If you want to make custard, but are missing one or two of the main ingredients, don’t worry!
There are different ingredients that you can use to substitute for the main ingredient that the recipe calls for. You probably even have these substitutes at home already.
When you are planning on making a recipe, but find out at the last minute that you do not have one or two of the ingredients that you need, it’s easy to switch them out. There are plenty of ways that you can mimic or substitute different ingredients in a way that will not change the original recipe.
This way, you do not have to stress about running to the store at the last minute before you start preparing your custard.
What Are Custard’s Main Ingredients?
Every custard recipe is going to be a little bit different from the last. However, there are a few main ingredients that should be in almost every custard recipe that you might be able to find.
Most standard custard recipes have vanilla, cream, eggs, milk, sugar, and cornstarch. For each of these ingredients, there are easy switches that you could make.
You should have most of these ingredients in your kitchen already. It’s best if you are only missing one ingredient in your recipe, but you should probably try not to make more than two substitutions for the recipe that you are using.
Making too many substitutions for a recipe will have a greater chance of changing the texture or taste of the final result.
Flavored extracts don’t really change the consistency or the texture of whatever you are making. They are added in small amounts, and are not enough to change anything about the food other than the flavor.
If you don’t put any extract in at all, your custard would still be sweet and would probably taste good. Extracts are used to add a little extra depth to the flavor of your custard.
If you do not have vanilla extract in your home, it’s very simple to substitute it. Check to see what other extracts you have in your cabinets already. There are a lot of different flavored extracts that will be great in a custard.
There is almost an infinite list of extracts that would go well in custard. Some extracts that would make a good replacement for vanilla extract are almond, caramel, chocolate, or any kind of fruit flavored extract such as coconut or banana.
There are some extracts that you probably would not want to add to custard. You want to make sure that the extract that you are adding to your recipe is sweet, or else it might not complement the other flavors in the custard.
For example, adding mint extract to your custard might not have a great outcome.
If you are looking for a way to replace heavy cream, you can make a simple replication of it using a mixture of half and half with butter.
Half and half itself is a mixture of regular whole milk and cream, so it is almost the same thing. Mix one cup of half and half to seven-eighths of a cup of melted butter.
Combining regular milk and cornstarch is also a great way to simulate heavy cream. This alternative is lower in calories and fat than heavy cream is, so it could be a good option if you are looking for a healthier custard.
All you have to do is mix two tablespoons of cornstarch into one cup of milk. Wait until it has thickened before adding it to the recipe.
If you are looking for a dairy-free substitute for heavy cream, you could try to use a blend of silken tofu and soy milk. Blend equal measurements of both ingredients in a blender.
If you don’t blend them, the silken tofu will not mix in well and will create clumping, which would ruin the custard recipe.
Eggs are a difficult ingredient to substitute in custard. They add a lot of the recognizable texture that you are looking for when you make a custard.
Only substitute eggs in a custard if you absolutely cannot use eggs. If you are missing eggs at home, it would probably be better to make a run to the store to buy some eggs before you start making your custard.
If you need to substitute eggs for a vegan option, try to use silken tofu. You will have to use a blender to blend the tofu into a smooth and creamy mixture. If it has any chunks, they will still be there when you are finished with your recipe.
Applesauce is also a common vegan substitute for eggs. However, if you are making custard, it might change the taste and texture more than it would in other baking recipes. You could also use yogurt.
Make sure that whatever yogurt you are using is plain in flavor, and is a creamy texture. Either vegan or regular yogurt will work as a substitute.
Milk is easier to substitute for than eggs are. There are a lot of different kinds of “milks” that are non-dairy. You could also just substitute a similar milk for what the recipe calls for.
If you need whole milk, you could just use 2% milk or skim milk. The result won’t be as creamy as the original recipe might have made, but you will likely not notice that much of a difference in texture.
If you want to use non-dairy milk instead of a regular milk, flax milk is a great option. It is slightly thicker than regular dairy milk, but that will just make the texture of your custard more creamy. Similarly, you could use coconut milk, which has a very creamy texture.
You could use almost any milk substitute that you would want to. Just know that they all have different textures. For instance, almond milk is a lot thinner than coconut milk. Make sure that when you choose your milk substitution, you are taking the texture and consistency into account.
Just like milk, sugar is very easy to substitute. It is there only to make the recipe sweeter. It does have an effect on the texture and consistency of the custard, unlike extracts. This is because it is added in larger amounts.
No matter what you use to substitute for sugar, it will likely not change the texture or consistency in a noticeable way from what the original recipe intended.
Stevia is a great sugar substitute. It is very similar to sugar, and it will sweeten the recipe just the same. The taste of Stevia is a little bit different than regular cane sugar, but your custard will still taste sweet with Stevia. V
anilla bean powder is also a great option, especially if you are already making vanilla custard.
Make sure that you do not use a sugar substitute that has a different texture than regular, granulated sugar. For example, do not use something like honey to sweeten, as honey is a liquid.
You should also not use sugar that is large grain, as it might not completely dissolve into the custard in the same way that a sugar with a smaller grain would.
The reason that cornstarch is important in a custard recipe is that it is what helps to thicken it. If you have already substituted eggs for something else, you should try to use regular cornstarch in your recipe.
Without both eggs and cornstarch, the texture and consistency of your custard might suffer.
A good way to substitute cornstarch is by using all purpose flour. This will also work to thicken the recipe, and is a very common ingredient in both baking and cooking so you probably already have some at home.
All you have to do is add the same amount of flour that you would have used for cornstarch. Rice flour is also a good option to use for a substitution.
Tapioca starch can also be used to substitute for cornstarch. It will not be as good of a substitution as flour would be, so if you have flour in your home, you should try to use that first.
Don’t Use too Many Substitutions
When you are trying to make substitutions in a recipe, you should make sure that you aren’t using too many.
If you make a recipe with substitutions, try to keep it down to just one or two ingredients that you are substituting. If you need to switch out more than two ingredients, you should try to find a different recipe to use.
Make sure that when you are using substitutions, you pay attention to the texture that you need to replicate in your custard. Also know that the different ingredients that you are substituting with might change the flavor of the recipe, so try to use substitutions that will compliment the flavors that you already have in your custard.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.