When it comes to desserts, I like to keep it simple: give me a stovetop pudding of eggs, milk, vanilla, and a little sugar, served with fresh or stewed fruits, and I’m a happy camper.

The beauty of milk-based puddings like this one (and its chocolate-flavored sibling) is that they are cool, smooth, and almost drinkable, making them perfect for anyone who’s recovering from oral surgery or having trouble eating as a side effect of cancer treatment.

Another benefit of milk-based desserts is that they supply a good balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, and are an important source of essential nutrients, including calcium, riboflavin, phosphorous, vitamins A and B12, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine.

If you are trying to gain weight, you can further boost this pudding’s nutritional value by adding protein powder (if using whey, whisk it in once the pudding has thickened, after you have removed it from the heat) and/or healthy fats like nut or seed butter.

Plain puddings like this one make a great base for other nutritious add-ons, like fresh berries, stewed fruit (like my Roasted Plum Compote), nuts, or seeds.

Lastly, you can vary the flavors of a simple egg pudding by adding, for instance, matcha green tea powder (at the same time as the vanilla extract), rose water (instead of vanilla extract), orange blossom water, or a little soluble coffee for a mocha-flavored pudding.

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Pudding

Keyword: Convalescent/Comfort Food, Dairy-Free (or can be), Desserts & Treats, Gluten-Free (or can be), Vegetarian (or can be)
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 162kcal
Creamy comfort with minimal effort
Print Recipe


  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 cups milk whole dairy milk or plant milk; I sometimes use my Super Simple Homemade Nut Milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract alcohol-free
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter


  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, potato starch, and salt.
  • Add 1 cup of the milk and whisk. Add the eggs and whisk until the mixture is well combined. Then add the remaining 2 cups of milk.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for 1 minute more.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract and butter until fully incorporated.
  • Let the pudding cool in the pot until a skin forms. Then pass it through a fine-meshed strainer into a serving bowl or food storage container (this breaks down the skin.)
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (or up to overnight) to fully set.
  • Serve as-is or topped with fruits or fruit compote (it's delicious with my Roasted Plum Compote), nuts, berries, or anything else you enjoy on a pudding.
  • Refrigerated in a tightly covered container, this pudding keeps for 4-5 days.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 389IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 166mg | Iron: 0.4mg