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Microwave Pastry Cream: How To Make it Lump-Free

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

Learn how to make a silky smooth microwave pastry cream or cream-pie filling in a microwave as good or better than making it on top of the stove. No worries about scorching, tempering eggs, lumps, etc. Try it out for yourself with a scrumptious banana cream pie or a coconut cream pie.

picture pie with filling made in the microwave

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:

  • It’s faster. One batch of pie filling can be cooked in 7 minutes. Add 5 more to put the ingredients together.
  • No need for a double boiler
  • Constant stirring and babysitting are unnecessary. But you will have to stir a few times when using a microwave to even out the cooking.
  • No worries about scorching
  • No need to temper the eggs
  • No need to strain pudding if you started using a blender or food processor to mix everything.

Admittedly, microwave ovens aren’t efficient for large quantities. It’s completely understandable why restaurants and bakeries might not use them.  But for home cooks making one or two pies, it’s the best and easiest way, in my opinion.

One thing for sure. I’m less tempted to use a mix (questionable taste and ingredients) or a grocery-store pie (where’s the love and homemade flavor in that?) when I can make a cream-pie filling in a microwave. It’s just too quick and effortless.

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 such as 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

Custard is defined 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 definitely 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 basically refers to any dish thickened with eggs. Pastry cream, often called Creme Patissiere, is a rich and creamy custard for filling eclairs and cream puffs.

I would add cream pie filling to that last sentence.

The recipe I’m giving you is thickened with cornstarch and eggs (yolks, specifically.) 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 also 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 situation. However, flour works, too. Cornstarch makes a lighter-tasting product with a more delicate texture. There is a time and place for either.

Eggs:

You only need the yolks for this recipe. Freeze the whites and save for meringue, angel food cake, or egg white omelets.

How do you freeze egg whites?

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

How to make Microwave Pastry Cream:

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

I made a banana cream pie with this vanilla pastry cream by simply layering in a couple of bananas. See notes in the recipe for more details.


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    Hope to see you again soon!
    Paula

    p.s. Questions? Email me: paula at saladinajar.com.


    Yield: 8 servings

    Microwave Pastry Cream for a Cream Pie Filling

    Microwave Pastry Cream for a Cream Pie Filling

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

    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 7 minutes
    Total Time 17 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 1/4 cups milk
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons butter

    Instructions

    1. Dump milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt into blender or food processor. (See notes if you need to do this by hand.)
    2. Blend for about 10 seconds. There may be a lot of foam. That’s OK–it will disappear when cooked.
    3. Pour into a 2-quart glass batter bowl. (DO NOT USE A SMALLER CONTAINER–it could boil over and make a mess.)
    4. 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.
    5. Stir vanilla and butter into the thickened custard.
    6. 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 Information:

    Yield:

    8

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 213mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 8g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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    Marianne

    Saturday 24th of October 2020

    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.

    Paula

    Saturday 24th of October 2020

    Hi Marianne,

    You're my kind of cook. Thumbs up!

    Marianne

    Saturday 21st of July 2018

    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!

    Paula

    Saturday 21st of July 2018

    Marianne, I'm so excited to hear this. Thank you and a big hug for coming back to report your experience!!

    Barbra

    Tuesday 8th of December 2015

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

    Paula

    Tuesday 8th of December 2015

    Here it is Barbra. https://saladinajar.com/family-recipes/flaky-all-butter-pie-crust-with-yogurt

    Yuklan

    Saturday 21st of December 2013

    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.

    Paula

    Saturday 21st of December 2013

    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.

    RaeMarie Blaha

    Saturday 13th of October 2012

    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.

    Paula

    Saturday 13th of October 2012

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