The perfect Crème Caramel is silky smooth with a velvety texture. Sous vide is the way to achieve this perfection. It allows for precise temperature control which is the key to producing the perfect crème caramel.
Crème Caramel is the Master Taste Tester’s absolute favorite dessert. I’ve been making it for years using the traditional technique of baking it in the oven in a water bath. I wondered if the sous vide technique would work. Guess what? It not only worked, but also produced a crème caramel that was beyond silky smooth! The Master Taste Tester proclaimed that from now on, I should use sous vide – the ultimate compliment.
Ingredients for Crème Caramel:
Crème caramel has two distinct components. The first is the characteristic caramel top and syrup. For this, I used granulated sugar and water. The second is the custard. I used eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, half and half, and whole milk. Such simple ingredients for such an incredible dessert.
Making the Custard Mixture:
I started by making the custard mixture. First, I lightly whisked the sugar and vanilla extract with egg yolks and eggs. Then, I tempered the eggs by whisking in about a quarter cup of hot half and half, and whole milk. Next, I added the remaining hot half and half and milk, and lightly whisked the mixture until it was combined. I always make the custard mixture in a large measuring cup so that its easy to pour into the baking dishes. In addition, I make sure that the whisking is minimal to keep from adding too many air bubbles. Finally, I let the custard mixture rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the egg whites to naturally break down a bit.
Making the Caramel:
While the custard mixture was resting, I made the caramel. I added sugar and water to a small saucepan. Without stirring, I heated the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolved and the mixture was clear. This took about 5 minutes.
Then, I covered the pan and increased the heat to medium high to allow the caramel to color. Covering the pan is actually a critical step in producing the perfect caramel. The reason is that it prevents the sugar from crystallizing. After about 6 minutes, the caramel was perfectly colored. I removed the pan from the heat, and quickly divided the caramel among six wide-mouth 8-ounce mason jars that I had lightly greased with unsalted butter.
Finishing the Sous Vide Crème Caramel:
I let the caramel cool while I prepared the sous vide water bath. For this, I heated the water to precisely 176° F. When the water had reached temperature, I divided custard mixture evenly among the six jars using a wire mesh strainer. I use the strainer to ensure that the mixture is perfectly smooth.
After that, I added the two-piece lids, and only finger tightened them. I didn’t want the lids too tight because otherwise, the air pressure wouldn’t be able to escape and jars could shatter. I carefully lowered the jars into the water bath.
Once the water had returned to 176° F, I let the custard cook for one hour and 30 minutes.
I removed the jars from the water bath to a wire rack. I knew that a potential issue of using sous vide was that condensation couldn’t escape during cooking like it could in the oven. Therefore, I removed the tops of the jars, and carefully wiped excess condensation from the sides using a paper towel. After the custard had cooled a bit, I screwed on the tops, and placed the crème caramel in the refrigerator to cool completely.
I ended up with six totally amazing crème caramel desserts. The sous vide technique produced a silky smooth texture that was heavenly to taste. Yum!
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Sous Vide Crème Caramel
- 2 large eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup (4.7 ounces, 133 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 227 grams) half and half
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 227 grams) whole milk
- ¾ cup (5.25 ounces, 149 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (1.5 ounces, 43 grams) water
- Lightly grease six 8-ounce wide mouth mason jars; set aside.
- Add egg yolks and eggs to 4-cup mixing cup. Lightly whisk in ⅔ cup of sugar and vanilla extract. Heat half and half and milk in microwave for 2 minutes, or until hot. Whisk in about ¼ cup of hot liquid to egg mixture to temper the eggs. Lightly whisk in remaining half and half and milk, making sure to minimize the creation of air bubbles. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Add ¾ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water to a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat without stirring until sugar melts and liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Cover pan with tight fitting lid; increase heat to medium high and cook syrup without stirring until syrup is colored, about 6 minutes. Watch closely because this step occurs pretty quickly.Carefully divide syrup among six prepared jars, swirling jars to evenly distribute syrup. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Finishing the Sous Vide Crème Caramel
- Heat sous vide water bath to 176° F.
- Divide custard mixture among six jars with caramel using a wire strainer.
- Top jars with two-piece lids; only tighten finger-tight. If you tighten the tops too much, the pressure buildup inside the jars cannot escape, and the jars may shatter.
- When sous vide water bath has reached 176° F, carefully add jars; cook crème caramel for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Remove from water bath to wire cooling rack. Remove the lids; wipe excess condensation with paper towel. Allow to cool.
- Return lids and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, run a thin knife around the inside of the jars to loosen the crème caramel. Transfer to a serving plate. If desired, add fresh fruit. Serve.
- Yield: 6 Sous Vide Crème Caramel desserts.
Beautiful. Found your post on Reddit today and have been enjoying looking through your blog.
I came across you when I was researching sous vide recipes. This Creme Caramel looks amazing. We run a website called Sous Vide Hub and we have listed this recipe in our curated recipe list with credit and with a link back to this website. I just wanted to make sure you are comfortable with this. We would love to list your other sous vice recipes as well if that is possible. They all look so delicious.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for listing the Sous Vide Creme Caramel. Making the Creme Caramel via Sous Vide was a game changer for me! I would be pleased to have you list my other Sous Vide Recipes!
Charlene Davis says
Made this a couple of times now and it is my go-to recipe. Tried to tweak it by adding espresso liquor instead of vanilla. Best creme caramel I’ve ever tasted or made. Thank you.
I’m do glad that it worked out for you. How did the espresso liquor work out?
Great post !! Did you try to do it without the lid on using a sous vide water bath ?
Thanks! I’ve not tried making the Sous Vide Creme Caramel without using the lids, but it’s an interesting question. I guess it would be like the more traditional way of making them in the oven in a water bath. However, with my setup, the circulation of the water from the immersion circulator produces a fair amount of steam that could negatively impact the custard. If you try making them without the lids, let me know how it works!
Janet Mackay says
This recipe worked wonderfully! Thanks so much. I’m new to my SousVide heater and loving this sort of success!
Janet from Cape Town
I’m so glad. Creme Caramel is my husband’s favorite dessert. I used to make it in a water bath in the oven. We were both blown away with how incredibly good it was using the sous vide method!
All your recipes look incredibly delicious.
I just made some egg bites which came out so good.
You should definitely try the sous vide creme caramel. It’s amazing!
Best flan ever!!! I made this for my wife tonight and both of us agree it’s incredible.
I’m so glad that it was a success!
I’d like to make this recipe using 12 4oz jars. Do I need to adjust the cooking time in that case?
I’ve not tried this with the 4 oz jars, so I don’t know for sure whether the cooking time needs to be adjusted. However, one of the advantages of sous vide is that the cooking time is very forgiving since you’re cooking to a precise temperature. If I were using the 4 oz jars, I’d be inclined to reduce the time by 15 minutes, to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let me know how it works!
I love creamer caramel but always wished I had more sugar syrup when I get to the last third of my custard. Has anyone tried increasing the sugar syrup by 50%? Can anyone think of a reason why it might not turn out properly?
This produces the creamiest creme caramel that I’ve ever had. The recipe actually produces quite a bit of syrup. I see no reason, however, why you couldn’t increase the syrup.
Hi, my family loves these!
I just made them for the second time, but quite a bit of the caramel was stuck to the bottom of the jars. What do you recommend using to grease the jars? This time I used butter, but I think I may have used a Spectrum nonstick spray previously. thank you !
Also, I’ve made them with half & half and with heavy cream instead of h&h.
Hi! I always use unsalted butter to grease the jars. When I make them, a lot of the caramel does stick to the bottom of the jars. However, with the quantity of caramel, there is always an ample amount that pours out to cover the creme caramel. How did they turn out with the heavy cream instead of the half and half? Also, let me know how they turn out with the nonstick spray. Chula
Ok, stupid question: my jars all were floating in the sous vide container, tipping upside down and every which way. How to deal with this?!
Wow – that’s never happened to me. I’m so sorry that it happened to you. Are you using the 8-ounce wide-mouthed canning jars? If so, I would suggest putting weights on top of the jars like a metal rack to weigh the jars down. There are times when I sous vide meat that the vacuum sealed bag starts to float. When that happens, I have to weigh it down do keep it in the water bath.
Robert Bloom says
Chula — this is absolutely brilliant.The only things I did differently were to make the caramel a bit darker than you show in the photo (I like a hint of that burnt sugar flavor), added a pinch of salt to the egg mixture, and set my SV to 177 (I think mine runs a TINY bit cool, so I wanted to be sure it set up properly). A possible trick for people having issues with most of the caramel sticking in the jar: when mine were cool, before refrigerating, I tilted them all around to release the vacuum and allow the caramel to run about 1/2 way up the sides. No knife necessary, they are tender enough that just tilting them pulls them away from the jar. 95% of my caramel sauce came out onto the custard and the plate. Thank you for this recipe — it’s a WINNER!
Robert – what a great idea about releasing the vacuum in the jar before refrigerating the creme caramel! I’m definitely going to do that the next time.
I’m so pleased that you liked this recipe!
I’ve made this about 6 or 8 times now. It’s easy and superb! Only once did I have a jar crack in the bath, but ever since then, I have made one or two extras. Not bad to have leftovers of this!
So glad you liked it!
Only issue I have with this recipe is the fact it makes only six of these wonderful desserts, but it does double or triple or even quadruples nicely, Thanks for sharing it, and just so everyone knows this also works with straight 18% table cream (no milk) and they are real smooth and creamy, And with all the left over egg whites you can make egg bites with them, they even cook at the same temp and time as this recipe.
The first time I made the creme caramel via Sous Vide, I was blown away with how velvety smooth it was. I’ll never go back to the traditional way of cooking them in the oven in a water bath.
Great idea to use the leftover egg whites to make egg bites! I’ll definitely try this.
My caramel was a rock solid clump at bottom of jar. How can I avoid this?
Chula King says
Connie, I’m so sorry that your caramel ended up as a rock solid clump in the bottom of the jar. It’s important to act quickly with the caramel. When I do it, I pour some of the caramel into the jar and quickly swirl it around so that it covers the bottom of the jar and about 1/4-inch up the sides of the jar. Hope this helps.
Mark Sando says
Great recipe but the tempering is completely unnecessary. You only need to temper eggs if you’re poring the eggs directly into already hot liquid. The water bath is at a low enough temp plus the jars insulate the custard enough that the temp doesn’t rise quickly enough to be an issue. I know because I’ve made this several times now without the tempering step and they still came out smooth as silk every time.
Chula King says
Thanks for the comment Mark. The tempering relates to adding the eggs to the hot liquid in making the custard before adding the custard to the jars. However, I always strain the custard in a wire strainer to eliminate any “cooked” egg particles. Therefore, I suspect that not tempering the eggs does the same thing.
This is one of my favorite recipes!
This was 5 star restaurant quality texture. My first flan was as good as any I’ve had around the world with this method.
Chula King says
Thanks so much Bill! I used to make this in the oven with a water bath. The first time I used the sous vide method, I was blown away with the velvety texture. It’s the only method I use now.
Juana Green says
Great recipe! I use the 4 oz jars and get about 10. Also, I use all half & half. Robert Bloom’s advice about swirling the jars before refrigerating is spot-on. Invited a neighbor who is a fabulous cook for dinner and she asked for the recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Chula King says
Thanks Juana! So glad you liked them!
D S says
Made this today and tried one late this evening. We liked the flan but thought I would never say this but there was too much caramel sugar in the bottom of the jar. That much sugary goodness overpowered it in our thoughts. But will definitely make again and maybe go with a half cup sugar. Very otherwise. Flan was super smooth and creamy! TY for sharing the recipe.
Chula King says
Thanks for you comment about the caramel sugar level. If you make them again with a reduced amount of caramel, I’d love to hear how they turn out.
D S says
Important that I update my review. Wife and I had both tried the first one last night. It was nice and cold so figured that is where it would stay flavor wise.
Tonight we had bbq ribs and flan for dessert.
We both agreed the flavor had changed significantly! The burnt sugar flavor was much milder and far less sugary! The flan flavor was the best ever. We both feel sometimes flans are just too sweet for us. But this was awesome.
We both agreed “Best Flan Ever!” So my word of advice, don’t eat until they have been in the fridge 24 hours! The flavor changes a lot! 2 left for tomorrow night!
Chula King says
Thanks so much for the update DS!
Does anyone have suggestions for maximum amount of time I could leave these in the fridge before serving? I’d like to make them a full 4 days before I need them, that way I could be done before my company arrives for the holiday week.
Chula King says
I always make the Sous Vide Crème Caramel ahead of time and have successfully left them in the refrigerator for up to a week before serving.
Best flan ever. Thank you for the recipe and your valuable tips.
Chula King says
So glad you enjoyed the recipe!
David Meitar says
Perfect recipe for crème caramel
Chula King says
Yvette Tan says
Hi! Have you tried this recipe with only whole milk? Don’t have half and half in my fridge.
Chula King says
I’ve only used half and half in the recipe for the Sous Vide Crème Caramel. However, I suspect that whole milk would work. It just wouldn’t be quite as rich tasting.
If you do make the recipe with whole milk. I’d love to know how it turned out.