This is the BEST Easy Creme Brulee recipe out there. Plus, you can make this decadent dessert up to four days ahead of time for easy entertaining!
I love a classic creme brulee. I’m not really a big chocolate person. For me, I’ve always preferred vanilla. This creme brulee is my ideal dessert. It’s thick and creamy, with a silky texture, and speckled with flecks of vanilla bean. That alone is heaven in a bowl. BUT, add the crunchy caramelized sugar on top, and it’s perfection.
And this dessert isn’t just for fancy restaurants. You can easily make it at home with this easy recipe!
You DO have to plan ahead a bit for classic creme brulee as it has to cool in the fridge after cooking. But the best part is it makes the perfect dessert for entertaining, because it can be made up to four days ahead of time. At the last minute, just sprinkle the sugar on top and caramelize it.
Simple ingredients – heavy cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean – are all you need. For the best price, purchase your real vanilla beans on Amazon, or look for them in the bulk section of your grocery store.
- Heavy Cream – adds that luxurious, creamy texture
- Sugar – we’ll use sugar both in the custard and for creating the crackly topping
- Vanilla Bean – you can swap for a splash of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Egg Yolks
- Salt – just a pinch!
📋 How to Make It
- Heat cream, sugar, salt and vanilla bean just to a boil. Take pan off heat and let rest 15 minutes, to infuse the vanilla flavor.
- After cream mixture has rested, stir in the remaining cream to cool the mixture down further. Whisk in eggs.
- Strain egg mixture through a fine strainer, into a large measuring cup (for easy pouring).
- Arrange ramekins in a large baking dish or roasting pan (place a kitchen towel underneath to prevent movement and shifting).
- Divide the mixture between your ramekins.
- Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it is about 2/3 up the ramekins. The hot water keeps the creme brulees from cracking as they bake.
- Bake until centers of custards are just barely set, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Let cool to room temperature. Then, place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.
- Sprinkle the top of the custard with a thin layer of sugar.
- Ignite kitchen torch and caramelize sugar. OR, see below on how to caramelize the top under your broiler.
👩🍳 How to Bake
Making creme brulee is a bit like making a custard and it’s necessary to bake them in a hot water bath so that they do not crack while they’re baking.
To do this, bake the creme brulee in a baking pan that’s filled with warm water that reaches two-thirds the height of your ramekins. Bake until centers of custards are just barely set, 30 to 35 minutes.
The bake time will vary based on the size of your individual ramekins.
🔥 How Do You Caramelize the Top of Creme Brulee?
The best way to caramelize the top of creme brulee is with a chef’s torch. This is the fun part!
First, wipe any condensation from the top of your cooled creme brulee and then sprinkle with sugar. Light your torch and working in sections brown the top of your creme brulee rotating frequently until the sugar is evenly browned and has formed a hard shell.
🥄 Making Creme Brulee Without a Blow Torch
You can also caramelize creme brulee using your oven broiler. Move the top rack in your oven up as high as it will go. Place the ramekins in the oven on the top rack, and turn on the broiler. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating them frequently so that the sugar melts evenly. Take them out when the sugar has browned.
Yes! One of my favorite parts about this classic creme brulee is that it can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Store them in the refrigerator and at the last minute, just sprinkle the sugar on top and caramelize it.
Heavy cream is used to give creme brulee its thick, velvety texture. Whipping cream will also work in a pinch for this recipe.
Definitely. Brown sugar works equally well in this recipe. However, brown sugar will impart a deeper, more caramelized flavor.
If you don’t have ramekins, you can also use mugs, small glass jars, or small bowls for this recipe. Just be sure that they are heat proof. You can even use a muffin tin in a pinch.
If your creme brulee is runny, it is most likely undercooked. Pop it back into the oven until the centers are just barely set.
More French Dessert Recipes:
- Blackberry Galette
- Strawberry Galette
- Apple Cardamom Galette
- Mocha Coffee Mousse
- Ricotta Mousse with Fresh Raspberries
- Baked Brie in Puff Pastry
- More → 35+ Traditional French Desserts
Easy Creme Brulee Recipe
- 6 teaspoons demerara sugar (coarse sugar, or white sugar)
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
- Combine 1 cup cream, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan; with paring knife, scrape seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (halved lengthwise) into pan, submerge pod in cream, and bring mixture to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. Take pan off heat and let steep 15 minutes to infuse flavors.
- Meanwhile, place a white kitchen towel in bottom of large baking dish or roasting pan and arrange four 4- to 5-ounce ramekins on towel.
- Bring kettle or large saucepan of water to boil over high heat.
- After cream has steeped, stir in remaining 1 cup cream to cool down mixture. Whisk yolks in large bowl until broken up and combined. Whisk about 1/2 cup cream mixture into yolks until loosened and combined; repeat with another 1/2 cup cream. Add remaining cream and whisk until evenly colored and thoroughly combined.
- Strain through fine-mesh strainer into 2-quart measuring cup or pitcher (or clean medium bowl); discard solids in strainer. Pour or ladle mixture into ramekins, dividing it evenly among them.
- Carefully place baking dish with ramekins on oven rack; pour boiling water into dish, taking care not to splash water into ramekins, until water reaches two-thirds height of ramekins. Bake until centers of custards are just barely set, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Transfer ramekins to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Set ramekins on rimmed baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.
- Uncover ramekins; if condensation has collected on custards, place paper towel on surface to soak up moisture. Sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon sugar; tilt and tap ramekin for even coverage. Ignite torch and caramelize sugar.
This post was originally published in 2014. It was updated in 2022 to add new photos and information. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy!