Easy Caramel Flan

Caramel flan recipe

The Spruce / Ana Zelic

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Cool and Chill Time: 90 mins
Total: 3 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
280 Calories
6g Fat
50g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 280
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 109mg 36%
Sodium 95mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 50g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 148mg 11%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 209mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Flan is a popular dessert in Spain and all of Latin America. Made of an eggy and creamy custard, and baked to perfection in a water bath, classic flan is always a favorite. The dish also has many versions and is versatile enough to take on many flavors. Although flan isn't difficult in itself to make, it takes practice and patience. Our particularly easy recipe for caramel flan is prized for its simplicity—just five ingredients and a few simple steps. If you’ve never made flan before, now is the time to try. 

With origins going back to Roman times when egg surpluses were turned into savory and sweet custards, flan was cherished for centuries amongst Spaniards, who then brought it to America. Mexicans take pride in their flans, as the dessert evolved there and became the sweet staple it is today thanks to the heavy influence this cuisine had on the recipe.

Before you start, be sure to have at hand twelve 4-ounce ramekins or other similar cookware for individual servings. Alternatively, use a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish, cake pan, or loaf pan to make just one big flan. Regardless of the size you choose, the dishes must comfortably fit into larger baking pans for a bain-marie, the key for a successful creamy and wobbly flan.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk

  • 2 (13-ounce) cans evaporated milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for caramel flan
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Heat a kettle or pot of water for the water bath. Pour 1 cup of the sugar in a warm pan over medium heat.

    Pour in sugar
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  3. Constantly stir the sugar while it heats until it browns and turns into caramel. Do not overcook since the caramel will burn and have a sour taste.

    Constantly sugar
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  4. Immediately, and working fast but carefully, pour approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of caramel in each one of the 12 individual ramekins, tilting them so the caramel swirls around on the inside. As the caramel cools off, it will harden, so speed is essential for this step. If working with a big pan, add the caramel and cover the bottom and sides. Reheat the caramel in the pan if it thickens before you're done filling the ramekins.

    Caramel flan in ramekin
     The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  5. Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer, whisk all of the eggs. Add the condensed milk and evaporated milk, and mix well to incorporate.

    Add sweetened condensed milk
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  6. Slowly mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, beating well. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly to make a silky mixture.

    Slowly mix
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  7. Pour the custard mixture into the caramel-lined dishes, distributing it equally. Place the individual dishes in a large ceramic or metal baking pan with tall sides. Carefully pour hot water from the kettle into the baking pan around the custard dishes to a depth of about 2 inches.

    Pour the custard mixture in
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  8. Cover the pan with foil and bake the flan from one hour to one hour and 15 minutes. After one hour check with a knife inserted just off-center into one of the servings: if the knife comes out clean, the flan is ready, if not leave 15 more minutes in the oven. If baking a whole flan, thump the side of the dish after one hour and if it wobbles as one, the flan is ready. If it's wavy, it's not done yet and needs another 20 minutes. If done, carefully take the flan dish or dishes out of the hot water.

    Bake flan
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  9. Let the flans cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Leave flan in the dishes they were baked in until it's time to serve. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the dish and invert each individual dish onto a small plate, allowing the flan to drop out and the caramel sauce to flow over the custard.

    Caramel flan
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  10. Enjoy!

    Caramel flan
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic

For a Fool-Proof Flan Every Time

Here are a few tips to make a flawless flan every time:

  • Have the eggs at room temperature and don't crack them open before it's time to beat them. Excess exposure to the air can cause a thin film to harden on the yolks so the eggs won't be as silky as needed.
  • Mix all of the ingredients well. If you want to be sure your custard is very silky, you can always pass it through a sieve to ensure no small particles get into your flan.
  • Don't skip the water bath. The steady and steamy temperature is what makes flans silky and soft. Always bake at the suggested temperature; steaming the flans at a higher temperature will make them flat, bubbly with holes all over, or have a rubbery texture.
  • Chill the flans. By doing so, ideally, for over an hour, the texture will harden further.
  • Run a knife before inverting the flan to help them come out more easily.
  • Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days, but don't freeze, because the texture will get clumpy once defrosted.
  • Serve with berries, toasted coconut, or nuts for decoration and crunch.