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I'm sharing with you step-by-step photos and instructions on How to Make Creme Brulee. A rich, creamy, lemony custard topped with a thick coating of caramelized sugar, it's the perfect sweet treat!
This recipe was originally posted in April 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
Rich and creamy with a thick caramelized sugar coating...learn how to make Crème Brulee in just a few easy steps. That's right. It's rich, it's delicious and it's EASY.
You can also make sous vide crème brulee for ultra creamy perfect texture in cute individual jars!
There is nothing quite like cracking through that thick sugar coating to the creamy, lemony flavored custard to make you feel just plain happy. I dare you to try and eat just one of these. I couldn't do it.
But guys, the funnest part of this recipe is that you get to use a blowtorch. You can use a broiler too, but man is that blowtorch so fun to use!
If you like lemon desserts, try this Meyer Lemon Souffle with Raspberry Sauce....it's amazing!
You also want to check out my Ultimate Guide to Cooking with Lemons - it has some awesome information!
Creme brulee is made mainly of egg yolks, cream and sugar, which is how it gets its rich flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
Using room temperature egg yolks will help make the custard smooth and creamy.
The creme brulee is cooked in a water bath so it cooks evenly and slowly.
Using a blowtorch helps to quickly burn the sugar topping without melting the custard.
Infusing the cream with lemon zest adds a perfectly light lemony flavor to the custard.
- Vanilla - Scrape the beans from one vanilla bean pod into the cream in place of the lemon zest. Omit the lemon juice. Add ½ tsp. vanilla extract for a stronger vanilla flavor.
- Lavender - Add 2 tsp. of culinary lavender flowers in place of the lemon zest. After lavender has steeped in the cream, strain the flower before using the cream.
- Cinnamon - Add 2 cinnamon sticks in place of the lemon zest. After cinnamon has steeped in the cream, remove the cinnamon before using the cream. For a stronger flavor, add ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon to the mixture.
- Orange - Replace the lemon juice and zest in this recipe with orange.
- Coconut - Replace the cream with coconut cream and add 2 tbsp. shredded coconut to the custard mixture. Omit the lemon juice and zest.
- Banana - Add ¼ cup pureed banana to the custard mixture and mix to combine. Top with torched bananas. Omit lemon juice and zest.
- Coffee - Add 1 tbsp. of instant coffee in place of the lemon zest and juice.
Step By Step Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Be careful not to boil the cream, or it may start to curdle. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but let's not risk it.
Add the lemon zest to the cream. The lemon zest will infuse the heated cream with a deliciously fresh flavor. Set the cream aside (covered) to cool slightly while you make the egg yolk mixture.
Combine egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl
Beat on medium for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat another 30 seconds.
Pour a small amount of the cream (maybe ⅛ cup) in the egg yolk mixture while mixing continuously. Continue to add small amounts of the cream at a time to SLOWLY bring the temperature of the egg yolk mixture up.
When we combine the warm cream and egg yolk mixture, we want to temper the eggs so we don't accidentally scramble them.
This will prevent the egg yolks from cooking.
Place 6 ramekins or brulee dishes in a baking dish that has at least 1" sides. Pour the mixture evenly into each ramekin or brulee dish.
Pour about ½ to 1" of boiling water in the bottom of the pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until middle is just set. It should still be slightly jiggly, but not soupy. Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 3-4 hours.
Once chilled, remove from the fridge and place 1 tbsp. of sugar on each. Swirl it around until it is evenly distributed across the top.
Now we get to use our trusty kitchen torch. This is my favorite part. Although I had to pry the torch from the boyfriends hands. He hates to cook, but once I mentioned the torch, he was all about "helping."
If you don't have a torch, you can place these under the broiler until the sugar dissolves and starts to brown. Just make sure the broiler is very hot before placing the custard inside - otherwise it will melt before the top crisps.
Light up your torch and torch each ramekin until the sugar just starts to brown. Be careful not to burn it. This can be delicate. I usually burn at least one.
Like I said, it's so easy to make and your guests will be so impressed if you serve this to them.
If your eggs are not room temperature, you can place them in a bowl of warm water for about 10-15 minutes to warm to room temperature.
Save the egg whites and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. They can be used in other recipes like this Chocolate Souffle.
Make sure to add the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture VERY SLOWLY and just a little at a time while constantly whisking to endure you don't cook the eggs.
A broiler can be used if you don't have a blowtorch, but make sure it gets VERY hot before you put the sugar coated custards in. They should be very close to the heat source and should be left in for only 30 seconds to 1 minute max. Otherwise the custard will melt.
When making ahead, cover the custard in plastic wrap when storing in the fridge.
Can You Make This Recipe in Advance?
The creme brulee batter can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to use, pour the batter in the ramekins or creme brulee dishes and cook according to the instructions.
The creme brulee can also be cooked in advance and stored (covered in plastic wrap) in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, top with the sugar and use a blowtorch to caramelize it.
Cooked creme brulee will last up to 3 days in the fridge. Creme brulee batter will also last up to 3 days in the fridge.
Do You Eat It Hot or Cold?
Creme brulee is typically eaten cold. When the sugar is caramelized on top, it is done quickly under very hot heat so the custard stays cold and creamy underneath.
Can You Freeze Creme Brulee?
Bake the custard according to the recipe instructions. Let them cool fully then wrap each ramekin in freezer safe plastic and store for 2-3 weeks. When ready to serve, place them at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Coat with 1 tbsp. of sugar and use a blowtorch to caramelize.
- Hand mixer - I love this handy-dandy one that is super easy to store.
- Glass mixing bowls - I have learned to like these ones with lids.
- Silicon whisk
- Kitchen blowtorch - I LOVE this thing. Great for these brulees and also a quick cheese malt, butter melt, etc.
- Creme brulee dishes - I bought these and have fallen in love with them. They come in all different colors.
More Favorite Lemon Recipes
Rate the recipe and leave a comment to let me know how it turned out!
How to Make Creme Brulee
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Bring the cream to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Do not boil or the cream may curdle.
- Add the lemon zest, cover and let sit while preparing the egg yolk mixture.
- Beat egg yolks and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and beat another 30 seconds.
- Temper the egg yolks by adding a small amount of the cream into the egg yolk mixture while beating continuously. Continue adding the cream a little at a time until fully combined.
- Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins and place in a large baking dish.
- Fill the baking dish with boiling water and bake for 30-35 minutes. The ramekins should be slightly jiggly in the middle when done.
- Let cool for 15-20 minutes. Place in the fridge and let chill for 3-4 hours.
- Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 tbsp. of sugar, and use a kitchen torch to caramelize (See note below).
- If your eggs are not room temperature, you can place them in a bowl of warm water for about 10-15 minutes to warm to room temperature.
- Save the egg whites and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. They can be used in other recipes like this Chocolate Souffle.
- Make sure to add the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture VERY SLOWLY and just a little at a time while constantly whisking to endure you don't cook the eggs.
- A broiler can be used if you don't have a blowtorch, but make sure it gets VERY hot before you put the sugar coated custards in. They should be very close to the heat source and should be left in for only 30 seconds to 1 minute max. Otherwise the custard will melt.
- When making ahead, cover the custard in plastic wrap when storing in the fridge.