Creme Brulee

Total Time:
3 hr 30 min
15 min
2 hr 15 min
1 hr

6 servings

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 quarts hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Propane Gas Torch Safety: Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat, open flame, and prolonged exposure to sunlight. They should only be used in well-ventilated areas. When lighting a propane gas torch, place the torch on a flat, steady surface, facing away from you. Light the match or lighter and then open the gas valve. Light the gas jet, and blow out the match. Always turn off the burner valve to "finger tight" when finished using the torch. Children should never use a propane gas torch without adult supervision.

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    AMAZING. simply delicious. I love how simple this recipe is. There's no reason to have a million different ingredients in such a delicate dessert.
    Excellent recipe. I used plain granulated sugar on the top and raw sugar in the batter and it turned out wonderfully. Letting it sit for 30 minutes was a tad too long, so next time I will probably let it sit for 25 minutes before torching it. I will definitely use this again!
    I made this for a bunch of friends tonight and, holy cow, I've never seen a group of people react so favorable. This recipe kicks butt. Here's the thing. I used a convection oven and the custards began to brown at about 35 minutes so I pulled them out. They were jiggly like in the video so disaster was averted and at when it was time to serve they were just spectacular. Since it was a party I brought the butane torch and after a short demonstration let everyone make their own caramelized topping which just added to the greatness.
    I made this exactly as Alton does except... I accidentally doubled the sugar. It was GOOOOOD!!!! :)
    I am in love with my husband all over again for making this amazing dessert! And we had fun watching Alton's demonstration as always. I took the vanilla bean and added it to a separate container of sugar so that next time we will have real vanilla sugar to use. Not too rich but seriously yummy!
    I,m still enjoining the fabulous taste. My favorite desert and I was able to make it!!! Thanks Alton, I wished you could try it, it is heavenly!!! :D
    I made this for Valentine's and it was delicious. The only issue I had was a rough skin that formed on the top while baking. I did get ahead of myself and put the sugar with the eggs before whisking. I whisked for about 4 minutes, maybe too long? Otherwise I used the same proportions and it turned out fine consistency-wise. Yum!!!
    There is always a chemical reaction when you have eggs and sugar setting together (especially just the yolks) that creates the hard goup when added to a recipe that cant be cooked out. That is probably why you had the rough skin formed on top! next time i would highly suggest whisking them together immediately so that doesn't happen! :)
    After the mix has cooled and before cooking, if you skim the layer of silky, bubbly cream on the top then pour into your ramekins, you won't have that happen. I'll hazard a guess and say it probably didn't brulee properly, did it?
    What a joke. This is absolutely the worst recipe. 1 quart of heavy cream with 6 egg yolks and half a cup of sugar only results in a soupy mix that tastes like heavy cream. I should have gone with my gut when I saw most other recipes only use 1 pint, not a quart of heavy cream. I have no idea how these other reviewers got this to work, but I would throw this recipe in the trash where it belongs.
    The texture doesn't have anything to do with the ratio of cream to egg but rather how long you cooked it. It should be slightly set, like a soft jello when you take it out. Leave it in longer and it will turn out just fine.
    Seriously? You concluded from your one single attempt at this recipe that the proportions were off? Based on the data, is it more likely that you got it wrong, or that everyone else did? 6 egg yolks to a quart of cream is perfectly sufficient to set a soft custard. FYI, this recipe is identical to the one I used at my job making desserts at a high end restaurant. I churned out creme brulees in mass quantities and this ratio was totally reliable.
    ALTON, Big Fat Smooch on yer Cheek just for you!!!~Loved yer tutorial..Made this & it turned out absolutely Perfect...your the best!! HUbby & my Grandchildren request it monthly & every visit...I'm looking like a pro..when I Brulee the sugar...and I feel like one too!Thank you!!>you really are the Best!!! ~Mimi~
    Superb! never fails to impress.
    Okay I used 7 egg yolks since my eggs weren't huge but .... man was it good. First time I ever made Creme Brulee and it tasted amazing. Only thing, I need practice on using a torch with the sugar. I have no clue why some of the people said it didn't work. I am here to tell you, not only is this easy but it IS AMAZING!
    This is not a good creme brulee recipe. It ends up being far closer to creme anglaise, as it ends up very loose to the point of being almost runny. Proper creme brulee should be much stiffer. The issue is that the proportions are way off. The same procedure can be used, but the proportions should be 2 cups cream, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 9 egg yolks, and two vanilla beans split lengthwise and with the contents scraped into the cream/milk mixture. Also, 1/2 cup sugar for topping is way too much, and will produce a crust that is thick and candy-like. A delicate crust can be achieved by taking a spoonful of sugar and pouring it on top of the creme brulee, tapping the side to cover the entirety of the surface, then tilting the ramekin and tapping out the excess.  
    Only tried this because I lost my recipe and had to get it replaced from a family member. Also, buying vanilla beans in bulk is the only way to go. 30-50 beans can be had for around $40 online.
    Maybe it's just preference but I have always preferred my creme brulee like creamy pudding not jello. Every time I've gotten it in a restaurant it is a very soft texture?
    Never had a creme brle this soft anywhere, in Europe or the US. Cooked mine for over an hour, but there just isn't enough egg to set it
    Incriedible recipe, we had 10 over for dinner and it was the perfect amount, i was glad to see none of the ingredients wasted! ($12 for a vanilla bean is a little much) it was my first time ever making crem brulee and trying it for myself.. but everyone seemed greatly pleased with the equal proportion of sweet and creamy. I would reccomend this recipe, if it is followed right and the best ingredients are used it turns out to be outstanding!
    Try looking for vanilla beans at international markets, co-ops, or organic food marts. They usually sell there for $2.00-$3.00 each.
    love it....
    Please recommend favorite brand torch. Thanks
    Honestly . . .home depot. A "creme brulee torch" will set you back at least double a standard plumbing torch, and run out of fuel very quickly. Yes, it's slightly unwieldy, but I've never had a problem with it. It's not precision work. As a comparison, Williams Sonoma has a torch for $50, as compared to $20 from home depot. Also, a lot of them use butane canisters, which under extended use can be a problem, as the butane needs to vaporize in the canister.
    Wow, this recipe came out great. I ran out of eggs and used 4 instead of 5 yolks. I used vanilla extract, not the called for vanilla bean. 
    It was beyond yummy. I will make it again for an upcoming Xmas party.
    How much extract did you use? I don't have a bean. TIA
    Another wonderful desert by Alton. I made it for a small party last night. It was the hit of the meal. Followed directions to the letter with one exception. I use long and shallow ramekins. I only cooked them for thirty minutes. The vanilla sugar is a must.
    Wow! I'm sooo happy I decided to try this. I am not sure how those who have been making creme brle for years couldn't get this one right. Restuarant creme brle are a firmer because they have probably been prepped days before. With that being said, my husband LOVED this! He is so picky when it comes to creme brle. He travels with his job and has the chance to eat at tons of upscale restaurants and is very hard to p,ease. However, he was highly impressed with "my" creme brle skills ;. I only did the half recipe because of the comments mentioning how much it came out to be. I also did not make the vanilla sugar recipe with vanilla bean. I used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. I also made the top extra thick. Soooo good!
    Horrendous recipe- please do not trust the good reviews. The proportion of egg yolk to milk is completely wrong for traditional creme brulee. This produced a very milkly, bland, frothy, pale-colored creme brulee with the wrong texture (is definitely runnier than traditional and lacks flavor. So disappointed... what a waste of ingredients.  
    As someone who has made countless creme brulee, I should have known better before trying this recipe and stuck to my 7-8 egg yolks per 2 cups cream ratio, which creates the BEST creme brulee ever. Skip this recipe and use The Joy of Cooking or Julia Child's.
    to~ elleelise 
    The proportion to heavy cream to egg yolk*** not milk, and try this recipe again using higher quailty products, it may change your overall product's texture/taste!
    The original poster is quite correct, it has nothing to do with quality of ingredients. I posted a better set of proportions above. In fairness, I have been to many a good restaurant that couldn't seem to execute a proper creme brulee. It is one of those very traditional recipes that everyone seems to mess up. Frankly I don't even much care for the Julia Child recipe, as it is also closer to creme anglaise.
    Loved it!!! I shaved some of the bean hull in the egg/sugar mix to add more flavor and added lemon juice to cut the sweetness. It was amazing!!!. My roomie even thought it tastes like the restaurants:
    This is a fantastic basic creme brulee recipe. Great as is but my favorite take is to use 1/2 a tsp high quality almond extract. Then I make some fresh whipped cream with heavy cream, vanilla extract and sugar. The dollop of whipped cream is a great mellow contrast to the delicious rich brulee. I like to sprinkle the top of that dollop with some candied almond. (None of that is necessary as the simple creme brulee is gorgeous by itself as well! 
    (I don't really get the review that strains the mix to get out "eggshell and cooked egg" ... don't put any eggshell in it ... and temper your egg mixture correctly and neither are ever an issue.
    This was the tastiest thing I have ever made. My kids loved it. I wanted to wait until the next day to eat it but they were begging to eat it after the two hours.  
    It was creamy and not to sweet. Perfect!
    I didn't use quite as much vanilla but I did use the beans rather than extract and I'm so glad i spent the extra money. We had a dozen for dinner and this made the perfect amount. It was really pretty easy - i was so scared at first. But I'll do this again! It was the highlight of the meal!
    This was wonderful...smooth, creamy & lots of vanilla flavor! The only thing I changed was substituting one pint each of heavy cream and light cream to cut down on some of the fat, but it didn't change the smooth creamy texture at all. One tip, before pouring into ramekins, pour the mixture from the bowl through a strainer into a measuring cup. This serves two purposes, one it takes care of any eggshells or scrambled eggs that might have been in the custard; and two it makes for easier pouring into the ramekins.
    Thanks for the tip
    I liked it, but when I did it for work, in a creme brulee competition; I lost to the more traditional heavy in egg yolks recipe, probably three times as many. Anyhow, to me, this is a cholesterol-low-sugar friendly creme brulee. Next time, I will add more eggs. Sorry Alton.
    Great recipe, will keep using.
    This Creme Brulee recipe exceeded my expectations. I usually ONLY eat Bonefish Grill's Creme Brulee and nothing has ever come close to it. But this recipe was by far better than my favorite!! I used 8 - 4 oz ramekins instead of 7 oz and still baked it for 40 mins. I also used a little more sugar but it was a mistake on my part. It did come out too sweet but still came out DELICIOUS! When they are ready they look runny but not like liquid more like Jello. Remember Alton's comment, don't over cook the eggs. I let set overnight and they are creamy (They are "Creme Brulee's not flans or custards. I can't wait for tonight when we have friends over and try this. I will making this again and again. This recipe is definitely going into my recipe book! If it's your firsts time trying this, I suggest watching the video, it's only about 2 mins long and it covers everything you need to know.
    As usual, Alton Brown comes through with a perfect recipe! It was so easy and the texture was divine. Far, far better than most restaurants. My only problem - and this is my own user error - was that I prefer the low, thin, wide ramekins and I had a hard time with the topping. But that is just something I will work on. FWIW the timing was the same on the cooking even though they were thinner.
    Fabulous recipe. Would recommend waiting overnight to eat. Consistency was firmer. I used regular sugar for the main recipe, and turbinado for the glaze. Will definitely make this again!
    OMG! first time brle attempt. OUTSTANDING! Guests were looking for more, " best I've ever had, and I've eaten it all over the world". baked in oven for 40 minutes, then left it in hot water bath for an additional 5, Creamy smooth, unbelievable taste! Great call Alton on the vanilla bean (madddagascar after boiling. I submerged it into a huge bowl of sugar, covered with plastic wrap and kept tossing it intermittently, and you end up with the most fragrant tasty vanilla sugar for not only the dessert but, coffee as well!
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