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

  • Kathy Mormino
    January 20, 2024

    This recipe is so easy and delicious. My 14 grandson wants to make it everytime he spends the night.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 20, 2024

      I’m so glad it’s being enjoyed!

      Reply

  • Greg Murrill
    January 20, 2024

    We love creme brulee, and purchase it from a local bakery fairly often. My wife always tells me I’m a chef and can outdo anything we’ve eaten anywhere. I tell her I just have an eye for a well articulated recipe ripe for stealing, (looked at various from high profile names), which I did here. Since I have six 6-8 oz. ramekins, I did it @ 1.5 times the original, and boosted the 2.5 egg difference to 3 with no ill effect. Everyone who ate it said it was the best creme brulee they’ve ever had. Gotta tell you, that came from some people who can be very critical, (especially with their creme brulee). I gave you all of the credit, but you know how people are. I made it, so I benefited from your hard work. The only thing I did differently was to use my standing mixer. Too old and tired for all that mixing. Thanks for a great recipe packed with all of the best tips!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 20, 2024

      Hi Greg! Thank you for sharing that with me. So glad you loved it!

      Reply

  • Shelli Martin
    January 17, 2024

    I have a family member that is allergic to any dairy. She can eat eggs, but no cream. What would you suggest as a substitute? Coconut milk or cream? Or something else?
    Thanks for all your great recipes.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 17, 2024

      Hi Shelli! I’m sorry, I haven’t tested tested any substitutions so I can’t say. I assume a dairy free cream alternative would work. Let us know if you experiment.

      Reply

  • Ashley
    January 1, 2024

    Incredible! *Actually* easy, and turned out great – even for a first timer (first time making custard base, crème brûlée…any of it). I used two vanilla beans, and the flavor was perfect – with a nice richness from the yolks, and not too sweet. A new go-to to impress dinner guests! Thank you!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 1, 2024

      You’re very welcome, Ashley! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe.

      Reply

  • KJ
    November 6, 2023

    Delicious! Tasted like I was in an expensive restaurant. Instructions were easy to follow and it turned out great although cooking time was a little longer for me. It might be helpful to add chilling time to total time needed.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 7, 2023

      Thanks for your feedback and suggestions. We’re glad that you enjoyed making our Creme Brulee Recipe!

      Reply

  • Barbara Hallett Wegner
    October 30, 2023

    This is the second time making it, I have to say it’s the best I have ever eaten so creamy and dreamy. I was a little intimated but watch the video a couple of times, it’s really quite easy. Last time making it was 2 years ago.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      October 30, 2023

      Hi Barbara! Thank you for the wonderful feedback!

      Reply

  • Bronwyn Davies
    October 29, 2023

    Thankyou for your crème brûlée recipe. My first attempt and it was simple and delicious 🙏🙏

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 29, 2023

      You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Brenda
    October 19, 2023

    I have a question. I just saw an old video of you making this without separating the eggs and using less eggs. What would be the difference in taste between the two? I want to make this soon so I was curious. Thanks

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      October 19, 2023

      Hi Brenda! We are always testing new methods and improving our recipes. Using just egg yolks thickens the custard and adds richness.

      Reply

  • Pamela
    September 6, 2023

    This recipe was perfect as written! I’ve always been hesitant to attempt such a decadent dessert but you made it fun and easy, great video!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 6, 2023

      I’m so glad to hear that, Pamela!

      Reply

  • Anita Stevens
    September 5, 2023

    My husband loves creme brule. Just tried it and he loved it. And it looks pretty.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 5, 2023

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Anita!

      Reply

  • Robin Van Sickel
    September 3, 2023

    I just made this and it was SO easy! I did not have vanilla bean paste so used plain extract (but I can tell, it would have been so much better with the paste). I was thinking that next time, I’ll add some lemon zest to the cream and have a bit of fun. I love that it can be made early (except for the caramelization). This will be one of my most used recipes!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 3, 2023

      Awesome, we’re glad that you enjoyed our recipe!

      Reply

  • Katie Norton
    August 21, 2023

    I’m making these tonight but I had to come and comment, your video is hilarious. I enjoyed it so much. You crack me up! Lol thanks for the laughs and now to make the dessert…

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 21, 2023

      I hope it becomes your new favorite and I’m so glad that you’re enjoying my videos!

      Reply

  • Gina
    August 16, 2023

    Easy and quick to make. Didn’t have a huge pan so I put it into two smaller casserole dishes. I also had 8oz ramekins so I did cook it for about 32mins. I also made half with this recipe using regular vanilla extract and half using an ube flavor/extract.
    Both came out very yummy.
    It’s a little rich so I might use a little less heavy cream and and a bit of whole milk. Could probably half the sugar if your more into the custard flavor.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 17, 2023

      Thanks for sharing, Gina! What a great idea to use Ube.

      Reply

  • Brenda D Key
    July 8, 2023

    I am raising a very fussy 5 year old boy. After one bite he told me I had to make this for him every night! So I have made this recipe at least 20 times. It comes out perfect every time. My short cut is to microwave the cream for 2 minutes and the temp seems perfect! Love it! Love You! Love your cookbook!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 8, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Brenda! It sound like your boy has good taste in food!

      Reply

  • Jocelyn
    June 17, 2023

    I made this twice and both times they turned out perfect although I have substituted heavy cream with whipping cream (I couldn’t get any heavy cream in Malaysia). If I were to use aluminium foil cups instead of ramekins, do I reduce the temperature or baking time, and will the hot water bath result in water seeping into the creme brulee?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 17, 2023

      Hi Jocelyn! I’m glad you love the recipe! I have not tested this in toil tins to advise. Let us know if you experiment with it.

      Reply

      • Joann
        July 4, 2023

        I put in tin for first time because I’m taken to family house and don’t want worried about getting my ramekins back I cook them about 40 minutes

        Reply

  • Allison
    May 11, 2023

    Very easy to make it, but came out very fatty and too sweet. My teenager ate a couple of them, so it was not a total waste of ingredients. Has anyone attempted to make this with 10% cream?

    Reply

  • Sandy
    April 20, 2023

    I had to make 50 for a shower so I doubled your recipe 5 x and it worked awesome. I got 9 out of each batch. My containers were a little larger than your ramekins so I baked them for 33 minutes. Perfect!
    this is the best and so easy although I suggest to have someone help you.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 20, 2023

      Hi Sandy! That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I think it will be very helpful.

      Reply

  • Eve
    March 24, 2023

    Just made this and it tasted HEAVENLY Natasha! Whenever I want a recipe, you are one of my tops to go to. Your recipes are always great and reliable. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      March 24, 2023

      Thank you for your trust, so glad that you’re enjoying our recipes!

      Reply

  • Kristina
    March 23, 2023

    Wow so good! First time making it turned out perfect👌🏼 Kept mine in the oven for 33 minutes

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 23, 2023

      I’m glad you loved it, Kristina! Thank you for the feedback.

      Reply

  • Meee
    March 20, 2023

    man was this delicious. i doubled the recipe cos i had yolks to use up but i only had one cup of cream so used three of milk😂 next time would use less sugar just because of preference, but imagining how good it would b if i used full cream🤤 first time making creme brulee, was surprised how quick and easy it was, thank you!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 20, 2023

      I’m so glad you loved it! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

      Reply

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