Classic French Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

This classic French vanilla bean crème brûlée is a simple dessert made of a rich custard base flavoured with vanilla bean and topped with two layers of caramelized brown sugar.

Belula November 10, 2019 June 16, 2021
Vanilla bean creme brûlée, baked and torched, in an oval ramekin, with another crème brûlée behind it and 2 small spoons on the side.

This classic vanilla bean crème brûlée recipe has stolen my heart. Ever since I made this easy crème brûlée recipe it has been on repeat at home. It is one of my husband’s favourite things to have an I get to make him happy with so little effort because this is such an easy and quick dessert: only 10 minutes to put together plus the baking time. This simple crème brûlée recipe can be made ahead, kept in the refrigerator, and caramelized with brown sugar just before serving. You can find some tips on how to caramelize it with or without torch below! A simple, easy, and classic dessert that is oh so silky smooth and never ceases to impress!

What is vanilla crème brûlée?

It a classic French dessert, formed by a rich custard and top with caramelized brown sugar. It is baked in the oven at low temperature to be able to get that creamy texture. The best part is when you get to crack it open with the spoon and hear that delicious, caramelized layer break.

Ingredients Notes

Ingredients to make vanilla crème brûlée

  • Whipping cream: must have full fat content (at least 30 %)
  • Vanilla bean: can be replaced with good quality vanilla extract.
  • Brown sugar: for caramelization. It makes the sugar layer extra crunchy! If you don't have, it can be replaced with regular granulated sugar.

A word on the crème brûlée ramekins and ramekins substitutes

The classic ramekins for this easy dessert are round and not very thick. If you don't have this exact type, you can replace them with:

  • Souffle ramekins. Just pay attention to the baking time. The deeper the mould, the longer it will take the vanilla crème brûlée to set and thus the baking time will be longer.
  • Smaller ramekins in different shapes, like the ones you see in the photo below, or any other you may have at home. They should be thin, about 3 cm/1.1-inch.
Vanilla bean creme brûlée, baked and torched, in an round ramekin, with another crème brûlée behind it and a dried vanilla bean on top.
3 oval vanilla crème brulee seen from above.

How to make this recipe

You only need 10 actual minutes of work to end up having this delicious vanilla crème brûlée.

  • First mix egg yolks, sugar, and a little cream.
  • Then bring the rest of the cream + vanilla bean to a boil and pour onto the egg yolk/sugar mixture.
  • Finally fill the ramekins and bake at 100 C°/212 F until set.
  • Keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

That is, it. Done. The only thing left is to caramelize it before serving.

2 hands scraping a vanilla bean using a small paring knife.
A small pan with cream and a scarped vanilla bean ready to start making vanilla bean crème brûlée.
3 bowls: one with egg yolks, one with sugar and one with cream ready to start making vanilla bean crème brûlée.
In the process of making vanilla bean crème brûlée: mixing the sugar, the egg yolks and the cold cream with a whisk using a small glass bowl.
In the process of making vanilla bean crème brûlée: the vanilla crème brulee batter ready inside an inox bowl.
The ramekins being filled with vanilla bean crème brulee batter with a ladle.

Baking tips for a silky-smooth crème brûlée

The easy way to bake this dessert is to set the oven to 100 degrees Celsius (210 F) and bake until set. Approximately 30 minutes if you use classic crème brûlée ramekins (they are quite thin).

The oven temperature is the key to obtaining a smooth and silky vanilla crème brûlée. If the temperature is too high, you will boil the crème brûlée and it will no longer be smooth or silky or taste particularly good.

How do you know when it has set, and you can remove from the oven? Make a test: open the oven and gently move one of the ramekins using a kitchen towel. If it is still wiggly and kind of "dances" then it needs some extra baking minutes. If on the contrary it does not move, your crème brûlée is set and ready to cool down.

Some Torching tips

The vanilla crème brûlée must be chilled before you caramelize. To torch:

  • Remove from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
  • Cover with a thin layer of brown sugar.
  • Blow the torch over the crème brûlée ramekin until sugar has caramelized.
  • Repeat this procedure a second time. Two layers of brown sugar make the perfect crunchy top to crack!
  • Enjoy!
In the process of making vanilla bean crème brûlée: the baked and chilled crème brulee in white oval and round ramekins on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Vanilla crème brulee sprinkled with brown sugar and a small plate with brown sugar on the side.
One round ramekin with vanilla crème brulee torched and sprinkled with a second layer of brown sugar.
3 ramekins: one with the baked and chilled vanilla bean cream brulee, one with the crème brulee is sprinkled with brown sugar and one with the caramelized crème brulee.

Recipe notes

  • Crème brûlée bust be served cold.
  • It must cold and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to caramelize and serve.
  • Make sure to caramelize 2 layers of brown sugar to obtain that extra crunch.

Expert notes

You can have crème brûlée without a torch! To do so:

  • Sprinkle the vanilla crème brûlée with a thin layer of brown sugar.
  • Grab a metal spoon.
  • Using gloves heat up the back of the spoon over your stove at high heat.
  • Rub the back of the hot spoon onto the sugar until caramelized.
  • Enjoy!

Storage tips

Once you baked the crème brûlée and it has cooled down, cover in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

It keeps for up to 1 week without the caramelized sugar layer on top.

Macro shot of a cracked vanilla crème brulee with a small spoon inside.
Vanilla bean creme brûlée, baked and torched, in an oval ramekin, with another crème brûlée behind it and 2 small spoons on the side.

How to make ahead

This dessert is ideal to make ahead and keep stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it (it keeps for up to 1 week). When hosting a dinner party, for example, I serve crème brulee quite often because it allows me to prep dessert with anticipation and then only take care of dinner on the day of the event. When dessert time comes, I only must caramelize the vanilla bean brulee and that is it! Such an easy treat to have in your back pocket!

The ingredients used in all recipes on this site are measured using the metric system. I use a scale to be precise with my measurements and ensure good results. If you would also like to use a scale, here are some: USA, Canada, UK, Australia, France.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition: 446 cal
Cuisine: French


  • Sugar 140 g
  • Cream 500 ml
  • Egg Yolks 120 g
  • Vanilla Beans 2
  • Brown Sugar (for caramelization)


  • 1. Prep materials: Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius. Place the crème brûlée ramekins on a baking tray.
  • 2. Make the vanilla crème brûlée batter: In a bowl mix the egg yolks, the sugar and ¼ of the liquid cream. Set aside. Mix the scraped vanilla bean and the remaining liquid cream in a pot. Bring to a boil and pour over the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Mix until combined.
  • 3. Bake the classic crème brûlée: Using a ladle or a jar fill the ramekins with the batter. Bake until set. Approximately 30 minutes. Let it warm at room temperature and then proceed to cover the ramekins with plastic wrap (or put them in a container that has a lid) and refrigerate.
  • 4. Caramelize the vanilla crème brûlée: Just before serving remove them from the fridge sprinkle with a layer of brown sugar and caramelize using a blowtorch. Repeat with a second layer of caramelized brown sugar to create a nice caramelized, crusty top layer.
If you made this recipe I would really appreciate it if you leave a rating or comment below! Also, if you share on social media please use #cookwithbelula, I would love to see what you create!
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Louise November 15, 2019

My favorite dessert. I will try it soon.

Belén Gowland
Belula November 15, 2019

HI Louise! let me know how it turns out! It's my husbands favorite too :)

Marc July 26, 2020


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