Vegan Napoleon Dessert Recipe

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Easy vegan Napoleon dessert or custard puff pastry made with rich coconut and cashew milk, vanilla extract and thickened with cornstarch or tapioca. Dairy-free and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

Vegan Napoleon Dessert

I meant to post this dairy-free custard dessert last Christmas but it clearly didn’t make it to the blog on time, so now you have it ready for Valentine’s and Easter with plenty of Tim etc do a practice run ahead. Let’s do this!

“Mille Feuille” also known as a “Napoleon” a classic Neapolitan pastry dessert of ancient origins filled with a rich and thick vanilla custard or “ crème pâtissière – pretty much a dessert sandwich!

Why is it called a Napoleon?

The dessert’s original name was a “napolitain or millefoglie” meaning a “thousand leaves” referring to the many flaky layers surrounding the custard. So a sweet treat in the style of Naples not France, yup that’s Napoli from Italy!

It is thanks to the French pastry chef Creme who made the dessert popular that France is taking credit for the Napoleons. Wowza for culinary history, right?!


How to Make Dairy Free Custard Cream Filling

  1. It’s as simple as whisking together some plant milk with cornstarch or tapioca and simmering until thick. Sweeten with maple syrup and infuse with some good vanilla extract for the best, most decadent plant-based custard.
  2. You can let it cool and enjoy it as a pudding topped with your favorite fruit or preserves, use it in a trifle, to fill a tart, a pie, a cake or to make some lovely Italian pastry desserts like yours truly.
Easy Vegan Custard Puff Pastry Napoleon - Mille Feuille

Is Puff Pastry Vegan?

Believe it or not there is vegan puff pastry in the freezer section of your grocery store. Just make sure to check the ingredient list on the back of the box unless it is labeled as plant based or features the V symbol on the package already.

Can You Make Custard with Almond Milk?

Sure, you can replace all the plant mil in the recipe with almond, just know that the result won’t be quite as lusciously rich as it is with the higher fat content from coconut or cashew milk.

You’ll Love this Napoleon Dessert! It’s:

Super Easy to Make
Crisp & Creamy
Egg & Dairy Free
Sweet & Salty
Kind to the animals!
Easy Vegan Custard Puff Pastry Napoleon - Mille Feuille

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4.89 from 9 votes

Vegan Napoleon Dessert

Easy vegan custard puff pastry Napoleon made with rich coconut and cashew milk, vanilla extract and thickened up with tapioca. Dairy-free and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Defrosting Puff Pastry:35 minutes
Total Time:25 minutes


  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract (or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch (or 4 tbsp tapioca)
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional for color)
  • 1 sheet vegan puff pastry (9x9)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar for dusting


  • Defrost the puff pastry according to the instructions on the box, usually 30-40 minutes at room temperature. 
  • Preheat your oven to 400”F.
  • Roll out the pastry sheet on a parchment lined cookie sheet, pierce with a fork and cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Make the Custard:

  • In a medium sauce pan over medium flame whisk together the cashew and coconut milk, maple syrup and tapioca or cornstarch. Bring to a simmer and continue whisking for a good 5 to 10 minutes on medium-low flame until the custard has thickened. Whisk in the vanilla extract or seeds and allow to cool off. (If you wish to give your custard a more yellowish tone make sure to whisk in the turmeric as well. Start with 1/8 tsp and up to 1/4 tsp so you don't overdo it. It won’t affect the flavor just the color).

Assemble the Napoleons:

  • Carefully separate the top and bottom part of the puff pastry, it should easily come apart. Place the bottom parts in a small baking dish lined with parchment paper.
  • Spread the vanilla custard on top and cover with the top layer of puff pastry.
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set. Use a serrated knife and cut into 10 rectangles or 8 squares to your liking. Dust with powder sugar and serve! 


  • If using turmeric make sure to start with a tiny pinch 1/8 teaspoon and work your way up to 1/4 teaspoon. The more turmeric the more golden your custard will be.
  • Some people don't like the texture of tapioca, if you are those people please use cornstarch instead. 


Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 102mg | Potassium: 126mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Vegan Custard, vegan recipes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 316kcal
Author: Florentina

Vegan Desserts:

vegan salted caramel sauce
Vegan Salted Caramel
Italian Wedding Cookies
Italian Wedding Cookies
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Chocolate Avocado Pudding

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    1. Is it possible to make this without maple syrup?
      My Mom (who’d I like to bake this dessert for) is going through this phrase of not consuming ‘sweetner’ products. I varified with her.. she’s fine with natural sweet fruits but thats about it.

      I was considering blinding 2 peeled spotted bananas into the cream part. I haven’t started cooking- just throwing out ideas.

      Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

      1. Hi Katie, I think the banana sounds good however I have not tested it myself so I can’t tell for sure how consistency will work out. I would personally use some date paste as it is quite sweet so you just need a little bit, the color of the custard will be a little darker than the original. Let me know how it goes ~ Florentina Xo’s

    1. Hi Gayle, i would search for a gluten-free puff pastry out there or trying making your own. Let me know if you experiment with that idea!

    2. I was so excited to make this! I feel like I followed the recipe accurately, but my custard turned out quite gelatinous! :/. What could I have done wrong?

      1. I find Tapioca always makes things far more gelatinous than cornstarch. I have made vegan custard both ways , and I’ve preferred it with cornstarch.

  1. This is truly amazing and I can’t express my enthusiasm at the fact that I made Custard Puff Pastry that is vegan and no one believed me it was vegan. My favorite dessert of all times, thank you for making it so easy and effortless for us.

  2. Hi! Can you tell me which brand of coconut milk and which brand of tapicoa did you use? I’m so excited to make this for my husband!!

    1. Hi Savi, I use the canned organic coconut milk from Trader Joe’s, if you look at the ingredient list it should just say “coconut milk” nothing else. The tapioca is Anthony’s organic that I order in a two pound bag from amazon. Report back when you make this 🙂

      1. Absolutely amazing!! My local grocery store didn’t have cashew milk so I used more canned coconut milk instead. I also used both sheets of pastry dough that came in the package and made two sections of cake with 3 layers of pastry and two layers of custard/cream each. My Russian husband said it tastes just like Napoleon cake he used to eat back home!! Yay! I will definitely be making this again!

    1. I believe it is called Aussie bakery, I get it at Whole Foods usually and it says “Vegan” on the box.

  3. I was able to find vegan puff pastry at Walmart. I didn’t want to have to buy cashew milk so I did all coconut milk from a can (2 cups), and it was very coconutty. I like coconut flavor, but others do not, so they wouldn’t eat it. Not sure why I didn’t think it would taste like coconut when it’s almost entirely made of coconut milk. Does the cashew milk mask the coconut flavor? I was hoping for more of a vanilla custard flavor.

    1. Hi Kenna, yes that is why I like to use the cashew milk in combination with the coconut and the vanilla. You could even just do cashew milk if you wanted to, I like to combine the two for a more luscious custard as the coconut has a higher fat content.

        1. Did you use vanilla extract or vanilla bean ? The extract will definitely affect the color of the custard and make it darker. You could use a very tiny bit of turmeric to give it a golden hue.

  4. I just made the custard filling to use in a different recipe, the only sub I did was cornstarch instead of tapioca. Everyone who tried it LOVED it myself included. So glad to have this food back in my life after going vegan!! It’s even better after setting up in the fridge overnight, I just thinned it out with a tiny bit of cashew milk to make it easier to spread again. Thank you so much!!!

    1. So happy you love it Harriet. One of my most favorite desserts too, can’t beat a good custard that is cruelty-free! Xo’s ~ Florentina

  5. Just like the others have said this recipe is amazing and nobody could guess I made it vegan. We really have no more excuses not to be a vegan world! Thank you for this lovely inspiration, what a treat!

  6. I made this today, it is delicious! Mine came out an odd color though, light mustard-ish. Next time I’ll make sure the syrup is lighter in color. Also, the cashew milk was tan in color – is there lighter colored cashew milk? Thank you for sharing, such a treat to enjoy custard! I am serving with fresh sliced strawberries!

    1. Hi Kristi, it’s always best to make your own cashew milk from just cashews and water. It is very important to rinse the cashews first as sometimes they could be dusty and the color won’t be as clean. The store bought milks have a weird darker color too so that might have affected the final color. Using a lighter syrup will also help with the final color of the custard. A golden tone can be achieves with a very tiny pinch of turmeric. This is the cashew milk i used:

  7. My boyfriend loved it, I was freak out by how thick custard is, to me it felt like a plastic a little bit. Should I put less tapioca ?

    1. Hey, is it possible you maybe put a little too much tapioca ..? My custard had the perfect consistency every time I made it so not sure what could have gone wrong. I’d definitely use less tapioca next time and hopefully you’ll figure out the perfect ratio for the consistency you love. So glad your boyfriend loved it still 🙂

  8. I didn’t do the whole cake, just made the cream. It is SO GOOD!!! I added some orange zest to it and it worked out wonderfully! I will be making it all the time now. Thanks, Florentina!

  9. Not sure what I did wrong, but I used arrowroot and it just looks like runny glue. I’m sure it will gel overnight before I assemble it, but not sure I’d recommend arrorwroot. Plus mine is also a dark color. Probably cos I made a mistake and put the vanilla in with everything else.

    1. Sorry about that Jess, the vanilla extract will definitely darken the custard so it’s best to use vanilla bean for a lighter color. I also find tapioca to be ideal in this recipe, I’m curious how the arrowroot behaved once the custard has completely cooled down…let me know.

  10. Made this today. Doubled the custard recipe ( left maple syrup as is). Replaced cashew milk with barista style oat milk. Came out great. Family loved it. Sorry no pics, we are it.

  11. Great recipe! But switching to metric gives you milk in grams? who’s dumb idea was that? Outside of the US we use DL and ML/CL for dont use grams for liquids. Im sorry but this really grinds my gears..but great recipe nonetheless.

  12. Puff Pastry actually isn’t “accidentally vegan.” It is traditionally made with butter… layers and layers of it. I can’t find a vegan puff pastry. I wonder if Phyllo dough would be a substitute? It is naturally vegan. Very different texture though.

    1. You are right, lately it’s been hard to find the vegan puff pastry. I have not tried it with the Phyllo dough but I’d give it a try, i bet it would actually be delicious, just different.

  13. Wow! A perfect Easter dessert! I made the cashew milk, which looked just like frothy milk. I’ve never liked milk and only use it in things like coffee, cereal, cooking. My custard turned out delicious and perfect looking. The tumeric was genius and taste was amazing. I have always loved that dessert and never though if making it. Could you add lemon juice and make it a lemon custard,?

    Thank you for sharing.this recipe!.

    1. So happy you loved it Tammy, some lemon juice addition sounds really good, i have yet to test that variation ~ Florentina Xo’s

  14. Good morning, did you think this recipe could be sold at farmers markets under the cottage law? Also do you have to refrigerate the leftovers? It looks wonderful I can’t wait to try it Thank you

    1. Hi Leanne, I really can’t advise on that as i’m not familiar with the legalities of it all. Yes it needs to be refrigerated.

  15. diabetic or not i cant wait to try this.
    but can you tell me how do i save the remaining puff pastry sheets that have been defrosted
    i am clueless

    1. you can just refrigerate overnight and use in another recipe or bake them all. Check the package directions, you might be able to refreeze them too.

  16. What brand pastry puff did you use? When you placed in frig to set is it uncovered or wrapped? Does the coconut milk create a coconut taste or does the other milk balance that out? I luv vanilla custard not coconut custard. Thx!

    1. I used the Aussie brand I got at WF. Store uncovered, you won’t taste much of the coconut but you could just use cashew milk for everything.

  17. Hi there! Such an amazing recipe! Thank you! I just made the custard with tapioca flour. And there’s chunks in it. I think it’s the flour that weren’t whisked together as well. Since I did it by hand. If I put this in a mixer will it turn out bad? Or should I just leave it with the chunks?

  18. i can’t wait to try this! can you explain what full fat coconut milk is? is it the very liquid part in cans or the actual cream that separates (or a mixture of the two)? i was thinking of just shaking the can and using the mixture, but am not sure if the resulting custard will be too firm once refrigerated.

    1. Full fat coconut milk is everything in the can that is labeled “Coconut Milk” so shake it up well to combine and use it all. Basically don’t use a can that says low-fat or non-fat or just coconut cream only.

    1. You could whisk in about 1/4 cup cocoa powder and work your way up from there or melt a few dark chocolate cubes in the custard.

  19. So excited to try this! Do you think I could use oat milk instead of cashew? My husband has a nut allergy. If you think oat milk is too thin, I’ll probably just lean into the coconut.

  20. Going to try this soon if I can find the puff pastry. I’m a little suspicious about the custard as I’ve tried many different recipes and almost every single one has come out gelatinous to the point of being inedible! Excited to try though.

  21. Hi
    Did what recipe said but it took forever to rhicken and it was very gelatin. Nothing like your pic. Plus. It’s tan without Turmeric. The vanilla darkened it up. Had to add Nutella to top part of Pastry to fill up as the Puff Pastry was not fully inside after pulling apart. It’s probably me as I have never used Puff Pastry and my vegan puddings never seem to wet to thicken without a Ling time cooking. Perhaps you can recommend new to vegan baking. Thank you so mycoplasma

  22. Hi
    I just wanted to add to my last comment. My custard came out nothing like yours. Doesn’t look anything like your pic. Mine is so thin and gel. Yours looks like you added whipped cream or use vanilla box pudding. I’m going to start using box pudding. I haven’t been able to get any pudding to pudding consistency. Thank you for your other recipes. Food no problem but baking not so much.

    1. Carol, I followed exactly the recipe I posted, you need to add just a tiny pinch of turmeric if you want a golden hue. You also need to allow the custard to cool and set in the fridge after boiling. If you don’t like the consistency of tapioca I suggested in the recipe to use cornstarch. Using vanilla bean instead of extract will also yield a lighter color custard. You can do this!

  23. As for the taste this recipe is spot on. Not overly sweet and the crunch of the puff pastry is lovely. I had the same trouble some of the other bakers had as my custard was gelatinous. When I put it in the puff pastry it just oozed out and it was difficult to eat without a spoon. If I had cooked the puff pastry in mini muffin tins and used the custard it would have been prettier and easier to eat. I will definitely make the custard again because it is tasty. Thank you for the recipe!

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