My homemade crème brûlée recipe uses just 5 ingredients! It’s surprisingly simple to make despite its sophisticated name and appearance. Recipe includes a how-to video to guide you through every step!
My Favorite Crème Brûlée Recipe
I’m adding creme brulee to my list of recipes that look fancy and complicated (that caramelized sugar topping! Those elegant accents over the letters!), but are really quite simple to make. In fact, this recipe is going straight to the top, right next to my chocolate lava cakes (another must-try this Valentine’s Day!).
While it may appear elite and intimidating, creme brulee really isn’t that difficult to make. Making the custard is similar to making pastry cream, and the brulee top takes seconds to accomplish. There is some technique involved and a few tools you will need (ramekins and a kitchen torch, both linked in the recipe), but I’ll walk you through every easy step.
Note: unlike my cheesecake recipes, we unfortunately have to use a water bath today. A water bath guarantees smooth, creamy, crack-free custard-which is exactly what we want! Don’t worry though, I’m sharing plenty of tips on what type of pan to use, how much to fill, and how to prevent leaks.
Let’s get started!
What You Need
Just 5 basic ingredients make this easy and impressive creme brulee recipe:
- Eggs. We’ll just be using the egg yolks today (scroll down for recipes that will use up the whites!), and we want them to be room temperature before we get started. Forgot to set yours out? Use my quick and easy trick for quickly bringing eggs to room temperature!
- Vanilla. I like using a vanilla bean, but I also include instructions for using vanilla extract if that’s what you have on hand.
- Heavy cream. Whipping cream or double cream will also work.
- Salt. For flavor!
- Sugar. I’ve tried topping this creme brulee recipe with everything from superfine (caster) sugar to coarse turbinado sugar, and honestly all of them have worked for me. My preference for the most even sugar coating is just regular granulated sugar though.
SAM’S TIP: I recommend lining the exterior of your ramekins with squares of aluminum foil to protect from any splashes from the water bath. Make sure the foil covers all sides of the ramekin and extends at least 2″ above the top of each ramekin. Not only does this protect your custard from water splashes, but it also makes removing the ramekins from the hot water a lot easier!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Creme Brulee
- Start the custard – Bring 1 ½ cups of cream, sugar, salt, and a vanilla bean to a boil, then remove from heat. Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove the vanilla bean and pour in the remaining heavy cream.
- Temper the eggs – Whisk together the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then gradually drizzle small amounts of the cream into the egg mixture while whisking. Continue to slowly add all cream, whisking nonstop until combined.
- Strain and fill – Pour the mixture through a strainer before pouring into your ramekins. Fill each ramekin ⅔ of the way full.
- Water bath – Fill your roasting pan with enough water that it reaches about ⅔ of the way up each ramekin (not the foil, the foil should be much higher).
- Bake for 25-35 minutes at 300F, then remove from water bath at let sit on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and place in the fridge to chill for 4-6 hours.
- Brulee and serve! When ready to serve, sprinkle sugar on the tops of each custard and use a kitchen torch to brûlée the tops.
SAM’S TIP: Shake the ramekin from side to side gently to evenly distribute the sugar — you want an even coating. Once distributed, turn on your torch and barely touch the tip of the flame to the sugar, moving constantly in a circular motion until all of the sugar is melted and caramelized. Make sure you keep that torch moving to avoid burning your sugar and cooking your custard!
Frequently Asked Questions
My creme brulee recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend storing in an airtight container to keep the custard from absorbing any odors that might be in your fridge. Don’t add the sugar topping until you are ready to serve, as it will soften and dissolve in the refrigerator.
I haven’t tried this myself, but placing your ramekins on a sheet pan directly under your oven broiler should do the trick. If you do this, make sure to let your ramekins sit out on the counter for a few minutes to warm up from the fridge before placing them in the oven (even oven-safe glass can crack with sudden temperature changes!).
Looking for another fancy but easy French dessert? Try my madeleines next!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 2 cups (475 ml) heavy cream divided
- ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean³
- 6 large egg yolks room temperature
- Hot water
- Additional granulated sugar for bruleeing
- Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Prepare 6 ramekins by wrapping the bottom and sides with foil (see video below or images in post for a visual, the foil should be reaching at least 2” up the sides of each ramekin to protect the creme brulee from the water bath). Set prepared ramekins inside a large roasting pan⁴ and set aside.
- Combine 1 ½ cups (355ml) heavy cream cream, sugar, and sea salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Split vanilla bean, scrape out seeds and add to saucepan and then toss in the vanilla bean as well. Stir mixture well and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.2 cups (475 ml) heavy cream, ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar, ⅛ teaspoon finely ground sea salt, 1 vanilla bean³
- Once mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine your egg yolks in a separate medium-sized bowl and whisk well.6 large egg yolks
- Once cream has cooled, retrieve vanilla bean and discard. Pour remaining ½ cup (115ml) heavy cream into warm cream mixture and stir well.
- Take approximately ⅓ cup of the cream mixture and slowly drizzle it into egg mixture while whisking yolks constantly (this gradual addition while whisking will keep the hot cream mixture from cooking your eggs)
- While whisking, drizzle remaining cream mixture into egg yolks until mixture is combined.
- Pour mixture through a strainer into a separate bowl.
- Divide mixture evenly into prepared ramekins, filling each ⅔-¾ full (do not overfill, if you have any extra mixture discard).
- Carefully, making sure to not get get any water into the ramekins, pour hot water into the roasting pan, using enough so that the water height is about ⅔-¾ as high as the top of the ramekins (not the foil!).Hot water
- Carefully transfer to oven and bake on 300F (150C) for 25-35 minutes or until center is set on top but still jiggling, I recommend using an instant read thermometer to check that the temperature is at 175F (80C).
- Gripping the foil, carefully lift each creme brulee out of the roasting pan and set on a cooling rack to cool for at least 20 minutes. Discard foil, transfer to refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 4-6 hours.
- When ready to serve, generously sprinkle the top of each creme brulee with about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Holding a culinary torch several inches from the sugar, cook the sugar (moving the torch constantly) until sugar is melted and golden browned (about 90 seconds).Additional granulated sugar for bruleeing
- Serve and enjoy! Hint: Creme Brulee is great topped with fresh fruit!
¹Ramekins(these are the ones I use, affiliate link). You can use ramekins of a different size, measure a little over ⅓ cup of liquid per ramekin and note that the baking time will likely vary (be longer) for smaller ramekins, so keep an eye on them!
²Culinary Torch(this is the one I use, the one in the video is no longer available and this is the one I use now, affiliate link)
³VanillaIf you don’t have a vanilla bean, you can substitute vanilla extract. You would use 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla extract and stir this into your cream mixture in step 5.
⁴Roasting panIf you don’t have a roasting pan, you can use two 9×13 pans instead.
Here are a few ideas for your leftover egg whites!
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.