Leche Flan (Filipino Creme Caramel)

Filipino Leche flan

The Spruce


Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Chill Time: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
425 Calories
13g Fat
66g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 425
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 231mg 77%
Sodium 192mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 66g 24%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 65g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 285mg 22%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 388mg 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.)

The world calls this dessert Spanish flan but, in the Philippines, it is leche flan. Leche, Spanish for milk, is one of the dessert's two main ingredients. Made with egg yolks, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, Filipino leche flan is a rich, steamed custard topped with a syrupy caramel.

Since leche flan is steamed, not baked, a hot water bath—also known as a bain marie—allows the custard to cook at even and constant temperatures. It's a slow and gentle bake, which makes it perfect for flans and custards that are delicate and soft in nature.

The caramel topping of leche flan is a syrup made by melting sugar directly in the pan where the custard will be steamed. The caramel sets up hard in the ramekins prior to filling with custard, but through the steaming and chilling process it softens due to the moisture, and turns into that familiar sauce.

There are only two cooking steps involved in making leche flan: The first is caramelizing the sugar and the second is steaming the caramelized sugar and custard together.

Leche flan can be cooked in one large shallow bowl and cut into squares or wedges to serve. Alternatively, it can be cooked in smaller single-serve ramekins. Leche flan is perfect by itself, but it can be served in many other ways. It is a popular topping for iced desserts in the Philippines like maiz con hielo and halo-halo.

It is one of the most popular desserts served at parties, fiestas, and other special occasions. This sweet dish is also popular in some Latin American and Caribbean countries. Among the Hispanic population of North America, leche flan is also known as creme caramel.

Learn what foods you need to stock your pantry with to cook Filipino recipes.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Leche Flan recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. In a heavy thick-bottomed pan, melt the sugar over medium heat until it liquefies and turns an amber color, about 10 minutes depending on the power of your stove. There is no need to stir the sugar, but swirling the pan occasionally helps make a smoother and crystal-free syrup.

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Once the syrup acquires the color of amber, quickly remove it from the heat and pour it into the ramekin (or ramekins) to cover the bottom. Caramelized sugar hardens as it cools, and you need to work fast to transfer the syrup to the ramekins before it hardens in the pan. 

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Start heating water in a steaming pot.

  5. In a mixing bowl, lightly stir the eggs yolks.

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Pour in the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk.

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Add the salt and lemon zest. Stir until the mixture is evenly blended. Stir, do not beat nor mix too hard, to avoid forming air bubbles in the mixture. 

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  8. Pour the egg yolk-milk mixture into the ramekin (or ramekins).

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Steam over simmering water while covered for 40 minutes. This will ensure that the steam is kept in and evenly cooks the flan. To test doneness, gently shake the pot or ramekins; the centers of the custard should jiggle slightly, but should be set and firm to the touch. You can also insert the tip of a knife or cake tester into the custard near the center; if the flan is still liquid, it needs more time in the steamer.

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Remove the ramekin (or ramekins) from the heat. Cool the leche flan then chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Use a butter knife to loosen the sides of the flan then invert onto a serving plate or individual dessert plates. Optional: Serve with a fun sugar spun topping.

    Leche Flan recipe
     The Spruce

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food borne illness.


  • Some of the syrup will flow down the sides of the flan and form a pool on the plate. That is how it should be.


  • Another option, aside from the individual ramekins, is to use a 10-inch round baking dish to make this flan in the oven. Just make sure that your "steamer" is big enough to fit this round baking dish. Using a 9-x13-inch baking pan with enough hot water to cut halfway up the sides, will do just fine. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes and proceed with the remaining steps.
  • For alternate flavors, change out the lemon zest for an equal amount of orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, or coffee.
  • For a smoother consistency, strain the mixture after you add the eggs and milk. Then add the salt and lemon zest and combine.

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