What is the Difference Between Pap and Custard?

There’s been an ongoing food ‘war’ between Nigerian Pap and Custard.

But this post isn’t going to be about the winner or loser; instead, it explains what makes them different. The article also focuses more on Nigerian custard.

Pap and Custard are both made from the same core ingredient, corn, but differ in taste, color, texture, and storage.

Before moving forward, let’s briefly discuss these distinguishing factors. 


When prepared, pap has a somewhat sour taste. This taste is the result of fermentation, depending on how many days the corn is soaked in water.

On the other hand, custard tastes bland. With sweeteners such as sugar and milk, however, the taste of custard can be changed.


Pap made from cornstarch has whitish color while the one from millet looks yellowish.

Custard has a yellowish color too. But the yellow is deep and looks more like the yolk of an egg.


At times, there can be coarse elements in Nigerian pap. This often occurs when the fermented cornstarch is not well strained or if there are tears or openings in the sieve.

As a side note on texture, some even take pap without sieving it.

On the other hand, custard powder is fine and smooth. Thanks to the many processes it passes through. And as long as you don’t have a lumpy preparation, the texture of your custard will remain smooth.


To preserve cornstarch, it’s either you refrigerate the paste or dissolve it in enough water that covers it. You must also change the water every two to three days to ensure it retains its best taste.

Custard powder can simply be stored in its or an airtight container. Custard usually has a long shelf life, thereby will maintain its keeping quality for a long time.

Now that we have seen the major differences between the two corn meals, let’s focus on the ingredients, recipe, and health benefits of Nigerian custard.

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What is Custard Powder Made Of?

Custard is made from ground corn and fortified with many vitamins and minerals. Also, flavors such as banana, apple, vanilla, and strawberry can be added.

But banana-flavored custard powder is the most common in Nigerian grocery stores and markets. Also, the yolks yellow of the cornmeal is as a result of the added coloring.

How to Make Custard

This custard recipe shows how to properly mix and prepare Custard to get a thick custard.


  • Custard powder
  • Cold water
  • Boiling water
  • Liquid evaporated milk (Optional)
  • Sugar (Optional)
  • Ground crayfish (optional)


  1. Set a kettle filled with water on heat. Having enough water is better than not enough. With time, you’ll be able to determine the right amount of water needed even without thinking about it.
  2. Use a tablespoon to measure the custard powered into a cup or bowl (recommended).
  3. Gradually add cold water until you have a thin consistency. Don’t mix with a lot of cold water, so it doesn’t become too watery. If you add too much cold water at this stage, your custard will not be thick in the end.
  4. Once you’ve got the perfect mix, put the boiling water off the heat and start pouring (slowly) into the custard in a circular pattern. To prevent your custard from being lumpy, make sure you aren’t too fast when pouring the water.
  5. Keep adding water until the custard is thickened.
  6. Now, use your spoon to stir the custard. If the custard is too thick, you can add a little amount of water and stir. Do this until you are satisfied.
  7. Add sugar and liquid evaporated milk at this stage. Both will make your custard taste sweet. The milk is also an excellent source of protein.
  8. You can add ground crayfish if the meal is for your baby. Crayfish contains protein and other essential nutrients that provide nourishment.

What Goes Best with Custard?

If you are in Nigeria, chances are you know some food items that are often paired with the cornmeal.

Cooked beans, Akara, and Nigerian Moi Moi are all common and excellent food that goes well with custard. As seen from the above recipe, liquid milk and sugar can also be used on the cornmeal.

ALSO READ: Is Okpa Protein or Carbohydrate?

Is Custard Powder Healthy?

Ground corn is the core ingredient of custard powder. As mentioned earlier, coloring, flavor, and some other nutrients are introduced to make the cornmeal more nutritious.

And if you check the packaging label of any custard powder, carbs, protein, fat, and sodium are nutrients found in there.

With that, let’s see how two of the nutrients found in contains affect the body.


Carbohydrates are turned into glucose in your body to meet the system energy requirements. The corn used in making custard is a whole grain that contains a substantial amount of carbs. Therefore, taking custard is an excellent way to get enough carbs.

Carbohydrate is also a macronutrient, meaning it is a nutrient required in large amounts by your body. 

However, we aren’t suggesting to eat carbs in large amounts without proper consideration for your health goals, such as weight loss. But when meals such as custard are taken with other balanced meals, your body benefits a lot.

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According to FoodData Central, 100 g of cornstarch contains 0.26g (protein). While that amount might not be much, supplementing your custard with milk, perhaps ground crayfish will literally increase the protein content of the dish.

Also, food manufacturers often fortify custard preparation with more nutrients in which protein might be one.

When custard is paired with those foods earlier mentioned such as cooked bean and Moi Moi, the level of protein you’ll be getting from the food dramatically increases.

Protein is good for the human body. As a macronutrient, the body needs protein non-stop and in large amounts for essential activities like the cell, tissue, and bone development and replacement of worn-out ones.

Whether for adults, teenagers, or younger ones, more protein is good for the body. And including custard fortified with other meals mentioned above will be both nutritious and beneficial.

Finally, the fat content in custard powder, plus other minerals and vitamins used to fortify the cornmeal all play a vital role in the health benefits the cornmeal offers.

Pap and CustardConclusion

While Custard and Pap are made from the same core ingredient, their taste, color, preparation, and storage method differ.

When prepared properly, custard powder is smooth, and the addition of sugar makes it sweeter. Adding milk to the meal also makes it more nutritious.

For a light meal that is easy to prepare, Nigerian custard isn’t a wrong choice. Needless to mention that it packs excellent nutrients that impact your health positively.