birds custard powder is vegan

Is custard powder vegan?

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Traditionally, custard is made from egg, milk and sugar, so it’s not suitable for vegans. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out! Using custard powder could be an easy way to make vegan custard, you’ll just need to make sure you buy the right one.

Read on to find out what to look out for when buying vegan custard powder..

Is custard powder vegan friendly?

First, let’s understand exactly what we mean by custard powder, as there are two kinds.

  • Instant custard powder – Just add boiling water and stir
  • Regular custard powder – Add milk and sugar and boil for five minutes

Instant custard powder is not vegan because it contains cows milk, as well as palm oil which some people consider not to be vegan.

However, regular custard powder is vegan because you can choose your favourite plant-based milk to add, whether that be soya, oat, almond or something else.

fruit and vegan custard

What are the ingredients in custard powder?

The world’s most popular custard powder is Bird’s original custard powder. The ingredients in this brand of custard powder are:

  • Maize starch
  • Salt
  • Flavouring
  • Colour (annatto)
Bird's custard powder ingredients

Other brands of custard powder have very similar ingredients. For example, the label may say ‘cornflour’, which is actually the same as maize starch. Some brands use wheat starch instead.

Edmond’s custard powder contains beta-carotene and riboflavin for the colours. These ingredients are also vegan.

What brands of custard powder are vegan?

These brands of custard powder are vegan-friendly:

Bird's custard powder is vegan

Is Bird’s custard powder vegan?

Bird’s custard powder is suitable for vegans. The ingredients are maize starch, salt, flavouring and colour (annatto). You’ll need to add your own plant-based milk to it. Don’t get this product confused with Bird’s instant custard powder – that is not vegan as it contains milk.

Fact: Bird’s custard powder was created by Alfred Bird in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs.

Bird’s custard powder is not lablled as suitable for vegans, so I emailed the company that makes Bird’s custard powder, Premier Foods, to ask if they could confirm that it is. This was their response:

“If we can scientifically demonstrate that a product is suitable for a vegan diet then packaging will carry a ‘vegan’ flash on the pack. This is not the case at this moment in time for Bird’s custard due to our current manufacturing processes and operations where we manufacture products that do contain ingredients of animal origin and products that do not.”

Emma, Premier Foods

So, it seems that the reason why Bird’s custard powder is not labelled as vegan is that it’s made in the same factory as animal products and so there’s a chance of cross-contamination.

Most vegans will be happy to accept that this product is vegan because most products are not manufactured completely separately from animal products. However, if you have a severe allergy to milk or eggs than you may want to avoid it.

Read more: Is food that ‘may contain milk’ vegan?

Is Edmond’s custard powder vegan?

Edmond’s custard powder is suitable for vegans. The ingredients are maize cornflour, colours (beta-carotene, riboflavin), salt and flavour. This product is made on a production line that also produces products containing milk and eggs, so it’s possible that there are small traces of other ingredients.

Can you buy custard powder in the USA?

It seems that traditional custard sauce isn’t as popular in the USA and Canada. In these countries, custard tends to be eaten as a solid dessert, rather than a liquid which is poured over a dessert.

If you can’t find custard powder where you live, then it’s pretty straightforward to make vegan custard powder at home.

Vegan custard powder recipe


  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 50g of coconut milk powder
  • 50g of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • A few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)

To make vegan custard powder:

  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir until well-mixed.
  2. Transfer the mixture to an airtight jar. Voila! Your vegan custard powder is ready.

To make the vegan custard:

  1. Place 100ml of any plant milk into a pan and heat gently until it begins to bubble.
  2. Place one tablespoon of custard powder and a splash of plant milk into a jug. Mix to form a thick paste.
  3. Pour custard paste into the pan with the hot milk and mix well.
  4. Heat for a few minutes whilst stirring continuously, until the desired thickness is achieved.

Tip: If you like your custard to be sweeter, add a little more icing sugar to the jar for next time.

To conclude

Just because you’re vegan, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy custard with your favourite desserts. Whilst ready-made vegan custard is sometimes available to buy in health food shops, custard powder is much easier to find and it’s almost always accidentally vegan. Just be careful to avoid the ‘instant’ custard powder and make sure you pick up the kind where you add your own milk.

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