Classic Crème Brûlée

A perfect Crème Brûlée should be creamy and silky with a glass thin coating of caramelized sugar.

a creme brulee on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Creme brulee is one of those recipes that is so simple with such a short ingredient list that it seems like it would be fool proof. As is often true, sometimes the simplest recipes are hard to get just right.

With so few ingredients, the success of the dish depends on good technique. I’ve had some bad creme brulee over the years.

Generally, the two biggest problems are a curdled or spongy custard and/or an overly thick layer of caramel. There are a few key techniques to achieve a silky custard and glass thin layer of caramelized sugar.


Ingredients for creme anglaise in glass bowls.

The Process for making Perfectly Creamy Creme Brulee

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

a pot of scalding cream.
  • Heat the cream in a large saucepan.
  • Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and put them into the pot along with the pod.
  • Heat the mixture until scalding.
egg yolks and sugar in a bowl with a whisk.
  • While the cream is heating up, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.
  • Whisk the scalding cream into the yolk/sugar mixture.
straining eggs for custard
  • Strain the liquid to remove foam and egg strings.
creme brulee custard in a pitcher.
  • Place the custard into a pitcher to make pouring it into the ramekins easy.
  • Divide the custard between the ramekins and bake until the custard is set.
  • Chill the custards completely before adding the topping.

Pastry Chef Tips

  • Strain the custard to remove strings from the eggs and any foam that has formed on the custard. Foam is made up of bubbles and you don’t want bubbles in the baked custard.
  • Don’t over-bake the custard. It should be removed from the oven as soon as it jiggles as a mass. Otherwise, as it continues to cook it will puff up, causing unpleasant air bubbles in the final product.
  • The key to a good caramel layer is to use a thin and even layer of granulated sugar. It might be tempting to add more sugar, thinking the more caramel the better. You want a glass-like layer of caramel that will crack with the first stab of the spoon.
  • The best tool for caramelizing the sugar is a propane torch. Personally, I don’t use those frou-frou torches made for creme brulee. Just go to the hardware store and get a basic torch.

Sauternes & Creme Brulee is a classic Pairing:

Sauternes is a world famous wine from Bordeaux. Sauternes are made from a mix of grapes that have been allowed to develop a fungus called Botrytis cinerea, aka, noble rot. Noble Rot causes some of the grapes to become raisined, which results in a concentrated and distinctively flavored wine.

The elegant french custard topped with a thin and crisp layer of caramelized sugar is the perfect texture and flavor match to the rich Sauternes. 

a bottle of sauternes
a creme brulee with a spoon in it.

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with all the extra egg whites? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra whites for some great ideas.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.

vanilla creme brulee
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5 from 2 reviews

Classic Creme Brulee

Classic creme brulee should be creamy and silky with a glass thin coating of caramelized sugar.
Prep Time30 minutes
Bake Time30 minutes
Chilling Time2 hours
Total Time3 hours
8 servings
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  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 8 oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • teaspoon table salt
  • 4 oz granulated sugar (½ cup, for topping)


  • Arrange eight 6-oz ramekins in a large baking pan. Preheat the oven to 300 °F, don't use convection setting for this recipe.
  • Pour 1 quart heavy cream into a small saucepan. Split ½ vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the cream.
  • Heat the cream until scalding hot. Do not allow it to boil.
  • While the cream is heating, whisk together 12 large egg yolks, 8 oz granulated sugar and ⅛ teaspoon table salt. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a pitcher or large measuring cup with a pour spout.
  • Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins. Pour water into the baking dish so that the level comes 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins. I like to pour from a corner to avoid spilling into the ramekins.
  • Carefully transfer the baking dish to the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake just until the custard is set, about 30 minutes. The exact baking time will depend on the size and shape of the ramekins, check after 20 minutes and continue checking every five minutes until they're done.
  • Carefully life the ramekins out of the water bath and set on a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate the custards until cold, at least 2-3 hours, can be made the day before.
  • Sprinkle an even layer of granulated sugar (4 oz granulated sugar over the surface of each custard, the exact amount will depend on the size and shape of the ramekins. The sugar should not be too thick or it won't caramelize evenly.
  • Use a blow torch to caramelize the sugar by evenly waving the flame across the surface of the sugar. Do not hold the flame in one spot, keep the flame moving until the sugar is melted and nicely browned.
  • You can brown the custards just before dinner and keep in the refrigerator until serving.

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Serving: 1serving | Calories: 653kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 425mg | Sodium: 82mg | Potassium: 143mg | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 2128IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Classis Cream Brulee
    4 cups (1 quart, 120ml) heavy cream???
    Is this right? Surely 1 quart weighs more than 120 ml. (in the UK one quart = 2 pints)

  2. Looks and sounds delicious. I’m going to have to give it a try. Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes and techniques, Eileen! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Oh, and how do you know about the unpleasant air bubbles?