but those ingredients are a bit more open to modification. Nutmeg is the classic custard topping (really bringing in those beloved eggnog flavors), though cinnamon, or other warm spices can also be used. With ingredients this basic, a successful custard really comes down to perfecting the process for getting that silky, even texture. The preparation really is simple, there are just a few tips you should know. Let’s get into them…
One of the most important elements in making custard is warming the milk to the right temperature. I do prefer to heat the milk on the stovetop rather than the microwave for easy monitoring and I highly recommend using a thermometer rather than eyeballing it. You’ll want to bring the milk up to an even 180 degrees F before very slowly pouring it into your egg mixture, while aggressively whisking. If you’re concerned you may have bits of cooked egg in your batter, run it through a fine mesh strainer when transferring it into your baking dish.
Carefully monitor your custard as it bakes and as soon as a knife comes out clean remove it from the oven. It will continue to set as it cools and there’s nothing worse than a curdled custard (after you’ve put in all this effort). Follow the recipe carefully and you’ll end up with a custard you’d be proud to serve to Mom and Grandma! For sick days or just an after dinner treat, this custard recipe will never let you down.
Fail-Proof Egg Custard
20m prep time
45m cook time
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups 2% or whole milk
- Nutmeg for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk to about 180 degrees F or just before it starts to simmer (do not boil).
- Very slowly pour a stream of the hot milk into the egg mixture while continuously whisking until fully combined. Whisk the final mixture for one additional minute.
- Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle nutmeg over the top if desired.
- Fill a larger baking dish with water until it is about 1 inch deep. Place the dish of custard into the larger dish of water, careful not to splash.
- Place the doubled dishes in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean, custard will still jiggle. Be careful not to overbake as the custard will curdle.
- Serve warm or chilled, and top with whipped cream, fruit, or additional spices. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com