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Creme Caramel (Flan) Recipe

How to Make Flan (Creme Caramel)

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Once you know my How to Make Flan recipe, you’ll have an endless supply of creamy, caramelly, custard desserts for any occasion!


Hi Bold Bakers!

After the success of my Tres Leches Cake recipe, I wanted to share with you another traditional Spanish dessert: Creme Caramel (aka Flan!). This is one of my favorite custard desserts, and for those who have never had it before, imagine a luxurious single serve custard baked in a sweet caramel sauce! Get ready to impress all your friends and family!

What is Flan / What is Creme Caramel?

This is one of the simplest custard-based desserts you can make. While it might sound fancy and look a little fancier, it really is just a custard made of cream, eggs, sugar, and milk. What sets this custard apart and gives it its name is the caramel sauce it’s baked in. Sweet golden brown caramel is poured in the bottom of the ramekin. Once the custard is cooked through, it’s turned out and served in the caramel sauce it was baked in. This method of cooking the egg and cream mixture in the caramel makes this dessert taste decadent and look sophisticated.

Why Does Flan Have Bubbles?

While this really should not happen if you follow the method correctly, sneaky air bubbles can get into the custard 2 ways.

1: If you over whisk your custard and incorporate air into the cream and egg mixture they will remain in the custard after steaming. To avoid this whisk and do not use a “whipping” motion when combining the eggs, cream, and milk.

2: If it’s overcooked. This can result in an overly hard custard and give a more scrambled egg effect to the custard. To avoid this, follow the cooking directions carefully and don’t worry if your flan is slightly jiggly when removing from the oven, as it will continue to cook from residual heat.

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Why Does Flan Need a Water Bath?

Cooking the custard in a water bath is what allows the custard to stay moist and creamy while fully cooking and “setting” the eggs if you will. The steam fills the oven and gently cooks the custard in a moist environment, which in turn gently cooks the eggs. Also, the water bath provides a more even, slower heat source and protects the custard from the direct dry heat of the oven and provides more of a temperature regulated environment.

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When is Flan Ready?

The Flan is cooked when the outside is fully set and the center has a slight jiggle. A good trick to make sure the custard is cooked evenly is to rotate the pan halfway through baking. Again, have no fear if the custard does not seem totally set. After fully cooling and setting in the fridge overnight the custard will firm up while remaining rich and creamy. Following these steps will ensure you don’t overbake your flan.

How Do I Store Flan?

Flan or Creme Caramel will last for up to 4 days in the fridge. This is a great one to make in advance as it really does need the time to set up overnight anyway and is meant to be served chilled. To keep the Flan fresh while in the fridge, just over it nice and tight with cling wrap.

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Tips and Tricks for Making Flan:

  • Start with room temperature eggs, this way the shock of the warm milk is less likely to scramble the eggs
  • ALWAYS strain the custard mixture after you have combined the eggs, cream, and milk. This will ensure you have a silky smooth custard with no bits of curdled egg
  • DO NOT be tempted to use a store-bought caramel! If you have any questions regarding caramel check out my post on Trouble Shooting Caramel 
  • The first step once you head into the kitchen is to boil the water for the water bath
  • If you use different sized ramekins than me then note that your cook time may vary to mine
  • After your Flan sets in the fridge, easily remove it by running a small thin knife along the outer rim of the ramekin, this will allow the custard to release and turn out

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4.55 from 11 votes
Creme Caramel (Flan) Recipe
How to Make Flan Recipe (Creme Caramel)
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

Once you know my How to Make Flan recipe, you'll have an endless supply of creamy, caramelly, custard desserts for any occasion!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
For the Caramel:
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
For the Custard:
  • 2 cups (16floz/450ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Arrange eight (6oz) ramekins in a deep baking pan.

  2. Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil. Set aside to use later.
To make the caramel:
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water and simmer until you reach a deep caramel. (Watch how to troubleshoot caramel for step-by-step instructions)

  2. Once you've reached your desired color immediately pour the hot caramel into the bottoms of the ramekins, portioning it equally. Quickly and carefully swirl each ramekin to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside at room temperature to let the caramel harden.

For the Custard:
  1. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat.

  2. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla together.

  3. While constantly whisking, slowly add the hot milk mixture to the eggs. Doing this slowly is called ‘tempering’ the eggs. 

  4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
  5. Divide the custard evenly between 8 ramekins.

  6. Pour the hot water from the kettle into the baking pan until it comes one-third of the way up the sides of the ramekins (be careful not to splash water into the custards).

  7. Bake the custards for roughly 35 minutes or until the edges are set but the centers still jiggle slightly when gently shaken. Note the custards will set firm once they have completely cooled down. (See video for notes on perfectly baked creme caramel).

  8. Carefully transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and cool completely. Cover the ramekins with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days. 

  9. To serve, run a small knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the custard. Quickly invert each custard onto a plate. If it doesn’t release right away, gently shake the ramekin from side to side a few times to help it out.
  10. Serve as is in the caramel sauce that comes from the ramekin. Add a little cream and fruit if you want to go crazy. Heaven!

  11. Cover and store the flan in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

Watch the Recipe Video!

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Katherine Cowgill by Teren Oddo Oct. 2015

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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19 Comments

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  1. DEBDJD on September 3, 2019 at 5:01 am

    I’ve just come across your fabulous recipes and looking forward to trying them.
    I have been asked to make creme caramel for a birthday dinner and so I will be trying this recipe.
    Please could you let me know what temperature I need to use with a fan forced oven?
    Thank you

    • Gemma Stafford on September 10, 2019 at 2:33 am

      Hi Deb,
      good question in relation to this recipe in particular. Often you can adjust the timing of a recipe rather than the temperature, but in this case, a delicate thing, a custard it is best to get the temperature right. 160C/140F will do it nicely for you. Do keep an eye on it too as it may set up quicker than the time indicated, ovens vary.
      I hope you love this. Be brave with the caramel, stand over it and allow it to develop good color, once it has been poured into the bowl or ramekins it will stop cooking.
      Enjoy!
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Neesu on August 12, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Gemma.. i made coffee custard today but ended up burning the same while thickening it. I had used cornflour & custard powder instead of eggs. I tried correcting it with some more custard & vanilla essence but the smooky taste & burnt smell just doesnt go away. Can u please suggest me a quick fix?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 13, 2019 at 2:56 am

      Hi Neesu,
      I am sorry you burned your custard and there is no fix for that I am afraid!
      This type of thing is always slow and low and watch it like a hawk. It just waits for you to look away, for a second, and it takes the opportunity to scorch!
      You have learned a lot. This happens too with egg custards, it is not exclusive to store-bought mixes.
      Gemma 🙂

      • Neesu on August 14, 2019 at 11:22 am

        Thanks Gemma for your prompt reply.. Appreciate it..! I’ll keep in mind your tips for next time..

  3. Claire on July 5, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Can you use a larger pan if you dont have ramenkins??

    • Gemma Stafford on July 6, 2019 at 4:14 am

      Hi Claire,
      sure you can, this is how we made it at home back in the day!
      We just scooped it out of the dish too, no turning it out back then!
      Gemma 🙂

  4. Annette on May 26, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Hello Gemma,

    Could you put a little granulated sugar on top, after you turn the flan out and brulee it?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 27, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      Yes absolutely you can do that. I actually did that myself 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  5. Neha on May 26, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Can i cook it without waterbath in microwave…..and is cream a very becessary ingredient?can we use milk instead

    • Gemma Stafford on May 27, 2019 at 8:24 am

      Hi Neha,

      Yes cream is a super important ingredients and unfortunately you can’t cook these without a waterbath in the microwave. They are pretty delicate and need gentle cooking.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  6. Rose Swedenburg on May 24, 2019 at 10:10 am

    can I use rice milk or almond milk and can I use a less fatter cream such as: coconut cream?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 27, 2019 at 1:40 am

      Yes you can do both of those things. A less fattier milk will work just fine.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  7. Diane H on May 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I came to look for the link to buy the ramekins, but can’t find it anywhere! can you help? thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on May 25, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      Diane,

      Would you believe I got those in a dollar store (what we call pound shop) in my hometown in Ireland. I would look in places like that or even thrift stores. I always find good bits.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  8. Micky on May 23, 2019 at 10:34 am

    I’m gonna try this as u made it look very easy Gemma, have tried mostly all ur recipes,
    Amazing!!

    • Gemma Stafford on May 26, 2019 at 7:34 am

      Aw that’s great, Micky! I’m delighted to hear that.

      Thanks for trying it out :),
      Best,
      Gemma.

  9. SALVATORE DI MAURO on May 23, 2019 at 8:11 am

    What size ramekin do you use?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 26, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Hi,

      It’s around 5-6oz ramekin, which is roughly 3/4 cup.

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

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