Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise (Custard Sauce) with No Tempering Required


Many years ago, we shared a well-loved dairy-free maple soy custard recipe. The name caused confusion, since many envisioned a firm-type custard. In reality, it was a traditional custard, known as crème anglaise. This classic custard is thickened only with egg, and has a rich, velvety, and pourable consistency. It’s meant for drizzling over desserts, like fruit, crisp, cobbler, cake, and bread pudding. Today, I’m updating this post with my new dairy-free crème anglaise recipe, photos, notes, and options.

Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise (Custard Sauce) Recipe with No Tempering Required - also gluten-free with options for nut-free, soy-free, and paleo

Easy Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise with No Tempering Required!

Honestly, I’ve always hated tempering, and I never quite understood it. So I did some research, and learned why we do it, when it’s needed, and when it isn’t. Here’s what I discovered about tempering, and my recommendations for the best milk alternatives to use for delicious dairy-free crème anglaise.

How Does Crème Anglaise work without Tempering?

Tempering is required when you are adding eggs to hot liquid. You slowly add a little of hot liquid into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly, in attempt to avoid scrambling them. But this tricky step is only needed when you must heat the liquid in advance for some reason. For example, if you want to infuse vanilla bean into the liquid by simmering it for a little while. In this case, your liquid is already hot, so you have to temper the eggs in.

If you’re using vanilla extract or paste, you can simply whisk the unheated milk alternative, egg yolks, and sugar together, and place the pan over the heat to cook them altogether. If you don’t believe me, listen to the experts at Cooks Illustrated. Heating the eggs with the liquid actually helps ensure smoother, more foolproof results.

Milk Alternative Options for Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise

I use a plain, unsweetened, additive-free soymilk when cooking recipes like EdenSoy, WestSoy, or Trader Joe’s. It’s richer and higher protein than many other milk alternatives, and the lack of thickeners helps prevent curdling or other cooking issues.

Lite canned coconut milk also works well, or you can use full-fat canned coconut milk if you want it to be richer. This will have a slightly more pronounced coconut flavor.

If you opt to use another milk beverage, keep in mind that some might not be rich enough, and some might curdle or thicken strangely. We haven’t tested them all. Homemade almond milk or homemade cashew milk made with a little less water (3 to 3.5 cups nuts to 1 cup water) should work great. But if you are using a thinner, store-bought version, you can whisk about 1/2 teaspoon starch in with the milk beverage to help get the right consistency.

Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise (Custard Sauce) Recipe with No Tempering Required - also gluten-free with options for nut-free, soy-free, and paleo

Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, optionally paleo, and vegetarian.

Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise (No Tempering)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This rich but drizzly custard sauce is easy to make, since it requires no tempering at all. Yes, it works wonderfully, and is far less finicky than the traditional method. Please read the post above for ingredient options and recipe notes. You can double all of the ingredients in this recipe for a bigger batch.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 1 cup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (see Sweetener Note below)
  • 1 cup plain soymilk or lite canned coconut milk (see Milk Alternative Options in post above)
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  1. In a small pot, whisk the yolks and sugar together for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar is fully dissolved and the yolks are more of a pale yellow.
  2. Whisk in the milk until smooth.
  3. Place the pot over medium-low heat, and heat, whisking often, for 10 to 20 minutes, or until lightly thickened to coat the back of the spoon. Do not let the mixture reach a boil. The time will depend on your pot and stove, but it should be slowly heated.
  4. Remove he pot from the heat and whisk in the salt and vanilla.
  5. Let the sauce cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will thicken a little more if chilled for a day.
Sweetener Note: This makes a lightly sweet custard sauce. You can increase the sugar to 3 tablespoons, or even ¼ cup, if you want a sweeter finish. You can use another sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, but keep the flavor profile in mind. We haven't tested this recipe with any sugar-free sweeteners.

Thickness Concerns? You can add ½ teaspoon starch in with the egg yolks and sugar if you want to ensure light thickening. But we prefer the classic egg-only texture. See the post above for all options.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 tablespoons Calories: 43 Fat: 2.2g Saturated fat: .7g Carbohydrates: 3.7g Sugar: 3.2g Sodium: 31mg Fiber: .3g Protein: 1.9g

Desserts to Enjoy Topped with Dairy-Free Crème Anglaise

Dairy-Free Bread Pudding

Classic Dairy-Free Bread Pudding Recipe that's Moist, Delicious, and Butterless. Uses everyday ingredients.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe - Fluffy, Moist, and Amazing all in One! Naturally dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free. No butter of any kind needed!

Blueberry Peach Cobbler

Vegan Blueberry Peach Cobbler Recipe from Eating Vegan by Dianne Wenz - the recipe is dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, and completely "butterless!"

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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