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Best Substitutes for Custard Powder

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

You may come across a recipe that requires custard powder, but you do not have any on hand. Before you decide to run out to the store, there are five terrific custard powder substitutes that you could already have right at home. When using a replacement, you can save yourself time and money without making extra trips to the store for supplies.

What is Custard Powder?

custard powder

Custard powder is a mix you can use to create fresh custard for many flavorful recipes and desserts. It is not instant custard, although. You will need to mix it with milk and cook it before using it. This form will typically contain cornstarch, vanilla flavoring, and yellow colorings to simulate the appearance of egg yolks.

Traditional homemade custard made from scratch requires using milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. Manufacturers in the food industry kept their custard powders similar in color for familiarity, but the powder versions contain no egg yolks. Some custard powder choices will include dry milk powder. If you have any concerns about ingredients for manufactured custard powder, be sure to check the label.

Top 5 Custard Powder Substitutes

If you find yourself staring into an empty custard powder container and a recipe that you have already begun to work on, you may get agitated. Maybe you are at the store, and they are all sold out of custard powder. If you are disappointed because you have your heart set on making that delicious dessert for tonight’s meal, there are solutions. 

There is no need to worry, though. With many pantry items that are easily accessible, you can complete your dish with a substitute for custard powder, and no one will know the difference. Here are the top five custard powder substitutes you can use today:

  • Dry pudding mix
  • Cornstarch
  • Tapioca powder
  • Water chestnut flour
  • Cornflour with cornstarch

1. Dry Pudding Mix

Dry Pudding Mix

Vanilla pudding mix is a terrific custard powder replacement if you have run out suddenly. This alternative has similar thickening agents to make the consistency you need in a custard. The vanilla flavoring is the go-to for many individuals because of the color and flavor. You can also try unflavored options or chocolate pudding mix for a special touch.

When including a dry pudding mix into a recipe as a substitute for custard powder, the ratio is 1:1. If your recipe calls for one tablespoon of custard powder, you will use one tablespoon of dry pudding mix. Dry vanilla pudding mix will be yellow, so there is no need to add any food coloring to your recipe for that perfect custard.

You can replace your custard powder with dry vanilla pudding mix when creating Bavarian Cream desserts.

2. Cornstarch


Cornstarch is one of the main ingredients in custard powder, so it is no wonder that it alone makes a great alternative. It is the starch that comes from corn grain. It is a terrific thickening agent and can help you achieve the same consistency in your custard you want.

If you use cornstarch as a custard powder replacement, follow the ratio 1:1 of cornstarch to what the recipe requires. You want to additionally include one teaspoon of vanilla essence or extract and a pinch of salt. Cornstarch is white, and although the consistency will be similar, the color will not resemble homemade custard. Try adding a drop or two of yellow food coloring to give it that traditional hue you want.

If you have your heart set on Creme Brulee or Flan, cornstarch is the perfect solution when you are out of custard powder.

3. Tapioca Powder

Tapioca Flour

Another option you can use instead of custard powder is tapioca powder. This ingredient is different than tapioca pearls, though. Pearls will need soaking before cooking and are mainly for puddings rather than custards. Tapioca powder has much of the same consistency as cornstarch and aids in thickening.

This option is similar to other substitutes where you will use equal amounts of tapioca powder to what the recipe calls for with custard powder. When adding it to your recipe, you will need to add a small amount of vanilla extract or essence to the mix to enhance the flavor. Usually, one teaspoon is sufficient. Alternatively, if you are preparing a large batch, you may require more.

Tapioca powder is typically white or off-white color. If you want to get that yellow that custard is famous for, you can try adding a small bit of food coloring. Try this alternative in a custard pie or pudding cake.

4. Water Chestnut Flour

Water Chestnut Flour

Water chestnut flour comes from peeling, boiling, drying, and grinding up water chestnuts into a fine flour. While the name indicates a flour item, this product is more of a starch product, not unlike cornstarch or tapioca powder.

This custard powder replacement is also an ideal thickening agent. Measure out the water chestnut flour as you would with custard powder and add one teaspoon of vanilla extract or essence for flavor.

Water chestnut flour can be a fantastic substitute for custard powder when you make meringue with custard for dessert.

5. Cornflour With Cornstarch


If you have exhausted all other substitutes for custard powder, a mixture of cornflour with cornstarch can do the trick. The cornflour will give your custard the yellow hue that is recognizable as a homemade custard. Where cornflour is ideal for flour-based recipes, cornstarch works as a thickener. Together, with some added vanilla essence or extract, these two products can replace your custard powder in any recipe.

Combine equal amounts of cornflour with cornstarch and measure out the mixture as you would with custard powder. Do not forget to add the vanilla for flavor and a pinch of salt. You can have a large batch of this on hand ready to use later, as long as you use an airtight container.

For individuals who love comfort foods like bread pudding, banana pudding, or Custard Kuchen, mixing cornflour with cornstarch can give you the same tasty result.

Why Would You Need a Substitute for Custard Powder?

There are a few reasons why someone may need a custard powder substitute. They may be allergic to some ingredients in the traditional custard recipe and cannot enjoy dishes with milk or eggs. They may not have the correct supplies on hand or are short on time.

Using a substitute can still give you a tasty alternative for your next special meal that requires using custard. You do not have to sacrifice flavor or consistency when you swap out custard powder for other options. 


While custard is a terrific ingredient to add to many dishes, not everyone can enjoy fresh custard due to allergens. Fresh homemade custard will contain eggs and milk, which are two significant allergens for many individuals. Fortunately for people who cannot consume dairy or eggs, there are several custard powder replacement options.

Allergies is the main reason why custard powder came about. The wife of Alfred Bird was allergic to eggs and could not enjoy savory dishes which contained custard. He went on to invent a custard powder without using eggs that is ideal for people with egg allergies to use in place of fresh custard.

Lack of Supplies

Not having the right supplies readily available can deter you from creating the perfect dish. If you have run out of custard powder and do not want to begin from scratch, you can use several other choices you may have in your kitchen right now.

How often have you been shopping at the store only to find the item you need is completely sold out? If you cannot find custard powder at your local grocer, using other alternatives can keep you going in the kitchen. You will not have to travel around to multiple stores to find custard powder any longer. 

Lack of Time

Making custard from scratch can be time-consuming and very finicky. If you prefer to make powdered custard but have run low, there is no need to set aside a bunch of extra time to create a fresh custard. You can still keep your meal prep shorter and make life easier by substituting some ingredients.

The Takeaway on Custard Powder Replacements

Dry custard powder is terrific to have on hand if you do not have time to make custard from scratch. If you happen to run out suddenly or there isn’t any available at your local grocery, you can still create those delicious dishes with many custard powder substitutes. Knowing the options that work in a pinch can give some flexibility in the kitchen.

Sometimes it is impossible to follow a recipe due to allergies, lack of supplies, or lack of preparation time. Having proper alternatives you can use to give the same savory results, will make your life easier in the kitchen. This flexibility can save you additional stress, time, and money. You can still create delicious dishes to enjoy by using items you have available.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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