bowl of vanilla custard that's dairy-free on white wooden table, top view

Dairy-Free Vanilla Custard (Paleo, GAPS, SCD, Keto, Low Carb)

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Dairy-free Vanilla Custard is a comfort food dessert that’s also nourishing, with plenty of omega-3-rich egg yolks and healthy cholesterol. This creamy treat is perfect for Paleo, GAPS, SCD, Keto and Low Carb diets, and you’ll never know the dairy is missing!

two dishes of vanilla custard that's dairy-free, one with a spoon in the dish and one with berries

English Vanilla Custard

Comfort foods vary in texture, flavor and temperature: homemade fried chicken, chocolate cake, ice cream. I really prefer savory foods these days and eat a lot fewer desserts and treats. But in the world of healthy desserts, for me, the ultimate sweet comfort food is warm, thick vanilla custard, like the kind you find in England poured over “pudding” or apple crumble.

Surprisingly, most of these warm custards in England today are made from a powdered mix. But how heavenly to have the homemade version of that viscous goodness to cloak a steamed cake, cobbler or deep dish pie. Eat it with a spoon.

I used to enjoy a lovely homemade version of vanilla custard that I developed after a semester spent in London. But those were the days I spent blindly enjoying milk, sugar, and grains.

Dairy-free, Paleo, Keto

When dairy’s out in your diet, and flour for that matter, how to have that old craving satisfied? We can be very grateful for gelatin! I use it in so many of my recipes, and it often replaces ingredients I can no longer have. In this recipe, gelatin replaces the flour or cornstarch that’s traditionally used. (While arrowroot and tapioca starch are allowed on a Paleo diet, they are not legal for GAPS or SCD and are too high in carbs for Keto or Low Carb recipes.)

To make it dairy-free as well, my favorite Megan recipe 😉 uses soaked pine nuts to make a beautiful homemade pine nut milk. 🙂  Macadamias are even lower in carbs and can be used for the Keto/Low Carb version, with the same creamy effect and mild flavor. Hemp also works. And for non-Keto/Low Carb, cashews can be used. (I give all these versions below, and they’re all easy and fast to make, but with longer soaking times for larger nuts.)

Coconut milk may also be used. If you can tolerate dairy, this recipe can be made not only with homemade seed or nut milk, but also with raw goat or cow’s milk. Or for Keto, cream can be used. (See Step 4 in the Recipe Instructions below for this variation.)

Thickener and Sweeteners

Because this recipe thickens up mainly from the use of gelatin, it thickens as it cools. However, I have used a high ratio of gelatin both for its gut healing properties and also because it gets thicker that way when it isn’t entirely cold, getting back to the love of warm custard. (Find my favorite gelatin here, and use discount code BEAUTIFUL10 for 10% off your entire order.)

Warm, this custard is beverage-like, drinkable, nourishing, and comforting. Pourable. This drinkable version, like the solid refrigerated version, can be sweetened with stevia alone, for Keto or those with a fructose sensitivity who do well with stevia. In the ingredients below, I list the various sweetener options that correspond to the different diets this recipe serves, obviously honey for GAPS etc.

If you plan to enjoy the custard as a warm beverage, it is lovely with cinnamon and nutmeg added, a true homemade eggnog.

GAPS and SCD

For those of you on healing diets, such as GAPS or SCD, why not substitute this treat occasionally for the mug or bowl of bone broth? The healing properties in gelatin are not as diverse as they are in a homemade bone broth, but they are gut-healing nonetheless, and the eggnog can be a welcome, occasional change, adding variety and refreshment to your food repertoire. (Fun right?!) As you’ll see, this recipe uses very little sweetener, so it’s truly nourishing.

Pasture-raised eggs are used in this recipe. So the custard, again, is not only a comfort food treat, but also a truly healthful food, full of beta-carotene, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and needed cholesterol from the raw eggs yolks.

Serving Options

If you have the custard at room temperature and pour it over a baked good, or in my case most recently, some grain-free crepes, it will cloak the baked good, like crème anglaise. When refrigerated, the custard will be very solid, but still tender. Here are a few serving options that I’ve done and recommend:

  • Stir it together with raspberries, and fill crepes. Top with more warm pourable custard, cinnamon and crispy walnuts.
  • Make individual cup custards.
  • Layer it to make parfaits.
  • Use it to fill cake layers.
  • Pour custard over crumble, cobbler, moist cake.
  • Eat like shortcake with scones and macerated strawberries or fresh berries.
  • Sauté apples or pears, or make chunky homemade applesauce to go with the custard.
  • For Keto, Paleo and GAPS, make Beautiful Rhubarb Sauce; eat together.

Dairy-free Vanilla Custard

5 from 1 vote
bowl of vanilla custard that's dairy-free on white wooden table, top view
Dairy-free Vanilla Custard (Paleo, GAPS, SCD, Keto, Low Carb)
Prep Time
15 mins
 

This decadent classic is texture sublimity. You can use the custard while still warm if you want it to be pourable, like Crème Anglaise. Or you can chill it if you want it to set up and be scoop-able, for filling crepes or serving in individual glasses. 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, British, French
Keyword: custard, dairyfree, keto, lowcarb, paleo
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 349 kcal
Author: Megan
Ingredients
Homemade Nut/Seed Milk (the custard base)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup pine nuts or cashews, use macadamia for Keto for lowest carbs (or pine nuts)
  • 1/8 teaspoon or less, to taste stevia powder or 10 drops liquid stevia, okay to omit for GAPS and SCD (optional)
  • 2 pinches sea salt
Custard
  • 1 Tablespoon gelatin (Use discount code BEAUTIFUL10 at check out for 10% off your order.)
  • 8 egg yolks (See post under the recipe for suggestions on how to use the 8 egg whites!)
  • 1 Tablespoon sweetener of choice: raw honey for GAPS, favorite low carb sweetener for Keto and Low Carb version, maple syrup, coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 of a whole vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Instructions
Soaking the Nuts or Seeds
  1. Although this recipe is made quickly, allow time for soaking. Larger nuts need to soak overnight. So plan one day in advance if you're using larger nuts. Seeds like hemp, pine nuts or nuts like cashews only require a short soaking time. Other nuts, like macadamia nuts, need an overnight soaking or a minimum of 6 hours.

  2. See Recipe Notes below for How to Soak Nuts and Seeds.

Homemade Nut/Seed Milk (the custard base)
  1. Into a high-powered blender, add the following: water, soaked pine nuts or preferred nut/seed, (soaked as designated below in the Recipe Notes: How to Soak Nuts and Seeds), stevia and sea salt. Blend on medium-high speed for one full cycle, or about 50 seconds. This blend will create the best milk ever.

Custard
  1. Pour 1 cup fresh seed or nut milk into a small saucepan, reserving the rest in the blender. Sprinkle gelatin over the surface, and allow it to bloom 1 minute. Heat over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes, until steam forms and the gelatin dissolves, but do not allow the water to simmer. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow to cool slightly, 10 minutes.

  2. Add it back into the blender with the following additional ingredients: egg yolks, sweetener of choice, the inside scrapings from 1/2 of a whole vanilla bean or the vanilla extract. Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds. Serve warm, or chill, either in individual serving dishes or one larger serving dish.

  3. To chill, allow the custard 3 hours to set up.

  4. Variation 1 — You can substitute 3 cups coconut milk, raw milk or cream for the homemade nut/seed milk. (Omit the water and seeds/nuts from the ingredients if you sub coconut or dairy milk/cream.)

  5. Variation 2 — To make the room temperature or warm custard even thicker, for scooping up wobbly bites on a muffin or cake, add 2 Tablespoons chia seeds, stirring the seeds in quickly and thoroughly. (This is delicious!) Allow the mixture to set up and thicken 10-15 full minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

How to Soak Nuts and Seeds

  • For every 2 cups of raw seeds or nuts, cover with room temperature, filtered water by two inches, and 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  • Stir well to dissolve the salt. Leave out overnight at room temperature to soak, and ideally up to 18 hours for nuts like macadamia or hazelnuts. Smaller seeds and cashews only need 2-6 hours.
  • Drain them in a colander; and rinse them well.
  • The nuts or seeds are now soaked and ready for use in this recipe.

(As a side note, cashews have already been heated. Their shells are toxic and a heating process is used to eliminate the chemical poison and to free the nut from its lining. Therefore, no cashew we buy from the store is technically "raw." Shorter soaking times for cashews are still beneficial, whereas longer soaking times will render them slimy. 2 hours to overnight is adequate for cashews and still helps to reduce phytic acid.)

How to Use Leftover Egg Whites

  • For those who eat dairy: Make a thin omelette in LOTS of butter, filled with LOTS of white cheddar cheese. This is delicious! Use sea salt to taste. I like to top mine with microgreens and fresh herbs. (Eight egg whites makes 2 omelettes or 1 large one.)
  • For dairy-free: Make an omelette that's very thin in a large pan. Fill with avocado, freshly chopped garlic, Paleo hummus or pesto and microgreens. Drizzle the top with nut butter and fresh herbs.
  • Make Meringue.
  • Add extra whites to pancake batter.
Nutrition Facts
Dairy-free Vanilla Custard (Paleo, GAPS, SCD, Keto, Low Carb)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 49%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 390mg 130%
Sodium 221mg 9%
Potassium 240mg 7%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 1g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 10.4%
Vitamin C 0.3%
Calcium 5.6%
Iron 15.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

How will you use your Dairy-free Vanilla Custard?

 

Comments 24

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Hi Ashley, the original recipe is 2 cups water + 1 cup seeds/nuts. I have measured the seed milk, and the conversion is to use 3 cups coconut milk, goat’s milk etc.

  1. That texture looks gorgeous. There’s something just so comforting about custard. And I love that you included ideas for leftover egg whites because I always have a few hanging out in my freezer!

  2. My family is from the U.K so I grew up enjoying warm custard over desserts. It certainly brings up cosy memories for me. I love how you have made a nourishing version and genius idea to use pine nuts!

    1. Post
      Author
  3. I’ve been really enjoying creamy treats lately. But not all of them are this healthy, so I am really excited to make this dessert that looks as delicious yet many times healthier! Yum!

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