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Many beginner bakers are SHOCKED at how easy creme brûlée is! There’s only 6 ingredients required and if you follow my success tips, you’ll be gifted with the smoothest, creamiest dessert ever.

crème brûlée with a raspberry on top

Flecked with espresso and flavored with pure vanilla, this is my favorite crème brûlée recipe. The brilliantly creamy custard can only be reached by cracking through a crisp caramelized sugar ceiling. The textural difference between the two layers is unbelievable and separates this dessert from every other. Simply put, crème brûlée tastes like luxury.

The GREAT news is that you don’t need to dine at a fancy restaurant for the best crème brûlée experience. Not many realize how easy it is to make at home, not to mention several dollars cheaper than the $12 price tag you pay at a restaurant.

Homemade creme brûlée with a spoon

Overview: How to Make Crème Brûlée at Home

The full printable recipe is available below, but let me walk you through the process so you can understand the steps before beginning.

  1. Start with kitchen staples: heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks, salt, vanilla. I like adding a little espresso powder for added flavor. What a difference it makes! I know many may not have espresso powder at the ready, so it’s an optional ingredient. But trust me when I say that espresso powder makes a good crème brûlée the best crème brûlée.
  2. Cook: Heat the heavy cream + salt on the stove. Off heat, add vanilla to flavor. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Temper the egg yolk mixture by slowly whisking in some of the warm heavy cream. Pour into ramekins and bake. Let them cool down, then chill for at least 4 hours or even overnight. (Overnight makes crème brûlée an AWESOME make ahead dessert and your guests will be entertained when you whip out that kitchen torch for the topping!)
  3. Top with: sugar, then caramelize it under the broiler or with a kitchen torch.

That’s it, you’re done. Yes, it really is this easy.

Egg yolks and sugar in a large glass measuring cup
Heavy cream and espresso powder in a saucepan

Crème Brûlée Success Tips

  • Best ratio: Heavy cream and egg yolks are the key ingredients in crème brûlée. It took a little bit of testing to figure out the best ratio, but I loved 5 egg yolks with 3 cups of heavy cream the most. This produces a VERY creamy and lush crème brûlée. Save the leftover egg whites and add them to omelets and scrambled eggs the next few mornings.
  • Temper egg yolks: If you’ve never done it before, tempering egg yolks is nothing to fear– all you’re doing is slowly raising the temperature of the egg yolks so they don’t scramble. Whisk *some* of the warm heavy cream into the egg yolks + sugar, then whisk it all into the pot of warm heavy cream. You can watch me temper the egg yolks in the video tutorial.
  • Should I strain it? Straining the custard before cooking it is, in my opinion, optional. If you notice the custard is thick with any lumps, definitely use your sieve to strain it before baking.
  • Shallow ramekins: Serve crème brûlée in individual ramekins. The small ramekins ensure the custard cooks evenly, though you could use a large wide ceramic dish instead. See my recipe note below. I love using individual wide, shallow ramekins so there is more surface area for the caramelized sugar! I suggest these oval ramekins or these circle ramekins. (This recipe yields about 8-10 crème brûlées so you’ll need 2 sets of the oval ramekins OR you can bake the extra custard in other ramekins you may have.)
  • Water bath: Place the ramekins in a large baking dish (I used a 9×13-inch baking pan), pour the custard in each, then fill the pan with hot water. The water bath creates a moist and humid environment for the crème brûlée, which is imperative for their texture. (Same story for lemon pudding cakes.) A regular hot oven typically produces rubber-y tasting crème brûlée with cracked surfaces.
  • Best bake time: You will likely over-bake the crème brûlée your first time. That’s what my friend told me before I began my crème brûlée adventures. They key, he said, is to look for a jiggly center. The edges will be set, the centers will jiggle like jello. (Anyone ever watch My Best Friend’s Wedding with Julia Roberts? Crème brûlée can never be jell-o. YOU could never be jell-o.) For a more accurate answer, use an instant read thermometer. They’re done when the thermometer registers 170°F (77°C).

By the way… my friend was right, I over-baked them my first try. The next few tries, pictured in this post, are texture perfection. You want that creamy custard. Learn from my mistake and take those custards out of the oven early.

ramekins of creme brulee before baking in a water bath

Burnt Sugar Topping

Crème = cream. Brûlée = burnt. Burnt cream. So as many times as I say “caramelized sugar” it’s really burnt sugar. It’s the CRUNCH on the CREAM and it’s so so tasty!

After the custards bake, cool, and chill, it’s time for that special finishing touch. All we’re doing here is sprinkling the surface with granulated sugar. Some recipes insist on superfine sugar for the topping and some recipes call for coarse sugar. I tested the recipe with both, but ended up just using regular granulated sugar– the same sugar we’ll use in the custard themselves. It produced a thick and sturdy caramelized sugar topping, just the kind we want! One important note: Cover the entire surface with a thin layer of granulated sugar. No exposed custard. When applied to heat, the cooled custard will curdle.

2 images of sugar on creme brulee and using a torch to create a burnt sugar topping

Kitchen Torch or Oven Broiler?

For caramelizing, you need intense heat. A kitchen torch is magic. Kitchen torches are surprisingly inexpensive and the couple times a year that I need it, I’m glad I have one. It really makes a difference. Other recipes where I use my kitchen torch:

See my recipe notes for using the oven broiler instead.

Burnt sugar on creamy custard = simple beauty and decadence. Doesn’t this make you feel fancy? We should be wearing pearls and eating our crème brûlées with crystal spoons while sitting on our gold thrones calling each other on our diamond encrusted phones talking about how fancy we are.

zoomed in image of burnt sugar topping on creme brulee
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crème brûlée with a raspberry on top

Easy Crème Brûlée

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French


This is the BEST and creamiest crème brûlée recipe! Flecked with espresso and vanilla, you only need 6 simple ingredients and they’re ready to bake in only 15 minutes.


  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 cups (720ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream*
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional but recommended)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup (100g) of granulated sugar together. Set aside. (At this point or before you temper the egg yolks in the next step, bring a small kettle or pot of water to a boil. You’ll need hot water to pour into the baking sheet for the water bath.)
  3. Heat the heavy cream, espresso powder, and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it begins to simmer, remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract. Remove about 1/2 cup of warm heavy cream and, in a slow and steady stream, whisk into the egg yolks. Keep those egg yolks moving so they don’t scramble. In a slow and steady stream, pour and whisk the egg yolk mixture into the warm heavy cream.
  4. Place ramekins in a large baking pan. If you don’t have 1 pan large enough, bake them in a couple pans. Divide custard between each ramekin, filling to the top. Carefully fill the pan with about a 1/2 inch of the hot water. The baking pan will be hot so use an oven mitt to carefully transfer the pan to the oven.
  5. Bake until the edges are set and centers are a little jiggly. The time depends on the depth of your ramekins. My ramekins are 1-inch and the custard takes 35 minutes. Begin checking them at 30 minutes. For a more accurate sign, they’re done when an instant read thermometer registers 170°F (77°C).
  6. Remove pan from the oven and, using an oven mitt, remove the ramekins from the pan. Place on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour. Place in the refrigerator, loosely covered, and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days before topping.
  7. Using the remaining granulated sugar, sprinkle a thin layer all over the surface of the chilled custards. Caramelize the sugar with a kitchen torch and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour before serving. (Caramelized topping is best enjoyed right away.)


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare the custard mixture through step 4. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day before baking. You can bake the custard up to 2 days ahead of time. See step 6.
  2. Special Tools: Ninja Food Processor | Glass Measuring CupEspresso PowderOval Ramekins | Kitchen Torch | Butane Fuel
  3. Heavy Cream: 3 cups of half-and-half may be substituted for heavy cream. The custard’s texture will be a little lighter.
  4. Espresso Powder: I know many may not have espresso powder at the ready, so it’s an optional ingredient. But trust me when I say that espresso powder makes a good crème brûlée the best crème brûlée. Leaves great flavor, but the custard doesn’t necessarily taste like coffee. Rather, it’s hinted with espresso flavor. Instead of espresso powder, you can use 2 teaspoons quality instant coffee.
  5. Pure Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is stirred into the heavy cream after it’s heated. You can use the seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste instead. Either can be whisked into the heavy cream when you add the salt and espresso powder.
  6. Ramekins: Small ramekins ensure the custard cooks evenly, though you could use a large wide ceramic dish instead. I love using individual wide and shallow ramekins so there is more surface area for the caramelized sugar. I suggest these oval ramekins or these circle ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins, use a large wide ceramic or glass dish. Do not use metal. The bake time will increase with a larger size pan.
  7. Oven Broiler Directions: If you don’t have a kitchen torch, use the oven broiler to caramelize the sugar in step 7. After the custard has chilled as directed in step 6, dust the tops with reserved granulated sugar, then place them on a baking sheet on an oven rack directly under the broiler. Broil on high until caramelized. Keep a close eye on it.
  8. See all my success tips written in the post above.

Adapted from Allrecipes and Mark Bittman

Keywords: crème brûlée

ramekins of creme brûlée

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I like my creme brulee warm. Can I skip the cooling and go right to topping with sugar and torching?

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this!!! I’ve always wanted to make crème brûlée and this was a perfect opportunity the only issue I faced was that I struggled figuring out how long to bake it, and the bottoms ended up a little runnier than I wanted. Besides that, so delicious!!!

  3. This is much simpler than I imagined – thanks for the video illustrating that! Can’t wait to make this with my mom ❤️

  4. This is a really simple and straightforward recipe, I can highly recommend it. I would only use a vanilla bean instead to really get that vanilla flavor and reduce the espresso powder to a pinch. But other than that really rich, creamy and delicious! Mine turned out perfectly the first time I made this recipe.

  5. Would you recommend halfing the recipe? There’s only 3 of us in my house and I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to have that much crème brûlée on hand – I might be tempted to eat it all!

  6. Thank you so much for the do not over bake notes! I definitely would not have thought mine was done when it was. Thank goodness for instant thermometers! I am now sitting waiting, dying to try it! I love creme brulee, I can’t believe I’ve never tried making it before. But after making your delicious strawberry cake for my daughter’s birthday (which was amazing and a big hit) – I had the perfect number of egg yolks! Win win.

    1. Yes!!! The perfect use for leftover yolks! I’m glad the cake was a hit and I hope you love this too!

  7. This is such a good recipe! Super easy to make and has delicious flavour. I have never made this so was nervous but this recipe was so easy to follow and turned out amazing! The espresso added to it made a great flavour!! Would definitely make again, my husband’s favorite!!

  8. I just discovered your recipes and see a few I might just have to make :-). I do have one suggestion, when you’re doing the water bath why can’t you put the pan in the oven first THEN pour the hot water into the pan?

  9. Good, solid recipe. I’ve always been intimidated by French desserts, but your recipe made it simple to make this. Thanks!

  10. Thank you, I really appreciate your site. For my first try I give myself B , on the custard portion. My issues were with not waiting for my torch. If you use oven be sure to put your rack at the very top. I used 2nd from top rack and took longer to melt and thus my custard got too hot and kind of separated. My crust wasn’t pretty either kind of looked like brown sugar. What do you think? I miss read the number of ramikins, so I had two larger families that i will wait to use the torch on. Brown sugar looking top with almost separated custard. Tasted good but could these issues be due to oven? After Browning I had to wait to eat the entire dish to hot. I’m not giving up.

    1. Sorry make that used torch on larger ramikins, not families. Point was I had a second chance to try my torch on its way. Thanks

  11. Our family just returned from a cruise, and the majority ate creme brulee and are now requesting I make it. Okay! Like you said, who doesn’t like using their kitchen torch!? Problem, I only have the standard shape 6 oz ramekins, not the shallow ones. Use and bake longer?? Thoughts/tips?

    1. Hi Harriet! You can use the standard 6 oz ramekins, but yes, the creme brulee will require longer in the oven.

  12. I love the recipe & used xylitol in place of sugar.
    I do have a very friendly suggestion: please show us the appropriate “center wiggle” when you take them out of the oven! xoxo!

  13. Hi, Sally! I only have 8 oz circle ramekins at my house. How would you recommend that I adjust the bake time to get the correct result?

    1. Hey Mackenzie! The bake time will be a little longer, assuming the ramekins are taller than 1 inch. Bake until the edges are set and centers are a little jiggly. For a more accurate sign, they’re done when an instant read thermometer registers 170°F (77°C).

  14. Made a batch for dessert in Mexico. No oven. Toaster oven too small. So I baked on the bbq. Outstanding. The 170 degree custard temp worked perfect. Took about 40 min because of deeper ramekins. Used instant coffee. Yum! And Mexican brown sugar and perfectly melted with my propane plumbers torch. Was a hit and will make a least one more batch before we head north. Yes, we do a lot of baking in our propane bbq.

    1. I have tried (not your recipe but 4 others). Always seem to rise while cooking at 150C then grainy texture to Brulee not smooth. Tried cooler cream. Same result. Tried cold cream to egg yolks and again grainy. I cannot work out what I am doing wrong. Should I try cooper oven? Am I overheating them as they cook?? Yours look amazing!

    2. Sally: I have made this creme broulee again since I’ve come back from Mexico. This time I substituted the espresso powder with 1/3cp Nestle Toll House espresso morsels. Oh my! I will only ever make this recipe with the morsels. It is unbelievable. The chocolate and espresso together just launched this dessert out of the park. I only started with 1/3 cp thinking I could add more if needed. 1/3cp is perfect. Custard still comes out with that hint of light brown creamy color. The flavor will make you feel faint. Have yet to find a suitable sugar that will melt and flow as perfectly as the Mexican sugar I used. May have to bring some back next time I go down. Likewise, I will have to take Nestle espresso morsels on our next trip to Mexico. A big hit with friends and family.

  15. I think I’m going to try to make this. I’ve been thinking about trying a creme brulee. My favorite one I’ve ever had was a nutella one, where there was just a very thin layer of nutella spread on the bottom of the dish below the custard, so that with every bite you had just a bit of nutella. It was much better that way than another version I had later where it was nutella flavored custard.

  16. I had some chai tea bags left over from a friend’s visit, so I put three in along with the salt while I was heating up the cream. The custards are currently in the oven, but my kitchen smells so good! Can’t wait to try them

  17. So my first attempt seems pretty good, 1 looks maybe slightly over done (I hate my oven at our new house, at our old house I had a great reliable double oven that I miss very much!) But they are currently cooling on a make shift wire rack, cant find mine after baking christmas cookies at a friends house. 5 hours of cooling is going to be torture! And I cant wait to use my new kitchen torch! So excited thank you so much for these recipes! I made the honey garlic shrimp twice within 3 days and we also used that marinade on chicken on the grill and it was amazing!! Love your site!

  18. I followed the directions exactly except I used a 2″ deep glass dish. After 1 hour it was still not set (very liquid), turned up the temp to 350 for another 30 minutes and had to take it out of the oven because the top was starting to burn. I cannot figure out why it would not set? Any ideas? It tasted great but not presentable at all, lol

  19. Excellent recipe! I made this for my family and they loved it! Just one question – why did my espresso powder settle to the bottom? Other than that.. it was perfect! thank you!!

  20. I once had a maple creme brulee that was amazing so I’m hoping you have an idea on how to work that into your recipe? This is my all time favorite dessert and I can’t wait to make this for my husband’s Valentine’s dinner Friday. Thanks in advance!!

    1. That sound delicious but I have not tried making it maple flavored. You can try substituting part of the vanilla extract for maple extract. Please let me know what you try!

  21. This is a wonderful recipe. I’ve made a ton of creme brûlée and the egg yolk to cream ratio in this recipe yields the absolute best consistency and texture. It’s just plain heaven.

    About that frozen custard/ice cream: I have an ancient recipe for custard-style homemade ice cream that is very similar In its ingredients and method, down to Instructions and advice on tempering the eggs. The difference being that you pour it into an ice cream freezer instead of popping into the oven. I’d like to experiment with adding fruit to creme brûlée. When adding fruit to ice cream it must be simmered with sugar, much like making jam. This removes excess water from the fruit and the addition of sugar to the fruit, lowers its freezing temperature. This keeps the fruit from freezing into rock-hard chunks. The sugar content of the ice cream, (along with the fat content of the heavy cream) keeps the ice cream soft enough to scoop and eat.

    1. Hi Sonny! I haven’t personally tried it, so I’m unsure without testing anything. Let me know if you try anything!

  22. Excellent recipe! Love the espresso addition. Even my husband noticed it. I should have cooked them longer bc the cream mixture was in the bottom when we got to the bottom of the ramekin. The tops got a little dark in the oven. Next time I’m going to use a not so deep ramekin. Still delish! TY for sharing!

  23. My children, ages 9 and 6, and I made this as a family Valentine’s Day dessert and it was fabulous! The recipe was easy to follow and the only ingredient we didn’t use was the espresso powder (but will use it for adults next time!). Thank you for such an easy and amazing recipe!!

  24. Hi! I tried to make these today and I’ve been googling and trying to figure out what I did wrong but had no luck so was hoping you had a suggestion. Mine came out way too solid, like jello but not creamy at all. I baked them at 325 for 30 minutes with a water bath.
    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Jessica, Did you make any ingredient substitutions? It could also be that they were baked too long. The exact bake time depends on the depth of your ramekins. Bake until the edges are set and centers are a little jiggly.

  25. This recipe is delicious! The only thing I changed was that I used a tiny bit less than a 1/4 t. salt. I could taste the salt with the full 1/4 t. I also added a touch more sugar. My bake time was A LOT longer than 35 minutes. It was closer to an hour. I was not using the super shallow oval ramekins though. I was using the round 1 3/4′ deep ones that are about 3 1/2″ wide, and I filled them about an inch deep. Because I thought it would take 35 min, I kept checking them at 5-7 minute intervals. It got super frustrating because it took almost an hour and I was worried that they would burn or overcook. I’m not sure what the “jiggle in the middle” is supposed to look like, but I took a guess & they turned out great! I will definitely make this my go to recipe for creme brulee because it’s delicious and super simple! Thanks for the recipe – I love it!

  26. This really is such a simple and straightforward dessert. It may have been beginners luck but it was cooked perfectly, not overdone!
    The centers really need to jiggle when you take em out of the oven. They do firm up slightly when cooling but they still jiggle a bit. If in doubt, take it out a little earlier than you think you should.
    I used 4oz ramekins and halved the recipe since there are only 2 of us in my house.
    I’m going to reduce the sugar next time since it was a little too sweet for my liking but overall this is an excellent recipe.
    The only thing was the tops of mine browned in the oven. No big deal, since it’s covered with sugar and torched. Maybe a lower oven temp would work out better.

  27. Turned out very well, but the directions were fairly confusing.

    1. How so? I try to author my recipes in as much fine detail as possible. I always appreciate feedback. Hopefully you found the video tutorial helpful too! So glad you enjoyed the crème brûlée.

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