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A Vanilla Mousse Recipe

You’ll love this Vanilla Mousse recipe. This ethereal, light as air dessert is flavored with real vanilla bean. Serve it with fresh fruit, chocolate shavings or fruit sauce.

six dessert dished filled with vanilla mousse

Did you know that vanilla is a bean pod produced by an orchid? If you read about how vanilla beans are produced you can understand why they are the second most expensive spice in the world (after saffron).

Despite the fact that folks use the phrase “plain vanilla” to describe something that is basic or uninteresting, I say that real vanilla flavor is anything but boring.

This Vanilla Mousse recipe is a great way to highlight and appreciate the complex floral flavor of the vanilla bean.

To truly appreciate the vanilla flavor, serve this dessert au naturale. But it’s also lovely topped with fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, chocolate shavings or fruit puree.

Vanilla mousse also makes a great cake filling, especially between layers of light and airy Vanilla Genoise or Vanilla Chiffon Cake.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Vanilla Mousse:

three side by side photos showing how to make vanilla custard as the base for vanilla mousse
Scald the milk with the vanilla bean. “Liason” the milk with the egg yolks. Cook the custard over low heat until it thickens.
two photos showing how to scrape seeds from a vanilla bean and how to chill vanilla custard to avoid a skin on top
Use a small paring knife to scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean. Place a sheet of wax paper on the custard to prevent a skin from forming while it chills.
side by side photos showing the three steps to mixing a vanilla mousse
1. To mix the mousse, have the custard base, whipped eggs whites and warm gelatin ready to go. 2. “Liason” the gelatin into the custard base. 3. After the gelatin is added, fold the whipped egg whites into the mousse.
a dish of vanilla mousse topped with wild blueberries
a closeup of a spoonful of vanilla mousse

For you chocoholics I recommend this classic Chocolate Mousse recipe and for fruit lovers I think you’d like Fresh Strawberry Mousse.

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with all the extra egg whites? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra whites for some great ideas.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a dish of vanilla mousse on a pink plate

Vanilla Mousse

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Vanilla Mousse is an ethereal, light as air dessert flavored with real vanilla bean. Serve it with fresh fruit, chocolate shavings or fruit sauce.


  • 1 cup (8 oz, 240 ml) whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 112g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 oz, 14g) corn starch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 240 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or other liquor (or use water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons plain gelatin powder
  • 2 large egg whites


  1. Place the the milk in a pot over medium high heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the milk along with the pod. Heat until the milk is scalding hot, but not boiling.
  2. Remove 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and set it aside.
  3. While the milk heats up, whisk together the rest of the sugar with the corn starch and egg yolks. Whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks, then return the mix to the heat. Cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil and thickens. Remove from the heat and strain into a clean bowl. Discard the vanilla pod or rinse it and set in a bin of sugar to make vanilla sugar.
  4. Refrigerate the custard for at least 2 hours (must be completely cooled) before continuing with the recipe. To speed up cooling, set the bowl of custard over a bowl of ice water and stir until cooled.
  5. Whip the cream to soft peak and fold it into the chilled custard base. Return the bowl to the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
  6. Place the rum (or cool water) into a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin in an even layer over the rum and set it aside to bloom.
  7. Combine the egg whites with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl. Set the bowl over the pan of almost simmering water (don't allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water) and heat to 160°F, stirring constantly. Remove the whites from the heat and whip until they are at full peak and completely cooled.
  8. Heat the bloomed gelatin in the microwave in 10 second increments until it's hot to the touch. Working quickly, add a 1/2 cup of the mousse to the warmed gelatin. Whisk to combine. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the mousse. Immediately whisk until the mousse is smooth and the gelatin is evenly incorporated. Immediately fold the whites into the mousse.
  9. Pipe or spoon the mousse into serving glasses while it's is still soft. Refrigerate until set.
  10. Serve with fresh berries, fruit sauce or chocolate shavings.

Did you make this recipe?

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Monday 23rd of January 2023

Hi, can I omit the egg whites?

Eileen Gray

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Yes, but it won't be as light and airy. It will be more like whipped cream than mousse.


Thursday 8th of December 2022

Hello, How can I turn this into a hazelnut mousse (using hazelnut butter)? Thank you

Eileen Gray

Thursday 8th of December 2022

I could say 100% without testing, but my instinct would be to add hazelnut butter to the hot custard. The final mousse may be a bit heavier, but I think that should work.


Monday 21st of November 2022

Just wondering if a full peak for the egg whites is the same as stiff?

Eileen Gray

Tuesday 22nd of November 2022

Full peak means when you lift the whisk and hold it up the egg whites peak and hold their shape without slumping over. It is possible to go too far after full peak and over whisk the whites. At some point if the whites start spinning in the bowl they have release some of the water and the structure is weakened. As soon as the whites hold their shape they are ready.


Saturday 11th of June 2022

Wow! This recipe is so delicious. It was a ton of work but the mousse set properly and I super appreciated that the egg whites were not raw but cooked to 160*. Will I make again? Maybe - it is a lot of work. Will I want others to make it for me? Yes. I paired with some strawberries that complimented it perfectly.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 11th of June 2022

Glad you liked it. It is perhaps a "special occasion" recipe. But, once you go through the process, it is quicker the next time.

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