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

These creme brulees are the perfect make-ahead dessert. You can prepare the custard days in advance, store them in the fridge, and torch the tops with sugar just before serving! These brulees are adapted from a restaurant I used to work at where they served them alongside 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

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 me and I made so many great friends.

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

Step by step process shots to making creme brulee -- adding eggs 7 sugar

One particular Saturday morning I asked him about his famous crème brûlée. I was obsessed with his crème brûlée and anytime I could get a dessert for free (I was always to 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 crème brûlée because he admitted it to be the easiest dessert he made. I couldn’t believe that dessert was simple to make!

Step by step process shots to making creme brulee -- tempering eggsBut he is right! Crème brûlée is not an overly tricky dessert to make! It takes a lot of patience in waiting for it to be ready, but hands on time is pretty minimal relatively speaking to dessert making. It also requires few ingredients – 5 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 ramekins (I like the thickness of the crème brûlées best.) Set the ramekins in a 9 x 13 metal pan and set aside (we’re going to cook the crème brûlées in a water bath).
    • You do not need to purchase speciality ramekins for these crème brûlées — if you have 4, 5, of 6 ounce ramekins they’ll work.
  • Make the custard filling: the custard filling is two parts. First, you’ll beat egg yolks and vanilla bean seeds with sugar. I like to use organic eggs for crème brûlées. Since the yolks are what give color to the crème brûlées you’ll want really pretty yellow yolks (which I’ve found come from organic eggs). 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 simmering heavy cream mixture. This crème brûlée recipe calls for a full vanilla bean and you’ll use both parts of it — the seeds and 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. 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 crème brûlées. Once baked, you’ll chill the crème brûlées for 3-4 hours. (The hardest part of making these!) And 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 the with a kitchen torch!

Can you make crème brûlée without a torch?

Yes! While I prefer crème brûlées to be caramelized with a kitchen torch, they will work 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 crème brûlées.

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 brulee with spoon in it

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The Best Crème Brûlée

5 from 22 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!
Print Recipe

The Best Crème Brûlée

5 from 22 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!
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 190kcal
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, separated (regular white sugar will work too)
  • 6 cups water
  • Optional: fresh berries to serve with

Instructions

  • Start by splitting the vanilla bean down the center. Scrape out all the seeds and place into a large bowl. Take the vanilla bean pod and place in a small pot with the sea salt and heavy cream. If using vanilla extract, don't add quite 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 slightly cool. Remove the vanilla bean pod. If using vanilla extract, stir it in to 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 1/4th of the cream mixture into the egg + sugar mixture. Stir until combined, then pour the remaining heavy cream mixture into the egg + sugar 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 9 x 13 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 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). Top with fresh berries and enjoy immediately 🙂 
  • If you don't have a kitchen torch 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 crème brûlées.

Video

Recipe Notes

*To get the eggs quickly to room temperature, you can soak the full 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: 190kcal

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82 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!)

  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. 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!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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!

  9. 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!!

  10. 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.

    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.

  11. 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!! 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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! 🙂

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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!!!

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