How to make Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Vanilla Rice Custard Cream

Ever since I switched to a vegetarian / healthy lifestyle, all of my (previously frequent) sweet cravings, save for gelato in the summer, completely disappeared. I have never been a sugar addict, but I would definitely feel like I needed a sugar fix sometimes.
Recently, me and Enrico started this ritual of having breakfast every now and then at this amazing place called La Cucina Naturale, which makes the most amazing vegan pastries and brioches I’ve ever tried. I had completely banished the classic Italian-style breakfast of croissant and cappuccino from my lifestyle, as it really made me feel terrible. But their pastries just leave you feeling satisfied yet light, and so does the amazing almond cappuccino they serve. One of the things that really struck me the most is how good their sweet vanilla rice custard cream was: rich and tasty, yet it did not feel greasy or heavy at all. And, incredibly, it was vegan! I HAD to try and make it at home.

Well, theirs is still the best I think, but this one came so incredibly close.
I will need this recipe for Lab Noon’s birthday party, which I will post in just a couple days, so I decided to make a separate mini-post about it, as it could come in handy many other times.

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Rice Custard Cream | Hortus Natural Cooking

I am super happy to share this recipe. I hope you try it and let me know if you do!
My version uses lemon and vanilla, but you could make it just vanilla by just adding more of it, or you could make a chocolate version by adding a tbsp of cocoa and an ounce of melted dark chocolate. Still vegan, still gluten-free, still delish.
NOTE: I use dark brown muscovado sugar, but in this case it will turn out brown-ish. To make it whiter, use light brown sugar. I made two batches with two different sugars then mixed them up for the photos.

Do you have a foolproof recipe for vegan custard?

Sweet Rice Custard Cream (Vegan, Gluten-free)
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 cups Rice milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp potato or corn starch
  • 3 heaping tbsps rice flour
  • 3 tbsp brown whole sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • The peel of 1 large lemon, plus its juice (do not add the juice if you want less lemon flavor)
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil, or ¼ cup coconut milk
  1. Put the rice flour and starch in a pot, and slowly whisk in the milk to combine. Whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, scraped vanilla seeds plus the bean, the lemon peel and juice, and coconut oil or milk. Turn on the burner to medium-low, and cook the custard, whisking slowly. As the custard thickens, whisk a but more vigorously. Once it will have thickened to about the consistency of pancake batter, turn off the fire and let cool.
  2. This custard is best when used straight away, as it might loosen up if it sits in the fridge. If that happens, just re-heat it with another teaspoon of rice flour until thickened again.
  3. This custard is perfect for garnishing tarts and cakes, or eaten as is as dessert!

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Rice Custard Cream | Hortus Natural Cooking

  1. Could I use Almond Milk instead of the Rice milk. I ask that because I usually have almond milk on hand. The custard looks delicious and I have to say I always admire your beautiful photography as well as your recipes but I especially like the “light” look of your recent photographs. Gracie per la ricotta.

  2. I have a pretty much similar recipe, but I use cashew butter in place of coconut oil and regular wheat flour. I think mine is a bit thicker, but maybe it’s just a matter of cooking time. I love it because it’s really easy and quick to make, and heathier than regular custard! I use it to garnish strawberry pies and I’m sure no one can guess it’s vegan!

    • Oh wow! Is it on your blog?! I tried looking but couldn’t find anything. It is probably thicker with wheat flour, yes, but once baked, this one held really well! Love the idea of using cashew butter!

  3. Wow Valentina! Astonishingly beautiful photos apart, it’s really hard to believe that the custard is vegan! I am so going to make this! Though I really dislike store-bought rice milk. They always have added sugar and I just don’t like the taste. However there’s a brand of vegetal milk that you can always find in Naturasì (it’s called Isola Bio I think?) and they add no sugar to their milks. They have a light oat milk that is basically oats, water and a dash of salt and I love it. I think I’ll try it with that.

    I am so happy you’re coming to the party and I can’t wait for tomorrow! (Also because I realised I don’t know know were to use custard!) <3

  4. My usual go-to vegan pudding/dessert is almond-chia pudding flavored with honey or maple syrup. But after I see this vanilla rice custard cream, I am so excited to have an alternative. Your photos are simply gorgeous and I cannot wait to see the dessert that you make with it for the birthday party.

  5. Any alternative to the coconut oil or coconut milk? My son is allergic to alot of thing, coconuts included. :-/

    • Hey Christine! Try regular butter or maybe rice oil instead of coconut oil, and cream instead of the coconut milk if he’s not allergic to dairy. Otherwise, just skip it. Hopefully you find a way around it!