Easy vanilla crème brûlée is an elegant dessert and simple to make. Rich and creamy vanilla custard with a caramelized sugar crust! Best part is, there are only 4 ingredients! You won’t be able to resist cracking through the shell of these beauties!
Ingredients for Vanilla Crème Brûlée
- Heavy cream: Yes, heavy cream. No substitutions. Heavy cream gives the custard a silky, rich texture.
- Granulated sugar: A bit of sugar sweetens the custard and is also caramelized on the top of the custard to create that classic sugar crust.
- Egg yolks: Just the yolks to create a creamy, thick, and rich custard. Save the whites to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream!
- Vanilla extract: Use a good quality pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste for the ultimate vanilla flavor!
How to Make Vanilla Crème Brûlée
- Scald heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Scalding means the cream is heated to near a boil, but does not actually boil. You will notice tiny bubbles around the edges of the pot.
- In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until it turns a pale, light, and fluffy.
- Slowly drizzle the cream into the egg yolks whisking constantly. This will allow the egg yolks to temper so they don’t scramble. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Place 4-6 ramekins in a larger baking dish. Divide the custard mixture into the ramekins.
- Place the baking dish in a 325 degree oven, and fill the baking dish around the ramekins with water, about halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake the custards for approximately 45-50 minutes. Times may vary based on the size and shape of your ramekins.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Allow the custards to cool in the water bath for a few minutes before transferring to a wire baking rack to cool to room temperature.
- Chill the custards in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar over the top of each custard. Use a kitchen torch in a circular, constant motion to caramelize the sugar.
Easy Vanilla Crème Brûlée Recipe Tips
Make perfect crème brûlée
Check out my baking tips blog post on 10 Tips for Making Perfect Crème Brûlée to learn simple tips and tricks to make the best crème brûlée ever.
The custards are baked in ramekins which are placed in a larger pan to make a water bath. A water bath provides some insulation from direct heat which allows them to cook gently and evenly and prevents cracking. To prevent a mess in your kitchen, place the baking pan containing the ramekins in the oven before you pour in the water. Use a water bottle or container with a pour spout to help you direct the water around the ramekins.
A kitchen torch is needed to caramelize the sugar on top of the custard. Kitchen torches are relatively inexpensive and come in handy if you are a baker. When you caramelize the sugar, move the torch back and forth and in circular motions. Do not keep the torch in one spot for too long so that you don’t burn the sugar.
To check if the custards are done baking, do the jiggle test. Give the baking pan and VERY gentle shake, being careful not to spill the water. If you see the custards slightly jiggle in the center but appear more firm on the outside, they are ready to come out!
Baking times may vary
The instructions call for the custards to be baked for approximately 45-50 minutes. Times may vary based on the size and shape of your ramekins, so this is why the jiggle test is so important!
Storing and serving
Store the custards covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Caramelize the sugar immediately before serving. If you store the crème brûlée with the caramelized sugar, it will soften and become sticky.
Easy Vanilla Crème Brûlée
- Kitchen torch
- 4-6 Ramekins
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- Additional sugar
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, scald the heavy cream.
- While the heavy cream is heating, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the egg yolks lighten in color and are fully combined with the sugar.
- Once the heavy cream is scalded, very slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly drizzling the hot cream will gently temper the egg yolks so they don't scramble.
- Add in the vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste and stir to combine.
- Place ramekins into a larger baking pan. The custard recipe will fill approximately 4-6 ramekins depending on their size.
- Slowly pour the custard into the ramekins, dividing evenly.
- Gently place the baking tray with ramekins in the oven. Before closing the oven, pour water around the ramekins, approximately ⅓ to ½ of the way up the ramekins.
- Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Bake time may vary slightly due to the size and shape of the ramekins. The custards will be done when they are set with a slight jiggle in the middle.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven and remove ramekins to a cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle additional sugar onto the top of the custards. Using a culinary torch, carefully caramelize the sugar on the top of the custard. Allow the caramelized sugar to sit for approximately 1 minute prior to serving to harden.