This Crème Brûlée Recipe results in a rich, smooth, and silky custard base that’s finished off with a layer of crunchy caramelized sugar! It’s an impressive and decadent dessert that’s deceivingly easy to make!
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You know those recipes that look (and taste!) like you spent forever on them, but that are actually super easy to make? Air Fryer Salmon, Baked Chicken Caprese, Chicken Gnocchi Soup,Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake, Perfect Instant Pot Pot Roast Recipe… you get the idea.
For a long time, Crème Brûlée felt like one of those desserts you only ever get at fancy restaurants and that you definitely never attempt to make at home.
But then I decided to try making it myself…and I’m so glad I did!
This Crème Brûlée recipe could not be easier. It’s made up of just four simple ingredients, takes 10 minutes to prep, and the result is what feels like a luxurious, indulgent dessert but that’s actually just about as simple as it gets!
Just lay a tablecloth down, light a candle, dive into your creme brulee, and you’ll have yourself nearly convinced you’re dining at a fancy, five-star restaurant.
Trust me. You’re going to want a spoonful of this melt-in-your-mouth, sweet, creamy goodness!
Believe it or not, this decadent dessert is made up of just a few pantry staples!
- Heavy Cream: stick to heavy cream for a richer, creamier, more velvety custard!
- Egg Yolks: these are what make the custard set. By using just egg yolks, we’re creating a smoother, richer flavor and softer texture.
- Granulated Sugar: you’ll use this both in the custard and for the caramelized topping.
- Vanilla Extract: gives the custard its flavor. Since this is a key component to this recipe, I definitely recommend using pure vanilla extract for the best flavor, not imitation vanilla.
How to make Crème Brûlée
- Make the custard: Heat the heavy cream over medium heat just until you see bubbles along the edge. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla. Once the cream is hot, add it to the egg mixture a little at a time. Whisk well between additions.
- Bake: Divide the custard mixture evenly into 7-8 ounce ramekins, then place those into a large baking dish (make sure they all sit flat) and add water. Bake at 325ºF for 30-45 minutes.
- Top and torch: Cool the baked custard to room temperature, refrigerate for 2 hours, then sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Torch or broil until the tops are caramelized.
Crème Brûlée FAQs
Crème Brûlée, or “burnt cream” is a dessert made up of a silky baked custard base finished off with a layer of crunchy caramelized sugar.
It’s usually prepared in individual servings in small, shallow ramekins and served chilled!
Crème Brûlée has a sweet and rich vanilla flavor. The base is a rich and creamy vanilla custard, not too sweet but very decadent. The topping is simply granulated sugar that has been broiled to become crispy. The topping is a quite sweet and crispy contrast to the smooth and mild custard.
To get that crunchy, caramelized sugar topping, you have a couple of options:
Use a blow torch. Hold the tip of the torch a couple of inches away from the sugar and move it around evenly until the top is golden-brown and crisped.
Broil it. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until golden-brown. Be sure to keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn!
Yes! The water bath creates a moist and humid environment for the creme brulee which is an essential part of achieving the silky texture you want. Without the water, the dessert will be rubbery.
In theory, yes, but I recommend using just the egg yolks. They create a silkier texture and richer flavor.
If you want to use up the leftover egg whites, check out my baked Alaska tarts or Easy Lemon Meringue Pie.
Creme brulee is a perfect make-ahead dessert because it has more time to set!
To prepare ahead of time, make the custard, bake as directed, then store the ramekins in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to serve, simply add and torch the topping, and dig in!
Tips for making Crème Brûlée
- Use shallow ramekins. The wider, shallower ramekins not only lower the bake time, but they also increase the surface area of the top, which means you get more of that yummy sugar topping!
- Temper the eggs. Make sure you add the egg mixture to the hot cream little bits at a time. If you add it all at once, you’ll just end up with really sweet and creamy scrambled eggs.
- You’ll know the custard is done baking when the edges have set but the center is still slightly jiggly.
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Easy Crème Brûlée recipe
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream (30-35%)
- 4 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (66 grams) ¼ if you prefer less sweet
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup granulated sugar for topping
- In a small pot, heat cream over medium heat until hot but not boiling — wait until you can see small bubbles just along the edge of the pot.
- While the cream is heating, whisk together egg yolks, ⅓ cup sugar and vanilla — this is best done in a large glass measuring cup for easy pouring.
- When the cream is hot, add it to the egg yolks in small doses, whisking well after each addition.
- Divide into four 7-8oz ramekins (wider and shallower is better but any will work).
- Place filled ramekins in a large baking dish and fill the baking dish with hot water so that it comes ¾ of the way up the sides of the ramekins — be careful not to get any water into the ramekins!
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-45 minutes — this will depend on how deep the custard is. (Smaller ramekins, deeper custard = longer bake time) The top will appear set but underneath it will still jiggle.
- Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours until chilled. (You can wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days if you want to prep these ahead).
- Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and torch or broil just until caramelized. Serve immediately or chill to serve later.
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