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
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
359 Calories
11g Fat
56g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 359
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 126mg 42%
Sodium 158mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 20%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 56g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 301mg 23%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 387mg 8%
*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 some 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 among 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 12 (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.

1:03

Click Play to See This Recipe Come Together

"This flan is silky, rich, and decadent. The trickiest part is the caramel. Keep a watchful eye and pull it off the heat when it's dark amber and just starting to smell like burnt sugar. I froze several in ramekins and defrosted them overnight in the fridge. They turned out perfectly. A great make-ahead dessert." —Danielle Centoni

Easy Caramel Flan Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

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 pure 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 into a warm pan over medium heat.

    Pour sugar into a warm pan
    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.

    Stirring sugar until it browns and becomes caramel
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  4. Immediately, and working fast but carefully, pour approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of caramel into 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 poured into ramekins
     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.

    Whisking eggs and 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.

    Sugar and vanilla added to eggs and milk
    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.

    Custard mixture poured into ramekins
    The Spruce / Ana Zelic
  8. Cover the pan with foil and bake the flan from 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. After 1 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 it in the oven for 15 more minutes. If baking a whole flan, thump the side of the dish after 1 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.

    Testing the flan with a knife
    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 Foolproof Flan Every Time

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

  • While you need to be careful about burning the caramel, keep in mind that the darker the caramel, the more complex the flan will taste. It adds toasty notes beyond just sweetness.
  • Have the eggs at room temperature and don't crack them until 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 four days, but don't freeze because the texture will get clumpy once defrosted.
  • Serve with berries, toasted coconut, or nuts for decoration and crunch.