Microwave Pastry Cream: How To Make It Lump-Free

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Sneak Preview: Yes. You can make a microwave pastry cream for your next pie or pudding in minutes. No worries about scorching. Lump-free texture!

picture of a cream pie with filling made in the microwave.Pin

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Discover the secret to creating a lusciously smooth microwave pastry cream or cream pie filling that rivals, or even surpasses, the traditional stovetop method. Say goodbye to scorching, tempering eggs, and those pesky lumps—this microwave technique is your hassle-free ticket to perfection!

Try it out for yourself with a tasty banana cream pie or a coconut cream pie.

Happy Cooks Speak Up

“Love this recipe, and I discovered that you can made an amazing chocolate version by adding 1/2 cup of cocoa to the blended mixture. So good! I’ll never buy boxed pudding again.”–MARIANNE

Why Use a Microwave?

In only 7 minutes (or less), you can make the smoothest, tastiest cream pie filling your taste buds have ever encountered.  Here’s why:

  • Faster
  • No need for a double boiler
  • No constant stirring and babysitting (just the occasional “stir” to even out the cooking)
  • No worries about scorching
  • No need to temper the eggs
  • No need to strain pudding when using a blender or food processor to mix everything before you start

Microwaves aren’t efficient for large quantities, which explains why restaurants and bakeries avoid them. However, for home cooks who only make one or two pies, it’s the best and easiest option.

One thing is clear: using a mix with questionable taste and ingredients or buying a grocery-store pie lacking homemade flavor is no longer tempting. With the convenience of making a microwave cream pie filling, it’s quick and easy to achieve a delicious homemade taste.


What is the Difference Between pudding and Custard and Cream Pie Filling and Pastry Cream?

They all begin with milk and sugar. From there, it depends on how you choose to thicken the mixture. It also matters where you live as to how these terms are understood.

Some people describe pudding as having no eggs, as seen in the definition below.

Pudding is made by cooking the milk and sugar base and adding cornstarch to thicken the mixture. This leads to a semisolid consistency and creamy texture. It is usually served chilled, but it can be served warm or at room temperature.”

The Delicious Differences Between Custard, Pudding, and Mousse Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN

Others define custard as milk, sugar, and eggs with no other thickener.

Custard is made by cooking the milk and sugar base and adding whole eggs to thicken the mixture. When cooled, the mixture solidifies, leaving you with the jiggly consistency and silky texture.

The Delicious Differences Between Custard, Pudding, and Mousse Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN

We’re not talking about that kind of custard today. Never mind that some people use the term interchangeably with pudding or pie filling.

According to Leaf.TV,  Custard refers to any dish thickened with eggs. Often called Creme Patissiere, pastry cream is a rich and creamy custard filling in eclairs and cream puffs.

I would add cream pie filling to that last sentence.

The recipe I’m giving you uses cornstarch and eggs (yolks, specifically) to thicken the filling. I have another recipe for pudding/pie filling that calls for flour. The end result is a little more sturdy and not quite as delicate, but still irresistibly tasty (and easy to make in a microwave.)


Ingredients and Substitutions

  • MILK: Whole milk will result in the richest and creamiest pudding. Using 2% and non-fat milk is acceptable and will result in a thick consistency.
  • SUGAR: I use granulated sugar for the best taste. If you want fewer calories, try Swerve. It’s a 1-1 ratio when you substitute for sugar.
  • THICKENER: Cornstarch is my thickener of choice in this recipe. However, flour works, too. Cornstarch makes a lighter-tasting product with a more delicate texture. There is a time and place for either one.
  • EGGS: You only need the yolks for this recipe. Freeze the whites and save them for meringue, angel food cake, or egg white omelets.

📌Kitchen Tip📌 How Can I Freeze Egg Whites?

Here’s a nifty hack for freezing egg whites if you already own silicone tart molds or muffin cups.

separating eggs for freezingPin
frozen egg whitesPin

How To Make Microwave Pastry Cream

pouring ingredients for microwave pastry cream into a blender.Pin
Put all ingredients, except butter and extract, into the blender. Blend for 10 seconds.
transferring ingredients to microwave-safe pitcher.Pin
Transfer the uncooked mixture to a microwave-safe Pyrex glass bowl or 2-quart pitcher.
whisking pie filling during cooking in microwave.Pin
Cook in the microwave on HIGH. Halfway through, whisk well. Repeat every minute after that.
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The pastry cream should get thick like this.
adding butter and vanilla to cream filling.Pin
Add butter and vanilla.
final whiskingPin
Whisk well and cover with plastic wrap. If used for a pie filling, now is the time to put the cream filling into the baked pie shell.
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Push plastic wrap down to meet the surface of the pudding to prevent “skin” from forming when it cools.
Make a Great Cream Pie Filling in a Microwave-banana cream pie slice on a plate.Pin
I made a banana cream pie with microwaved vanilla pastry cream

FAQ

How do I make a coconut cream pie with this filling?

I add about 1/2 cup of flaked, sweetened, or unsweetened coconut(depending on your sweet tooth) to the filling after you add the vanilla and butter. Pour the cream filling into a baked pastry pie shell. Cover with whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut.

How do I make a banana cream pie?

Layer the vanilla pastry cream with sliced bananas. See the notes in the recipe for more details.

I have a family favorite cream pie recipe. Can I convert it to a microwave recipe?

Probably. Put all the ingredients except flavorings, like vanilla extract and butter, into your blender. Cook in your microwave according to the directions in this recipe. Because your recipe might be bigger or smaller than mine, the times may be different. Keep cooking or quit cooking when the pudding or cream heavily coats a spoon. Then, whisk in the flavorings and butter.

Can I freeze prepared pastry cream?

I don’t recommend it. Freezing changes the texture. Some say that pastry cream with flour holds up better than a recipe made with cornstarch, like this one. I’ve read that some people have figured out how to fix it when it separates, but it sounds like a lot of trouble to me.


Can I use flour instead of cornstarch?

See the notes about this in the Ingredients and Substitutions section above. My recipe for Banana Pudding uses flour if you want to take a look at it.

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Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

microwave pastry creamPin
Yield: 8 servings

Microwave Pastry Cream for a Cream Pie Filling

Use a microwave to make this super quick, super easy cream pie filling from scratch.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 16 votes
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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes
Total time: 17 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 2 ¼ cups (511 g) milk
  • 4 (72 g) egg yolks
  • cup (131 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (28 g) cornstarch
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  • Dump 2 1/4 cups (511 g) milk, 4 (72 g) egg yolks, 2/3 cup (131 g) sugar, 1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch and 1/8 teaspoon salt into blender or food processor. (See notes if you need to do this by hand.)
  • Blend for about 10 seconds. There may be a lot of foam. That’s OK–it will disappear when cooked.
  • Pour into a 2-quart glass batter bowl. (DO NOT USE A SMALLER CONTAINER–it could boil over and make a mess.)
  • Cook in a microwave on HIGH for 5-7 minutes. Whisk well after 3 minutes and every minute thereafter. Microwaves vary wildly. If the pudding mixture is not thick after 7 minutes, keep cooking and stirring until the custard looks like pudding. It should heavily coat a spoon.
  • Stir 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons butter into the thickened custard.
  • Press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool on the counter (or in an ice bath if you are short on time) until lukewarm, then pour filling into prepared crust. Again press plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until filling is cold and firm.

Notes

Variation:
Banana Cream Pie:
Whisk cream filling and pour a thin layer into the pie shell. Slice and add a single layer of bananas, then cover with another layer of cream. Repeat. In the end, you should have three layers of cream with two layers of bananas, ending with the cream on top. Cover with plastic wrap pressed down to the surface of the filling.
No blender or food processor?
Use a whisk and some arm power instead of a blender. If you end up with any lumps, force the pudding through a strainer. It will be as smooth as silk

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 97mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 285IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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Recipe Rating




34 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Bingo! First try perfect! No offense to Julia Child, but this recipe solved a huge problem.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I’m so glad it worked for you. I have done this for many years and can’t remember a single fail. Thanks for writing.

  2. 5 stars
    This worked great for me. I’d like to use it next time as a cake filling and make and freeze between cake layers ahead of time. Have you had good results with freezing this?
    thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Melissa, Thank you for the 5-star review. Using it as a cake filling is a great idea. Unfortunately, pastry cream tends to separate when it’s frozen. I don’t recommend it. You might google it for more information.

  3. Mike Dowdy says:

    5 stars
    Awesome Instructions. I just learned recently how to do gravy in the microwave. Just heat the fat from a pan with tasty bits, with equal amount of flour….till it becomes a slightly cooked mixture …. sort of a roux. Add microwaved warm broth or milk for cream gravy stir till smooth. maybe heat in microwave a bit more…stir or whisk. Season (season with the fat might give better flavor). Cornstarch can be used instead, just add it AFTER heating the broth or milk….

    1. Hi Mike,
      I love my microwave as you can probably tell. Did you know you can make roux in the microwave? The instructions are in my gumbo recipe.

  4. How would I make this into a coconut cream pie filling? and would i eliminate adding the butter at the end? thank you

    1. Add a half-cup (or more) of coconut to the finished pastry cream. In addition, I like to sprinkle some toasted coconut on top of the pie.

      I would not eliminate the butter. Butter contributes three things:
      1. Flavor
      2. Smoother Texture
      3. Makes the filling set up firmer.

  5. Love this recipe, and I discovered that you can made an amazing chocolate version by adding 1/2 c of cocoa to the blended mixture. So good! I’ll never by boxed pudding again.

    1. Hi Marianne,

      You’re my kind of cook. Thumbs up!

  6. 5 stars
    This is THE BEST recipe for cream pie. I have made this several times and it turns out perfectly every time. I’m making it again this weekend as my niece requested it for her birthday party. I’ll be using a graham cracker crust and putting it in individual cups – a little crust in the bottom, tamped down, then the filling and whipped cream on top. I’ll actually be making it 3 times – one just plain vanilla, one with bananas and one with coconut. I love that I can use one recipe for all three versions. Hubby loves banana cream pie and until I found this recipe I rarely made it because no matter how low I cooked it, or how much I stirred it, it always stuck to the pan. Now it’s super easy and super good!

  7. I clicked the link to find out how to make the flaky pie crust, can you tell me how to find the recipe please.

  8. How do you keep the eggs from scrambling, as the pudding cooks in microwave, as all ingrediants are combined in the blender ? this is the thing that makes me a bit wary of this super fast & easy recipe, also using this microwave cooking method does the microwave get hot enough to kill salmonella in the raw eggs? is their any way to temper the eggs, and still use
    this method? thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

    1. You definitely do not have to worry about salmonella. The mixture will simmer, almost boil. The eggs will not curdle or break because the whole mixture has been thoroughly blended before it is cooked. I have been making this fabulous cream filling for nearly 30 years and it works every time. All I can say is to try it. The secret is to blend well and then stir the mixture frequently as it cooks in the microwave. Microwaves can vary wildly so yours may take more or less time than specified. Cook it until it gets thick no matter how long it takes.

  9. RaeMarie Blaha says:

    I am doing a cooking demo in December “This is not your Mom’s Christmas Dinner”. This will fit very well in this theam and it’s in the filling is made in the microwave. I will not be using the traditional crust, using a cram-cracker bottom, doesn’t need to turn on the over. I will be using the signal serving size for party. Nice change from the traditional, no cutting needed. Wish me luck, will let you know how it turns out.

    1. RaeMarie,
      I love the title of your demo. Hope it goes well. Perhaps Food Network will hear about it and give you a call. 🙂

  10. Hi Paula, I’m making this pie tonight and I can’t wait. You gave me the courage to try my chocolate silk pie in the microwave and its wonderful and so much easier. I’ll be posting it sometime soon! Have a great holiday weekend!

  11. I Stumbled! on your site and I am SO glad I did. This looks so unbelievably delicious! You’ve convinced me. I’ve been holding off on getting a microwave but I think I have to get one. if only to make this – and if it is as good as it looks, make it over and over again! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Meal Plan Mom (Brenda) says:

    This looks terrific and I love how quick and easy it is. I’m adding it to my “to-try” list. And I remember taking those microwave cooking classes with my parents. Yes, they brought along my sister and I to the classes…we were one of the first to have a microwave! Yahoo! 🙂

  13. Custards are my favorite kind of pie. This is a perfect way to make during those hot days of Summer. Love it!

  14. Who knew!? Looks amazing.

  15. Good morning, Paula!

    This looks and sounds amazing. I look forward to trying it! I will let you know when I do.

    Guess what is in my oven right now… your Pizza Potatoes! I like this recipe for using leftover mashed potatoes.

  16. TheKitchenWitch says:

    The microwave, huh? Who knew! That’s awesome! And that’s my biggest beef with banana cream pie–who can eat a pie in a day?

  17. Peggy Helmick says:

    Thank you so much for this idea on the cream pie. Our very favorite is coconut so I can’t wait to try this. You have taught me so much while I have been following your blog and I am almost 73 yrs old. I love to cook and you are making it more fun. Can’t wait to see the pie crust. Blessing to you today!

    Peggy

  18. Hmmmmm……Now I want the crust recipe. NOW!!!!! 🙂

  19. What a gorgeous pie!! I will definitely be trying this filling in the microwave. I have made chocolate pudding in the micro; it sounds similar. My guess for the secret ingredient in the pie crust is…vinegar?

    1. That is a very good guess but no. The secret ingredient is slightly acid however, like the vinega,r and does contribute tenderness in much the same way.

  20. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    That looks really good! Banana cream pie was one of my dad’s favorites. 🙂 I only have a very small microwave, but I’m pretty sure it would do this. I hope so anyway!

    1. Betty, it you can get a 2-qt Pyrex batter bowl in there (or something similar), you can do it. Your times might be different but it won’t be hard to figure out. pr

      1. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

        Thanks Paula!

  21. That looks so easy, compared to stirring constantly over a hot stove! And quick to make, great idea.

  22. So easy, so delicious, and so one of the few kinds of pie that I am willing to eat.