Australian/ Baking/ Most Popular Recipes/ Recipes/ Snack

Easy Cheat’s Vanilla Slice Recipe

07/01/2021

Make this cheat’s Vanilla Slice recipe in just 5 minutes! With crisp lattice biscuits and vanilla instant dessert mix, it’s a no-fuss recipe guaranteed to impress.

Close up view of a vanilla slice showing the creamy centre and icing sugar on top.

Why We Love This

This is the easiest, quickest, hassle free vanilla slice recipe EVER. Just like our cheat’s custard trifle and super easy chocolate mousse, it’s as delicious as the real thing, for a fraction of the effort and time.

This simplified take on this classic Aussie bakery treat can be prepped and assembled in around 5 minutes, and needs just 1 hour to set rather than overnight.

There’s no eggs, no gelatine, and no stuffed up custard to worry about here. It’s a no-bake treat with no need to worry about cracking pastry or smooshing custard out the sides when cutting into slices either. Just stress-free deliciousness!

A vanilla slice on a black plate dusted with icing sugar.

What is Vanilla Slice? 

This old-fashioned bakery treat is super popular across Australia and New Zealand. It’s usually enjoyed as a sweet snack rather than as a dessert (and more often than not after a piping hot beef pie or sausage roll for lunch!).

Also known as ‘custard slice’, it’s similar-ish in essence to a French dessert known as mille-feuille. The traditional vanilla slice recipe consists of a layer of set custard sandwiched between two layers of crispy puff pastry. Bakeries will often serve theirs with a layer of icing on top for extra sweetness.

Today’s cheat’s version is made with lattice biscuits instead of puff pastry, and instant dessert mix instead of homemade custard. This solves a lot of the niggly problems that can make vanilla slice more of a challenge to make at home.

Where We Learned This

Mum first taught us this recipe on a family camping trip. Since it’s so easy and involves no baking, she could whip it up in the caravan in no time. The whole tray disappeared during morning tea, so we were glad to steal a slice or two (and the recipe) before they even hit the table.

What You’ll Need

Lattice Biscuits Discontinued

Lattice biscuits have been discontinued by Arnott’s in Australia. There are still plenty of “Cheat” options as a substitute for Lattice. We recommend:

  • SAO Biscuits – These are almost the same size as lattice biscuits, without the sweet coating. So dust icing sugar a little more liberally on top, and you’ll have the perfect sweet treat.
  • Nice Biscuits – These are the closest sweet biscuit replacement, and thin enough to work well.
  • Square Crackers – Any square biscuits, crackers or thin cookies can work well. Especially if you make them the day beforehand and let them soften overnight in the fridge. Think Graham Crackers, Salada Biscuits or Saltines.
  • Puff Pastry – This works great as a substitute. You can cut it into small squares, then pre-cook them in the oven until puffed before placing them on the bottom and top of your vanilla slice.
  • Vanilla Instant Dessert Mix – We used Aeroplane brand. Cottee’s Instant Pudding Mix is another popular option and essentially the same thing. It’s the easiest and quickest prep for our cheat’s vanilla slice recipe, requires no cooking, and sets perfectly after just an hour in the fridge. You could use custard powder if you prefer – just cook it on the stove according to packet directions and allow it to cool before proceeding with the recipe below. If making homemade custard from scratch, make sure it’s cooked long enough until it’s nice and thick so it will set firm enough to make into a slice.
  • Cream – We use thickened cream for this recipe, which is the same as heavy cream for our readers in the US/Canada. We don’t recommend pouring cream or whipping cream as they won’t give the right texture for the custard to set.
  • Topping (Optional) – For this simplified recipe we prefer a quick sprinkling of icing sugar – it tastes and looks great for such a simple decorative effect. It’s also much less sweet than a traditional icing sugar glaze. For more topping and icing ideas, see our variations section below.
All the ingredients laid out for cheat's vanilla slice.

How to make:

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the vanilla instant dessert mix and beat until thick and creamy (around 1-2 mins).
  2. Line a square baking dish with baking paper and place a 3×3 grid of lattice biscuits (sugar glaze down) into the tray. Pour whipped dessert mix into the centre, gently pressing it out towards the edges and smoothing out the top as you go.
  3. Top with another 3×3 grid of lattice biscuits (sugar glaze up). Pop in the fridge for 1 hour to set.
  4. Sprinkle with icing sugar, then cut into slices by gently running a knife between the biscuits.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Line the Baking Dish – Use a sheet of baking paper or aluminium foil that’s a bit wider than you’d normally use when lining a baking tray. This way you can use the edges to neatly pull the slices out of the tray.
  • Sugar Side Out – Lattice biscuits have a sugar glaze on one side only. For the best looking slices, pop the sugar side down for the bottom later, and sugar side up for the top layer. If using baked puff pastry, use the cooked side in the same way.
  • Don’t Over-Whip – Instant dessert mix only needs to be whipped for a minute or two before it’s thick and ready to use. If you over-whip, it just means the filling will look a little lumpier and less smooth, but will still be totally fine to use.
  • Quick Set – If you need to shave off a bit of time, you can pop the tray of vanilla slices in the freezer for half an hour (after slicing) to help them set more quickly.

FAQs

Can I make vanilla slice in advance?

Yes you can! Once assembled, they will last for up 3-4 days in the fridge. Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat. Note that the lattice biscuits (or puff pastry if using) will soften over time but will still be perfectly edible.

Can I freeze them?

We don’t recommend freezing vanilla slice, as the filling can separate once thawed and the texture definitely won’t be the same.

How do I eat vanilla slice?

While you can just pick up a slice and eat it as is, we actually prefer to pop a slice on a plate and eat it with a spoon. This way you can crack the biscuit layer with your spoon and scoop up a bite without the custard squishing out the side, as it usually does if you try to bite straight into it when they’re still freshly made.

What size baking tray should I use?

Our recipe works perfectly in a 24cm (9-10 inch) square cake tin approximately 5cm (2 inch) deep, however the size of the biscuits you use may influence this. You can use a rectangular dish if that’s all you have on hand, you may just need to adjust your grid and possibly cut some of the biscuits in half to suit. Make sure to line them up properly so you have nice half slices if you do!

Variations & Substitutes

  • Puff Pastry – Swap the lattice biscuits for puff pastry sheets. Place them on a lined baking tray and prick holes with a fork all over the top so that they don’t puff up too much while baking. Bake for around 15-20 minutes (220˚C / 430˚F), then follow the recipe below as normal to assemble.
  • Dairy Free – Swap out the milk for soy milk and cream for coconut cream. You’ll end up with just as creamy a finish with a hint of coconut.
  • Instant Dessert Mix – Instead of vanilla, try it with strawberry or chocolate flavoured dessert mix instead.
  • Extra Flavour – Try adding a tsp of vanilla, almond or lemon essence in with the instant dessert mix before whipping.
  • Icing – It’s a popular tradition in some Aussie bakeries to serve vanilla slice with a passionfruit icing. You can make it from 100g icing sugar and 1 tbsp passionfruit pulp. Mix and slather a thin layer over the top and refrigerate to set before slicing into portions. If you don’t like passionfruit, try it with a splash of lemon juice instead.
Top down view of vanilla slice pieces laid out on baking paper.

Try these deliciously shareable homemade treats next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

The finished vanilla slice made with lattice biscuits and instant dessert mix, sprinkled with icing sugar.

Easy Cheat’s Vanilla Slice Recipe

Make this cheat's Vanilla Slice recipe in just 5 minutes! With lattice biscuits and vanilla instant dessert, it's a no-fuss recipe guaranteed to impress.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Setting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Australian
Servings: 9 slices
Calories: 268kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5-$10

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pour the milk and cream into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the vanilla instant dessert mix and beat until thick and creamy (around 1-2 mins).
  • Line a square baking dish with baking paper and place a 3×3 grid of lattice biscuits (sugar glaze down) into the tray. Pour whipped dessert mix into the centre, gently pressing it out towards the edges and smoothing out the top as you go.
  • Top with another 3×3 grid of lattice biscuits (sugar glaze up). Pop in the fridge for 1 hour to set.
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar, then cut into slices by gently running a knife between the biscuits.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Lattice Biscuits Discontinued – Lattice biscuits have been discontinued by Arnott’s in Australia. There are still plenty of “Cheat” options as a substitute for Lattice. We recommend:
    • SAO Biscuits – These are almost the same size as lattice biscuits, without the sweet coating. So dust icing sugar a little more liberally on top, and you’ll have the perfect sweet treat.
    • Nice Biscuits – These are the closest sweet biscuit replacement, and thin enough to work well.
    • Square Crackers – Any square biscuits, crackers or thin cookies can work well. Especially if you make them the day beforehand and let them soften overnight in the fridge. Think Graham Crackers, Salada Biscuits or Saltines.
    • Puff Pastry – This works great as a substitute. You can cut it into small squares, then pre-cook them in the oven until puffed before placing them on the bottom and top of your vanilla slice. Place them on a lined baking tray and prick holes with a fork all over the top so that they don’t puff up too much while baking. Bake for around 15-20 minutes (220˚C / 430˚F), then follow the recipe below as normal to assemble.
  • Vanilla Instant Dessert Mix – We used Aeroplane brand. Cottee’s Instant Pudding Mix is another popular option and essentially the same thing. It’s the easiest and quickest prep for our cheat’s vanilla slice recipe, requires no cooking, and sets perfectly after just an hour in the fridge. You could use custard powder if you prefer – just cook it on the stove according to packet directions and allow it to cool before proceeding with the recipe below. If making homemade custard from scratch, make sure it’s cooked long enough until it’s nice and thick so it will set firm enough to make into a slice.
  • Cream – We use thickened cream for this recipe, which is the same as heavy cream for our readers in the US/Canada. We don’t recommend pouring cream or whipping cream as they won’t give the right texture for the custard to set.
  • Topping (Optional) – For this simplified recipe we prefer a quick sprinkling of icing sugar – it tastes and looks great for such a simple decorative effect. It’s also much less sweet than a traditional icing sugar glaze. For more topping and icing ideas, see our variations section below.
  • Line the Baking Dish – Use a sheet of baking paper or aluminium foil that’s a bit wider than you’d normally use when lining a baking tray. This way you can use the edges to neatly pull the slices out of the tray.
  • Don’t Over-Whip – Instant dessert mix only needs to be whipped for a minute or two before it’s thick and ready to use. If you over-whip, it just means the filling will look a little lumpier and less smooth, but will still be totally fine to use.
  • Quick Set – If you need to shave off a bit of time, you can pop the tray of vanilla slices in the freezer for half an hour (after slicing) to help them set more quickly.
  • Variations
    • Dairy Free – Swap out the milk for soy milk and cream for coconut cream. You’ll end up with just as creamy a finish with a hint of coconut.
    • Dessert Mix – Instead of vanilla, try it with strawberry or chocolate flavoured dessert mix instead.
    • Extra Flavour – Try adding a tsp of vanilla, almond or lemon essence in with the instant dessert mix before whipping.
    • Icing – It’s a popular tradition in some Aussie bakeries to serve vanilla slice with a passionfruit icing. You can make it from 100g icing sugar and 1 tbsp passionfruit pulp. Mix and slather a thin layer over the top and refrigerate to set before slicing into portions. If you don’t like passionfruit, try it with a splash of lemon juice instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 534IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Easy Cheat\'s Vanilla Slice Recipe

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Nancy
    20/06/2021 at 4:42 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely delicious!!!! We are devestated that Arnott’s have discontinued Lattice biscuits in Australia 🙁

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      21/06/2021 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Nancy, so glad you enjoyed! We’re also very disappointed to hear the sad news haha, feel free to substitute with Sao biscuits and extra icing on top for the sweetness. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeanelle
    15/06/2021 at 8:17 am

    Great recipe my grandkids love this easy slice. It sucks that Arnotts have decided to discontinue them as they are a great biscuit

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/06/2021 at 2:35 pm

      Oh yay, so glad they enjoy it! Yep it’s a total bummer about the Lattice biscuits, but you can use puff pastry or Sao biscuits instead, or any square flaky savoury biscuit should do the trick!

  • Reply
    Josef
    21/05/2021 at 8:09 am

    You cant buy these arnotts stopped making these Sorry folks

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      21/05/2021 at 2:29 pm

      Hey Josef,

      We’ve just contacted Arnott’s, and you’re correct. They have discontinued lattice biscuits but they’re currently still available in IGA’s and other retailers until stock runs out.

      If you’re looking for a substitute, you can use puff pastry, ice-cream wafers, or malted milk biscuits for a very similar result. 🙂

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