Natillas (Spanish Custard)

Natillas (Spanish Custard)

Natillas are one of the most popular traditional desserts in Spain. Natillas consist of a smooth yellow cream which tastes of vanilla and cinnamon, although you can also flavor the cream with chocolate or hazelnut, for instance. This recipe is to prepare vanilla-flavored natillas. The preparation is easy and quick, and you will have a great dessert!

Serves 6


Natillas (Spanish Custard)
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  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) whole milk
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 Tbsp (40 g) cornstarch
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 8 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 cookies (optional)
  • ground cinnamon for decoration


  1. Wash and dry the lemon. Peel the lemon finely (try to avoid as much of the white part as possible). In a large saucepan, heat 5 cups of milk on medium heat. When hot, but not boiling, remove from heat and stir in the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick split in two. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the cornstarch to the remaining cup of milk. Stir thoroughly until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. If necessary, use an electric mixer to eliminate any lumps.
  3. Separate the yolks from the whites. In a mixing bowl, add the yolks and the sugar, then beat using an electric mixer. Pour the milk with the cornstarch into the bowl and continue beating until it’s smooth and well mixed. Set aside.
  4. Strain the milk to remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and put the saucepan back on the stove. When hot, but not boiling, add the vanilla extract.
  5. Gradually pour the mixture while beating with a wooden spoon. Don’t stop stirring because the milk might stick to the saucepan or get burned. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens up, making sure that there are no lumps.
  6. Pour natillas into 6 small bowls using a sieve to eliminate any lumps. Let cool at room temperature, then cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. To serve, place a cookie on top of the cream and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

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