Crème Anglaise {A Classic French Dessert Sauce}

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Creme Anglaise is a classic French sauce that is delicious on a variety of desserts, or as a basis for ice cream. It’s a one of the “mother sauces” of French cuisine. Once you’ve mastered the basic technique, you can make it thicker for ice cream, or thinner as a dessert sauce.

What is Crème Anglaise used for?

Creme Anglaise

This delicious vanilla scented sauce is a perfect way to dress up a bowl of seasonal fruit, pour over a slice of bread pudding or a slice of pie. It’s also one of the primary ingredients in this English Trifle. It can be made with either whole milk or heavy cream. (This post was originally published on December 6th, 2012 as part of my English Trifle post. It has been updated. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)

Classic English Trifle:Poached Pear and Raspberry Trifle with Almond Pound cake.
Poached Pear and Raspberry Trifle with Almond Pound cake.

What’s the difference between Crème Anglaise and custard?

The difference between the two comes down to thickness. Custard is thicker than crème Anglaise and would similar to American pudding. If you’d like a thicker sauce, add less milk or use cream. If you’d like a thinner sauce, use milk. The basic recipe using cream, egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and cream, is the basis for classic vanilla ice cream or as a custard in English Trifle. Another custard dessert you’re probably familiar with is French Creme Caramel. This recipe for creme caramel is authentic and delicious!

Ingredients for Crème Anglaise

While some recipes call for whole milk, this one, using cream will result in a richer result. You’ll need egg yolks, a vanilla bean, sugar and cream. If you can’t find vanilla beans, this vanilla paste works well. Using vanilla beans or paste will give those light brown flecks and give a richer flavor. (This post was originally published on December 6th, 2012 and has been updated. As an Amazon Associate I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)

custard ingredients

How to make Crème Anglaise

The only tricky bit with making this sauce is tempering the egg yolks. Add them all at once to the hot milk or cream, and you will end up with scrambled eggs.

First split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Carefully scrape the seeds.

vanilla bean

Add vanilla seeds to the cream and bring to a slight boil over a medium heat. In a stand mixer beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick ribbons form.

custard ribbons

Next, temper the egg yolks by slowly adding a cup of warm cream to the yolks while whisking constantly. Once the egg yolks have been warmed with the cream, they can be added to the remaining hot cream. Add the tempered egg yolk mixture back to the remaining cream.

tempering the custard

Bring the mixture back to a boil over a medium heat, then reduce it to a slight simmer, stirring constantly until the Creme Anglaise is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Creme anglaise on spoon

Keep an eye on the heat, you don’t want the cream to come to a rolling boil. Since everyone’s stove behaves differently, you’ll have to rely on your eye to monitor the heat.

How can you tell when Creme Anglaise is done?

Once the sauce has thickened, it will coat the back of a spoon. Once it has Remove from heat and strain custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

strain the custard

Cool the custard and press plastic wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.

How long will Creme Anglaise last?

If you’re planning on using the custard/sauce as a base for ice cream, you’ll want to make it the day before so that it is completely chilled. If using it as a component in a dessert or as a sauce, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

What can you do with leftover Creme Anglaise?

If you have leftover creme Anglaise, you can make these mini trifles. Just layer a few fresh berries with the leftover Creme Anglaise.

pound cake and anglaise

Add small cubes of plain leftover cake. A sprinkle of raspberry liqueur and some fresh whipped cream and you’ve got a pretty and elegant dessert.

mini trifle

creme anglais tempering
Print Recipe
5 from 48 votes

Creme Anglaise

Creme Anglaise is a classic French sauce that is used in many desserts.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 149kcal
Author: Cynthia


  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  • Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Carefully scrap seeds.
  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, bring 2 cups heavy cream to a bare boil with vanilla bean and scraped seeds.
  • Remove cream from heat. While cream is cooling, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a mixer, until thick ribbons form.
  • To temper the egg yolks, and keep them from curdling, gradually add 1 cup warm cream to egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  • Add tempered egg yolk mixture back into saucepan, with remaining cream and stir constantly over a medium heat, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove from heat and strain through a fine strainer. Remove the vanilla pod. (I rinse it off and dry it, then add it to a bowl of sugar)
  • Cool custard slightly and then cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.


I’ve given you an estimate of nutritional value, but this is a hard one to calculate. A “serving” can be 2-3 tablespoons or a 1/4 cup. 
I’m assuming a 1 1/2 ounce serving per person for this recipe. 
For a smooth sauce, use a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps. 


Serving: 1person | Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 30mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 535IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. I love creme anglaise so much I’ve been known to drink a little! There’s a special buffet we love to take my mother to, and it’s not your typical yucky buffet. This is at a fancy European hotel, and I think it’s the only time I’ll check out the desserts because they’re so wonderful. I usually go for the dark chocolate pie topped with creme anglaise. Amazing. In a trifle would of course be wonderful!

  2. I’m excited to try this! I’m wondering about how much a 1.5oz serving comes out to being? closer to 2T or 4T? more or less? I’m making mini trifles for 160 people and need to figure out how many batches I need. you mention that the recipe halves well; does it double well also?

    1. First of all! Super impressed you’re making mini trifles for 150 people! I’d say that 1.5 ounces is closer to 3 Tablespoons, so your guess was pretty good! Best of luck!

5 from 48 votes (45 ratings without comment)

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