The Best Crème Brûlée

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The ultimate BEST EVER easy creme brulee! So easy to make at home and makes for a gorgeous fancy dessert! Plus NO special kitchen torch required (oven instructions). Video tutorial included. via chelseasmessyapron.com #cremebrulee #creme #brulee #dessert #easy #video #tutorial #custard #dessert #helpful #tips #valentines #day #treat #desserts

This incredible Crème Brûlée looks fancy, but is quick and easy to make! This dessert has creamy custard filling and a caramelized sugar topping. Top Crème Brûlée with fresh berries for a delicious show-stopping dessert.

Crème Brûlée is the perfect make-ahead dessert. You can prepare the custard days in advance, store in the fridge, and torch the tops with sugar just before serving! These desserts are adapted from a restaurant where I used to work, and they served crème brûlée with jam thumbprint cookies and a medley of berries. Below I’ll share the process for making these and my best tips. You can also view the entire process in the video below. Enjoy!

Three Crème Brûlées, topped with blackberries.

Crème Brûlée

The first “real” job I had was working at a restaurant near my home. I ended up working there for 7 and 1/2 years — all through high school and right up until I graduated college. A lot of the employees were there just as long (or longer) than I was, and I made so many great friends.

One particular friend was the restaurant’s pastry chef. He made a lot of the desserts and most of the breads we served at the restaurant. He was one of the nicest guys ever, and a through-and-through foodie. I often worked Saturday mornings and would go in a little early to chat with him about all things related to bread and pastry making. He’d share his secrets and I’d listen in complete captivation.

Step-by-step process shots to making Crème Brûlée:- separating the eggs and adding the sugar.

One particular Saturday morning, I asked him about his famous crème brûlée. I was obsessed with it, and anytime I could get a dessert for free (I was always too cheap to shell out the $7-8 for one) I’d get that crème brûlée. He practically laughed at me when I begged for the secrets to the recipe because he admitted it was the easiest dessert he made. I couldn’t believe that dessert was simple to make!

Step-by-step process shots to making Crème Brûlée: tempering eggs.But he was right! Crème Brûlée is not an overly tricky dessert to make! It takes a lot of patience to wait for it to be ready, but hands-on time is pretty minimal, relatively speaking to dessert making. It also requires very few ingredients — five ingredients to be exact. So let’s break down the ever-elusive Crème Brûlée and learn how to make it!

Creme Brulee being torched.

How do you make Crème Brûlée?

  • Start by preparing your ramekins. I’ve tested this recipe in 4-ounce, 5-ounce, and 6-ounce ramekins — it works great in all of them, but my preference is the 5-ounce size. (I like the thickness of the crème brûlées that comes from that size of bowl.) Set the ramekins in a 9x-13-inch metal pan and set aside (we’re going to cook the custards in a water bath).
    • You do not need to purchase specialty ramekins for Crème Brûlée — if you have 4, 5, of 6-ounce ramekins they’ll work.
  • Make the custard filling: The custard filling has two parts to the process. First, you’ll beat egg yolks and vanilla bean seeds with sugar. I like to use organic eggs since the yolks are what give color to the custard, and organic yolks are usually a deeper color. The other part of the filling is the heavy cream mixture. I add some flaky sea salt and the pod of a vanilla bean to the mixture as it simmers. This recipe calls for a full vanilla bean and you’ll use both parts of it — the seeds as well as the pod (which still has plenty of flavor). I definitely prefer using a vanilla bean in this recipe because it adds the pretty black specks (which are the vanilla beans) and an incredible flavor. If you can’t get a vanilla bean, you can use pure vanilla extract.
  • Bake the custard filling: You’ll combine the heavy cream mixture and egg mixture by tempering the eggs. Tempering adds bits of hot liquid at a time so that the eggs don’t scramble. Once combined, you’re ready to pour this mixture into the ramekins. The pan surrounding the ramekins is filled with boiling water and baked for 30-35 minutes or until the centers slightly jiggle.
  • Chill the custard. Once baked, chill the Crème Brûlée for 3-4 hours. (That’s the hardest part of making these!) Once they’ve been sufficiently chilled, it’s time for the fun part! Add some superfine sugar (which caramelizes better) to the tops of your custards and torch them with a kitchen torch!
  • QUICK TIP

    Crème Brûlée is French for ‘burnt cream’ because of the crispy, caramelized sugar topping to the custard. While the topping is browned, and even a little blackened, take care not to actually burn it!

Can you make Crème Brûlée without a torch?

Yes! While I prefer Crème Brûlée to be caramelized with a kitchen torch, you can also do it in the oven! You’ll want to move your oven rack to the top position and heat the oven to a high broil. Once the oven is heated, add the custards topped with superfine sugar to a tray. Place the tray on that top shelf and watch carefully as they broil. It only takes 1-3 minutes, so watch closely to avoid burned brûlée.

What is Crème Brûlée served in?

Creme Brûlée is served in ramekins. A ramekin is a small, glazed glass or ceramic bowl used for cooking individual dishes.

Creme Brûlée with a spoon in it.

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The Best Crème Brûlée

5 from 32 votes
The best ever easy Crème Brûlée. This recipe is adapted from an award-winning 5-star restaurant's recipe! Video tutorial and helpful tips included.
Print Recipe

The Best Crème Brûlée

5 from 32 votes
The best ever easy Crème Brûlée. This recipe is adapted from an award-winning 5-star restaurant's recipe! Video tutorial and helpful tips included.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword creme brulee, creme brulee recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 5-ounce ramekins (6 4-ounce ramekins, 4 6-ounce ramekins)
Calories 500kcal
Author Chelsea Lords

Ingredients

  • 1 full vanilla bean (I like Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans; alternatively, use 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks must be at room temperature*
  • 3/4 cup superfine white sugar divided (regular white sugar will work too)
  • 6 cups water
  • Optional: fresh berries for serving

Instructions

  • Start by splitting the vanilla bean down the center. Scrape out all the seeds and place in a large bowl. Take the vanilla bean pod and place it in a small pot with the sea salt and heavy cream. If using vanilla extract, don't add it yet to the sea salt and heavy cream.
  • Heat the heavy cream mixture over the stove until the cream is simmering. Do not boil! Remove from the stove and set aside to cool slightly. Remove the vanilla bean pod. If using vanilla extract, stir it into this mixture now.
  • In the bowl with the vanilla bean seeds (or an empty bowl if using vanilla extract), add the egg yolks and 1/2 cup superfine sugar. Beat until the mixture is light, about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, place 6 cups of water in a large pot and heat to boiling.
  • Add about 1/4 of the cream mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Stir until combined, and then pour the remaining heavy cream mixture into the mixture. Stir until combined.
  • Pour the prepared mixture evenly into the ramekins - use either (6) 4-ounce ramekins, (5) 5-ounce ramekins, or (4) 6-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins in a metal 9x13-inch baking pan and add boiling water to the pan until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees F until the centers are barely set (very slight jiggle). Cool completely at room temperature and then refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving. (These can be refrigerated for 4-5 days before using)
  • When ready to serve, add the remaining 1/4 cup superfine sugar on top of the custards in equal portions. I find it helpful to use a little more sugar than needed to swirl around on top of the custard to make sure the top is evenly coated with sugar - then just pour the extra sugar onto the next ramekin. Use a kitchen torch to torch the tops until the sugar melts and browns (or even slightly blackens). See Note 1. Top with fresh berries and enjoy immediately. 

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: You can easily use your oven to melt the sugar on the top. To do this, move your oven rack to the top position and heat the oven to a high broil. Once the oven is heated, add the custards (topped with the sugar). It only takes 1-3 minutes so watch closely to avoid burning the brûlée.
*To get the eggs quickly to room temperature, you can soak the uncracked eggs in some warm water for 3-5 minutes. (There is a video tutorial of this recipe right above this written recipe.)

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 315mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 90mg | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 1645IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




115 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks fabulous. I have vanilla beans but I don’t have superfine sugar. Can I just put regular white sugar in the food processor?

    Also, not to be weird, but I have been a subscriber for a long time but had never seen a video, and you (and your kitchen!) are gorgeous. 🙂

    1. Go to Whole Foods.. down baking aisle.. it’s called ‘Caster Sugar’. A very fine grind, and Worth it for this recipe.

    2. I baked these and you said they were supposed to slightly jiggle, but mine seems a little runny in the center but a little firmer on the outer edges. Is this supposed to happen?

  2. I made this and the creme brulee was too sweet. Had to throw it away. I’ll try again with very little sugar.

    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that! Did you make sure to separate the sugar? Only 1/2 cup goes in the brûlées and the rest is used as topping (which you can always use less of depending on how crunchy you like the top!)

    2. 5 stars
      Second time making these
      Had a friend who is very picky about his creme brûlée
      He couldn’t get enough
      Very tasty and a perfect end to a good meal

  3. 5 stars
    My mom has long talked about her grandmother’s custard and loving creme brulee .They took a trip to Bonaire two years ago and still tell the tale of trekking all the way across an island to eat at the French restaurant – the highlight of that meal? Creme brulee. I decided to make this for a family meal recently, and my mom and sister both asked for the recipe. It was a definite hit!

  4. 5 stars
    The creme brulee was awesome, I made 4 ramekins and used 2 separate pans to cook them. 2 of them turned out perfect and 2 were runny. What happened??? This was my first time making this. Could it have happened when I torched the sugar in the end? All four seemed fine before I did that.

    1. So happy to hear you enjoyed it! Strange about the different pans. Were they on different racks in your oven? Also were they both chilled long enough? It seems like it might be different/varied heating in your oven, but could also be a too short of chill time.

  5. This must be the recipe I’ve been looking for. Your brulees look amazing, and the recipe looks easy. I’m gonna make them this morning and hopefully they’ll be ready by this afternoon when my friend is coming by. I’ll report back later as to how successful I was. Thanks so much, Chelsea. Including a video is a fantastic idea!

  6. When you are letting it cool completely to room temperature is it suppose to cool in the water bath ? Or outside the water bath ?

  7. This looks so delicious! I forgot about creme brûlée until I had it in Spain about a year & a half ago & thought whoa this is SO good. I might need to make this for dessert the next time we have another couple over for dinner!

  8. This truly *is* the best creme brulee everyone in my family has ever eaten. 1) We’ve eaten a lot of them before and 2) my teenage son made this for Mother’s Day! Quite easy.

    1. Ahhh I’m soo happy to hear this! Also what an awesome son! You must be proud. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    I love creme brulee, but have always been afraid of making it – I thought it was super difficult. You explained it so well, and it wasn’t hard at all! Turned out super yummy, I look forward to making them again!

  10. 5 stars
    Made this for my wife and mom on Mother’s Day. It was a big hit! One small change was suggested to me which I did – added 1/16 cup Grand Marnier to the egg and sugar mixture. Thanks for a great recipe and excellent instructions and video!

    1. Ahhh what a good husband and son!! I’m sooo glad they enjoyed it! That sub sounds awesome, thanks for the tip! Thanks!!

  11. 5 stars
    You really need to make sure the ramekins are deep enough. 1 inch deep is what I use. The issue is that when you “brulee” the dessert, too shallow ramekin will allow the creme to warm and separate into a nasty goo.

  12. Baked them for 35 min ~ added 10, still runny, 10 more, STILL runny 10 more STILL RUNNY ~ JUST took out of oven and hoping they’ll firm up ~ UGH

    1. Hey Shelley, did you make any recipe substitutions? Did they end up firming up ok? And is your oven calibrated correctly? We make these often and haven’t ever had a problem with runny brulees!

    1. Honestly I’m not sure; I’ve never lived in a very humid climate so don’t have experience with that. Sorry, wish I could be of more help but hopefully someone else can chime in!

    1. I’m sure they can, I haven’t personally tested a time and temperature though. Sorry to not be of more help, hopefully someone else can chime in.

  13. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Si simple. Taking it a step further,
    I plan to use this as the custard for a brioche bread pudding.

  14. Hi Chelsea,

    I enjoyed your video about making creme brulee! I’m trying to work up the courage to make this lovely, tasty dessert for my family Thanksgiving. My siblings are excellent cooks and I really want to contribute a memorable, delicious dessert. I hope your Thanksgiving is marvelous!

    1. Hey Michelle, Thanks for your comment! You seriously have nothing to worry about! This recipe is sooo simple and SOOO DELICIOUS! It’ll be a total hit and you’ll wow your family!! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    If I could give you more than 5 stars I would! I’ve made this a couple times now, it it comes out perfectly each time. My thanks to you…and your video! that really made a difference for me!
    I have to say that I added a touch more vanilla..only because I like it, but your recipe, and technique is spot on. I follow it to a T; the consistency of the custard was absolutely sublime.
    Thanks so much, your creme brûlée will be the star of my dinner party!

    1. Awe thank you so much Janice! So thrilled to hear you’ve had great results with this recipe 🙂 Thank you for the kind comment and review!

  16. 5 stars
    I used this recipe to make creme brûlée for Christmas dessert – my first time ever attempting it. My whole family agreed it was the best creme brûlée any of us had ever had! I added in some sugar in the raw for the topping. It was perfection. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. I’m so thrilled to hear this was the best one ever! 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment and review Sarah!!

  17. 5 stars
    Making this for the second time in three days lol! My fiancé loves creme brûlée and said this is the best she has ever had! Thanks

  18. Hi!

    Could you double this recipe? I am wanting to make 6-6 ounce ramekins and am okay with getting rid of whatever is extra. I just don’t want to mess up the recipe!

    1. I’ve kept them (covered tightly) in the fridge for 4 days in advance before with no adverse reactions; I’ve never done longer than that so I’m not sure if it can stretch more.

  19. 5 stars
    It had been years since I had made creme brulee, and all of my cookbooks are put away in storage. So I chose this recipe and it was fantastic! The final product turned out just like I used to make. My only regret is that I can’t (or shouldn’t) have it every day. ☹️

    1. Hahaha I’m soo happy to hear this!! I definitely share the same regret! Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

  20. 5 stars
    These are on another level amazing! Simple, yet so elegant! I like a thick layer of the sugar so I torch one layer, let cool for 30-60 secs then add another small sprinkle of sugar and torch again. Thank u so much for this recipe!

  21. I only have two 4 oz. ramekins. Can I store the extra filling in the fridge and then bake it the next day?

  22. I have a dairy allergy and I’m wondering if I could use coconut milk or coconut cream instead. Have you ever tried this and are there other modifications I would need to make if using coconut milk or cream? Thanks so much! So excited to try it as I love creme brûlée.

  23. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice and it legitimately is the best! First time I didn’t realize you should get rid of bubbles, and learned that a quick torch over the surface before they go into the oven works like magic. They set beautifully both times otherwise and tasted superb – better than any I’ve been served in a restaurant. I followed the recipe exactly, only using a double boiler to heat the cream/vanilla/salt, and went with 6 4oz ramekins. Perfection, with just the right ratio of custard to crust. Thanks for making this intimidating dessert accessible and still excellent.

  24. The foam from beating the sugar and yolks together formed a crust on top.
    It’s a good idea to strain the mixture into a jug for easy pouring…I remembered that from a previous recipe. It’s a very sweet custard so next time I try it I will use less sugar. Thanks for sharing

  25. 5 stars
    Creme brûlée is one of my favorite dessserts but like you said, so expensive in restaurants and most disappointing when you get one with not enough topping or worse, it tastes eggy. I made this last night and it was the BEST!! I finally opened up my vanilla beans (and then made 6 jars of vanilla) and it was the most delicious and perfect dessert!!!

  26. 5 stars
    I am a classically trained chef, apprenticed in New Orleans, have worked in French Quarter restaurants as well as fine dining restaurants in Santa Cruz, Ca and Park City, Ut, but always shyed away from attempting to make creme brûlée’s, believing it was One of those things only an experienced pastry chef could properly prepare. Tried your recipe and was quite pleasantly proven wrong. I’m retired now, but enjoy cooking more now than when I used it as a means of making a living. I cook for friends and family now, and must admit that when they rave over my creme brûlées, I don’t let on how easily they were produced. Thanks for adding a great recipe to my repitaurie.

  27. It’s my girlfriend Birthday and this is her favorite. So I am going to make it today. Question: Most recipes but foil on the water bath I see you do not right?

  28. 5 stars
    My daughter made this for her cooking class and neither she or myself had made this before. It was super easy and was absolutely delicious!

  29. 5 stars
    This is the BEST creme brûlée recipe! This dessert is a family favorite so I’ve made it quite a bit. Everyone agreed that this recipe was, by far, the best I’d ever made and better than any they’d had in a restaurant. Thank you!

  30. Hi, this recipe looks amazing. A couple of questions for you– I have various size ramekins but not enough of one size. Would it be okay to use various size ramekins? It looks like the baking time in the recipe is the same whether you do 4, 5, or 6 oz ramekins. I’m guessing perhaps the depth is more important to be consistent versus the amount of ounces it holds? Thanks and looking forward to making these!

  31. Miss Chelsea, my wife and I had a mocha/chocolate flavor creme brulee once. Do you have any modifications to achieve this flavor with your recipe?

    Great recipe btw! Voted the best by my Family. I have tried at least 2 others and it was unanimously agreed that yours was best!

    1. Oooh that sounds delicious! I’ll add it to my list to experiment 🙂 So glad this was enjoyed I’m thrilled to hear it was the best 🙂

  32. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! My husband used his bbq torch and it’s perfect! My son ask if we can make this for breakfast! Lol 😂

  33. Terrible video. I don’t know about other people however I don’t want to watch you I want to see what you are doing. Please close ups of your techniques.

  34. 5 stars
    Your recipe was the first crème brûlée recipe I ever tried, and it was SO EASY. I couldn’t believe I mastered this dessert in one try, and now I make it all the time. I’ve used vanilla pods, and also extract when I ran out. I whisk everything by hand, but that’s just personal preference. The key is all about the “temp” – use room temperature eggs, don’t boil the cream, and be sure to temper when adding it to the eggs. I add a little less than your recipe states at a time, whisking constantly, and it turns out great every time! Thanks for the details in this – it really helps!

    1. So thrilled to hear you’ve loved and been successful with this recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

  35. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! First time making creme brûlée, and this recipe was so easy to follow, and has so much flavor! Thank you!!

  36. I’m getting ready to make the recipe for the first time and I’m so excited but I’m bummed because I could only find 9 oz ramekins at the store. Any suggestions for using such a big ramekin? More cooking time maybe?

    1. I’d watch bake time carefully! I’ve never tried creme brulee in that big of a ramekin so I’m not sure how it will do; sorry!

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