creme brulee

You can make a fancy crème brulee at home! Here’s the recipe and how-to…

Once you know how to make crème brulee, you won’t find it so intimidating.

Crème brûlée is the epitome of elegance. It’s timeless, classy, and always has a home on a fancy French menu.

Chef Lindsey Hargett says Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to make crème brulee yourself!


In this recipe, the vanilla bean flavor is literally infused in the cream mixture by adding our vanilla beans to the cream and then scalding it (bringing it to a boil then immediately cutting the heat). Lindsey says this steeps the flavor of the vanilla bean pods into the cream, infusing it with flavor.

Lindsey warns that there’s a big difference between just stirring the egg yolks and sugar together and properly combining them. It is stiff in texture and dark yellow when simply stirred, but is velvety and light in color when properly combined.

“You need to follow the proper techniques for recipes to turn out how they’re supposed to,” she adds.

The hot cream mixture and egg yolks have to be carefully combined, or else the egg yolks will cook and scramble. This method is called “tempering.” Gently add some of the hot cream to the egg yolks while incorporating air with the whisk to prevent it from cooking, while also helping the eggs warm up. After the eggs are slowly warmed up, add them back into the cream mixture.

“Baking the custards in a water bath is essential,” Lindsey says. This baking method helps everything to cook evenly. The water helps to conduct more heat to help the inside of the custard cook all the way through, instead of relying solely on hot air in the oven.

Lindsey says best way to get a good “brulee” (the shattery sugar top) is to put an even layer of sugar down. Not too thick, not too thin. Keep your torch moving constantly. The sugar will keep bubbling after you have moved past a certain spot, so you can always come back to it if it is under done. She says it’s better to need to go back over it than to burn it!

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee


  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract OR 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste OR 3 vanilla beans, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the vanilla bean paste or extract and heavy cream. Scald the mixture by bringing it just to a gentle boil, then immediately turn the heat off. Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined.
  4. Slowly ladle the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly and quickly so the eggs don’t cook and form hard little bits. Adding it slowly tempers the eggs so that they don’t scramble.
  5. Pour the mixture into 8 ramekins, leaving a small amount of space unfilled to prevent spilling.
  6. Warm about 3-4 quarts of hot water (depending on how big your roasting pan is) until hot but not boiling.
  7. Place the filled ramekins in the roasting pan on an oven rack in the center of the oven. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan, avoiding splashing any water into the ramekins. Fill the water in the pan so that it goes up about halfway up the ramekins.
  8. Bake the crème brulee for 25-35 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly in the center (if the edges are still jiggling, bake it a few minutes longer).
  9. Let the entire pan cool a bit, then remove the ramekins from the water bath. Let them cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely set, about 6 hours or up to 3 days.
  10. Lightly sprinkle about 2 teaspoons or so of granulated sugar evenly across the top of the custard (lifting the ramekin and tipping it from side to side will help the sugar spread evenly).
  11. Using a kitchen torch, carefully melt the sugar until it forms a golden, crispy top. Serve immediately. You can store any un-torched custards, wrapped in plastic, for up to a week in the fridge.


Flavor variations – you can make matcha or chai flavored creme brulee, too! Just use half the amount of vanilla, then add 4 teaspoons of matcha or chai tea (or 4 tea bags of either, if not loose leaf) into the cream and then heat as directed. Continue the instructions as usual.

Find more recipes from Lindsey on Instagram and Facebook, @lkcooking, or on her website, Lindsey offers catering services, cooking classes, and so many recipes for free on her website!

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