Easy Crème Brûlée
This Easy Crème Brûlée is made with just four ingredients and features a rich custard base with a crisp caramelized topping.
Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? We don’t have much planned, but one thing on my list of things to make for the big day is this homemade crème brûlée!
While crème brûlée seems like a fancy and difficult dessert, it’s actually pretty easy to make. In fact, you only need four ingredients to make this recipe: egg yolks, sugar, heavy whipping cream, and some vanilla extract. That’s it!
This recipe makes four servings, but you can easily cut it in half to just make two. And if you don’t have a small torch to caramelize the sugar on the top of this dessert, I’m also sharing how to broil it in your oven.
Ingredients for This Recipe
The list of crème brûlée ingredients is short and sweet (no pun intended!). Here’s what goes into this easy recipe:
- Egg yolks: Save the egg whites for an omelette or meringue!
- Granulated sugar: Gets mixed into the custard to sweeten it and is also sprinkled on top to caramelize.
- Heavy whipping cream: Should be at least 36% fat.
- Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
How to Make Crème Brûlée
To make this easy crème brûlée, start by setting a pot of water to boil while you’re preparing the mixture. The water will be used for a water bath to cook them in, which I’ll explain a little later on.
Then, whisk together six egg yolks and some sugar. You want to make sure to whisk them together just until the mixture is a pale yellow color like the picture above. Then, just set the bowl aside while you heat up your heavy whipping cream.
Now, some recipes call for just whisking all of the ingredients together and not heating up the cream first. However, I find that heating the cream and then tempering the eggs with it helps the eggs withstand the higher temperature of the oven.
To heat the cream, simply place it in a saucepan over medium heat. Once your cream is steaming and bubbling around the edges, remove it from the heat and stir in your vanilla extract. The next step is to temper the eggs, which helps bring up the temperature of the eggs so that once you add the rest of the cream the eggs don’t end up scrambled. I promise this step is easy though!
To temper the eggs, slowly pour in about half a cup of the warm cream into the egg and sugar mixture whisking well as you’re pouring it in. Then, slowly pour in the rest of the cream and continue whisking. You may end up with a little layer of foam on top of the mixture, I like to just skim it off with a spoon so that it doesn’t end up on top of the crème brûlée as it bakes.
Tempering the eggs will help prevent your eggs from completely scrambling, but it is still best to strain the mixture to remove any little bits of egg that may have cooked from pouring in the cream. I like to use a fine mesh strainer and pour it into a large glass measuring cup so it’s easy to pour into the ramekins.
Next, pour the crème brûlée into four 6-ounce ramekins. You can use any size ramekins that you like for this recipe, but I really love these 6-ounce ramekins. You can also use them to make my molten chocolate lava cakes for two!
Then, fill a baking dish with the boiling water about 1/3 of the way full and place the ramekins in it. The water should come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This will create a water bath for the crème brûlée so that it bakes slowly and evenly in the oven.
Once they’re done, let them cool at room temperature, then refrigerate them for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once they’re thoroughly chilled, you’ll top each one with some granulated sugar (superfine sugar works great if you have it on hand!) and use a small kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar.
How Long Do You Bake Crème Brûlée?
The crème brûlée will take anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes in the oven and the baking time will vary slightly if you use a different size ramekin. You’ll know they’re finished once the edges are set and they’re still slightly jiggly in the center.
Do I Have to Use a Kitchen Torch?
A small kitchen torch will work best for caramelizing the sugar on top, but you may also broil these in the oven. If you do broil these in the oven, I suggest placing them back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that the custard will be chilled.
I’ve given detailed instructions on how to use the broiler method in the recipe card below.
Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance?
Yes! Bake them off as the recipe instructs, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. Top with sugar and torch just before serving.
- Make sure to set a pot of water on the stove to boil before you get started, this will be used for a water bath for the crème brûlée.
- When adding the warm heavy whipping cream, make sure to slowly mix in about half a cup and whisk well as you’re mixing it in. This will temper the eggs so that they don’t scramble as you pour in the rest of the warm cream.
- Once you’ve fully whisked in the warm heavy whipping cream there may be a small layer of foam on top of your mixture. I suggest scraping this off with a spoon before straining it and filling your ramekins.
- If there is moisture on top of the crème brûlée once it’s been chilled, blot the tops with a paper towel before sprinkling the sugar on top.
More Easy Holiday Desserts to Try!
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar (for the topping)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Set aside.
- Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium-sized saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the cream is warm and bubbling around the edges. Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the warm heavy whipping cream into the egg and sugar mixture making sure to whisk well as you're pouring it in. Then, slowly pour in the remaining cream and continue whisking until fully combined. If there's a thin layer of foam on top of the mixture, you can skim this off with a spoon at this point.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, then evenly distribute between four 6-ounce ramekins.
- Pour the boiling water into an 8-inch square baking pan (or larger pan if you prefer) about 1/3 of the way full. Carefully place the ramekins in the baking dish. The water should come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. If needed, add a little more boiling water to the pan.
- Carefully place the baking pan in the oven. Bake at 325°F (163°C) for 35 to 45 minutes or until the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the pan using tongs or pot holders and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Once chilled, blot the tops of each custard with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Sprinkle 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on top of each custard, shake it around into one even layer, then use a small kitchen torch to carefully caramelize the sugar. Allow the sugar to harden for 1 to 2 minutes, then serve and enjoy, or refrigerate for a few hours until ready to serve.
I made this for Thanksgiving and it turned out perfectly. So good. Making it again for Easter and would like to add Irish Creme. Should I substitute 1/2 cup of Irish Creme for 1/2 cup of the heavy cream or use 1/2 cup of Irish Creme in addition to the 2 cup of heavy cream? Thank you
Hi, Cathy! I would substitute 1/2 cup of the heavy cream for 1/2 cup of Irish creme.
Hi cathy i am from asia and we don’t have available heavy cream. Can i use double cream or whipping cream instead?
Either one would be fine!
Really like your recipes, only problem I have is that here in the UK , we don’t use cups for measuring, normally use grams. Could you please put both in your recipes, then that would be awesome
Most of my recipes, including this one, do include grams. If you happen to see one that doesn’t, just let me know and I can add them.
Five out of five for this recipe. It was my first attempt at creme brulee and it came out perfectly. The tip to temper the eggs worked very well and the finished product was delicious. Now, my family are going to expect it more often.
This recipe is amazing, but once in a while I get a batch where the creme brulee is still a bit too runny after a whole night in the fridge.It doesn’t happen all the time,maybe twice so far.I am trying to figure it out what exactly did I do wrong,as I follow the same steps with the same ingredients,including same brands.
Hi, Ann! I’m wondering if it may be your oven temperature? Are you possibly putting them in the oven sometimes too soon (before the oven is fully preheated)? You could try using an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is at the correct temperature next time you make them.
I’m thinkin the water bath wasn’t hot enough at the point you put the crème brülee in the oven. It has to be boiling hot or else the oven needs to bring the water up reach optimal temps taking time away from
Actually cooking your desert
can i substitute sugar sweetner in the place of regular granulated sugar?
I honestly haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure. It may be okay in the creme brûlée, but I’m not sure how well it will caramelize on top.
I followed the recipe carefully but my puddings rose like spongecakes. Not the texture I was expecting at all.
I’ll have to start again.
I’ve made this numerous times and never failed. I would only make 1 tweak. After they’ve cooled in the fridge, let them sit out for 30inutes before sprinkling with sugar and torching. The fattly taste disappears near room temp. (For those on Keto substitute sugar for 2 tbls + 2 tsp sugar sub like splenda or stevia. I do put 1/4 tsp real sugar on top as it torches nicely and only has 1 gram of carbs.)
This is a great recipe for a classic that I love! I doubled everything with success, making 8 instead of 4. I recommend two things- bring your eggs to room temperature and add a vanilla bean to the heavy cream while you’re heat it up. The vanilla bean adds a depth of flavor that you just can’t get from the extract alone. It’s a splurge, but it’s well worth it. If I’d known how easy it was going to be, I would have tried making this favorite years ago!
Should I let the ramekins reach room temperature before broiling ? I’m afraid they will break in the oven otherwise because they only say they’re oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
You can let them sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before you broil them.
is it ok for me to use 7 oz ramekins because those are the only ramekins i could find near me
That would be fine! If you still make 4, you may need to reduce the baking time slightly.
This recipe has become my husbands FAVORITE desert and I now make it every other week for him. I double it and use 4 ramekins so they are extra full (he likes to take them straight out of the fridge and put sugar on and brûlée them himself on the spot when a craving hits but doesn’t like for the crème to be warmed so a deeper crème brûlée helps with this)
This is so wonderful and so easy to even double or triple with the same perfect results!
Once it’s cooled completely, can I put it n the sugar and torch it, then put back in the fridge?
It would save time when serving for guests
Yes, it would be fine to add the sugar and use a torch to caramelize it, then refrigerate for a few hours.
This very easy recipe really delivered! The custard is smooth and not too sweet. I will make it again.
I want to make this in a bigger dish as a family style dessert. How much time should I bake it for?
This will depend on the size of the dish that you use. I would just keep an eye on it and remove it from the oven once the edges are set, but the center is slightly jiggly.
Hi. Haven’t made this yet but planning on next week for staff xmas party. Can I substitute the vanilla extract with coconut extract?looking to achieve a coconut type flavor.
That would be fine, but I would probably start with substituting just 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract then add more as needed.
So I want to make 8 instead of 4, so I just double the ingredients?
Yes, I would double the ingredients.
I’m having a hard time finding heavy whipping cream at the stores. Would half & half work?
I think that would be fine!
I also couldn’t get whipping cream for Christmas. I’m in Southern California, where are you?
Did the half & half work?
I made this as a first attempt a few weeks ago. My fiance *loves* creme brulee, and he absolutely loved this recipe! He asked me to make it 3 times that week! Lol.
Today is his birthday, and I’m making it again! Thanks so much for this easy & delicious recipe!
I can’t believe how easy it was, and it tasted just like creme brulee from a restaurant! Amazing
Is there a way to make this all in one container instead of the ramekins?
I think that would be fine. It’s probably enough for an 8-inch square pan. You may need to adjust the baking time and I’d still recommend using a water bath.
First time making crème brûlée! Great easy recipe and tastes delicious! Loved it!