Creme Brulee is one of our favorite easy dessert recipes, that requires only 5 ingredients. This classic treat is a delight for the senses, with its crunchy burnt sugar top covering a silky vanilla custard.

We love to re-create our favorite restaurant desserts at home, such as Chocolate Souffle, Tiramisu, chocolate-dipped Eclairs, and of course this Creme Brulee recipe, which is the easiest of them all! Watch our video tutorial and you will be a pro in no time!

Creme brulee topped with raspberries, with the caramelized sugar topping cracked with a spoon.

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Easy Vanilla Creme Brulee Recipe

Cream, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla are all that’s needed to make the perfect homemade creme brulee. That simple combination of ingredients creates the most luxurious creamy custard, with a silky texture and rich vanilla flavor just like you’d find in a high-end restaurant. It’s one of our favorite homemade desserts.

The thought of making your own creme brulee may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually such a classic and easy dessert. You’ll love how simple this recipe is, with its sweet and velvety base tucked beneath a crunchy caramelized sugar topping.

Get ready to grab your spoon, crack through the burnt-sugar crust, and scoop up a generous amount of that creamy custard. There won’t be any words, only sound effects.

Creme Brulee Video

Watch Natasha make this silky and classic creme brulee with a crunchy torched sugar topping. P.S. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our Youtube Channel and click the bell icon so you can be the first to know when we post our next video.

What is Creme Brulee?

Crème Brûlée (pronounced “krem-broo-lay”) means “burnt cream” in French. It’s a classic dessert made from a creamy custard base topped with a layer of sugar. The sugar is then caramelized or “burnt” with a kitchen torch to create a hardened, crunchy top.

Vanilla is the traditional flavoring, but if you love Crème Brûlée, don’t miss our Espresso Creme Brulee and even Pumpkin Creme Brulee. You’ll have a favorite for every season!

Ingredients

Below is a quick overview of the 4 simple ingredients you’ll need to make the perfect creme brulee. Don’t forget to refer to the full ingredient details in the recipe card. 

  • Heavy Cream – Full-fat heavy cream will yield the creamiest custard. 
  • Egg Yolks – Egg yolks thicken the custard and add richness. You’ll need the yolks from 5 large eggs.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar is best, plus a pinch of fine sea salt to balance the sweet flavors. Don’t forget additional sugar for the caramelized topping.
  • Salt – balances sweetness and makes the vanilla flavors shine. We didn’t always add salt but it’s even better!
  • Vanilla – Natural vanilla flavor is a must. See below for more details on the types of vanilla we recommend.
The ingredients for homemade creme brulee.

What kind of Vanilla Should I use?

Vanilla creme brulee calls for the very best vanilla flavor: the real kind. Here are the options that work beautifully in homemade creme brulee: 

  • Vanilla Beans – These are long vanilla pods in their natural form. You’ll need to slice them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds then add to the cream while bringing to a simmer.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – This is the liquid extract from the vanilla bean. Make sure to use real vanilla extract, and not the artificial kind. You will taste the difference!
  • Vanilla Bean Paste – Vanilla paste is thicker than vanilla extract and often contains flecks from the bean seeds. You’ll find this in the baking aisle in most major grocery stores. This is what I used in the video – it’s easy and looks fabulous with those little vanilla flecks.
Overhead view of a package of vanilla beans pods next to bottles of vanilla bean paste and pure vanilla extract.

Pro Tip: When it comes to converting one vanilla flavoring to another, note that 1 vanilla bean is equal to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.

How to Make Creme Brulee

Making vanilla creme brulee from scratch is a seamless, 5-step process:

  1. Warm the Cream – First, heat 2 cups of heavy cream in a saucepan. Stir the cream frequently until it almost reaches a simmer, then add vanilla extract and remove from heat.
  2. Combine – In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with sugar and salt. Slowly stream the hot cream into the eggs while continuously whisking, to temper the eggs so that they don’t scramble.
  3. Strain – Next, strain the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve. This part is optional, but it does help to knock out any bubbles and potential egg bits and ensures the silkiest consistency.
  4. Fill – Divide the custard evenly between six ovenproof ramekins or custard cups. Carefully place the ramekins into a 13×9 casserole dish and add boiling hot water to the casserole dish, going halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake – Bake the creme brulee at 300˚F for 30-35 minutes. Finally, transfer the ramekins to a wire rack to cool, then cover and then refrigerate.
Photo collage showing the process for preparing creme brulee in ramekins.

Pro Tip: Be mindful to not overbake creme brulee. The centers should be nearly set with a slight wiggle when you give the pan a jolt. Overbaking will result in a firm, more flan-like consistency versus the creamy custard that we’re looking for.

Caramelizing the Sugar Topping

Torching is by far our favorite way to caramelize sugar on creme brulee. A small, inexpensive handheld multi-purpose torch does the job. I picked up mine at Home Depot along with a can of butane, as the torches are refillable. Also, a flame-thrower torch borrowed from the garage will also work fine.

  1. Sprinkle sugar – and swirl over each chilled custard.
  2. Brulee or scorch the top – moving in a sweeping circular pattern until all the sugar has reached a deep amber color.

The technique can take some getting used to, but trust us, you’ll be a pro in no time. Be careful as the custard cups can get hot.

Overhead view of large and small kitchen torches on a countertop next to a can of butane.

Can I Make Creme Brulee Without a Torch?

We have tested this under a broiler and we never had good results in the oven. The heating elements don’t give off uniform heat across the top resulting in burnt spots with sugar granules at the same time. If you don’t have a torch, save yourself some frustration and try these toppings instead:

  • Raspberries – or use mixed fresh berries to pile onto your creme brulee and top with a mint leaf to add flavor and color.
  • Citrus – top with orange or tangerine segments and citrus zest.
  • Berry Sauce – try the homemade Strawberry Sauce, or berry sauce from our Panna Cotta and add the topping just before serving.
  • Caramel – Just before serving, drizzle your creme brulee with Caramel Sauce.
  • Shaved bittersweet chocolate also makes an easy substitute for the crackly sugar topping.

Common Questions

What does creme brulee taste like?

Vanilla creme brulee custard is rich and creamy, with a sweet custardy flavor. Meanwhile, the burnt-sugar topping adds a sweet and crunchy contrast.

Can I use larger ramekins?

Yes. If using larger ramekins, you’ll need to bake the creme brulee about 5 minutes longer, or until nearly set with some wobble in the middle. I suggest four 6-8 oz ramekins if you want to make them larger.

Can I make this Creme Brulee recipe ahead?

The custard for your creme brulee can be prepped up to 3 days in advance, making it a great party dessert. You’ll want to brulee the top just before serving. See below for more make-ahead tips.

Overhead view of creme brulee topped with raspberries, with the caramelized sugar topping cracked with a spoon.

Make-Ahead

Whether you’re preparing this dessert ahead for a party or just looking to get a headstart, here’s how to store your homemade creme brulee:

  • To Refrigerate: The custard can be made 3 days in advance, covered, and refrigerated, however, you’ll want to wait until serving to add the sugar topping. Otherwise, the humidity of the refrigerator will soften the caramelized topping.
  • Freezing: It’s also possible to freeze creme brulee. Prepare and bake the custard as directed, leaving off the sugar top. Once the ramekins have cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge, then top them with sugar and torch them as usual before serving.
Three ramekins of creme brulee topped with raspberries, one with the caramelized sugar topping cracked with a spoon.

We hope you’re inspired to whip up some quick and easy creme brulee this week! It’s easily one of our favorite desserts to make whenever we entertain, as it’s effortlessly impressive.

More Romantic Desserts

Looking for more single-serving desserts that are perfect for parties, Valentine’s Day, or a romantic date night at home? Try these other individual treats that are sure to impress:

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Easy Creme Brulee Recipe

4.94 from 194 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Creme brulee topped with raspberries, with the caramelized sugar topping cracked with a spoon.
Creme Brulee is one of our favorite easy dessert recipes, made with only 4 ingredients. The silky texture and rich vanilla flavor make this homemade creme brulee recipe taste restaurant quality.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

Servings: 6 people

Ingredients for Creme Brulee:

Instructions

How to Make Creme Brulee:

  • Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Pour heavy cream into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring frequently until steaming and almost at a simmer then add vanilla and remove from heat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt until blended. While whisking constantly, gradually drizzle in the hot cream. Start very slowly to avoid scrambling your eggs.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup with a pouring lip. Discard anything left in the sieve. Divide the mixture into 6 (4-oz) ramekins and place in a 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Fill the baking dish with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake at 300˚F for 30-35 minutes, or until the centers are nearly set and have just a slight wiggle in the center. Carefully transfer ramekins from the water bath to a wire rack and cool to room temp then cover and refrigerate creme brulee until fully chilled (2 hours or up to 3 days).

To Caramelize the Top:

  • When ready to serve, put 1 1/2 to 2 tsp sugar on each custard, swirling to spread evenly. Torch the top – moving in a circular pattern until the whole surface is caramelized to a deep amber color.

Notes

*If using larger ramekins, bake 5 minutes longer, or until nearly set with some wobble in the center. 

Nutrition Per Serving

388kcal Calories20g Carbs4g Protein33g Fat20g Saturated Fat271mg Cholesterol38mg Sodium76mg Potassium17g Sugar1383IU Vitamin A1mg Vitamin C71mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Easy Creme Brulee Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
388
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
33
g
51
%
Saturated Fat
 
20
g
125
%
Cholesterol
 
271
mg
90
%
Sodium
 
38
mg
2
%
Potassium
 
76
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
20
g
7
%
Sugar
 
17
g
19
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
Vitamin A
 
1383
IU
28
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
71
mg
7
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: creme brulee, easy creme brulee recipe, how to make creme brulee, vanilla creme brulee
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 388

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Sandy
    April 15, 2024

    I love this recipe! So easy and so delicious! Removing the ramekins from the hot water can be tricky. I used my canning jar utensil used to remove hot jars from the canner. Perfect!!

    Reply

  • Sheena
    April 14, 2024

    Perfect! This recipe makes a creamy, tasty creme brulee. My second time attempting this dessert. The first batch did not set and was runny. I think there was some egg whites and I think I did not stir the heavy cream mixture in slow enough. Definitely will make this again real soon.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 14, 2024

      Hello Sheena, nice one! Im glad your next try was already a sucess!

      Reply

  • Robbi Ashbaugh
    April 14, 2024

    Fantastic! My adult children love it. Just made another batch. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  • Aurea French
    April 11, 2024

    I tried baking it this morning and it turned out just as expected! It was so delicious! My husband loves it!😋 it’s worth sharing with friends👌

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 11, 2024

      That’s wonderful! I’m happy that you both enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  • Paula Bailly
    March 31, 2024

    I’ve used your recipe several times and always comes out great! I’ve even experimented on different flavors: Kahlua, caramel and Irish cream. Yum!!!

    Reply

  • AP
    March 24, 2024

    Delicious and easy! My only issue was with the timing. I baked the cream brûlées for about 45 min and they still didn’t set as much as they should have. Still delicious but I can’t figure out what I did wrong.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 24, 2024

      Hi AP! Did you use the recommended size ramekins? Also, be sure to fully preheat the oven before baking. I like to use an In oven thermometer (Amazon affiliate link) to check my oven temperature and make sure it reaches the right temp before I bake.
      I hope that helps.

      Reply

    • Sherry
      April 6, 2024

      Mine are never done in the time they say. I’ve used exact EXACT measurements and it always need more cooking time. Every single recipe is that way and I am an experienced cook.

      Reply

  • Shelly
    March 14, 2024

    Today was my 2nd attempt and it came out very different. The consistency my first one was a lot thicker, like a banana pie thick you know and this one’s thin like a pudding. Now I don’t know which one’s right I don’t know if I did something wrong this time or the first time. You this texture and flavor is very similar to my Bavarian cream, Boston cream, custard donuts. Is my simmer wrong? What is a simmer I know it’s like right below the boiling point my first time trying to simmer, I burnt the bottom. If you think about it next time you’re doing a proper simmer temp the water maybe that’ll help people like me who just cannot grasp this definition. Again thank you for all you taught me the last couple of years.

    Reply

  • Shelly
    March 14, 2024

    The flavor is absolutely amazing, I was a little afraid after to try custard again after I made custard for my donuts. I was also afraid by how thin this turned out to be in the end, I thought it was going to be thicker, the custard for the donuts was so thick and overly sweet. Ick. I’m attempting to make my second batch right now of this again. I thank you for all the things you have taught me to bake and cook throughout the years. I hope one day to see the donuts on your show. And maybe explain the difference between Boston cream and Bavarian cream and custard I don’t know it’s all confusing to me.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 15, 2024

      Hi Shelly, good to hear that you loved it! Hope your second batch became perfect!

      Reply

  • Maryse
    March 10, 2024

    Great recipe! I had a bit of trouble finding a torch, but eventually found a propone torch at Lowes. (I did some reading and watched some videos comparing butane, propane and MAPP. Most people said there was no flavor from any of these if you make sure the flame is blue.) The custards took 45 minutes to cook. On top, I tried regular granulated sugar and turbinado. Both were great! Now that I’ve practiced, I can’t wait to make this for others.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 10, 2024

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Brienne Alder
    March 10, 2024

    Hey can this be made in the instant pot? If so do you know what temp and for how long? Thanks

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 10, 2024

      I have not tested that to advise.

      Reply

  • Laurie K
    February 15, 2024

    So easy and absolutely delicious!
    Wish I could figure out how to add a photo because it was beautiful too!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 15, 2024

      Hi Laurie! I’m so glad you loved it.
      Unfortunately there isn’t an option to attach a photo here but you can tag me on Instagram or Facebook. #natashaskitchen

      Reply

  • Sarah
    February 6, 2024

    Hi Natasha,
    I can’t wait to make this. I have a convection oven. Any idea the temp and time to bake the creme brulee in a convection oven?

    Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 6, 2024

      Hi Sarah, I haven’t tried this in a convection oven, you will likely need to make adjustment to the temp and bake time. I wish I could be more helpful.

      Reply

  • Christine Barlow
    February 3, 2024

    What a wonderful lively presentation. I’m off to get started right now, chef’s torch at the ready in Queenstown NZ

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 3, 2024

      Thank you, Christine! I hope you love the recipe!

      Reply

  • VeeKay
    January 30, 2024

    AH-MA-ZING!!!! Had never attempted making crème brulee before and I decided to go ahead this past weekend. WOW! these were so creamy and delicious and sooooo easy and loved by all! I doubled the recipe for a gathering.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 30, 2024

      So glad it’s being enjoyed! Thank you for the wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Shannon
    January 21, 2024

    Hi! I have made this many times….DELICIOUS! I would like to use vanilla beans this time, How many vanilla beans should I use? Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 22, 2024

      Hi Shannon! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed making my Creme Brûlée Recipe! Typically one vanilla bean is equal to 1-1.5 tsp of Vanilla extract. Infuse the seeds into the custard for best results.

      Reply

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