Easy No-Bake Crème Brûlée
This elegant and impressive no-bake crème brûlée is easy enough to make at home.
Crème Brûlée is typically made by baking individual dishes of custard inside a water bath in the oven. It’s smooth and silky, rich, and full of wonderful vanilla flavor— perfect for a special occasion! I love crème brûlée as much as the next gal, but even I don’t want to put in all that effort. I’ll leave that to fancy restaurants and pastry chefs.
Me? I’m sticking with this super easy, no-bake version. It’s deliciously indulgent and done in half the time!
How do you make no-bake crème brûlée?
The main difference between this and the real thing is I’ve added extra thickener (both cornstarch and egg yolks) so that it won’t require baking to set the custard. It’s basically vanilla pudding, but once chilled and topped with its signature brûléed lid, you won’t be able to tell the difference! It’s rich, thick, and super creamy.
If you never thought you could make crème brûlée at home, I hope this recipe will change your mind. If you can separate eggs and stand at the stove and stir a pot, you can make this recipe!
What you’ll need
The ingredient list is pretty basic:
- Heavy cream
- Whole milk
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla bean or vanilla extract
- Egg yolks
Aside from standard kitchen tools like mixing bowls, spatulas and whisks, you’ll also need:
- Ceramic or porcelain ramekins, preferably wide and shallow
- A kitchen torch (or see my tip below for an alternate method!)
baking tip:How to brulee
You can use either a kitchen torch or your oven broiler to caramelize, but the kitchen torch will produce the best results.
Kitchen Torch— Cover the surface of the chilled custard generously with granulated sugar. Pass a kitchen torch back and forth over the sugar until it melts and caramelizes.
Broiler— Place the oven rack on the highest setting. Put the ramekins directly under the broiler and set it in the “high setting”. Wait for the sugar to melt and caramelize, rotating the ramekins as necessary for even browning. This can take up to 5 minutes.
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This recipe was originally published February 2014.
Easy No-Bake Crème Brûlée
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (250 ml)
- 1/2 cup whole milk (125 ml)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1 vanilla bean , split lengthwise
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Granulated sugar , for brûléeing
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and sugar. Use a sharp knife to scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add to the saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Heat just until bubbles appear at the edges and mixture is steaming (do not bring to a boil).
- Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add the hot cream mixture in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly.
- Pour mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a spatula to scrape the bottom, until mixture just comes to a boil and thickens. This will take 3-5 minutes, increase heat if needed. Once thickened, cook for an additional 1 minute, while continuing to stir.
- Remove from heat and pass custard through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Spoon into individual ramekins. Place in the fridge, uncovered, to set up for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle ramekins generously with granulated sugar. Working with one at a time, pass a kitchen torch over the surface until sugar melts and caramelizes. Serve immediately.
- You may substitute 1 tablespoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. After the custard has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla before passing through a mesh strainer.
- Can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Brûlée topping just before serving.
27 Comments on “Easy No-Bake Crème Brûlée”
This sounds wonderful and I’ll definitely be trying it out! I love crème brûlée!
Thank you for sharing your perfected experiments!
These little babies look sooo delicious! Not to mention how easy and quick they are to put together! I’ve also posted a crème brulèe recipe on my blog some time ago, it’s my go-to recipe for this dessert, but you can be sure I’ll try out yours as well!
Ooh! these look like the creamy goodness I have been craving. Such a lovely take the traditional baked version; I can not wait to give this go next time I need a quick creme brulee fix.
I’ve always wanted to make my own, and this no bake version is awesome!! Lovely!
Wow, I’ve never seen a no-bake version before. Doesn’t the custard stick to the bottom of the pan when cooking it on the stove? That would be my concern – overcooking the eggs!
Nope, it cooks up on the stove like a pastry cream or pudding. Stir constantly and cook it for only a minute after it thickens and becomes smooth. Passing it through a mesh strainer removes any lumps. And that’s it! Hope this helps.
hi there i am a pastry chef and use a recipe very similar to this one to answer your question no it wont stick and burn if you continually stir it until it cookas out and becomes thick the key to a successful no bake Brulee is all about your sabayoning of the eggs
Did it today and it was so delicious and easy to make
Is it normal to have oil after reboiling? it’s thickened but its not smooth and has OIL…
Hi Katie, I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with the recipe! It sounds like maybe the custard was overcooked, causing the emulsion to break and the fat in the cream to separate out. Next time I’d watch it closely and only cook it for 1 minute once it starts to thicken. Hope this helps!
Annalise, Thank you for this post, it was exactly what I was looking for. It took me back to the from scratch pudding my Grand mother use to make me when I was little! I got a bit emotional through the proses when I was making it it felt like my Grandmother was right there with me. XXX
Michael Jordan P.S. It was Perfect!!
This is the recipe of “Crema Catalana”, similar to Crème Brûlée but without oven
This is inspiring me to actually get some fuel for my kitchen torch 🙂
Do it Josie! It’s like $2 at home depot. 🙂
Could I triple this recipie for a crowd?
We go to this very nice Italian restaurant and our family tradition is to share a couple creme brulee’s after dinner and the kids love them and look forward to it. I found this recipe on line and decided we would try it. My 9 year old son and I made them for Fathers Day and the whole family raved!! The best part is they were SO simple and quick! Will definitely be my go to desert from now on!! Thank you.
Hi Gabrielle! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. What a fabulous idea for Father’s Day! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment. 🙂
Just made this and it would appear I slightly over cooked it but still is good. I have been trying different ways to use my remaining egg yolks. I am doing a fund raiser and plan to make about 10 batches. Tonight I did two and just doubled everything. That may be why it over cooked. Either way, I love this. The truth will be in the pudding at the event and expect to receive quite a few compliments.
Do I have to use cornstarch?
This recipe relies on cornstarch as a thickener and wouldn’t work without it, if you’d like to avoid it you can try searching online for a recipe that uses egg yolks to thicken the custard instead.
While this may be a good substitute for those who want a quick & easy creme brulee…, There’s no way it is “as rich and creamy as it should be” any time you use cornstarch in a recipe will always change the texture of the food. That’s like using a slurry instead of a roux. The roux will always be creamier and richer because there’s nothing like the real thing! Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying it doesn’t taste good, and for most people they would probably never taste the difference but if you’ve ever had a creme brulee from a french pastry shop or fine dining establishment then I’m sure you would most likely agree.
I love Creme Brulee, but make it rarely.
That’ll change with this easy peasy way to do it!
I made this for a dinner party last night and everyone loved it. I entertain a lot, I also run a couple of businesses so time is precious. I don’t have time for complicated recipes and always look for shortcuts that offer amazing results. This certainly ticks all the boxes. Hubby made a point of telling me to save this recipe (and he is fussy!). Thanks so much.
Such a great, quick version and really delicious! I only had potato starch not corn starch but one tablespoon of that worked really well. Next time I might go for 80g of sugar too.
Love it though, sure this will be a regular, thanks!
Brilliant! I was looking for a quick/easy recipe and saw yours. I used half the sugar and replaced it with stevia I also only used 1 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch I finished off the cooking in microwave doing 20 sec bursts rather than pour it back into saucepan. I was scared of it catching on the bottom. Did not have to put it through sieve. Will definitely be making it again – Thank you
Can we use sugar substitute for this amazing recipe?
I haven’t tested it with a substitute so I couldn’t say for sure either way.