Vanilla Budino with Strawberry Sauce

Pudding, but make it fancy! Vanilla Budino with Strawberry Sauce is a fresh take on a classic Italian dessert. This budino recipe is gorgeous and creamy, delightfully wobbly and topped with juicy strawberries.

Whenever I feel like making something simple yet impressive for dessert, I find myself gravitating to this creamy vanilla budino. Since strawberries are in season, I thought it only fitting to give this wiggly, pudding-like dessert the Royal treatment with a drizzle of homemade strawberry sauce.

Budino is what you call a pantry dessert: a treat that you can make using common pantry items, often without a trip to the shop. The end result is fancy enough for special occasions like parties, and low effort enough to whip up whenever you feel like it.

What is Budino?

Fair question. Traditional budino is an Italian dessert that’s a bit like a custard (the word “budino” is actually Italian for custard or pudding). The texture is rich and creamy thanks to ingredients like milk and egg yolks, sometimes thickened with cornstarch – a bit like flan. 

Budino can be prepared in a mold, or in jars as a single portion dessert. I make my homemade budino in molds with gelatin, for the perfect wobble!

A bowl of strawberries next to a bowl of vanilla cream mixture and a bowl of eggs, next to scattered mini bundt cake tins.

Key Ingredients

Here is what you’ll need for the pudding as well as the strawberry sauce. Remember to check the recipe card later in the post for the full amounts.

For the Budino

  • Whole Milk – I use whole milk, but 2% milk will also work.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated white sugar is best, and won’t discolor the white pudding.
  • Heavy Cream – This gives your budino an unbeatable richness and creaminess.
  • Vanilla Extract – Nothing beats pure vanilla extract in this recipe, for its lovely natural flavor.
  • Egg Yolks – Egg yolks give the pudding a custard-like texture. 
  • Gelatin – Gelatin comes in sheets or powder, both will work.

For the Strawberry Sauce

  • Strawberries – Fresh, ripe strawberries are best. However, you can use frozen strawberries if fresh ones are not in season.
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice – Use freshly squeezed lemon if you can.

What Is Gelatin and What Does It Do?

Gelatin is a tasteless, clear collagen protein that’s used as a thickener and gelling agent in food like jellies and gummy candies. The powder that you combine with hot water when making classic boxed Jell-O? Yep, gelatin powder. It’s also used in recipes like panna cotta and marshmallows to give them their signature jiggle. 

Egg yolks are whisked together with sugar in a glass mixing bowl, next to the pudding cream mixture and a bowl of strawberries.

How to Make the Vanilla Budino

Making these beautiful, custardy vanilla budinos (budini?) is easier than you’d think. If you’ve never worked with gelatin before, no need to worry. Let’s walk through how to make your homemade pudding:

  • Prepare the gelatin. First, you’ll need to get your gelatin ready by combining it with cold water. If you’re using gelatin sheets, soak them in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. If you’re using gelatin powder, whisk the powder into a small bowl of cold water. Let it “bloom” for 5 minutes, then stand the bowl in a hot (not boiling!) water bath and continue to whisk until the powder is dissolved.
  • Prepare the cream. Set aside the gelatin while you combine the cream ingredients in a saucepan. Add in the vanilla, then bring the cream to a simmer. 
  • Add the gelatin to the cream. Take the saucepan off the heat before you add the gelatin. If you’re using gelatin sheets, lift them out of the water and stir them into the cream until they’re fully dissolved. If you’ve used powder, let the cream cool to about the same temperature as your gelatin mixture before combining the two (this is what avoids clumping!).
  • Add the rest of the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Stir this into the cream mixture, and then it’s time to shape your budino! 

Shaping Your Budino 

Now comes the even easier part. Pour your budino mixture into single portion molds. I use a mini bundt cake mold that I’ve had for ages to shape my budino, but you can find similar molds online (here’s another option). (Affiliate links.) 

Once your pudding is in the molds, place it in the fridge. The budino needs to chill for at least 4 hours before serving. For this reason, this recipe is a great dessert to make a day ahead so that it can chill overnight, too.

Top view of two vanilla budinos on Delftware plates, next to a bowl of strawberries.

Making the Strawberry Sauce

While your pudding is setting up in the fridge, go ahead and prepare the strawberry sauce. I make mine by hulling and cubing the strawberries before placing them in a pan with sugar and lemon juice. Cook the berries until they reduce down to a pulp.

When it comes time to serve your budinos, invert the molds onto a plate and then garnish the pudding with strawberry sauce and fresh chopped berries. See the section below for more serving suggestions.

Top view of two vanilla budinos topped with strawberry sauce on Delftware plates.

Tips for Success

  • Don’t boil the gelatin. When preparing the gelatin powder (if that’s the kind you’re using), be careful to not overheat the warm water bath. Boiled gelatin will become stringy, so warm it just enough so that it will dissolve smoothly in the warm cream.
  • Give the budino enough time to chill. I repeat: this vanilla budino needs to chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours before serving. No shortcuts! If you know you’ll be pressed for time, rather plan to make your budino 1-2 days ahead.
Top view of vanilla budino topped with strawberry sauce on a plate, with spoonfuls missing.

Serving Suggestions 

No matter the season or occasion, there’s always the option to customize this Italian pudding. Top your vanilla budino with any of the following:

  • Whipped cream – Either store bought or homemade.
  • Blueberry sauce – In place of strawberry sauce, if you prefer.
  • Fresh fruit – You can use any kind of berry or even fresh mango and peach.
  • Caramel sauce or chocolate fudge sauce
  • Nuts – Toasted and chopped pecans, almonds or pistachios. You can see how to toast pistachios in my Spumoni Ice cream recipe.

How to Store Budino 

Vanilla budino will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days. Be sure to store the pudding covered tightly in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. 

Print

Vanilla Budino with Strawberry Sauce

Vanilla budino topped with strawberry sauce on a Delftware plate, next to a spoon.
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Vanilla budino with homemade strawberry sauce is a fresh take on a classic Italian pudding dessert. Gorgeous and creamy, delightfully wobbly and topped with juicy strawberries!

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Rest time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

For the Budino

  • 1 1/2 whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 gelatin sheets or 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatin

For the Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon

Instructions

Prepare the gelatin. The gelatin needs to be prepped by combining it with cold water before you begin making the budino. 

  • For gelatin sheets: Soak sheets of gelatin in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes.
  • For gelatin powder: Place cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin whisking with a fork. Set aside for 5 minutes. Stand the bowl in a heatproof bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Do not boil gelatin!

Prepare the cream. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, add vanilla. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

Add gelatin to the cream. If you used gelatin sheets: Take the gelatin out of the cold water and squeeze out the excess, then add to the milk mixture. Stir until completely dissolved.

  • If you used gelatin powder : Let it cool a little bit before adding to the mixture. Both mixtures (gelatin and cream ) should be a similar temperature to avoid any lumps.

Add rest of ingredients. Add sugar and egg yolks into a bowl and mix well with a whisk, add to the milk mixture and stir .

Prepare the molds. Pour the mixture into a single portion pudding molds, and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving. Overnight is better.

Prepare the strawberry sauce. Cut 1 cup strawberries into cubes, put in a pan with 2 tbsp sugar and the lemon juice and cook for 10 minutes or until strawberries reduce to pulp.

Serve. Garnish your pudding with a tbsp strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries cut into small pieces.

Notes

Vanilla budino can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days at most, well covered with plastic wrap, or in an airtight container.

Keywords: vanilla pudding, italian dessert recipes, vanilla custard

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