How to Prepare Creme Anglaise

Three Parts:Preparing the IngredientsMixing the Crème AnglaiseServing the Crème Anglaise

Crème anglaise is a dessert sauce made from eggs, cream and fresh vanilla. Crème anglaise is commonly used in fine restaurants to decorate and enhance pastries and other desserts, adding a bit of richness or contrast and heightening the dish's flavor and presentation. It's as delicious with a bowl of strawberries as it is poured over a slice of dark chocolate torte. See Step 1 to learn how to make it.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Special equipment: a bain marie or double boiler

Part 1
Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 1
    Open the vanilla bean. Make an incision, lengthwise, down the center of the vanilla bean using a sharp paring knife. Be careful not to cut the bean all the way through. When done correctly, the bean will have an open slit running down one side, while the other side remains closed. This will allow the seeds inside the bean to emerge from the casing and flavor the crème anglaise.
    • Vanilla beans can be found in specialty cooking shops or gourmet grocery stores. They can also be ordered online.
    • The longer the vanilla bean, the stronger the vanilla flavor will be in the finished sauce. Look for a 2–4 inch (5.1–10.2 cm) piece for this recipe.
    • If you don't have a vanilla bean, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.
    • As an alternative try orange or lemon crème anglaise. Simply switch out the zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon for the vanilla bean.[1]
  2. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 2
    Heat the bain marie. Fill the bottom of the bain marie with 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of water and place it on the stove on medium heat. Allow the water to come to a simmer.
    • A bain marie, also known as a double boiler, is a pot nested inside another pot. The pot on the bottom is used to hold water, while the top pot holds the food item you are cooking.
    • The purpose of a double boiler is to heat foods at a lower temperature. If you do not have a bain marie, fill a saucepan about 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) with water and place a metal mixing bowl or a smaller pan on top.
  3. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 3
    Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place two containers on a flat surface, one to hold the egg whites and the other to hold the yolks. Hold one hand over the container reserved for the egg whites and crack an egg into the hand. Let the egg whites slip through the space between your fingers, but not the yolk. Place the yolk in the bowl reserved for egg yolks.
    • Repeat this process with the rest of the eggs (6 total) until all the egg yolks are separated from the egg whites.
    • You can also separate eggs by holding a cracked egg over a bowl and passing the yolks back and forth between the shell halves so that the white drops into the bowl. Place the separated yolk into a second bowl.

Part 2
Mixing the Crème Anglaise

  1. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 4
    Whip the sugar and the egg yolks. Place the yolks and the 6 tablespoons of sugar into a medium-sized metal mixing bowl. Whip them vigorously with a wire whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy. You may use an electric mixer instead.
  2. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 5
    Heat the milk with the vanilla bean. Put the 2 cups of milk and the vanilla bean into a small saucepan. Heat it over medium low heat until it's heated through to the point of scalding, but not boiling. Remove it from heat.
    • You can tell when the milk is scalded by watching the edges of the pan. When you see steam begin to rise where the milk touches the edge of the pan, it's time to remove it from heat.
    • If you want a richer sauce, use 2 full cups of cream. For a less rich sauce, use only milk or one cup of milk and one cup of cream.
  3. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 6
    Stir the scalded milk into the egg mixture. Slowly pour the milk into the mixing bowl containing the sugar and egg mixture while whipping constantly with the wire whisk. Continue until the milk has been thoroughly blended with the sugar and egg mixture.[2]
  4. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 7
    Pour the sauce into the bain marie. Make sure the water in the bottom of the double boiler is simmering, and pour the egg, sugar and milk in the top part of the bain marie (or mixing bowl, if you made your own double boiler).
  5. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 8
    Heat the sauce slowly. Stir it constantly with a small rubber spatula. Do not let the sauce get too hot, as it can curdle. Keep stirring until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, then remove it from the heat.

Part 3
Serving the Crème Anglaise

  1. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 9
    Chill the crème anglaise. It is always served ice cold, never hot. Pour the sauce into a glass container and set it in the refrigerator. Serve only when it is entirely chilled. You can make the sauce a day ahead and pull it from the refrigerator when you're ready to use it.
  2. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 10
    Serve it with a slice of cake. This is a classic way to serve crème anglaise, since it provides a delicious balance for chocolate and other cake flavors. Pour some of the sauce into the middle of a dessert plate, so that it spreads and forms a shallow pool. Place the sliced cake on top of the crème anglaise. Top with a second drizzle of crème anglaise, some berry coulis or chocolate syrup for a perfect presentation.
  3. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 11
    Serve it with sorbet. The light, creamy crème anglaise pairs wonderfully with a scoop of tart sorbet, like lime, raspberry or peach. Pour some crème anglaise into a sorbet dish, then place a scoop of sorbet in the middle of the dish. Top with a mint sprig to add even more flair to the dish.
  4. Image titled Prepare Creme Anglaise Step 12
    Serve it with fruit. If you want a light, delicious dessert, serve crème anglaise with some simply chopped fruit. Try it with strawberries for a heightened, gourmet version of strawberries and cream. It's also perfect with blackberries, cherries or mango slices.


  • To make a fresh vanilla ice cream, freeze a batch of crème anglaise.
  • Make crème anglaise, more quickly by substituting the use of a bain marie with a heavy saucepan. Extreme caution should be taken when preparing crème anglaise without a bain marie, however, as the sauce will break, or scorch, easily when prepared in a saucepan.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal mixing bowl or a bain-marie double boiler
  • Small rubber spatula
  • Thin wire whisk

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Sauces