How to Make Crème Brûlée

We recommend kosher salt for this recipe as it has a better flavor with the cream. Table salt can sometimes give the delicate crème brulee a harsh or metallic flavor. If table salt is all you have, reduce to 1/8 teaspoon.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Chilling time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Custard

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 10 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Brûlée Topping

  • 4 tablespoons sugar (2 teaspoons per ramekin)

Special equipment:

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. Arrange six 4-ounce ramekins in a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

What is Creme Brulee prepare the pan

2 Prepare the vanilla bean: Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds with the dull (non-cutting) side of a paring knife.

How to Make Creme Brulee split the vanilla bean

3 Warm the cream: In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, vanilla bean pod, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat, until it begins to simmer.

Easy Creme Brulee Recipe Warm the Cream

4 Infuse the cream: Once the cream begins to simmer, remove the pan from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes to allow the vanilla bean to infuse into the cream. (If you’re replacing the vanilla bean with vanilla extract, skip this step.)

5 Separate the eggs and whisk with sugar: When your cream is almost done infusing, separate your eggs. Place the yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl; save the whites for another purpose.

Whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar into the yolks. (Don't combine the eggs and sugar too soon before you mix it with the warm cream because the sugar binds with the water in egg yolks, which constricts the proteins in yolks and creates eggy lumps. And you don't want eggy lumps in your custard!)

Easy Creme Brulee recipe separate the eggsBest Creme Brulee Recipe whisking the sugar into the eggs

6 Temper the yolks and mix with the cream: While whisking the yolks continuously, slowly add one ladle (about 1/4 or 1/3 cup) of hot cream in a thin stream. Do this two or three more times.

While whisking, slowly add the remaining cream to the egg mixture, followed by the vanilla extract.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a second mixing bowl and discard the vanilla bean pod (this also helps strain out any small bits of egg that may have curdled).

At this point, the custard can be cooled and stored for up to 5 days. If you choose to bake them right from the fridge, you will probably need to add a couple of extra minutes.

French vanilla creme brulee temper the cream into eggs

7 Fill the ramekins: Divide the custard between the ramekins, filling each one just up to the inner rim, or about three-quarters of the way full.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee divide custard between ramekins

8 Fill the hot water bath: Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil. Fill the pan with the hot water until the water comes about two-thirds of the way up the side of the ramekins. Avoid splashing water into the custards.

Easy Creme Brulee Recipe hot water bath

9 Bake the custards: Transfer the pan with the custards to the oven and bake for 38 to 40 minutes. When ready, the crème brûlée should have a uniform jiggle in the middle; when you touch the center, it should spring back just a bit. If the sides hold firm but the center sloshes, they aren’t quite done yet.

If they are set like Jell-O, they’ve over-baked, although they will still be delicious! Chill them, brûlée them, eat them, love them and celebrate your efforts. If they have overbaked to the point that they look risen in the center, toss them, start again, and celebrate your efforts!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Check the Custards

10 Cool and chill the custards: Remove the baking dish with the finished custards from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Let the custards cool in the water until you can safely pick up the ramekins by the rim with your fingers. This should take about 15 minutes, depending on how tender your fingers are. (Mine are like asbestos, so I tend to go in rather quickly.)

Once removed from the water bath, let each custard rest on the cooling rack for about 15 more minutes, then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 4 days, before serving.

11 Brûlée the custards: When ready to serve, remove the custards from fridge. Sprinkle the surface of each custard evenly with about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Rotate the custard as you sprinkle to make sure the sugar evenly coats the surface.

Ignite your torch. Hold the flame about 4 inches from the surface of the sugar. Using a circular motion, move the flame across the surface. The sugar will at first begin to bead up, and then will eventually solidify into a hard sugar crust.

You want to make sure all the sugar granules have melted, and the sugar has at least a tint of caramel color. The longer you torch the surface, the darker it will become and the more bitter the sugar crust will be.

Each of the custards with an additional teaspoon of sugar and brûlée the surface again.

Best Creme Brulee Recipe sprinkle sugar over topWhat Does Creme Brulee Mean torch the tops

12 Serve the crème brûlée: Cool for at 2 minutes, and serve within 20 minutes.

After about 20 minutes, the sugar will begin to soften, but if it takes you longer to get them to the table, don’t fret. You'll get less of a hard "crack!" when breaking up the surface of the crème brûlée, but it will still be good.

To eat, use the edge of your spoon to gently crack the hard sugar surface and scoop up some custard. Be sure to get both the brittle topping and the creamy custard in each bite.

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Comments

  • Britt

    Thank you so much for your detailed step by step instructions! I was always too nervous to make this dessert but once I saw your instructions and tips, I knew I could do it! It turned out perfect. Thank you so much!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Britt! This comment makes my heart so happy! I’m glad the post gave you the confidence to try making it yourself! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Jen

    what a rebellious new years resolution,to learn how to make creme brulee! The torch you recommend is currently unavailable on amazon.maybe it’s a sign my thinking is warped? haha

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Jen! It looks like it’s back in stock! This said, honestly, any culinary butane torch would work just fine for this recipe (and any recipe calling for a brulee torch). Enjoy!

  • Jesse

    VERY informative!!!

  • Chad Adapon

    I didn’t use this recipe just yet, but I really have to applaud the depth of technique and detail in this recipe. So much knowledge and areas were covered i feel pretty darn confident in preparing a great creme brulee even for my second time ever making them. Thank you so much for your effort, it is greatly appreciated.

    • Summer

      Hi, Chad — Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad the details are helpful. I hope your dessert (whenever you get the chance to make it) is fantastic!

  • Sarita

    Thank you for the great tips & recipe. I just made it this afternoon in my pressure cooker and did 1 1/2 times the recipe to make 6 – 7oz portions. I covered each ramekin with foil, put in the bottom rack with 1 1/2 c water and stacked them. I cooked it in my 8 quart Power Pressure Cooker XL on high pressure for 7 minutes, turned off the cooker and did a 10 minute NPR (natural pressure release). I think they are a little sweet for my taste but they were delicious.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Glen Bates

    How much sugar in the yolks?

    • Emma Christensen

      Gah! This instruction got left out! Thanks so much for pointing it out. The recipe has been updated. (It’s 6 tablespoons of sugar.)

  • Shirley

    I have made Creme Brulee for years and have had mixed results. Just read this and you will never miss. I use an old recipe from a card that was give out at a restaurant where I always ordered this dessert. For the most part, it worked fine, but the hints above were enlightening.

    • Summer

      Hi, Shirley — I’m so glad you found this post useful. Thanks for letting us know! Have a great day,
      Summer

  • Michelle Rosenbaum

    Thank you for the great tutorial on making my favorite dessert! I’m going to try it for my husband on Valentine’s Day.

    • Summer

      Hi, Michelle — Thanks for letting us know you found it helpful. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Terri

    Thank you thank you thank you for spelling it all out. I’ve wanted to try to make this but have stopped because I was afraid of messing it up. This step by step recipe makes it seem like its something I can try.

    • Summer

      Thank you, Terri!

  • Dawn

    I wonder if this recipe would work using sous vide? I can’t see why not, but the Joule recipe has triple the number of egg yolks and a bit more heavy cream. I think I like the recipe here better, so I might try it in some small mason jars with canning lids, and let you know. It would avoid that tricky, sloppy bain marie step! :D

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Dawn! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. YES! I think this would be great in the sous vide. I’d follow our recipe, but use their instructions when it comes time to bake the custards (sous vide at 176F for 1 hour). Let us know how it turns out!

      • Dawn

        OK, I tried it and it worked perfectly. The “creme” is a little sweet for my taste, but that is no big deal. The sous vide worked like a dream and the little mason jars looked great.

  • mary

    Very helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    • Summer

      Hi, Mary! I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  • Megan

    I was passing by your blog today and instantly got pulled in by the creme brulee! A definite favorite of mine. I hate paying a lot for it in restaurants so I’ve dedicated myself to learning to enjoy making it so I can have more than one ramekin. Thanks for the delicious recipe and great instructions!

    • Summer

      Hi, Megan! I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Enjoy all of your new ramekins!