Instant Pot Custard

Few treats fill me with more nostalgia than homemade custard. It was one of those things my mom made a lot and we never tired of finding those small dishes of creamy, cinnamon-topped wonderfulness in the fridge. Some never even made it to the fridge – it’s yum warm, too! As I remembered it anyway – I hadn’t made or had homemade custard in years.

It was a visit to a friend’s house where we were nibbling on mixed berries – delightful with a nice Shiraz – that made me think of it again, thinking how amazing that ripe raspberry would be with a spoonful of custard. Thus beginnith my quest for the best, lowest calorie custard. Note the word “best” comes before “lowest calorie.”

It took me several tries comparing 2% vs whole milk and different sweetening options. The stevia no-calorie option was not to my liking at all even in a 50/50 combination with sugar. (If you find it palatable and/or you are doing low-carb, use it!) If sugar is a requirement to make me happy, then honey is my sweetener of choice to get some anti-oxidant benefits as well. The 2% milk was pretty good; the whole milk is noticeably better and for only a couple of calories per serving difference, pffft, whole it is.

I also tried a couple of different techniques, specifically scalding the milk first vs mixing it with the eggs cold. Of course, I tried cold first (I always start with the laziest easiest option). Though there were no doubt several contributing factors, the final custard separated terribly. Since then I have scalded the milk – no biggie, just 3 minutes in the nuke while I’m beating the eggs and stuff – and with some googling found out that I was cooking it for way too long. (I was following a recipe that came up near the top of the Google search engine but it’s clear to me now the author has never actually made it, there were so many completely wrong things.)

Don’t let my whining make you think there is anything difficult about this! It’s actually so simple and quick once you know how long to cook it – or not cook it, as evidenced by my earlier attempts. It takes about 5 minutes of preparation followed by 20ish minutes total cooking time (with pressure build and release) during which time you can wander off and do something fun.

The following is, IMO, the best custard this side of Creme Brulee but this one we can indulge in every day. 6 satisfying servings are only 125 calories each (compared to 350 calories in the same size serving of Creme Brulee). Top with some mixed berries for an under 150-calorie indulgence that’s company worthy! It’s a perfectly acceptable breakfast as well. 🙂

What I used to make this recipe:

  • 6-qt Instant Pot
  • Qt-size Pyrex measuring cup (can anyone live without one of these?)
  • 6 – 4oz ramekins
custard done

Instant Pot Simple Custard


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond extract or… ?)
  • bare pinch salt
  • ground cinnamon

To make:

  1. Heat milk to scalding (not boiling). I use a quart-size Pyrex measuring cup, microwave about 3 minutes.
  2. With a whisk, beat eggs well. (Do NOT use an electric mixer! It just froths it all up and bubbles happen in the custard.)
  3. Add honey and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Add hot milk just a trickle at a time at first while whisking eggs to avoid cooking them. Mix all the milk in until well blended.
  5. Pour into Instant Pot-safe individual ramekins or baking dish.
  6. Cover tightly with foil. (Do NOT poke holes in the foil for steam release.)
  7. Add 1 – 2 cups of water to Instant Pot; insert rack.
  8. Stack ramekins in IP on rack. Cover and seal.
cust in pot
  1. Set to high pressure for 1 (ONE) minute; slow release for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from IP. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon, add nutmeg as well if you like.
  3. Cover and chill.

6 servings = 125 cal each


  • 1/2 cup mixed berries = 20 cal;
  • pouf of non-fat whipped cream = 5 cal

Total calories: 150

“Creme Brulee” Variation: If you use individual ramekins, for 16 calories more per serving you can omit the cinnamon and instead sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the tops of each and use a butane torch to “brulee” your custard for that distinctive, Creme Brulee crunchy, tappy top. You can get the funnest part of Creme Brulee AND a big ass glass of wine freebie for the calories saved! Love.

Custard Sundae Variation: Drizzle the top with chocolate or caramel sauce. Sprinkle with nuts, or not. Add whipped cream, maybe a cherry. Zen. Be One.

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