Learn how to make creme brulee with 4 simple ingredients! Make this recipe for a classic dessert that’s equally delicious and impressive.
With the holidays around the corner, I thought I’d share my creme brulee recipe. It’s much easier to make than it seems, and the flavor is simply incredible!
Or make Butterscotch Budino, which is an Italian dessert that combines sweet pudding with brown sugar caramel. It captures similar flavors as a brulee, but is creamy from top to bottom.
What is crème brûlée?
Simply put, it’s a rich vanilla flavored custard topped with hardened caramel. Half of the fun of eating it is breaking through that top layer to get to the rich dessert beneath!
Created in France, the name literally translates to “burnt cream” to describe the caramel layer.
How to make creme brulee
My version is extremely easy to make and super rich in texture. Sometimes simpler really is better when it comes to dessert.
The ingredients are basic – just heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Plus, there’s no tempering of the cream and eggs with this creme brulee recipe!
This vanilla custard dessert is a classic French recipe. You can experiment by adding cinnamon or other flavorings in lieu of the vanilla extract to the liquid mixture. Honestly though, the vanilla flavor will always be the classic.
1. Make the custard.
Using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar to dissolve the granules and incorporate air into the mixture. Add the cream and vanilla, then mix on low until combined.
2. Pour into ramekins.
Next, divide the liquid evenly among your custard cups, leaving some space at the top. Using a strainer can help get rid of any foam or bubbles.
Bake until set: Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and carefully pour hot water into the pan to create a water bath. Bake until the edges are firm and the center jiggles just a bit.
Chill: Remove the pan from the oven and allow the custard to cool. Then, refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm up.
Add caramel topping: Finally, sprinkle sugar over the top of each ramekin and use a torch until the sugar starts to bubble and turn a golden brown color.
- Use room temperature ingredients: Using chilled cream and eggs will result in curdling, and the texture will be extra lumpy when baked. Yolks are more fragile at room temperature, though, so it may be best to separate them first before warming.
- Avoid splashes: If liquid from the water bath gets into the ramekins, it can create divots in the pudding. Pour slowly and carefully, or wrap a thin layer of foil around each ramekin to create a protective “fence.”
- No special tools required: If you don’t have a hand kitchen torch, you can place the entire tray of ramekins under the broiler and watch the sugar caramelize.
- Make ahead: The custard can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in plastic. However, don’t add the sugar topping until just before serving, or the moisture from the custard will dissolve the caramel.
- Leftover egg whites: After separating out the yolks, store the whites in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Use them for omelets, meringue, pavlova, and even candied nuts!
This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking October 2013 and has had content updated.
Want to see the recipe in action?
Watch the video, How to Make Creme Brulee, in the recipe card below!
How To Make Creme Brulee
- 10 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups whipping cream (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar for caramelizing tops after cooking
- Preheat oven 300°F. Separate egg yolks from whites and save egg whites for another use.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a pale yellow.
- Add the whipping cream and vanilla, and beat on low until well blended, about 30 seconds.
- I pour the mixture through a strainer into your 8 ramekins (See Note 1) or custard cups to get rid of any foam or bubbles (See Note 2), but this is optional. Pour up to a 1/4 inch from top of ramekin or cup.
- Place the filled ramekins into a large roasting pan with sides (13×9″) and carefully pour hot water around ramekins so that the water almost reaches the top of ramekins. Bake until set, about 50 minutes.
- Carefully remove pan from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled.
- Remove ramekins from water bath, wipe water off ramekins and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
- Prior to serving, remove from refrigerator and sprinkle about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard top. Using a small, hand-held torch melt the sugar until a burnt caramel is made. If you don't have a torch, place ramekins under broiler 2 to 3 inches from the heat source. Turn on broiler and cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. *Optionally – Re-chill the ramekins to harden the sugar for 5 minutes then serve. (See Note 3)
- The size I use here are 3 1/4″ in diameter, 1 1/4″ deep and hold roughly a 1/2 cup.
- I find pouring through a strainer eliminates any foam and leaves a smooth surface. This is purely optional.
- If not serving right away, do not do the sugar topping part. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Top with sugar and torch/broil before serving. It will not stay completely hard if done more than 3 hours prior.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.