Old Fashioned Baked Vanilla Custard


You’ve just enjoyed a comforting and rich meal, and you’re craving something just as comforting for dessert, but you also want it to be very light and refreshing, and super easy to make. That list of desserts is very short, but Old Fashioned Baked Vanilla Custard is on it. Garnish each custard with a few raspberries and a light dusting of powdered sugar to serve.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
45 mins
Refrigerate Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
2 hrs

Old Fashioned Baked Vanilla Custard – A Dessert from Days Gone By


Chefs spend a lot of their time trying to improve recipes and cooking methods, or at least they should. That’s why you don’t see boiled steaks on menus, but sometimes this culinary prime directive inadvertently steals a dish’s soul, and this simple baked vanilla custard is a great example.


This primitive dessert is easy to make “better,” by using cream instead of milk to achieve something richer, or by using egg yolks instead of whole eggs for something a little smoother, but while both of these “improvements” would accomplish those goals, the final product would not be old fashioned baked custard. I like rich, and decadent, but that’s not what this is supposed to be.


I always encourage experimentation when presenting these recipes, but before you’re tempted to modernize this classic, please try it as posted. It will be much lighter than you expect, with a texture that almost literally melts in your mouth. As long as you don’t overcook these, you’re in for a very special treat from days gone by, which is why I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk

  • pinch of finely grated nutmeg for the tops


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

  2. Whisk eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla together in a bowl, until sugar is dissolved and batter no longer feels gritty, about 1 minute. Pour in milk and whisk thoroughly. 

  3. Divide batter evenly between 4 (5-ounce) heat-proof ramekins.

  4. Pour one inch hot water into a baking dish large enough to accommodate the ramekins; place ramekins into the baking dish. Finely grate a small amount of nutmeg over each ramekin.

  5. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until custard is barely set, and a knife tip inserted near the center comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes. Begin checking after 45 minutes; baking times can vary greatly depending on size and shape of ramekins.

  6. Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Transfer custards to a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

    Old Fashioned Baked Vanilla Custard

    Chef John

Cook’s Notes:

It’s the whole milk that makes this old-fashioned: most people these days would upgrade to cream to get something thicker and richer, but for true old-fashioned, silky custard, we want to just use milk.

To divide batter evenly, transfer it back into the measuring cup used for the milk, then pour equal amounts into ramekins. 

If you don’t have ramekins, you can just use coffee cups, or jam jars, or even pour all the batter into one pie dish.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

167 Calories
5g Fat
25g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 167
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 201mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 101mg 8%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 139mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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