Flan Custard Recipe

Flan Custard on a platter

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Cooling: 6 hrs
Total: 7 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
339 Calories
11g Fat
50g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 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 deep 10-inch pie plate or a baking dish with a volume of at least 6 cups. You will also need 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.

"The flan came out remarkably smooth and silky, and it was absolutely delicious. You'll need a deep 10-inch pie dish or a baking dish or pan that will hold at least 6 cups. I plan to make this again!" —Diana Rattray

flan with caramel topping/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

Make the Caramel Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Flan Custard ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325 F. Have a deep 10-inch pie plate or 6- to 8-cup round baking dish ready for the caramel.

    Round baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Pour 1 cup of sugar into a warm saucepan over medium heat while stirring constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to melt and turn golden.

    Caramel in a saucepan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. When it is fully melted and light golden brown, quickly pour it into the reserved pie plate or baking dish and tilt to swirl the caramel around the sides.

    Caramel in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prepare the Custard

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium speed until they begin to become frothy. Alternatively, use a hand-held mixer.

    Eggs in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Custard mixture in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Bake the Flan

  1. Place the caramel-lined pie plate in a large, deep roasting pan.

    Caramel in a baking dish on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Carefully fill the roasting pan with boiling water, about halfway up the pie plate (avoid getting water on the caramel in the pie plate).

    Caramel in a baking dish on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Caramel with custard mixture on top in a baking dish, on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the flan is set, about 45 minutes. Check with a knife just to side of the center. If knife comes out clean, the flan is ready. Remove and let cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least one hour, or ideally overnight.

    Flan in a baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. When ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pie plate. Invert the flan onto a serving dish. Caramel sauce will flow over top of the custard. Drizzle any remaining caramel sauce from the pie dish onto the flan.

    Flan Custard on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


  • The temperature of the caramel will be about 320 F to 350 F when done.
  • The caramel will harden when swirled in the baking dish or pie plate—this is normal.
  • For a super-smooth flan, pour the custard mixture through a mesh sieve to remove and small lumps.

How to Make a Quick Bain-Marie

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

  • Use a tea kettle to better control pouring the boiled water around the pie plate into the roasting pan.
  • 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 boiled 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, assemble the water bath on the table or counter and carry it to the oven.

How do you know when the flan is done?

When done, the flan will still jiggle slightly. A knife inserted (about halfway down) in the center should come out clean. The internal temperature should be about 175 F.