The Best and The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée

Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe — This is an easy crème brûlée that everyone can make, doesn’t require a candy thermometer or stand mixer, and isn’t doctored up with specialty flavorings.

The Best & The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée - Finally an easy recipe for smooth, rich, creamy, restaurant-quality crème brûlée!

Easy Crème Brûlée Recipe

After five years of blogging and a couple cookbooks, many days I feel like I’ve made every dessert there is. But I recently asked my family, “If you could have any dessert under the sun, what would it be?”

The reply was crème brûlée. I was not expecting that, at all. I was expecting idunno’s and notsure’s.

I said, since when do you like crème brûlée, knowing his outright distaste for cheesecake, and he’s very picky about pies and custardy things. I’ve written off most of those type of recipes since I don’t need a cheesecake or a pie just for me.

He said that ever since he started going out for fancy business lunches and dinners again he’s become a big crème brûlée fan.

So I knew I had to make it, but when I started to research crème brûlée recipes, talk about fussy, picky, tedious and very un-fun recipes. Why is it that the best things can often be the most fussy? Worth it, but you’ve earned it once you finally dig in.

Crème Brûlée in small blue ramekin with spoon

This very do-able and classic crème brûlée is so good, so decadent, creamy, and rich, and it’s a must-make.

Key word here, classic. It was requested I don’t do anything ‘fancy’ or goofy to it, i.e. don’t be a food blogger and try to improve upon perfection by adding flavorings, liquors, zests, etc. Just classic crème brûlée, please.

I mixed and matched so many recipes I saw and came up with something that’s a straightforward recipe everyone can make, it doesn’t require a candy thermometer, stand mixer, and it’s not overly fussy. Baking should be fun.

This crème brûlée recipe serves 4 to 6. I  made 6 portions and did so on purpose for portion control and to stretch the recipe, but we ended up eating all 6 portions the first day anyway. Whoops.

As you puncture the firm top layer of crystallized sugar with your spoon, it gives way to the creamiest, smoothest, richest, sweet custardy layer. It’s velvety soft and smooth, and worth every minute of cardio.

My family said this blows away all the fancy restaurant crème brûlée and has asked when I’m making it again.

blue ramekins filled with Crème Brûlée

What’s in Crème Brûlée? 

To make the best crème brûlée recipe, you’ll need:

two ramekins filled with Crème Brûlée

How to Make Crème Brûlée

This homemade crème brûlée couldn’t be easier to make! First, place 6 small ramekins inside a 9×13-inch baking dish (you’ll fill this later with water to make a water bath). 

Next, heat the cream until it just starts to bubble — don’t let it come to a boil! Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until fluffy and pale in color. 

Slowly pour the warm cream over the eggs, whisking constantly the entire time. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then divide the mixture between the ramekins. 

Fill the 9×13-inch baking dish with hot water until it almost reaches the top of the ramekins. Then, bake the crème brûlée until they’re set with a slight jiggle to them. Once they come out of the oven, they’ll need to cool on your counter for an hour before being transferred to the fridge. 

spoon in blue ramekin of Crème Brûlée

Can I Prep This in Advance? 

Yes! Crème brûlée is a great party dessert because you can make it up to three days in advance, keep it chilled in the fridge, and sprinkle with sugar right before serving and torch them in front of your guests. Super impressive and memorable for them, but easy for you.

Do I Have to Use a Kitchen Torch?

You could try to caramelize the top sugar layer under the broiler, but it’s unreliable and you can easily burn all your precious work in seconds. I recommend a torch.

The Best & The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée - Finally an easy recipe for smooth, rich, creamy, restaurant-quality crème brûlée!

Tips for Making the Best Crème Brûlée 

There are a couple things that will make your life easier when making this recipe. Ramekins and a small kitchen torch. I used these Le Creuset 8-Ounce Round Covered Ramekins or here’s a gift set in a slightly different color. Keep your eyes open for small oven-safe ramekins at places like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx for a couple bucks each. They’re handy to have around and as much as I’d love to collect Le Creuset in every size and color, it’s not exactly practical.

You can also use a larger but shallow baking dish, adjusting baking time as necessary, and although you won’t have individual portions, it’ll work.

Read the recipe over a couple times before beginning, have everything organized (mise en place) before beginning, and you’ll be rewarded with the best crème brûlée that’s ever passed your lips. And the easiest.

The Best and The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée

The Best and The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée

This is an easy crème brûlée that everyone can make, doesn't require a candy thermometer or stand mixer, and isn’t doctored up with specialty flavorings.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 pint whipping or heavy cream (2 cups)
  • 4 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 3 to 4 cups water, for water bath
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar per each ramekin, for caramelizing (granulated may be substituted but superfine melts more smoothly and evenly)

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place 6 ramekins in a 9×13 pan or large baking pan that will be used for a water bath. Spray ramekins with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
    2. Add the cream to a 2-cup glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power until cream begins to bubble just a bit, but don’t let it come to a full boil; it took 3 1/2 minutes in my micro (or heat cream over medium heat on the stove, about 10 minutes). Remove cream from micro; set aside to cool.
    3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and with clean hands, pick out the yolks and put them in a large bowl. I find picking out the yolks very carefully with my fingers is the easiest way to separate whites/yolks, but separate them as you prefer. Use the whites for another recipe or discard.
    4. To the large bowl with the yolks, add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and whisk vigorously for 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is lighter and paler in color, and has fluffed in volume. Your shoulder should be burning; use an electric mixer if you wish, or burn some calories, save dishes, and whisk by hand; set aside.
    5. With a spoon, remove any skin that’s formed on the cream. It will be quite warm, but not scalding; it should read 165F max on a thermometer.
    6. Very slowly pour about 1/4 cup of cream into the eggs, whisking the whole time. This is tempering the eggs (getting them used to the warm cream) so you don’t scramble them.
    7. Continue pouring the cream into the eggs very slowly, whisking the whole time.
    8. Add the vanilla, optional salt, and whisk to combine. Some recipes call for straining the mixture through a fine sieve now, but I find there’s no difference so I skip straining.
    9. Evenly pour mixture into prepared ramekins; set aside.
    10. Add 2 cups water to 2-cup glass measuring cup and microwave on high power until boiling, about 4 minutes.
    11. Slowly and carefully pour the hot water into the 9×13 pan. The water creates a water bath so the crème brûlée bakes more evenly. Make sure the water isn’t being poured onto or splashing into the ramekins. Top off with more very hot tap water until the water level in the pan is about as high as the level of crème brûlée inside the cups.
    12. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until set with some jiggle. Baking time will vary widely based on pan size, if you’re baking 4 to 6, level of water in water batch, type of ceramic the ramekins are made of, climate and oven variances, and personal preference. Use your judgment and bake until done, noting that crème brûlée will set up more as it cools. If you open the oven and gently move the baking pan and the crème brûlée makes a wave-like motion, more than just slight jiggling, they’re not done. They should not be browned, won’t rise, and if testing with a thermometer it should read 150F to 155F for food safety; however I bake until about 170F because at 155F, there’s still too much jiggle for my liking.
    13. Remove pan from the oven and very carefully with a hot mitt, remove ramekins from water bath and place them on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
    14. Cover them with lids or plastic wrap, and transfer to fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days in advance.
    15. Prior to serving, evenly sprinkle each ramekin with 1 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar. I prefer 2 teaspoons each to achieve an appropriately thick caramelized top layer.
    16. Using a torch held about 6 inches away from the surface, heat the sugar, making sure to keep the torch moving evenly to prevent burning. When sugar is sufficiently caramelized to your liking, serve immediately.

Notes

  • Crème brûlée that has not been sugared/torched will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 363 Total Fat: 33g Saturated Fat: 20g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 244mg Sodium: 82mg Carbohydrates: 13g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 12g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 5g

More Special Occasion Desserts: 

Crack Pie — There’s a reason this pie has the name it has and it definitely lives up to the hype!

Caramelized Banana Upside Down Cake — This upside down cake is super moist thanks to the combination of sour cream, buttermilk, and vegetable oil. It’s so easy to make, and the caramelized banana flavor is impossible to resist! 

Banana Cream Pudding Pie with Cream Cheese Crust — You’re going to love this quintessential comfort food dessert. It tastes like you slaved over it but it’s one of the easiest pies ever.

The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache — This truly is the best chocolate cake EVER. It’s topped with a silky smooth chocolate ganache frosting, and it takes just 10 minutes of hands-on prep!

Sugar Cream Pie — This sugar cream pie reminds me a bit of crème brûlée. The filling is custard-like, and when topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon it’s irresistable! 

The Best Triple Chocolate Layer Cake — This is the chocolate layer cake to beat out all others. It’s rich, decadent, and everything you want in a triple chocolate cake! 

159 comments on “The Best and The Easiest Classic Crème Brûlée”

  1. Creme brulee is truly one of the best things ever! Great photos too!

  2. Hi Averie, been off the grid for a spell so getting back to checking out yummy things on your page and finding an easy creme brulee recipe was a lovely comeback! My husband loves creme brulee, but like you, I don’t like to spend too much time on my recipes or they don’t happen at all. So, I have never tried this dessert. You have made it so easy, though. Awesome! Definitely going to try this. I need to get the torch, but that’s no trouble. Looks amazing!

    • And just think of all those candles you can light with your new torch :)

      And welcome back! Have been thinking about you, figured you were just taking a break and with life, the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, yep, breaks and off-grids happen :) Hope you and the family are doing great! xoxo

  3. Swoon, Averie!!! Creme brulee holds such a special place in my heart, mostly because of the memories connected to my 10th wedding anniversary and Paris. I’ve never made it myself but with this recipe I might just be brave enough to try. The pictures are stunning. LOVE!

    • Thanks for the compliments on my pics and if you ever do try it, LMK. With all your amazing recipes I see all over pinterest, you definitely would have no trouble in the kitchen whipping this up! :) Happy 10 years, too!

  4. I’m dying to try this recipe, it looks absolutely awesome!!! Thank you :)

  5. Averie – this looks divine! If you make a peanut butter version next? Pure bliss.

  6. If creme brulee is on the menu, I’m always ordering it. Never tried making it at home, so I think I need to try it out. I love the idea of doing this for entertaining – especially the make ahead part!

  7. This is one of my favorite desserts, and it looks like yours is just perfect. I’m with you – no alterations or additions are necessary. What a beautiful post!

  8. I LOVE Creme Brulee, but I have never tried to make it myself and when I saw the recipe on Bloglovin’ I was like: “I need to try this” haha! Thank you for sharing the recipe xx Following you on Bloglovin’ – Have a super great amazing day ^___^

    C:ndy | http://www.mazedays.blogspot.com

  9. Wow, looks beautiful Averie! Love the creamy yellow contrast with the bright blue pot!

  10. Creme Brulee is so on my bucket list. This is fabulous, I love the fussy free approach. And those little ramekin pots are the most adorable thing ever!

  11. Such a classic, always fabulous!

  12. I love how BEAUTIFUL and simple this creme brulee recipe is!! It looks sooo delicious too! I’m like your hubs-I don’t like cheesecake but I enjoy creme brulee :)

  13. This looks gorgeous! My boyfriend loves Creme Brulee and we just bought some small cups for it. I will try this recipe…

  14. Oohh my, whenever I go out for dinner and there’s creme brulee, I’m having it! I’ve never attempted homemade, though. You make it look so easy.. I want to give it a try ;)

  15. Yum I think when you get a nice thin crackly top on the creme brulee it really is close to a perfect dessert. At many restaurants they make the crust way too thick so its like a layer of hard candy instead of a nice caramelized shell. Looks really pretty in your teal ramekins too :)

    • way too thick so its like a layer of hard candy instead of a nice caramelized shell. <--- exactly!!! And in doing this, I have found it's actually HARDER to make it the 'wrong' way because you need to add so much more sugar, sit there with the blow torch even longer, so some sugar, not a ridic amt, and then the torching goes faster and the result tastes better. Another reason I don't go out to eat much is b/c I'm insanely picky and just want to do it my way :)

      • I used to work in a stuffy, overpriced French restaurant where they made very fussy, time consuming creme brûlée even a chocolate one made from a huge bar of chocolate that was hand grated then melted- which was very good. It was the server’s job to sugar and torch the top just before serving. If you had a lazy server or a super busy server then you usually got a really thick crust (even though, like you said, it takes longer) or an uneven crust. Also we used sugar packets like the ones you find on the table for coffee as opposed to very fine sugar. If you had a server who just didn’t care then you got an uneven crust because they’d just dump the whole packet in the middle and torch which left some sides bare. You’d pay like $10.50 for a creme brûlée and then the server would half-ass the best part! I even saw one guy try to get away with using an Equal because he didn’t want to walk 2 feet to refil the sugar! Yuck! We didn’t let him get away with that one. (FYI-in my experience, most young male servers really suck at the small details of customer service. Lol!) some ppl would use more or less packets than they were supposed to because they were in a rush or whatever. So anyway, if you order it at a restaurant and are really picky about it it’s best to mention to the server that you don’t want it thick, etc. because most of the time in most restaurants (except Cheesecake Factory, etc.) the server is prepping/making the desserts so things can really vary from meal to meal according to your server.
        Anyway, just some insider info on the restaurant versions. I can’t wait to make this one!

      • Thanks for all the insider info! I used to be a server in h.s. and college and am very familiar with shall we say, the underbelly of that world. Even ‘fine’ dining isn’t so fine if people only knew what went on in the back of the house! So yeah, while I never had to serve creme brulee, I am chuckling at the attempt to use Equal because the real stuff was 10 extra steps away. Some people will take every shortcut they possibly can, and then some! Thanks for the great comment!

  16. Klonk! <— my jaw hitting the floor! This is just gorgeous! In color, texture, flavor… it sounds amazing! Beautiful photos as always!!! Love!

  17. I’ve never even thought about making my own creme brulee, but this makes it pretty tempting! I don’t have any ramekins or kitchen torch…I think this might make the perfect excuse to go shopping! Creme brulee is such a classic dessert. I can’t wait to try it.

  18. Great job Averie! This looks perfect. I love the ramekins :)!

  19. I love how easy and non-intimidating this recipe is! I’m also a big fan of creme brulee but haven’t attempted making it at home yet. That will change soon :)

  20. Creme Brûlée is my favorite! And those La Creuset ramekins are my dream! :)

  21. OBSESSED with those cute blue ramekins! I want a set of those for myself, they are amazing. I love custardy desserts and I need to get myself a blow torch to make them more! Also, ahhh I am so amazed that you have two cookbooks out – so legit. One day, I hope I can be like you!

  22. True story – I don’t recall ever having creme brulee. Caramel Brulee lattes from Starbucks, yes. But creme brulee the dessert, nope. Your recipe makes me want to change that stat. I think my boyfriend would enjoy this too!

    PS, I love the blue ramekins and pinned too!

  23. This is fabulous Averie! All of those incredible shots of the broken sugar on top… Makes me want to be adopted so I can try them alongside your family! :) I actually borrowed (and never returned) my mom’s culinary torch a while ago, and although I haven’t used it much, my guys steals it all the time. He’s obsessed with brûléeing Peeps! The outside sugar acts like the surface of a creme brûlée, and it’s pretty fun to make s’mores out of them too!

    • Omg I am going to brulee some peeps! I was gifted a ridic amount of them about 6 mos ago and have donated so many to my daughter’s friends, park days, etc but I still have tons. Great science project for her to observe! I can only imagine that that sugary shell is just the perfect brulee’ing item!

  24. One of our favorite desserts. I do have to say there is no comparison to a real vanilla bean. One of the things I love most about creme brulee is the little vanilla seeds. I could never use vanilla extract.
    I also never make a ‘flavored’ creme brulee.

  25. Oh man – could these be any more perfect?! And the blue ramekins – just genius! I love how the colors just pop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.