Gourmet has never been easier! Incredible homemade Crème Brûlée looks elegant and fancy, but is easy to make with just 4 ingredients. This decadent French dessert has a creamy custard filling, a caramelized sugar topping and delicious flavor. It’s sure to impress, making it perfect for special occasions, Valentine’s Day and when serving guests! 

This easy Crème Brûlée is the perfect combination of smooth, silky, rich filling and that crispy sugary top you love and expect from a classic Crème Brûlée.

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While it may appear complicated and intimidating, Crème Brûlée is really quite simple to make. You only need a few simple ingredients and very little prep time! The custard filling can even be made ahead of time and then you just have to finish off the topping right before serving. This perfectly portioned dessert tastes just as good as if it came from a fancy restaurant!

There is a specific process involved and a few tools you will need (ramekins and a kitchen torch, both listed in the recipe, and I’ve linked to the exact ones I use), but I’ll walk you through the steps. I’ll also show you how to make this WITH or WITHOUT a kitchen torch.

Crème Brûlée served in a white ramekin.

Ingredients needed

Only four very basic ingredients are needed to make this. In fact, you may have them all in your kitchen right now! Here’s the lineup:

  • Heavy cream. A must for that amazing custard flavor.
  • Vanilla. For delicious flavor, use either a high quality vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean.
  • Sugar. Granulated sugar will make this perfectly sweet without being overwhelming.
  • Egg yolks. Using just the yolks will yield a creamy, rich filling.

How to make this recipe

  1. Prep. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prep the baking supplies by finding casserole type dishes that your ramekins can fit into. I usually need to split my 6 ramekins between 2 casserole dishes. The dishes need to be deep enough that you can pour water into the bottom and have it come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. See video for reference.
  2. Heat cream & vanilla. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and vanilla and bring heat over medium until the liquid gets to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (if using).
  3. Mix cream with egg yolks. In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup of the sugar and egg yolks for 2 minutes until the yolks are lighter in color and everything is fully combined. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the cream into the egg mixture. Continue to whisk until all of the cream is added and everything is fully combined.
  4. Pour mixture into ramekins. Divide the liquid evenly between the 6 ramekins and place them in the prepared baking dish(es). Boil water and pour it into the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the ramekins.
  5. Cook. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. The sides of the Crème Brûlée should be lightly set but the middle will still be pretty wiggly (it will firm up in the fridge). See video for reference. Let cool slightly and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I really like to do this the night before) and up to a few days.
  6. Use torch to crystalize sugar. When ready to serve: divide the remaining ½ cup of sugar evenly among the 6 ramekins and tilt them slightly all around so that the sugar is evenly distributed across the top. Using a kitchen torch, slowly work your way around the tops of the Crème Brûlée so that the sugar crystalizes and hardens, being careful not to burn the tops too much.
  7. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Making this without a torch

You can make Crème Brûlée without a kitchen torch by broiling it in the oven. The crunch on top won’t turn out quite as good, but is definitely doable in a pinch.

  1. Preheat oven. Turn your oven to high broil and let it preheat for a few minutes.
  2. Broil. Place the Crème Brûlée on a baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 2-10 minutes, watching it VERY closely so it doesn’t burn. Every oven’s broiler is different, so I recommend keeping an eye on it the whole time.
  3. Serve. It’s done once the sugar has melted and starts to caramelize. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Expert tips

  • Vanilla. An important ingredient in this recipe is vanilla. You can either use a full vanilla bean (the inside seeds) or pure vanilla extract. If possible, we recommend using a vanilla bean because it adds an incredible flavor. If you can’t get a vanilla bean, be sure to use a high-quality pure vanilla extract.
  • Crème Brûlée torch. It is possible to make Crème Brûlée without a chef’s blow torch, but the topping won’t caramelize as well or be quite as crisp, plus kitchen torches are just super fun. I highly recommend that you have one on hand. I have this kitchen torch and here is a more budget-friendly torch.
  • Serving. This is wonderful served just on its own, but if you’d like to add a lovely pop of color, a handful of fresh berries is great for presentation.
  • Make ahead. This dessert can be made a few hours or up to a couple of days in advance. Bake and then cool completely. Once cool, wrap each ramekin in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, add the sugar and torch it.

Frequently asked questions

What is Crème Brûlée mostly made of?

The recipe for Crème Brûlée is pretty standard, and typically made with heavy cream, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar! That’s it! It makes a delicious custard-like filling that is set in a ramekin dish. Then you torch it or broil it to get that crispy top.

What’s Crème Brûlée taste like?

Sometimes known as burnt cream or Trinity cream, Crème Brûlée has a rich pudding-like custard base and a sweet caramelized sugar topping that hardens to form a thin, crisp layer. The contrast between the two layers is simply divine!

Is Crème Brûlée hot or cold?

Créme Brûlée recipes are traditionally served cold with the caramelized sugar topping remaining warm from the heat of the culinary torch, providing the perfect contrast.

Storage recommendations

Leftovers can be stored and enjoyed later. Wrap each ramekin with plastic wrap and place them in your fridge. This will keep for up to about 3 days. It’s best to add the sugar topping just before serving, so it is nice and crusty. If you know that you will have leftovers, wait to add that just before serving.

Spooning out a bite of Creme Brulee from a white ramekin.

As usual, PLEASE let me know if you make this and how you like it! You can come back here and leave a comment or tag me on instagram (@foodwithfeeling).

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A spoon in a small bowl with Crème Brûlée.

Crème Brûlée


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  • Author: Brita Britnell
  • Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Gourmet has never been easier! Incredible homemade Crème Brûlée looks elegant and fancy, but is easy to make with just 4 ingredients. This decadent French dessert has a creamy custard filling, a caramelized sugar topping and delicious flavor. It’s sure to impress, making it perfect for special occasions, Valentine’s Day and when serving guests! 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 quart of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean, split open and the inside scrapped out
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Equipment needed: 6 ramekins, kitchen torch

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prep the baking supplies by finding casserole type dishes that your ramekins can fit into. I usually need to split my 6 ramekins between 2 casserole dishes. The dishes need to be deep enough that you can pour water into the bottom and have it come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. See video for reference.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and vanilla and bring heat over medium until the liquid gets to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (if using).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup of the sugar and egg yolks for 2 minutes until the yolks are lighter in color and everything is fully combined. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the cream into the egg mixture. Continue to whisk until all of the cream is added and everything is fully combined.
  4. Divide the liquid evenly between the 6 ramekins and place them in the prepared baking dish(es). Boil water and pour it into the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the ramekins.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The sides of the Crème Brûlée should be lightly set but the middle will still be pretty wiggly (it will firm up in the fridge). See video for reference. Let cool slightly and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours (I really like to do this the night before) and up to a few days.
  6. When ready to serve: divide the remaining ½ cup of sugar evenly among the 6 ramekins and tilt them slightly all around so that the sugar is evenly distributed across the top. Using a kitchen torch, slowly work your way around the tops of the Crème Brûlée so that the sugar crystalizes and hardens, being careful not to burn the tops too much.
  7. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Notes

  • Storage. Leftovers can be stored and enjoyed later. Wrap each ramekin with plastic wrap and place them in your fridge. This will keep for up to about 3 days. It’s best to add the sugar topping just before serving, so it is nice and crusty. If you know that you will have leftovers, wait to add that just before serving.
  • You can make Crème Brûlée without a kitchen torch but by broiling it in the oven. It won’t turn out quite as good but is definitely doable in a pinch. Turn your oven to high broil and let it preheat for a few minutes. Place the Crème Brûlée on a baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven and broil for 2-10 minutes, watching it VERY closely so it doesn’t burn. Every oven’s broiler is so different, so I recommend keeping an eye on it the whole time. It’s done once the sugar has melted and starts to caramelize.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Chill time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: French