Sous Vide Crème Brûlée

There are few things as classic as a sous vide vanilla crème brûlée. Its simple sophistication has made it a popular dessert. Serve with fresh fruit or ice cream.

Vanilla bean creme brulee is a simple custard with a hard sugar top.
Vanilla bean creme brulee is a simple custard with a hard sugar top.

Sous Vide Crème brûlée is only five basic ingredients: sugar, egg yolks, cream, salt and vanilla. After making the custard and baking it, you brûlée the tops.

While this dish may look complicated, it really is simple.

How to use Vanilla Bean

Vanilla bean is a key ingredient in this recipe. It perfumes the cream when it is heated, almost like you’re making tea with the vanilla. The salt will also bring out the natural flavor of the vanilla as it infuses with the cream.

Start with taking your vanilla bean out of the jar. It should be soft and pliable still. Stretch it out and take a small sharp knife, like a pairing knife, and slice it down the middle.

After slicing it, take your knife and scrape the inside of the vanilla out of the pod. It will be small black bits that feel greasy to the touch.

After scraping as much vanilla out of the pod as possible, add the vanilla as well as the pod, to the cream.

Don’t have access to fresh vanilla bean? Just replace the vanilla with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

The vanilla bean needs to be added directly to the cream when making the vanilla bean creme brulee.
The vanilla bean needs to be added directly to the cream when making the vanilla creme brulee.

How to Sous Vide the Crème Brûlée

You won’t need any fancy equipment to sous vide, just a hot water bath for your custards.

Take your ramekins and place them in a large baking dish at least an inch deep. When you are ready to place the custards into the oven, pour boiling water into the baking dish.

If you do not sous vide the custards, the tops of the custard will crack when it is baked. A cracked custard is not the end of the world, but it will make it much more difficult to brûlée.

Since custard is thickened by egg proteins, they need to be protected from the high heat of the oven. If they are overcooked, they will tighten and constrict, which means they will crack or separate during cooking, causing large valleys in the custard or curdling. A hot water bath will prevent this from happening. It will also help your custard cook more evenly, since the water will help distribute the heat thoroughly throughout the ramekin.

How Do I Get the Signature Top of a Crème Brûlée?

One of the best parts of this vanilla crème brûlée is using a spoon to crack through the hard sugar topping. It takes less sugar than you would think for this topping, only enough to coat the top of the custard. There are two ways to make this topping, it just depends on what kind of tools you have on hand.

  1. Broiler: Using the broiler setting on your oven is the easiest way to make this candy coating. After letting your custard set, and when you’re ready to make your topping, set your oven to broil. Sprinkle the tops of the ramekins with the sugar and then place them in the broiler for about five minutes. Remove when the sugar is browned or even black. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then serve.
  2. Torch: Using a small torch, light and set to medium heat. Hold it about eight inches away from the ramekins and torch the tops of the ramekins. The sugar will begin to bubble and brown. When you torch them, the sugar will begin to smell like toasted marshmallows. Continue brûléeing until all ramekins are complete. Serve immediately.

What goes well with Vanilla Crème Brûlée?

While this dessert is delicious all on its own, there are a couple of sides that pair well with the rich creaminess of the custard.

Sous Vide Crème Brûlée

5.0 from 4 votes
Recipe by Sarah
Course: DessertCuisine: French, AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time







  • Preheat. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, vanilla and salt. Heat until hot and almost simmering. Take off heat.
  • Whisk. Combine yolks and sugar. Whisk until the mixture is light in color and you can make ribbons with it.
  • Temper. Add in a couple of spoonfuls of the hot milk mixture into your egg mixture and whisk quickly. Continue adding in spoonfuls of the hot mixture and continue whisking until it is one mixture.
  • Hot water bath. Fill your ramekins with the custard and then fill a larger container will boiling water, the hot water should come up about half way on the ramekins.
  • Bake. Bake for about 30 minutes. The more shallow the ramekins are the less bake time they will need. They are finished baking when the centers are set.
  • Let set. When the custard is finishing baking, let them cool for about half an hour out of the oven and let them cool in the fridge for about two hours.
  • Brûlée. Before serving, add a thin layer of sugar and brûlée. You can either use a handheld torch or you can broil in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.

Leave a Reply