Traditional Flan Custard

Traditional Flan

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Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Cooling: 80 mins
Total: 2 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
339 Calories
11g Fat
50g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 339
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 168mg 56%
Sodium 174mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 49g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 276mg 21%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 351mg 7%
*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, a creamy custard topped with caramel sauce, dates back to the Roman empire and was often made to use up extra milk and eggs. It became popular all over Europe and, when Columbus came to America, it is said that he introduced the dish to Indigenous peoples. The dish then became popular all over the Americas. It is especially popular in Mexico, where the delicious dessert has been perfected and incorporated into culinary traditions.

This sweet and silky custard is made with few ingredients. With a mild but distinctive flavor and just enough sweetness to make it special, flan is the perfect dessert after a heavy meal. It also makes a beautiful addition to dessert tables on special occasions and can be made in individual serving dishes. The classic presentation is, however, a whole round flan of 9 to 12-inches in diameter, flatter than cake, that you'd slice and serve with a spoonful of caramel.

For this recipe, you need a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate and an additional larger baking or roasting pan. The larger pan needs tall sides to help bake the flan in a bain-mariea technique in which a bigger container carries water and a smaller container carries the mixture that needs to be cooked in the oven. This process creates gentle heat around the flan and helps it cook without burning the caramel. If you have any leftovers, refrigerate, covered, for up to two days.


Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this flan is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Make the Caramel Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Pour 1 cup of sugar into a warm pan over medium heat while stiring constantly.

  3. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to melt and brown. When it is fully melted and sufficiently browned and gooey, check your caramel with a candy thermometer. Caramelization usually happens at about 320 F to 350 F.

  4. Once the caramel is done, quickly pour it into the pie plate, tilting it to swirl the caramel around the sides.

Prepare the Custard

  1. Using a standing mixer or a whisk, mix the eggs together for about a minute, or until they are thoroughly combined and begin to become frothy.

  2. While mixing the eggs, slowly pour in the condensed milk, followed by the evaporated milk.

  3. Slowly mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, the vanilla, and the salt. Mix for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.

Bake the Flan

  1. Pour the custard mixture into the caramel-lined pie plate.

  2. Place the pie plate with the flan mixture in a larger glass or ceramic baking dish. Fill the larger baking dish with about one inch of hot water so that the pie plate is surrounded with water, but the water is nowhere near the rim of the pie plate.

  3. Bake the flan for 45 minutes. Check with a knife just to the side of the center. If the knife comes out clean, the flan is ready. Remove and let cool for at least 20 minutes before placing the flan in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or ideally overnight.

  4. When you are ready to serve it, place a serving dish over the flan and turn the whole plate over so that the flan comes onto the serving dish. The caramel sauce will flow over the top of the custard. If needed, scrape out more caramel if it sticks to the sides.

  5. Slice like you'd slice a cake, and enjoy!

How to Make a Quick Bain-Marie

Here are a few tips to make a quick, easy, and safe bain-marie:

  • Once you have the flan mixture in the pie plate, boil 2 to 3 cups of water in a tea kettle.
  • Pull out an oven rack just far enough so you can put the larger baking dish in, and then place the pie plate on top.
  • Using the tea kettle, carefully add the hot water onto the large pan while both the pan and the pie plate are already on the rack.
  • Push the rack in. For this method, you need to work quickly as the oven door is going to be open for the time it takes you to put things in place.

Alternatively, if you have steady hands, assemble the water bath on the table or counter and carry it to the oven.