How to make Leche Flan/Crème Caramel – Fool proof Custard pudding recipe

  • Prep Time
  • Cook Time
  • Yield
    8 - 10 servings
  • Difficulty

Silky smooth, creamy, rich and sweet, and topped with oozing caramel sauce – what is there not to love about crème caramel? Kids and adults alike all around the world cannot resist this simple, yet elegant and indulging dessert – which is probably the main reason why this custard pudding and its many variations can be found anywhere from the East to the West. Each version in each different country has its own twist: you can find coconut flan in Puerto Rico, or cinnamon flan served with dulce de leche in Latin America, or flan with a hard caramel top – which is in fact the French crème brûlée, … Crème caramel is especially popular with kids in Asia – packaged flan is always a delightful school treat.

It is easy to customise your own custard pudding flavour: the most traditional one is vanilla, but why limit yourself? I have tried matcha (green tea), chocolate, rum-flavoured flan, and my personal favourite is coffee. The coffee is not in the pudding itself but in the caramel sauce, and its bitterness compliments the richness of the pudding so well.

However, regardless of the flavour you choose, you have to first master the essence of the custard pudding: the egg-to-liquid ratio. A perfect ratio will give you the silky and smooth texture, and the rich and creamy taste that makes the ‘crème’ part of the crème caramel. I have had many experiments with a lot of different recipes with different ratios, and finally, this recipe is introduced to you guys with my personal stamp of approval, satisfaction guaranteed.

This recipe was adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, using 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks (ie. 5 egg yolks + 3 egg whites). For me, this is just the right amount: it doesn’t taste as good if there are more whites, and it is definitely too rich if more yolks are to be added. The liquid part includes 400 ml milk and 150 ml whipping cream, which gives flan a softer and richer texture.

It has been 5 years since I discovered this recipe and I still don’t need to make a single adjustment to it. However, the second flan recipe was created, using condensed milk instead of cream, when I found out that it can be difficult to find whipping cream in parts of Vietnam, which is not yet a familiar ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. Compared to the first one, the second recipe is less rich in taste, but is still lip-smacking delicious. Condensed milk and egg yolks are the 2 ingredients that give flan its soft and silky texture without being too creamy and heavy. For people who are not used to rich desserts, this is the recipe for you.

custard pudding recipe


This recipe has a video tutorial and has been uploaded on my YouTube Channel (Savoury Days Kitchen). If you can’t play the video on this site, you can watch it directly on YouTube via this link.

Note: the video is in HD setting and has English subtitle, please press CC to activate it.

Traditional (French) Flan/Crème Caramel/ Custard Pudding recipe


1. The Flan

  • 3 eggs (50 grams/egg excluding shell)
  • 2 egg yolks (20 grams/yolk)
  • 70 grams (about 1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 400 ml (1-2/3 cups) milk
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) whipping cream (30 – 35% fat)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract (optional)

2. The Caramel

  • 70 grams (about 1/3 cup) caster sugarsugar
  • 30 – 40 ml water (3 tbsp), enough to cover the sugar
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) lime or lemon juice


1. Prepare the flan moulds

I usually make flan in ramekins. If you are using a metal cup, it’s best to have it heat-insulated to prevent the custard mixture from boiling, which is the cause of lumpy flan with bubbles on its side. This recipe yields 8 – 10 flan depending on the size of your moulds. You can also use a big mould, but be sure to adjust the baking temperature accordingly to its height and size.

Brush a thin layer of butter onto the sides of the moulds, but not the bottom. This is to make it easier to take the flan out once done.

2. Make the caramel

  • Put the sugar in a small saucepan (for beginners, use a pan that has a light-coloured bottom so that you can see the change in colour of the sugar better). Add water so that it just covers the sugar and slightly swirl the pan to create an even layer of sugar and water.
  • On medium high heat, place the pan on the stove and wait – be patient. Swirl the pan once in a while, but don’t use any utensils to stir the sugar because there is a high chance that it may crystallise. The water will start to bubble and then evaporate. Eventually the sugar will turn into a golden, honey-like colour, and then gradually darken into a dark brown amber colour that is the colour of caramel.
  • Note that the colour will change fairly quickly. You should turn off the heat once the sugar starts turning golden. Quickly add in lime juice and stir. Pour the sauce in equal parts into the flan moulds. Don’t wait for too long to turn off the heat or else the sugar will burn and the caramel will turn bitter.
  • The caramel sauce needs to harden completely before you pour in the flan mixture. This will take about 10 minutes maximum, depending on the room temperature. It is okay if the caramel sauce doesn’t form an even layer at the bottom of the moulds, as it will liquefy later on anyway.

* Note:

  • This method requires longer time than melting sugar without water; but it is success guaranteed. This is because water will slow down the melting speed of the sugar, thus makes it easier to adjust the sauce to our liking.
  • I personally prefer my caramel sauce to be of a lighter colour. I usually stop right when the sauce turns into a colour that is a little bit darker than honey. The main reason is because I don’t like my sauce to be too bitter; plus burnt sugar is not all that healthy. You can adjust the sauce however you fancy, but note that the lighter the colour, the sweeter the sauce. If you are to make a light-coloured caramel, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar used in the custard mixture.
  • The caramel sauce will be piping hot, so take extra caution when pouring it into the moulds or you will risk burning yourself.
  • If in the process of pouring, the caramel sauce hardens, put it back onto the stove and heat it up until it becomes runny again

3. Make the flan

  • In a bowl, put in 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks. Add in sugar. Using a balloon whisk or a fork, lightly beat the mixture. Just beat, do not whip the eggs.
  • In a small saucepan, add the milk and whipping cream. Stir the milk and cream regularly on medium heat until the mixture becomes warm (a little bit hotter than bathing water). Remove from the heat.
  • Slowly pour the liquid into the eggs, stirring constantly. Add in vanilla and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps. Divide it evenly into the flan moulds.

* Note:

  • It is much recommended to warm up the liquid before adding it into the egg mixture. This helps to lessen the eggy taste, prevent bubble formation and the mixture will blend better together overall. In short, a better tasting and better looking flan ;)
  • Don’t let the milk boil or else the eggs will be cooked and curdle when you pour in the hot milk. If you accidentally heat it up too much, gently stir the mixture a few times to allow it to cool down a bit before adding it into the egg mixture.

4. Cook the flan

A. Bake in water bath (Bain Marie method)

  • Pre-heat oven at 150˚C/ 302˚F (top and bottom heat)
  • Prepare the water bath using a deep roasting tin or a deep tray. Don’t use the black tray that comes with the oven. Line a towel on the bottom of the tray to help prevent too much heat accumulating at the bottom of the moulds that may result in flan with lumpy bottoms.
  • Place the moulds into the tray. Pour boiling water into the tray so that it goes up to about half of the height of the moulds, and no less.
  • Bake at 150 – 160˚C/ 302 – 320˚F until the flan is set. Baking time varies between 25 – 40 minutes depending on your mould size and the temperature. After about 25 minutes, you can test the flan by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If there is no liquid leaking out, the toothpick appears to be moist but not wet with the mixture, and the surface of the flan wobbles a bit when slightly shaken, it’s time to remove the tray from the oven.

B. Steam method

  • Use a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, see the video for alternative methods.
  • Pour some water into the pan and let it boil. Once the water bubbles, lower the heat until it just simmers (if using a double boiler) or until it doesn’t boil up anymore but is still hot (about 90 – 95˚C/ 194  – 203 ˚F) if using the method in video.
  • After pouring the flan into the moulds, cover them completely with aluminium foil or with a cover if there is one. If you have neither, use 2 clean towels: 1 to cover the moulds, and 1 to cover the pan instead of using the lid (to prevent water from dripping onto the surface of the flan).
  • Place the moulds as seen in the video and steam for 25 – 35 minutes or longer depending on the size of your flan. After 20 – 25 minutes, check the flan by the toothpick test – the same way as I described in the baking method.

5. Once done, let the flan cool down completely before placing them into the fridge for a minimum of 2 – 3 hours to allow the caramel sauce to liquefy. It is best to leave them overnight in the fridge

6. To serve, place the moulds in hot water for about 10 – 20 seconds (depending on the mould size). Using the tip of a small warm knife, run the knife around the side of the mould. The hot water will melt the butter on the sides, making it easier to take the flan out. Place a plate on top of the mould and turn it upside down so that the flan slides out smoothly. Enjoy !

Vietnamese Flan/ Creme Caramel/ Custard Pudding recipe


1. The Flan

  • 3 eggs (50 grams/egg excluding shell)
  • 2 egg yolks (20 grams/yolk)
  • 70 grams (about 1/3 Cup) caster sugar
  • 500 ml (2 cup + 4 tsp) milk
  • 150 grams (5.3 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract (optional)

2. The Caramel

  • 70 grams (about 1/3 Cup) caster sugar
  • 30 – 40 ml water (3 tbsp), enough to cover the sugar
  • 5 ml (1tsp) lime or lemon juice


The method for making Vietnamese flan is similar to traditional flan. The only difference is that whipping cream is replaced with condensed milk – and that’s it !

Flan FAQs

1. The texture of my flan is not smooth but lumpy with many tiny holes/ flaws:

  • If the surface is lumpy: the eggs may have been overbeaten or folded too much, thus too many air bubbles are created in the mixture during the process. During baking, these air bubbles will rise onto the surface, making it lumpy. In addition, if the flan moulds are steamed without proper coverage, water dropping from the lid of the pan into the moulds will also result in lumpy surface.
  • If the bottom and the side are lumpy: the main reason is too high cooking temperature or too long cooking time. The solution: to bake/steam at lower heat, use ramekins or glass moulds (metal cups conduct heat very quickly), always line a towel at the bottom of the tray during baking or steaming (as seen in the video), and take the moulds out when the flan surface still jiggles, not completely sets.

2. My flan surface looks dry:

Make sure to cover the top of the moulds during baking/steaming.

3. My flan is not set:

This rarely happens. But if it does, there may be too much liquid (milk and cream) in the egg mixture (in case you use another recipe), or the cooking temperature is too low.

4. My flan tastes eggy:

  • Freshly cooked flan may have a stronger eggy taste.
  • However, this is most likely down to disproportional egg : liquid ratio. There are many times that I omitted vanilla extract in the recipe but the flan still tastes completely fine.

5. My flan doesn’t hold its shape when I take it out of the mould:

  • The flan may be undercooked or not chilled thoroughly. Besides this, there may be too much liquid in comparison to the eggs.
  • To minimise the risk of damaging the smooth sides of the flan when using a knife to take it out, at the very beginning, brush a thin layer of butter onto the sides of the mould and when served, place the mould in hot water so that the butter will melt – and the flan will slide right out.

6. My caramel sauce sticks to the bottom of the mould:

The sauce is overcooked or it has not been chilled long enough.


  • Recipe & Photos: Linh Trang
  • Written by: San Lương
  • Edited byThảo Đan

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Hi, in second recipe, is it possible to substitute condensed milk with full cream evaporated milk? if Yes, then what are the amount should I use?

Linh Trang

If I’m not mistaken, evaporated milk is thiner than condensed milk so if we substitute like that, the flan can be more fragile.


Just made it yesterday and it’s sooo good!! Thank you for the recipe! 😘


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