Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (2024)

By Mark Bittman

Updated Nov. 13, 2023

Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour
Rating
5(6,196)
Notes
Read community notes

Five simple ingredients – cream, vanilla, salt, eggs and sugar – make for an exquisitely rich and elegant dessert. Most crème brûlée recipes require the use of a small propane torch to achieve the crackly sugar top, but this version offers a simpler (and safer) solution: your oven's broiler. One thing to note: Be sure to let the custard set for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top, otherwise you'll end up with soupy custard.

Featured in: THE MINIMALIST; How to Create the Crunch on Top of the Crème

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Ingredients

Yield:4 servings

  • 2cups heavy or light cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5egg yolks
  • ½cup granulated sugar, plus more for topping

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

503 calories; 41 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 13 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 29 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 29 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 122 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (2)

Preparation

Make the recipe with us

  1. Step

    1

    Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt; cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

  2. Step

    2

    In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the vanilla cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

  3. Step

    3

    Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

    Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (3)
  4. Step

    4

    When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer.

    Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (4)
  5. Step

    5

    Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within 2 hours.

    Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (5)

Ratings

5

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6,196

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Private Notes

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Cooking Notes

Gui

Another way to brown is the sugar is to use a metal spoon, heat it up for a minute on the stove and lightly touch the sugar. Do it gently and a couple of times and it gets brown and crispy!

dutchroo

Suggestion: Warm everything up first. Set the eggs and cream out so they warm up to room temperature. Fill the baking dish with hot tap water and use that to warm up your ramekins while you assemble the mixture. Then, once the oven's preheated and the water's boiling in a pot on the stove, remove the ramekins from the baking dish and toss the warm water, fill the ramekins with the mixture, pour the boiling water and put it in the oven.

ckdmilbourne

I absolutely love this recipe and often just make it for 2 :) Here are the measurements for the recipe divided by 2.5 to get to 2 egg yolks:3/4 cups of heavy cream 1 teaspoon of vanilla (I keep it at 1 for the flavor)2 egg yolks 1/2 cup of sugar Enjoy!

MD reader

Very nice, well-received at a dinner party on my first attempt even! However, I'm making it again for a few reasons: one, 30 mins wasn't nearly enough time, for at 30 mins the center was still liquid. I baked it for closer to 50 mins; two, to perfect the sugar/browning (I think a bit more sugar and a bit less time, at least with my oven's broiler); and three, to know how much time it needs to set up after browning, to better coordinate it when serving at a dinner party.

dimmerswitch

Really good & nearly foolproof recipe for crème brulee. I prefer using kitchen torch instead of broiler setting on oven for the brulee step. Not sure anyone has mentioned this in previous comments, but to share the rookie mistake I made 30 years or so ago when newer to brulee making, the reason this says serve within two hours is if you let the brulee sit to long the sugar will start to melt. I only had to make that mistake once. But to share so others might avoid it. ;-)

Ben

I am a 20 year old male just now learning to cook - decided to serve this after the first dinner I ever cooked for my family. They went goggle-eyed when I whipped out the blowtorch and they lost their minds when they tasted it. This thing is the easiest dessert you will ever cook and it tastes fantastic. Thank you NYtimes

Kaelyn J

I am a 12 year old girl, and this was the first dessert I made. It was super fun to make, and it was easy! Now I want to be a pastry chef when I grow up. Thank you very much!!

James

Real Crème brûlée is never baked above 212 F - it’s supposed to be dense and rich, not airy, gummy, fluffy. When you overheat the cream, like this recipe does, it causes it to dome before collapsing. I’m really disappointed in this recipe - check out Emile Henri’s recipe for a better result.

Jeff

I've made this recipe a lot of times and it is fantastic. However, I cook it at 200 degrees for about an hour and ten minutes. The texture comes out creamier. I was feeling a little adventurous and decided to make chocolate creme brulee with this recipe, and I added three tablespoons of cocoa powder. There were a few lumps of cocoa when I was done, so I strained it. It turned out amazing. Also, I add all the ingredients cold into a bowl, and cook over a double boiler until it is just hot.

The Chef

This is a very tasty, fancy, and yet easy dish. I am 13 and made this for my family. It was delicious and very simple to make! One thing to be aware of is that the bake time is a little off, is I needed to leave mine in longer than 30 minutes... It was probably more like 40 mins. maybe longer. That being said, make sure to watch the actual "jigglyness" of the creme brulee' instead of just going by the time of the recipe... All in all, I highly recommend this rec

Kim

I agree that you really NEED a butane torch to get the proper crust. And most restaurants do 3 thin layers of sugar to get ultimate "Crunch"

Kat

Hi, try this... after you add all the ingredients in the pan, before you put them in the ramekins try cooking the custard a little longer, constantly Stirring. When it coats the back of a wooden spoon without running off. Slide your finger through the custard base is done when it Holds the shape. Happy baking! :-)

Jeanne

Didn't have a torchblower, and I was worried from the comments the oven way wouldn't work, so I put the ramequins in a dish half filled with ice cubes and cold water and put the dish about 3-4 minutes on broil - worked perfectly! best crème brûlée I ever ate!

Marianne Ward

Best recipe for creme brûlée ever. I’ve made lots of creme brûlée and this one is the best, no frills, no odd flavors, just simple custard at its velvety best. I do pour it through a sieve just to make sure there isn’t the odd bit of something or another. Comes out perfect every time. I should add that I use heavy cream, not half and half. Very easy.

Allison

Simple and perfect. Amazing what a little cream, a little sugar, and a few eggs can turn into.

catherine

Don’t try to cook this in the microwave unless you like your scrambled eggs very sugary.

Karen Clark

This is one of our favorite desserts. I've used the broiler method; it's quick. But I do thoroughly enjoy using the little propane torch.

Armelle

Perfect!

Ossie

Perfect.Doubled the recipe and followed it to the letter. Well, almost... It took more than 40 minutes in the oven. And I used a burner instead of the broiler for the sugar on top.According to my dinner guests, best creme brulee I ever made. An absolute keeper.

Kristen Kress

Followed this exactly except that I have a kitchen torch so I burnt the sugar using that. Turned out perfectly. Quick and easy (as long as you’re organized early in the day), sophisticated dessert.

Christine

Made for a small dinner party. Used heavy cream, vanilla extract, and a torch. It could not have been better, absolutely perfect.

Custard

When do you actually cook the egg mixture enough to form a custard?You heat the cream mixture until it is hot, then wait a few minutes.(It is less than hot now).Add some of the cream mixture to eggs.(The eggs have cooled the cream mixture.)Add the warmed eggs back to the cooled cream mixture.You now have a warm egg-cream mixture. When do you heat it up to a near simmer, so that it coats a spoon?

Mommy Lai Pierce

My daughter (she is 16) made this at school. She came home with it and omg it was delicious! She will be making it again for mom.moms 85th birthday.

Marcello Romano

Cut the sugar in half, and use heavy cream instead of half and half. Also much better using a vanilla bean instead of extract. Very good.

Mary

Wow. This is a winner. Have made this twice now and used the broiler as suggested. Just divine. The best I have ever eaten. A fabulous recipe for company too.

Karen

Easy recipe that has a remarkable taste.

Sarah

Outrageously easy recipe with outsized results, nearly foolproof in every way. I used a kitchen torch and let the ramekins come closer to room temp before firing. If I could, I would eat this every single day for the rest of my life.

Allie

I don’t own ramekins, but this recipe worked surprisingly well with a muffin pan. The batter exactly filled one standard 12-muffin pan, and all of my crème muffins set perfectly without changing cook time. The only “downside” is that you have to eat huddled around the muffin pan with whoever you choose to share with.

Luca

My girlfriend’s favorite dessert is crème brûlée so I felt a lot of pressure making this for her, but she LOVED it! I used 4oz ramekins instead of 6oz and baked them for 43 minutes at 325 degrees. Makes enough for 7 or 8 of them with the size of baking dishes I used. Came out amazing. Thank you!

whitnch

Delicious! My husband and guests said it was the best creme brulee they ever had. I tripled the recipe, which made 12 ramekins, and used 2 c half & half and 4 c heavy cream. All ingredients were at room temperature. I poured in the boiling water before filling the ramekins and baked at 200 degrees for an hour ten minutes as one reviewer suggested, then turned the oven up to 375 as it had not yet set. We used a torch at the end instead of broiling, and did three smaller layers of sugar.

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Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe (2024)

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