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 197 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

  • Joe
    May 12, 2024

    Hi Natasha I don’t have any ramekins,can I use a 8×8 glass dish or any other size dish instead?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 13, 2024

      I haven’t tested it with a 8×8 glass dish yet to advise

      Reply

  • Babs
    May 1, 2024

    Hi Natasha! If I wanted to half this recipe for two 6-ounce ramekins instead, how many egg yolks should be used?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 1, 2024

      Hi Babs, if you need to halve an egg, You can crack the egg into a bowl and beat it lightly with a fork to combine the yolk and white. Then, measure out roughly half of the beaten egg by volume using a tablespoon or measuring cup. If the recipe calls for 1 egg, you can use approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of the beaten egg. I hope that helps.

      Reply

      • Babs
        May 2, 2024

        Awesome, thank you for this! Could we also substitute the heavy cream with milk instead?

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          May 2, 2024

          Hi Babs, milk won’t thicken to the desired consistency as whipping cream will.

          Reply

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