Is There Milk in Custard?

Written by: Kelly Donovan

Custard is a simple and delicious dessert you can enjoy on its own or in combination with pastries, cakes, and ice cream.

With a wide range of applications, it’s no wonder custard is so popular! 

But is there milk in custard?

Yes, custard typically contains milk, as its two main ingredients are a thickener and liquid (such as dairy milk).

It is made by heating milk over medium-low heat until it starts to boil.

The fat in the mixture emulsifies and then coats the proteins in the egg yolks, forming a light creamy texture with an incredibly smooth mouthfeel.

Is it possible to get custard's texture and delicious taste without using dairy milk, and are there custard alternatives for dairy-free desserts?

If you’re curious, keep reading! You’ll find that information and more in the rest of this article.

Is There Milk in Custard?

A traditional custard does contain dairy milk. If you’re looking for a dairy-free dessert, stay away from custard toppings or fillings!

bowl of custard on kitchen towel

Can You Make Custard Without Milk?

It’s possible to substitute dairy-free milk for whole milk or cream in custard. But what will work best, and how will the substitution affect your custard?

Almond milk is often a recommended substitute for dairy milk or cream in custard, as you can typically use a 1-to-1 substitution with dairy milk in most baking.

However, some other nut-based milk may be too strong and impart their flavor on the custard, which isn’t ideal!

You may also find that dairy-free milk, such as almond milk, can result in a thin custard, so watch out for that!

However, you can use methods to thicken up your custard that don’t include dairy, such as corn starch or silken tofu. More on this below!

Can You Thicken Or Whip Dairy-Free Milk?

Sometimes, using dairy-free milk as a substitute can make your custard too thin.

Another alternative is to use dairy-free milk blended with silken tofu to thicken it.

Be sure it’s blended smoothly, so you don’t have a chunky, poorly mixed custard!

You can also whip this handy and healthy mixture of soy milk and silken tofu, so it serves as an alternative to heavy cream in other ways as well!

You can use this mixture to create dairy-free whipped topping by adding flavor extracts.

Also, here's a video by Sara Kidd about how to make dairy-free custard in five minutes!

Does Custard Powder Contain Dairy?

Unfortunately, instant custard powder that only requires the addition of water often contains dairy. 

However, that’s not the only kind of custard powder - some require that you add milk and sometimes eggs during preparation, and these powders are dairy free (but may not vegan)!

So how can you prepare these custards without adding dairy?

Simple - just add your preferred dairy-free milk to the powder! That way, you have simple, dairy-free custard to enjoy.

three spoons of custard next to large bowl of custard

Final Thoughts

Traditional custard contains dairy, specifically whole milk or heavy cream, which imparts its thick and decadent texture and taste.

However, even the most widely-known substitutions often still have milk or butter, but it is possible to make a tasty custard using plant-based milk alternatives!

About the Author

Kelly Donovan is a freelance writer. She enjoys helping people reach their wellness goals by educating them about how food plays a role in their health.