Vanilla Sauce (For German Dampfnudeln, and Other Delights)

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This quick and easy vanilla sauce is traditionally served with German Dampfnudel, a type of yeast dumpling with a storied history that’s still popular today in Germany.

Make this German custard style vanilla sauce at home, with real vanilla bean:

You’ve already learned a bit about this delicious dish in our previous post (link above) where we shared the recipe, but let’s quickly take a deeper dive into its historic significance:

Looking for a sweet sauce to serve on your favorite desserts, pancakes, or breakfast breads? Try our recipe for a German-style sauce with an interesting history. Traditionally served on Dampfnudeln, or yeast dumplings, this dish has an interesting history. Learn more and get the recipe now:

According to local legend going back to the time of the 30 Years War (which takes us back to the early 1600s), in a story recounted by The Kitchen Project, food was already scarce when the Swedish army showed up in the small town of Freckenfeld.

And they were hungry.

In an effort to spare the town, someone came up with the bright idea to satisfy the soldiers with a pleasant meal – and thus, the Dampfnudel was born.

German Vanilla Sauce |

Well, perhaps it wasn’t really born on this day. It’s not clear exactly when steamed dumplings first arrived on the scene in Germany. But they definitely played an important role on this particular day.

This is a simple dish, made with just flour and water, and a few other ingredients. As the story goes, the town baker Johanes Muck made 1286 dumplings that day (literally enough to feed an army) and Freckenfeld was spared.

In fact, an annual festival known as Dampfnudelfest is held in Freckenfeld (and elsewhere) to remember the baker who once saved his town from the invading army. And this doughy delight gained recent recognition on the exceedingly popular show The Great British Bake Off.

Also according to The Kitchen Project, though the most famous batch of Dampfnudeln was served with a wine sauce – which makes sense since Freckenfeld is in the Palatinate wine region (a.k.a. Pfalz auf Deutsch), the biggest wine growing region in Germany – its first reference in print was made in the early 1800s in a Bavarian cookbook. This version was served with a tasty vanilla sauce.

Make this delicious homemade vanilla sauce to top your favorite desserts and breakfast foods:

Made with egg yolks, our version of this sauce is more like a custard. And it’s delicious on German Dampfnudeln.

Though this type of yeast dumpling is often steamed in milk and served with a sweet sauce, it can also be made more savory as an accompaniment to soup, salad, or stew.

Though you may opt to serve your Dampfnudeln as a dessert, they really are filling and serve to make a wonderful meal at breakfast or brunch. Or serve them up glazed with a good portion of vanilla sauce as our favorite way to end the day – breakfast for dinner!

Of course, that’s not all this sauce is good for.

The possibilities are really endless. Try it with French toast, a warm slice of pear and apple pie, or a sweet chocolate and banana breakfast bread. This would also make an excellent glaze on a lemon bundt cake, and it would even pair well with a homemade Earl Grey lemon curd.

The Recipe

Vanilla Sauce Recipe |
German-Style Vanilla Sauce
Votes: 7
Rating: 3.71
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Vanilla Sauce Recipe |
German-Style Vanilla Sauce
Votes: 7
Rating: 3.71
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 cups milk,
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  1. Scrape out the vanilla pod. Put the vanilla pulp and the pod in a saucepan, add the milk, and bring to a boil.
  2. Take off the stove and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornstarch in another saucepan.
  4. Take the vanilla pod out, and pour the milk into the egg mixture while stirring constantly.
  5. Place over medium heat and stir the sauce constantly until it thickens, being careful not to allow it to return to a boil.
  6. Serve over Dampfnudeln, or your favorite breakfast bread or dessert.

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Combine Vanilla and Milk

This is a simple sauce to make, and there really aren’t many steps involved. In fact, making this sauce is very similar to preparing a custard, curd, or pudding.

First, scrape the pulp from your whole vanilla pod, and place both the seeds and the bean into a small saucepan. Add the milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

As soon as the boiling point is reached, remove from the heat. Set aside and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.

Step 2 – Combine Egg, Sugar, and Cornstarch

Combine vanilla-infused milk with sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch to make this delectable vanilla sauce:

Separate the yolks from the whites of two eggs, and reserve the whites for another use (like whipping up a batch of homemade meringue cookies).

In another saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until combined completely, and no lumps remain in the mixture.

Step 3 – Mix and Thicken

Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and gradually pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Place over medium heat and continue to stir constantly until the mixture thickens.

Combine Vanilla-Infused Milk, Egg Yolks, and Sugar to Make This Homemade Vanilla Sauce |

Be careful not to allow it to boil! You’ll notice that the sauce becomes more opaque and the texture suddenly changes rather dramatically.

You can also use a candy thermometer to determine when your mixture has cooked, if you can manage checking this while continuing to stir. You want to reach a temperature around 165°F.

Remove from the heat immediately, and transfer to another bowl or dish with a lid to stop the cooking process. If you want, you can strain the sauce with a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.

Serve over German Dampfnudeln, or any sweet dessert, breakfast, or bread that could benefit from a little sweet sauce action. You might also like our recipe for a super easy spiced glaze to cover your favorite baked goodies!

German Yeast Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce |

Dampfnudeln, or Southern German Yeast Dumplings – Get the Recipe Now
What will you do with your German-style vanilla sauce? Let us know in the comments (we’re always looking for more great ideas!)

Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Allison Sidhu

Allison M. Sidhu is a culinary enthusiast from southeastern Pennsylvania who has returned to Philly after a seven-year sojourn to sunny LA. She loves exploring the local restaurant and bar scene with her best buds. She holds a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College and an MA in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, chilling in the garden, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a dollar dog and crab fries at the Phillies game.

10 thoughts on “Vanilla Sauce (For German Dampfnudeln, and Other Delights)”

  1. You are talking my language, now. This is one of my favorite flavors for.. just about everything. I would enjoy some of this right now. It looks lovely.

    Thankfully, it doesn’t seem too difficult to make. I am thinking of all kinds of ways to use this. It would be good as a glaze over cakes instead of using frosting.

    I need to add it to my list of new things I want to try for the holidays.

    Yum. Maybe I will make some sooner.

  2. This looks amazing. It is one of those things that I can see myself putting over everything and really trying out what it can be used on, which is exciting for me. I am trying to think about whether it is more of a sweet thing or more savory, but I guess the only way to find out is try both of them.

  3. I love using this vanilla sauce recipe for Choux a la Creme with powdered sugar on top, it’s an amazing combination! This sauce pretty much goes well with anything that’s considered “sweet”, it’s delicious!

  4. I’m surprised that vanilla sauce is popular in Germany. Vanilla isn’t indigenous to the area, and I think it would be a bit harder to find. Or am I making a mistake on this? I like the idea of the Earl Grey lemon curd, however. I enjoyed the recipe for the dampfnudeln, and I’ll have to give the vanilla sauce a try. Thanks for posting this!

  5. This sounds absolutely delicious 🙂

    There is no way I’ll cook 1286 dumplings in one day, lol, but I like the idea of this sauce over raisin toast. I’m trying to think what else I could use it with – over chocolate cake (especially if it’s a little stale and needs some moisture or to make it a little fancier for unexpected guests!) or maybe instead of custard in a trifle.

    I’ll have to try out the chocolate banana bread and lemon curd Bundt cake recipes, too 🙂

  6. I want to eat some of this vanilla sauce right now. I wonder if you could eat it as a pudding or if it would be too sweet or runny. I think it would be really good on berries. I also think it would be interesting to eat it with waffles. I have some friends who always make blanc mange with their waffle and this looks like it might be a tastier option.
    I would like to try this with regular vanilla instead of a bean. I know it won’t be as good but I don’t ever have vanilla beans on hand and would like to try this.

  7. This sounds fantastic. I have three young kids so breakfast time is hectic some days. We usually make pancakes or waffles at least 4 days a week. As toppings, its always syrup or a fruit blend (consisting of fresh fruit and sugar). We need a slight change for our breakfast routine. I think this may be just the thing.

  8. This looks great! Can it be made ahead of time, then refrigerated?
    I am thinking of making it for pouring over some hot buttered apples that will be made in the slow cooker.

    • Hi, Amy. Thanks for your question! This sauce is like a custard, so keep in mind that it may not be as pourable after refrigeration, and it may melt if exposed to high temperatures when you serve it. Since it can be prepared in about 20 minutes, serving it immediately is recommended. But I’d like to know how it goes if you do give advance prep and refrigeration a try. Enjoy the apples- they sound delicious. 🙂


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