Easy as can be, this from-scratch vanilla pudding cake is incredibly delicious and the perfect simple dessert for entertaining…or just because you want vanilla pudding cake in your life.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

Oh, pudding cake, how I love thee.

Considering I already have a lemon, apple cider, hot fudge, and hot fudge peanut butter slow cooker pudding cake, it was high time I got working on a classic vanilla (yellow cake) pudding cake.

This simple vanilla pudding cake was a test in patience (and self-control). It took several variations for it to be safe (read: won’t overflow in your oven) and perfect.

Of course, the resulting “fails” were readily gobbled up by me and my crew. We are not exclusionary when it comes to pudding cakes, failed or not.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

For this vanilla pudding cake, a simple sweet, creamy mixture is mixed and heated (to thicken just slightly) and poured into the prepared pan.

Although a little unnerving to do, but common to pudding cakes, the from-scratch cake batter is quickly mixed and poured over the top of the puddle of pudding in the pan.

That cake batter is going to sink right into the pudding. It will feel weird to undertake this illogical action, especially if you’ve never made a pudding cake before, but stay strong…all will be well in the end.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

With scientific principles rooted in things I don’t quite understand but believe it has something to do with ingredient density, as this delectable concoction bakes, the heavier ingredients (milk and cream and sugar) hang out in a delicious lake of silky vanilla pudding at the bottom while the lighter cake ingredients rise to the top.

It’s ok if little geysers of pudding form around the edges of the pudding cake. For the most part, the pudding will stay on the bottom and the cake on the top, and the whole amazing combination will complete your pudding cake loving soul.

And if it doesn’t, I suppose we can still be friends, but I generally try to surround myself with those who love pudding cake as much as I do.

I’m all about well-functioning friendships like that.

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

We serve this vanilla pudding cake with fresh berries most of the time, and when we feel especially indulgent, we add a dollop of lightly sweetened, whipped cream.

But honestly, one of the times when the cake decided to be naughty and not work out (I believe it was due to an incorrect ratio of pudding to cake and it was a little soupy), we let it cool a little (read: not at all) and dug right in without any adornments.

And it was incredibly satisfying and delicious, even despite the scorching our tongues and top of mouths endured. So, you know, maybe let it cool a little before grabbing a spoon.

Volcanic, bubbling pudding is something one should take very seriously and approach in a safe manner.

I hereby promise to take it more seriously in the future. Where oh where is the rolling eyes emoji when I need it?

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

You can see how the cake will to rise up to the top of the pan while baking and then fall once it is removed from the oven and cools. Don’t panic. All is as it should be.

The best pan to use for this cake is a glass, Pyrex-style 9X13-inch pan, but you can see from the pictures that a ceramic pan will also work.

Pudding cake certainly isn’t the prettiest or most well-presented dessert on the planet, but my goodness, who cares when it tastes like this?

One Year Ago: German Pancake {Whole Grain Option} with Butter Syrup
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Three Years Ago: French Bread Pizza Perfected

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

Yield: Serves 8-ish

Vanilla Bean Pudding Cake

I've made the pudding layer successfully in the microwave as well. In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk until the mixture is lump-free and smooth. Add the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and salt. Cook for 2-minute intervals in the microwave, whisking in between. In my microwave, it takes about 12 minutes total (so six intervals) to bubble and thicken slightly.

I am not a high altitude baking expert and usually avoid weighing in on high altitude baking tips, but because this cake rises right to the top of the baking pan and several of you have commented over the years that your cakes at high altitude sometimes overflow, I'd suggest adding a few extra tablespoons of flour to the batter as a precaution.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a glass 9X13-inch baking pan. Set the baking pan on a larger, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. For the pudding, in a medium saucepan (see note above for microwave directions), whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk until the mixture is lump-free and smooth. Add the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and salt.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes; it will thicken slightly (it will still be fairly runny but should be thicker than when the ingredients were cold). Stir in the vanilla and butter until the butter is melted.
  4. Pour the pudding mixture into the prepared pan.
  5. For the cake, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  6. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.
  7. Whisk just until combined - don't overmix. It's ok if the batter is slightly lumpy.
  8. Pour the batter in a steady stream across the pudding in the prepared pan - the cake batter will sink into the pudding, that's ok! Just try to pour the batter as evenly as possible over the pudding layer.
  9. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges and top of the cake are set with bubbling pudding underneath (some of the pudding may bubble up and over the edges of the cake; that's ok). Add additional time as needed. The cake will rise very close to the top of the baking pan while baking; after it is removed from the oven it will fall and settle a bit.
  10. Serve warm with fresh berries or whipped cream.

Recipe Source: adapted quite a bit from the Fall 2016 Sift Magazine from King Arthur Flour

65 Responses to From-Scratch Vanilla Pudding Cake

  1. Christy says:

    So I had some last minute people coming over and wanted a dessert that I could use strawberries I had on hand. I didn’t have any heavy cream so I used 2 cups of fat free half and half and one cup of milk instead and it still turned out great! I am sure it wasn’t as rich as the heavy cream would have made it, but everyone scarfed it down with rave reviews. Thanks!

  2. Julie says:

    This was absolutely delicious.

  3. Nancy says:

    Can you use instant pudding?
    The temp was in the #1 first item in the sentence.

  4. katie says:

    This was so yummy, our family loved it! It made me happy in the winter, thank you!

  5. Teresa Christensen says:

    Approximately how long does it take to get the pudding to the “thickened stage” before putting into the pan? I live in Mexico right now and I used what they call cornstarch. It looks like what I’m used to, but it never got thick. After 25 minutes I took it off of the stove. Perhaps the cream makes a difference too? Anyway, I was disappointed. I have a yummy cake swimming in “soup”! Any thoughts? Maybe I’ll have to wait until back in the states in three years!

  6. Teresa Christensen says:

    I am living in Mexico right now. I asked at the store for cornstarch. They acted like they knew what I was asking for, but my pudding never did turn out. It never thickened. After 25 minutes I decided to take it off of the stove and assumed it would thicken as it baked. But, it didn’t. It was very runny. Can you give me an idea of about how long I should have had the pudding on the stove before putting it in the pan? I’m not sure what I did wrong. The cake turned out, but it is swimming in soup! Such a disappointment!

  7. Nancy says:

    My family loves your hot fudge pudding cake recipe, so when I saw the vanilla pudding cake recipe I knew I had to give it a try. I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8×8 dish. It was delicious, and the perfect dessert for a cold winter day! Definitely a great comfort food that reminds me of desserts my mom used to make. I have now added another great new recipe to my collection!

  8. Megan says:

    My family loved this! My husband who has been requesting the same pie for his birthday for pretty much his entire life has now declared that this will replace it (gasp!). You have no idea how big of a deal that is! Thank you for another great recipe.

  9. Jamie says:

    This was fabulous! I halved the recipe and we ate it right out of the pan on Sunday. My husband is a nerd and said it would be better if it was chocolate. I have a great chocolate pudding cake recipe that I make on occasion, he just doesn’t like to branch out (totally a normal chocolate chip cookie type of guy). It did get me thinking though… what do you think would happen if I made the vanilla pudding and a chocolate cake batter?? Would it work? Because I think it would be magical if it did 🙂

  10. Nita says:

    This was my first time making or eating pudding cake and it was so tasty! We really loved this!

  11. A says:

    Made it for a family birthday yesterday. and it was scarfed down in three minutes flat. I only had 1% milk on hand, so it was a smidgeon runny, but no one complained. My SIL requested this for her birthday cake in a couple of weeks and my BIL was brainstorming ways to make it dairy free. You are my go-to source for all things delicious. Thanks again for another tasty recipe! You are the best!!

  12. Jen says:

    My pudding never thickened – it was still the consistency of milk at the end (I used 1% milk instead of 2% and my cornstarch was old so I’m not sure if that was the issue). Regardless, it was still delicious and everyone loved it! We will definitely make it again.

  13. Jennifer says:

    We had the sister missionaries over for dinner yesterday and I made this for dessert. It was perfection! Smelled delicious while baking and tasted delicious also! Thank you so much for this recipe. It was divine!

  14. Marie says:

    My daughter made this yesterday. The flavor was wonderful! My family didn’t dig the texture though, so I’m going to repurpose the leftovers somehow. On the other hand, her twin sister made your sweet and sour meatballs yesterday and they were fabulous! I’ve been laid up with foot problems lately and all of my children know to go to your website first for recipes to help with the cooking–they are practical and delicious. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.

  15. Marisa says:

    Came on your site to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe to make with the kiddos and saw this. Convinced the kids they needed this more in their lives than cookies.

    So glad I did. It’s delicious! Thanks for introducing me to pudding cakes!

  16. Wendy says:

    My husband is begging me to make this cake! Quick question though, if I used 3.5 cups of whole milk, would that work in place of the 2%/cream mix?

  17. Becky says:

    This was delicious! We had a house full of our kids and guests, so I made 1 1/2 times the recipe in an 11×15 inch pyrex and it turned out perfect. Such a nice vanilla flavor and the pudding mixed with the cake made a pleasing texture. Reminded us of tapioca. We had some left over today and reheated portions briefly in the microwave – very yummy again! Thank you for another keeper, Mel 🙂

  18. Alonna Smith says:

    Hey Mel,
    Can’t wait to try. So individual ramekins are not a good idea? Just a little more elegant when serving guests.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Alonna – yes, you could make it in ramekins. I haven’t tried it so I didn’t put that variation in the directions. I suppose you could split everything evenly between ramekins (maybe 8-ish?).

  19. Jessica Glover says:

    I made this cake this morning and it was fantastic! I also had little restraint and burned my tongue:) I have never had or made pudding cake but I will be trying all the variations!

  20. Em says:

    So…mine did not come out looking at all like yours, and I even cooked mine for an extra 15 minutes because it wasn’t setting up at all. It got a little browned on top and is craggy looking and almost has a tapioca type consistency. It was still delicious though! I wonder if the fact that I’m at sea level had something to do with it?

  21. Shanell Gambell says:

    Holy cow!! Not sure how I missed the chocolate version of this!?! I saw the vanilla, but were HUGE chocolate lovers over here so I made it for extended family last night. Holy hit. Everyone was raving about it and I’m just excited I get to eat it for breakfast. Thanks for including the other variations in your description! Mel for the win again!!!

  22. Rachel says:

    One of the first things my husband said walking in the door from work yesterday was “have you been following Mel?? She posted this vanilla pudding cake that looks amazing!!” He is right – it does look amazing haha! Thanks for getting me (and my husband 😉 so excited about cooking!

  23. Nina says:

    Is this a cake that must be served immediately? How does it hold up the next day? I’ve never eaten or baked a pudding cake but your story and photos have me hooked.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Nina – I think it is best served warm the day it’s made, but we’ve eaten the leftovers the next day (reheated in the microwave) and it’s tasty, too.

  24. KK says:

    Hi, I was wondering if I could substitute the sugar with honey?

  25. Paige says:

    I’ve never had a pudding cake before but this looks absolutely amazing! I must try this soon!

    Paige Flamm
    The Happy Flammily

  26. Becky says:

    Between your description and pictures, I started salivating while reading this. I can’t wait to try it! It looks great for any time of year, but how fun to have it in summer with whipped cream and freshly picked berries! I won’t be waiting until summer to try it, though!

  27. I just had a giant pudding cake fail last week as I was trying a “whole new idea!!!” 😉 with a chocolate pudding cake. Ugh! My attempted reinvention was a no go. Everyone ate it, because even a chocolate fail is still chocolate. I got discouraged and pushed it aside to work on other recipes. Now, so timely, you’ve posted this amazing looking vanilla pudding cake…and it is calling. my. name! Phew! Glad we can still be friends 🙂

  28. Alicia says:

    I tried the gingerbread pudding cake from that Sift issue. Absolutely delicious if you like gingerbread! The vanilla one was on my list to try. Thank you so much for taking the time to perfect recipes- I know I can always trust them.

  29. Erin says:

    Any chance you could make the batter before, assemble it a few hours before and then cook it?

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried it, but I think that could definitely work! I worry the cake batter might be a little too stiff after refrigerating to pour over the top, but maybe spooning it in big dollops would work.

  30. Nancy says:

    There is a comment in the note at the top about high altitude changes,it says add a few extra tablespoons to the batter. Is it flour? Does not state.

  31. TerriSue says:

    Oh Mel!, I know this may seem like sacrilege but I am a vanilla person. I could probably get by without chocolate. Vanilla though leaves me weak in the knees. I also like citrus but it’s the vanilla that I will always go back to. Thank you for a VANILLA pudding cake.

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Looks super yummy!! One question on your high altitude instructions — add a few extra tablespoons of what? Flour?

  33. I am a big fan of vanilla pudding. Have to try this for dessert tomorrow.

  34. Courtney says:

    I am going to make this right now. Because I need to meal plan, and I’m thinking pudding cake will make meal planning easier.

    Or, maybe not. But I beat it’ll be easier to get the family to help if I say “There’s pudding cake!”.

  35. Teresa says:

    That looks incredible. I just love any type of vanilla cake. I have a hot milk cake recipe that is sort of an old-fashioned vanilla cake recipe, and I just think it is fantastic. But with the pudding layer in yours, I can’t wait to try yours. I am curious how you like the Sift Magazine. I used to subscribe for years and years to the KAF monthly newsletter, which I loved. But I did not subscribe to Sift once they changed over to that. It looked beautiful but kind of pricey. Do you like it?

    • Mel says:

      I really, really like the Sift magazine. I agree it’s on the pricer end (and it only comes out several times a year, not once a month), but I have made several recipes from the fall issue I bought last year. I wish they would include slightly more recipes (vs some travel reviews and such), but there are still quite a few recipes included. I’m not sure how often I’ll purchase it, but there are definitely some great recipes in the one magazine I have.

  36. Camille says:

    What temperature do you bake this at? I can’t find it in the article, but maybe I missed it…

  37. mimsie says:

    From the photo and your description, this will be very next dessert I will make. Yummmmm.

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