This is a super easy Homemade Crème brûlée dessert recipe with a smooth and silky texture and crunchy caramel, just like in your favorite restaurant. Making Crème brûlée is shockingly easy, it comes together in literally 5 minutes using 3 simple ingredients: cream, egg yolk, and sugar. This is a no-fail, restaurant-like professional yet easy Crème brûlée recipe that will impress everyone, try it!
Why this is the best recipe
- Perfect creamy texture – This Creme brulee has the most perfect custard-like creamy texture without being grainy. The secret behind the texture is 1. using high-fat content heavy cream 2. using the yolk part of the egg only 3. baking in a water bath
- Intense and natural vanilla bean and caramel taste – I never compromise on taste! The combination of vanilla bean custard and delicious caramelized sugar top will blow your mind!
- Quick & easy to make – Making Crème brûlée at home is almost too easy not to try. Even if you are a beginner in the kitchen, you can comfortably make this recipe
- It is an honest, detailed tutorial – While this recipe might look long, all the information I have written here, every tip and trick will help you achieve the perfect results without any issues on the way. Remember, baking is science, and every little detail written here is to help YOU!
What is Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream and similar to crema catalana, is a super popular dessert across the globe that consists of a rich custard base cream topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar. It is often available on the restaurants´ dessert menu and typically served chilled in individual Ramekin. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla but can have other flavorings as well, eg. coffee, cinnamon, elderflower, lemon etc.
According to Wikipedia, the earliest known recipe of a dessert called crème brûlée appears in François Massialot's 1691 cookbook; Cuisinier royal et bourgeois. The question of its origin has inspired debate within the modern gastronomical community, with some authors suggesting that crema catalana, whose origins date to the 14th century, may have inspired chefs throughout Europe.
My classic Crème brûlée recipe is naturally gluten-free, so can be the best crowd-pleaser dessert.
- Heavy cream: Also known as whipping cream or double cream, has a fat content between 36% and 40%, the one I am using is 36%. High fat content cream makes this homemade Crème brûlée super silky and creamy
- Granulated sugar: I use simple, white granulated sugar, nothing fancy. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here.
- Egg: You will need to use the egg yolk only for making custard. Since you will have quite a bit of egg white left, why not try some of my other recipes using egg white only, for example, my macaron recipe or Angel food cake recipe !
- Demerara sugar: I find demerara sugar is ideal for caramelizing the top however can be substituted with light brown sugar or even granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract: I prefer the traditional vanilla custard when it comes to this Creme brulee recipe! Avoid using artificial vanilla especially when vanilla is THE Queen of the flavorings like in this custard. There are several great brands for fine, pure vanilla, I use Nielsen massey which I love and really recommend
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the RECIPE CARD, at the bottom of this page
4 Expert baking tips
It’s a super simple recipe and you don’t have to overthink however there are some important notes worth considering!
1. How to make the custard
Making custard is actually very similar to making pastry cream. You will need to temper the egg yolk so the mixture will slightly thicken then get fully baked in the oven.
It’s very important that you heat up the cream just until simmering. You have to wait until it starts simmering so that the cream reaches a high enough temperature to temper the egg yolk. Equally, it’s also important to remove the cream from the stove as soon as it is simmering to avoid too hot temperature which would cook the egg yolks you would end up with a scrambled egg.
- Heat 450g / 2 cups heavy cream, vanilla and half of the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to simmering
- In the meantime whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar
- As cream mixture starts simmering, immediately pour it slowly into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly
- Pour mixture into your Ramekins
2. How to bake
I recommend baking the Crème brûlée at a relatively low temp (150 C / 302°F no fan) to avoid burning it. Baking custard is not difficult but a slightly delicate matter and similarly to cheesecakes, a water bath is required.
What is water bath?
A water bath is simply a large baking dish/tray of hot water placed in the oven and it is often used to bake cheesecakes or custard-like desserts like this Creme brulee recipe. A regular oven typically would produce rubbery texture crème brûlée with cracked surfaces.
Using a water bath has two important benefits:
1. Adds moisture to the oven and this is important to avoid cracks on top of the desserts while baking and also supports the creamy consistency of the Crème brûlée
2. The water bath also provides a more even baking
While preparing the water bath, make sure the water does not come up higher than half of the Ramekins.
How do I know that my Crème brûlée is baked?
Bake until the edges are set and centers are slightly jiggly. The time depends on the size of your ramekins. In my oven using my ramekins, it is about 45 minutes, but I suggest to start checking them at 30 minutes. It might take one or two bakes to find the ideal baking time but this dessert is so yummy that I am sure you won´t mind testing it a bit!
3. How to caramelize the top
The cruncy caramel layer is what makes this homemade Creme brûlée recipe different from a simple vanilla custard. I love the contrast between the silky vanilla cream and crunchy caramel layer! For the caramelizing part, you need a strong flame that burns the sugar quickly without damaging the custard so I really think you will need a Blow torch, however, I know some people used the grill function in their oven and it sort of worked.
Chill the baked custard for 4-5 hours before caramelizing. As it cools, it will completely set. Remember, Crème brûlée will only achieve its creamy silky texture once it is set in the fridge.
For the caramelizing part you will need either demerara sugar or light brown sugar, alternatively use granulated sugar. The quantity again depends on the size of your ramekins, I would suggest applying sugar in a thin layer but make sure the entire custard is covered with sugar. Then comes the fun part! Grab your kitchen torch and gently caramelize the sugar all over the cream.
Pop the Crème brûlée back into the fridge and let the crunchy caramel layer set quickly.
How to store?
Please note that the caramel layer will lose its crunchiness over time so I suggest keeping the baked Creme brulee refrigerated and only caramelizing the top shortly before serving the dessert - that is how it is also done in restaurants.
In regards to the Ramekin, feel free to make this Crème brûlée recipe in a more shallow type of ramekin or in a deeper one (like one I use for the recipe), you just have to pay attention to the baking time.
Regarding the Blow torch, it is really not an expensive piece of baking equipment and you can use it to caramelize meringue on lemon meringue pie, to caramelize marshmallows and I even use it for cooking to caramelize cheese. It is really one of those fun baking equipment you might not need all the time but when the need comes, it is so handy!
Other French desserts
Charlotte cake - This no-bake French Strawberry Charlotte cake recipe (Charlotte aux Fraises) consists of fluffy ladyfingers in and around the cake filled with incredibly silky Crème mousseline (pastry cream enriched with butter), and delicious fresh strawberries.
Financier - French Financiers are the best teacakes, and in this recipe, you will learn how to make them in 3 different flavors; almond, hazelnut, pistachio! They are delicate, super moist, and full of natural nutty flavors due to the nut flour and browned butter used in the cake batter.
Fraisier cake - Fraisier cake (French strawberry cake) consists of buttery sponge layers filled with incredibly delicious and silky Crème mousseline (pastry cream enriched with butter), a layer of refreshing strawberry compote, and the signature strawberry decoration around the cake.
Clafoutis - Cherry Clafoutis, this classic French dessert is the ultimate flan-like recipe that comes together really quickly and easily! It has a custard-like creamy texture and can be made with a great variety of fruits, eg. berries, cherry, apple, etc
Easy Homemade Crème brûlée dessert
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Pre-heat oven to 150 C / 302°F no fan
- Prepare the water bath: Fill a baking tray with warm water then place the ramekins into the water. Make sure the water does not come up higher than half of the ramekins
- Heat cream, vanilla, and half of the sugar in a saucepan on medium heat and bring it to simmering. Do not cook the mixture, only to simmering
- In the meantime, whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar for a minute or two
- As the cream mixture starts simmering, immediately but slowly pour it into the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined
- Pour the liquid through a sieve and divide the mixture between 4 ramekins, fill them up to ¾. Depending on the size of your ramekins, you might need more or less.
- Bake the custard in the water bath for about 45min. Baking time depens on your oven and size of ramekins
- Once they are baked, cool them in room temperature, then place them into the fridge for min 4 hours for the custard to set
- Store the ramekins refrigerated for 2-3 days and caramelize the top straight before serving
- Sprinkle the top with demerara sugar, approx. one table spoon per ramekin, then caramelize the top in a few seconds with a blow torch
- Place the ramekins back to the fridge for a few minutes for the caramel to properly harden on top. Serve shortly after
- Measure your ingredients with a Digital scale for accuracy
- Good quality pure vanilla is the heart of making this dessert, do not use artificial vanilla
- Fresh, farm eggs and high-fat content cream (36%) provides the best creamy results
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details, and science behind baking.
- A digital oven thermometer along with the water bath will ensure that your creme brulee doesn´t burn or bake greasy
- Let the custard fully set in the fridge caramelizing