How to Make Quick and Easy Crème Brûlée

Updated on August 2, 2012
Crème Brûlée
Crème Brûlée
3.7 stars from 6 ratings of Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is a dessert consisting of a rich custard, topped with a shell of caramelized sugar. It often makes its appearance in the dessert choices of fine dining restaurants, although sometimes you might find it at more affordable venues as well. It is the perfect desert to go with a satisfying meal; its rich smoothness complementing almost any choice of food.

This is the recipe I use, adapted from my boss' recipe that we used in his restaurant. I use a few of my own methods as opposed to the more traditional ones. One of the biggest changes I make is that I choose not to scald the milk. Here is why:

Note on Scalding Milk: Scalding milk, or cream, accomplishes several things...

  1. It kills harmful bacteria in the milk of cream that may present a health risk.
  2. It removes enzymes that effect the manner in which the milk or cream performs.
  3. It raises the temperature of the milk to increase cooking time.
  4. It increases the rate at which flavorings diffuse into the milk or cream.

Modern day pasteurization accomplishes the first two of these tasks before you even buy your cream. The third can be accomplished without heating the milk to scalding temperatures. The fourth task only applies when using real vanilla beans, and will only marginally effect the flavor in most cases. It can also be accomplished by substituting more time rather than more temperature. Because of this, I usually choose not to scald milk in the process of making Creme Brulee, as it complicates the recipe unnecessarily in my opinion, and opens it up to complete failure.

As an aside, the photo's in this recipe are ones I took myself. The quality will be somewhat poor, and my kitchen is so far from impressive that I can't even come up with a suitable metaphor or hyperbole befitting its status.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 55 min
Yields: Serves 4-6


  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • (Optional) 1/2 Vanilla Bean, Substitute for Vanilla Extract




  1. Preheat your oven to 325°.
  2. Separate your four egg yolks from the whites, saving the yolks.
  3. Heat a pot of water to boiling.

Heavy Cream in small saucepan.
Heavy Cream in small saucepan.

Step One: Pour Cream and Mix in Extract

Add the cream into a saucepan. Mix in one teaspoon of vanilla extract, or one half of a vanilla bean with all the seeds.

Step Two: Heat Cream

Heat the cream on low heat to just above room temperature. This will speed the cooking time of the custard itself.

  • Note: You may scald the milk if you choose. If you are using a vanilla bean, higher temperatures will imbue more of the flavor.

Eggs blanched with granulated sugar.
Eggs blanched with granulated sugar.

Step Three: Blanch Eggs with Sugar

Place the four egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Whisk in sugar until the mixture is a smooth, pale yellow.

Step Four: Combine Egg Mixture with Cream Mixture

Combine the cream with the eggs and sugar, stirring gently so as to cause as few air bubbles as possible. Use a torch to smooth out any bubbles that appear on the surface of the mixture. These can form bubbles inside the custard itself, changing its consistency.

  • Important Note!: If you scalded your milk, pour an ounce or so of the hot cream into the bowl, stirring immediately to prevent the cream from cooking the eggs. Slowly add in another ounce, still stirring, before pouring in the entire mixture. To give a visual cue, here is a video provided by Kenmore on YouTube, explaining the tempering of eggs.

Step Five: (Optional)

Pour the custard mix through a strainer. This will remove any unmixed clumps of sugar, seeds from the vanilla bean, and the vanilla bean itself.

Step Six: Pour Your Mixture

Pour the custard mixture into your ramekins, taking care to spread the mixture evenly between them. If there are any bubbles that have formed on top after pouring, smooth them out again with your torch.

Ramekins with Creme Brulee in bain-marie.Note the missing space for pouring.
Ramekins with Creme Brulee in bain-marie.Note the missing space for pouring.

Step Seven: Place Ramekins and Fill the Bath

Place your ramekins into the pan you have chosen for your bain-marie or "water bath." If you don't know what a bain-marie is, check out this article before continuing. Leave your last ramekin out of the pan, so that you can safely pour in the boiling water without risking contaminating your other ramekins with water. Once you have filled the pan up with water to roughly halfway up the ramekins, place the last one into the pan.

Finished Creme Brulee. The Ramekin's on the right are the ones I normally use, and the constency you want to shoot for. I slightly toasted the ones on the left
Finished Creme Brulee. The Ramekin's on the right are the ones I normally use, and the constency you want to shoot for. I slightly toasted the ones on the left

Step Eight: Cook

Now that you've mixed together your ingredients, and gotten them into your water bath, its time to put them into the oven for 40-45 minutes on 325°. If you used scalded milk, the time should be lower, around 30-35 minutes. You can determine if the Creme Brulee is finished if it jiggles like jello when you tap the edge of the ramekin. Take care to insure that it is not too liquidy, and that it does not tear when you jiggle it to test its done-ness.

  • Note: The cooking time will vary depending on the size and depth of the ramekins used.

Step Nine: Chilling

Once your Creme Brulee is finished, and you've taken it out of the water bath, set it on a cooling rack, and let it cool down. Once its cooled enough, put it in the refrigerator, and let it set for several hours. Once it has chilled for several hours, it is ready for the final touches.

Finished Cream Brulee with sugar mix
Finished Cream Brulee with sugar mix
Creme Brulee with sugar mix sprinkled on it.
Creme Brulee with sugar mix sprinkled on it.
Using the torch to caramelize the sugar coating.
Using the torch to caramelize the sugar coating.
Creme Brulee with finished caramelized sugar shell.
Creme Brulee with finished caramelized sugar shell.

Finishing Touches: The Caramelized Sugar Shell

To finish off your Creme Brulee, you will want to add the sugary crust to the top of it. You want to do this after it has chilled, at some time just before it will be served. If you caramelize sugar on top of it and then store it for a length of time in the refrigerator, the crust will absorb the moisture of the desert, and become soggy. To create the shell, follow these steps:

  1. Lightly sprinkle a half and half mixture of brown sugar and granulated sugar on top of the Creme Brulee. Shake off the excess, and then run your fingers along the rim of the ramekin to remove any sugar, as it will caramelize on the rim if you don't making it harder to wash, and marring the presentation.
  2. With a torch, run the flame over the sugar, melting, and then caramelizing it. It will begin to lightly brown as it caramelizes.
  3. After there is a more or less evenly caramelized shell of sugar on top of the Creme Brulee, torch a few spots just a little extra, blackening it slightly. This adds a hint of bitterness to the sweetness, enhancing the complexity of the dessert.
  4. (Optional) Dust the caramelized shell with a few dashes of confectioner's sugar, for both flavor and presentation. You may garnish it with a sprig of mint, or an appropriate decoration, if you wish.
  5. Your Creme Brulee dessert should be ready. Serve, and devour.

The finished Crème Brûlée. Not the best presentation, but hey, I was in a hurry!
The finished Crème Brûlée. Not the best presentation, but hey, I was in a hurry!

Well, that is the gist of how I make my own Creme Brulee. If you try it, and enjoyed it, let me know, and thanks for reading! If you didn't like it, I'd also appreciate your comments on what you think could be done differently to improve it.


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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, this is one of those recipes that I would completely mess up! lol! so you did a great job, and it looks good too, cheers nell

    • profile image

      barbeque beef 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your work and impressions. I love your choices.

    • TomBlalock profile image

      TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC


      You can just toss some sugar into a pan, along with a bit of water, and do it that way. It works, and in fact, when I was working at the restaurant, that was how we did it. The downside is that the sugar crust is MUCH thicker that way. My parents don't much care for it prepared that way, although I like it. I've heard you can also broil it on, but I haven't tried it yet.

    • Donna MMoney profile image

      Donna MMoney 5 years ago

      You did a Great Job! Good Luck!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on Hub of the Day!

      Well presented and explained.

      I don't blame you for not scalding the milk--the last time I made that mistake was on the advice of an old-geezer of a pediatrician who said I should boil the milk before feeding it to the baby...I ruined a saucepan, said something quite unladylike, and said, "never again!"

      Your dessert LOOKS delicious...sadly, I don't care much for custard..but I did want to offer you props on a well done article and for HOTD!

    • Fabiana03 profile image

      Fabiana03 5 years ago from California

      Awesome hub!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I've never tried Creme Brulee, but now I really want to!

    • ShalahChayilJOY profile image

      Shalah Chayil 5 years ago from Billings, Montana

      Looks yummy. I can almost taste if from the picture.

    • iefox5 profile image

      iefox5 5 years ago

      Creme Brulee is a great food, it seems that the recipe works and works well. Will have a try someday.

    • thecoffeewrite profile image

      Keneesha M Hodge 5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I love Creme Brulee and now that you have shown me how to make it at home, I will have it all the time. The only thing I want to know is what if I don't have a torch? Would you suggest caramelizing the sugar in a pan first then spreading across? Or should I just quit playing and invest in a torch if I plan on making this delicious dessert?

    • Cathleena Beams profile image

      Cathleena Beams 5 years ago from Lascassas, Tennessee

      Looks yummy and complicated! I love this delicious treat. Last time I had some was at a restaurant and I shared with a friend. Never attempted to make it myself, but now that I have the recipe (yours) I can. Thanks for sharing!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Well, it looks delicious. You did a great job listing the steps, and the photos are REAL good. Great Hub, and congratulations on the HOTD!

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. Thanks for showing me how to make my own!

    • profile image

      Brian Collins 5 years ago

      OMG I gained 5 pounds just reading this, Can't wait to try it for another 5.

    • TomBlalock profile image

      TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC

      Thanks, everyone, for the comments, reads, and otherwise! Would not have expected any of my articles to make Hub of the Day, but I'll take what I can get!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We have eaten creme brulee in restaurants but have never made it at home. All we need is the torch and a serious exercise program to burn off the calories. Ha! Good hub. Congratulations on getting a HOTD award. Nice and easy directions. Voted useful.

    • livingpah2004 profile image

      Milli 5 years ago from USA

      Oh, Look so delicious. I would love to try this. Thanks for the step by step display. Voted up!

      Congrats on HOTD!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great job with this recipe! I love how you've broken down all of the steps. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to attempt this dish for the first time. Congrats on getting Hub of the Day!

    • nina64 profile image

      nina64 5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      This dessert looks delicious!!!!! A perfect ending to any dinner. Your instructions are simple and easy to follow. All I can say is yum!! yum!! yum!!! Voted up and away!!!!!!

    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I've always been intimidated by Creme Brulee. You've laid it out in a very straightforward way. It seems very doable. I'll have to give it a try.

    • Ibrahim Vet profile image

      Ibrahim Vet 5 years ago from Egypt

      OH, I wish I could eat it out of the screen :D:D

      Great Hub. Keep it up.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I have never had this before. But, reading your recipe makes me want to bake up a batch to try it. It looks delicious. You did an excellent job of explaining everything, so I should be able to accomplish making it with ease. By the way, congratulations on receiving Hub of the Day!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Yum, this is one of my favourite recipes! It might be a bit of extra effort than other desserts, but it's so worth it! Great hub! :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      Oooooh - mmmmmm! I was given a kitchen torch as a gift, and a set of ramikins (I'd been craving them), and I'm so eager to use them! Creme Brûlée is one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for the great hub! So deserving of the HOTD!

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I have really fallen in love for this dish and having a sweet tooth will compel me to make one every now and then. Great hub.

    • Kavita Trivedi profile image

      Kavita Trivedi 5 years ago from London

      Yummy! I love Creme Brulee one of my favourite desserts. I definitely will be trying this recipe out... Thanks for sharing! :)

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 5 years ago from Atlanta

      Tom you did an awesome job on this recipe! I must add you made this step by step instructions to making Creme Brulee is incredibly easy that even I would try making it myself. I never even thought of making it myself until seeing your hub. Thanks, and congrats on being hub of the day!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Congrats on Hub of the Day! The step-by-step instructions and photos are great.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      I love creme brulee! Violette French Restaurant in Atlanta makes an awesome creme brulee. Thanks for sharing your recipe for making it. Looks like something I could tackle( (I like easy), but I don't have a torch, either. Is there another way to get the same results with the sugar? Congrats on Hub of the Day. Well deserved.

    • a2aoptima profile image

      a2aoptima 5 years ago from Bangalore, Karnataka

      yummy... congrats for bagging the "hob of the day"... Keep up the great work.

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 5 years ago from UK

      I love creme brulee, although I've never cooked it before. I would love to do it but I don't have a torch. Is there any alternative to using one?

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      Yummy! Congrats on the hub of the day! Voted up and useful. Have a great sunday! Thanks for sharing.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Thumbs up! Excellent! I absolutely love Creme Brulee. The Heartline Cafe in Sedona, Arizona makes the best of it too! You did a great job in your presentation here. Thanks much.

    • TomBlalock profile image

      TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC

      I hadn't. In retrospect, seeing it in the article, I really wish I'd put in a summary that wasn't incredibly lame compared to the others listed!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Clear instruction to make a Cream Brulee. Thanks. Congrats on you nomination.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This was a great step by step instruction. I saw this on Masterchef show and so this is truly helpful for those cooks who would like to try it out.

      Have you heard that your hub has been nominated on the Hubnuggets? This way to read and vote

    • donabhatt profile image

      donabhatt 5 years ago from Hyderabad

      It looks tempting......

    • TomBlalock profile image

      TomBlalock 5 years ago from Hickory, NC

      Give it a shot. Doesn't take long at all, without that step of scalding the milk and all!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Yum! This looks so good. I already know I'll love it, despite not having tried it yet. =D