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Homemade Vanilla Sauce

Here’s A Simple Vanilla Sauce Recipe That Goes With Everything!

If you need an old-fashioned vanilla sauce to top a dessert, you’re in the right place!

This is an easy recipe to follow. The result is a silky and creamy sauce that pours perfectly onto whatever dish you have lined up!

We really like this homemade vanilla sauce on Apfelstrudel and on German yeast Dumplings – known as Dampfnudeln.

pouring vanilla sauce on german dampfnudeln with dumplings behind
Look at that homemade sauce drizzle onto that Dampfnudel!

If you know anything about sweet sauces, you’ll know that this easy vanilla sauce recipe is similar to how you’d make a vanilla custard sauce recipe.

However, this sauce is a bit thinner and runnier than a typical custard (which is usually more dense and velvety). It’s a recipe that is also similar to how we made homemade vanilla pudding.

Vanilla sauce is often eaten with apple strudel which is popular in the south of Germany and Austria.

So it’s no surprise that vanilla sauce is popular in these parts of Europe, too. Of course, this sweet sauce is also made and eaten in other parts of the continent (and the world)!

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Sauce – Step by Step

This sauce has a rich vanilla aroma, a nice, sweet taste, and a smooth finish. And it’s actually really easy to make at home!

Just follow the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact measurements. To see some process photos for how we make this sauce, just keep on scrolling down.

vanilla extract in milk in pot on stove
Add milk, cream, and vanilla exctract to a pot.

First, add the milk, cream, and the vanilla extract to a medium-sized pot.

Give everything a stir but then set it aside for now.

egg yolks and icing sugar in silver mixing bowl
Add egg yolks and icing sugar to a bowl.

Separate the eggs and add the egg yolks to a medium-sized mixing bowl. You can save the egg whites and use them for another recipe (e.g. coconut macaroons or cinnamon stars).

Now add powdered sugar to the egg yolks and mix everything using the normal beaters of your electric mixer.

Keep mixing until you have a creamy consistency and the color gets slightly less yellow and more white.

corn starch added to wet ingredients in silver mixing bowl
Add cornstarch and milk.

Now it’s time to add the cornstarch and the same amount of milk from the pot you set aside earlier to the bowl. The milk is added so that the consistency doesn’t get too sticky.

vanilla sauce mixture in silver mixing bowl
Keep mixing!

Mix again using your electric mixer until there are no cornstarch lumps and everything is well combined.

vanilla sauce mixture in bowl pouring into pot of milk with whisk
Add the ingredients together!

Now bring the pot with the milk, cream, and vanilla extract to a boil while whisking regularly.

Once boiling, remove it from the hot burner and pour the egg-sugar-cornstarch mixture into it while whisking consistently.

pot of hot vanilla sauce with whisk inside on stove
Let the mixture simmer to thicken.

Place the pot back on the hot burner and let the sauce simmer for 1-2 minutes until it has thickened noticeably.

Whisk constantly and remember, it is a sauce – not a pudding – so it won’t get overly thick.

Remove the sauce from the burner and pour or ladle it into a bowl to chill, a serving boat, or directly onto your dessert if you like your vanilla sauce warm.

If you want it to cool and avoid the formation of skin at the top, cover the top of the warm sauce with cling wrap (it should touch the sauce directly, not just the bowl itself).

vanilla sauce in glass pouring boat pouring onto yeast dumpling on plate
The vanilla sauce pours great in a gravy boat!

Storage Tips

Ideally you serve the vanilla sauce the same day that you made it after it has cooled slightly.

If you have some sauce left over, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for around two days.

You can also freeze the sauce – see the FAQ for detailed re-warming instructions.


What is vanilla sauce?

Vanilla sauce is a smooth, creamy, and slightly thickened dessert sauce made from eggs, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar, among other ingredients.

What’s the difference between custard and vanilla sauce?

They are similar in taste and preparation. Vanilla sauce can be thought of as a sub-category of custard that is thin and pours well (as opposed to a thickened-style custard). Because this sauce pours (more like a sauce), the name “vanilla sauce” is popular in German-speaking countries.

How to use vanilla sauce?

Vanilla-flavored sauce is commonly used as a sweet accessory to many dessert dishes like Apple Strudel, Bread Pudding, and German Dampfnudeln. It can also be enjoyed with cut up fruit like strawberries.

Can you freeze vanilla sauce?

Yes, just be sure to store it in a sealed container. To reheat it for use, let it thaw out some and then transfer the sauce to a pot on the stove. Slowly reheat the sauce on low heat, whisking constantly to avoid burning. You may need to add a little bit of water to help re-achieve a smooth and fluid consistency.

Related Recipes

For more sweet recipes (with or without vanilla sauce), try out these other creations:

  • Vanilla Pudding – An easy-to-make thickened version of this yummy sauce.
  • Rote Grütze – A red berry dessert (like a pudding) popular in Denmark and Germany.
  • Mohnnudeln – Austrian noodles coated in a sweet poppy seed mixture.
pouring vanilla sauce on german dampfnudeln with dumplings behind

Homemade Vanilla Sauce

This homemade vanilla sauce is the perfect sweet addition to many classic European desserts like Apfelstrudel or German Yeast Dumplings! Easy to make and rich with vanilla aroma, this sauce takes desserts to the next level!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium-sized eggs
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • Grab a medium-sized pot and pour in the milk and the cream. Add the vanilla extract and set the mixture aside for now.
  • Separate the eggs and put the yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Feel free to save the egg whites and use them for another recipe such as coconut macaroons.
  • Add powdered sugar to the egg yolks in the bowl and mix everything together with the normal hooks of your electric mixer. Keep mixing until it is creamy in consistency and more white than yellow in color.
  • Add the cornstarch and the same amount of milk from the pot into the bowl. Mix again using the electric mixer until everything is well combined.
  • Bring the milk and cream in the pot to a boil while whisking regularly. Then immediately remove the pot from the hot burner. Pour the egg-sugar mixture from the bowl into the pot while whisking constantly.
  • Place the pot back onto the hot burner and let the mixture simmer for 1-2 minutes until it has thickened slightly. Remember to whisk constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Pour or ladle the vanilla sauce into a serving boat or ladle it right onto a waiting dessert such as German yeast dumplings.


  • Instead of vanilla extract, you can also use a vanilla bean. This will make the vanilla flavor more intense. To use a bean, clean out the inside and add it as well as the bean itself to the milk as it heats up. Just remember to remove the bean when you mix the egg-sugar mixture into the hot milk.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 103mg | Sugar: 19g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Author Recipes From Europe
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