Pudding vs Custard: Which Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth?

Pudding and custard are creamy desserts but differ in texture and ingredients. Pudding is thick and can be baked or chilled, while custard is a smooth, pourable sauce. Pudding often contains starch, while custard uses eggs as the thickening agent. Whether you prefer the velvety richness of pudding or the silky smoothness of custard, both desserts offer delightful indulgence.

Pudding vs Custard

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Overview Of Pudding vs Custard

DefinitionA dessert sauce or filling with a smooth texture made from milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.Cornstarch, gelatin, tapioca, rice, or other starches achieve thickness.
TextureA dessert sauce or filling with a smooth texture made from milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.Smooth and pourable, similar to a sauce.
IngredientsMilk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and sometimes flavourings like vanilla or nutmeg.Mainly milk, sugar, and thickeners like cornstarch or gelatin. Flavours and additives vary.
Cooking MethodCooked on the stovetop or baked, often using heat to thicken the mixture.Prepared through gentle heating to thicken without curdling the egg yolks.
Thickening AgentEgg yolks are the primary thickening agent due to proteins and emulsifying properties.Often served chilled as a sauce or as a filling for pies, pastries, or desserts.
ServingIt can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature. It can be layered or topped with various additions.Often served chilled as a sauce or used as a filling for pies, pastries, or desserts.
VarietiesComes in various types such as rice pudding, bread pudding, chocolate pudding, etc.Varieties include vanilla custard, crème anglaise, crème brûlée, and more.
Egg ContentLower in egg content or does not require eggs for its basic preparation.Contains egg yolks, which contribute to its smoothness and thickening.
Cultural SignificancePopular in North America and the United Kingdom, with regional variations.Found in European desserts and used as a base for other dishes.
UsageEaten as a standalone dessert or used as an ingredient in other desserts.Primarily used as a dessert sauce, filling, or base for certain sweets.

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Pudding and custard are two popular desserts that are loved by many. Although they may seem similar, the two have some notable differences. In this article, we will delve into the world of pudding and custard, exploring their origins, ingredients, preparation methods, and variations. So, let’s settle the debate once and for all: pudding vs custard!

What is Pudding?

Pudding is a term that encompasses a wide range of desserts, both sweet and savoury. In the United States, pudding is a sweet, creamy treat often made from milk, sugar, and a thickening agent such as cornstarch or gelatin. It is often flavoured with vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or fruit.

The Origins of Pudding

The origins of pudding can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Romans and Greeks. These early puddings were predominantly savoury dishes made with meat, grains, and spices. Over time, puddings evolved to include sweet variations, thanks to adding sugar and other sweet ingredients.

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Types of Pudding

Pudding comes in various forms around the world. Some of the most popular types include:

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a creamy dessert made with rice, milk, and sugar and often flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg. It is baked or cooked on the stovetop until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a delicious way to use up stale bread. It combines torn bread, eggs, milk, sugar, and various flavourings such as vanilla, cinnamon, or raisins. The mixture is baked until it sets and forms a luscious custard-like texture.

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding is a favourite among chocolate lovers. It is made by heating milk, sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, or egg yolks until thick and creamy. The result is a decadent and velvety dessert often chilled with a whipped cream dollop.

What is Custard?

Custard is a sweet dessert that is made from a combination of milk or cream, sugar, and eggs. The mixture is cooked gently until it thickens, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture. Custard can be flavoured with vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or other extracts to add variety.

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The Origins of Custard

Custard has a long history and has been enjoyed by various cultures for centuries. The ancient Romans enjoyed a simple custard with milk, eggs, and honey. As custard grew in popularity, different regions and cultures developed variations, each with its unique twist.

Types of Custard

Custard also comes in different forms, each with its own characteristics. Here are some popular types of custard:

Crème Anglaise

Crème Anglaise is a classic French custard sauce made with milk, sugar, and egg yolks. It is often served as a pouring sauce over desserts such as cakes, pies, or fresh fruits. The texture is silky and smooth, making it a versatile accompaniment to many sweet treats.

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is a rich and indulgent dessert consisting of a baked vanilla custard topped with a layer of caramelized sugar. It is typically served chilled and has a contrasting texture of creamy custard and crunchy caramelized sugar.


Flan is a popular dessert in many Latin American countries. It is a baked custard that is often flavoured with vanilla and topped with a caramel sauce. The custard is silky and smooth, and the caramel adds a delicious sweetness to each bite.

Pudding vs Custard: The Key Differences

While pudding and custard share some similarities, there are a few key differences that set them apart:


Pudding often contains a thickening agent such as cornstarch or gelatin, whereas custard relies on eggs for its thickening properties. This is why custard has a smoother and creamier texture compared to pudding.

Cooking Method

Pudding is typically cooked on the stovetop or baked in the oven, while custard is cooked gently on low heat to avoid curdling the eggs. The slow cooking process of custard helps to achieve its velvety consistency.

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Pudding has a slightly thicker and more pudding-like consistency, while custard is smooth and silky. Custard has a delicate texture that melts in your mouth, whereas pudding has a firmer and more pudding-like texture.


Pudding is often enjoyed alone or used as a filling for pies, cakes, or other desserts. Conversely, Custard is frequently served as a standalone dessert or used as a base for other desserts like crème brûlée or flan.


In the battle of pudding vs custard, both desserts have their own unique qualities and delicious flavours. Pudding encompasses a broader range of desserts, while custard is a specific creamy dessert made with eggs. Whether you prefer the thick and comforting texture of pudding or the silky smoothness of custard, one thing is certain – both desserts have earned their place in the hearts of dessert lovers worldwide. So, go ahead and indulge in a delectable serving of pudding or custard, or why not try both and savour the best of both worlds?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between pudding and custard?

Pudding is a thickened and sweetened dessert made with starch, while custard is a thickened and sweetened dessert made with eggs.

2. Can you use pudding and custard interchangeably in recipes?

No, you cannot. Pudding and custard have different textures and consistencies, which can affect the outcome of your recipe.

3. How do you make pudding?

Pudding is made by heating milk or a milk alternative with sugar and a thickening agent, like cornstarch or flour. The mixture is simmered until it thickens, then cooled and chilled.

4. How do you make custard?

Custard is made by combining milk, sugar, and eggs. The mixture is gently heated until it thickens, then cooled and chilled.

5. Can you make pudding or custard without eggs?

You can make pudding without eggs using a starch-based thickener like cornstarch. However, custard requires eggs for its creamy and rich consistency.

6. Are pudding and custard gluten-free?

Puddings and custards can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free thickeners, such as cornstarch or tapioca starch, and ensuring that all other ingredients are gluten-free.

7. Can you make pudding or custard with non-dairy alternatives?

You can make pudding and custard with non-dairy alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Ensure that the thickeners and sweeteners are also suitable for the chosen alternative.

8. How long does pudding or custard last in the refrigerator?

Both pudding and custard can last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days when stored in airtight containers.

9. Can you freeze pudding or custard?

Freezing custard is not recommended as it can affect the texture and consistency. Pudding can be frozen, but it may become slightly grainy when thawed.

10. How do you serve pudding and custard?

Pudding and custard can be served chilled in individual bowls or cups. They can also be used as fillings for cakes, pies, or desserts like trifles.


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