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
Nutrition Facts (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

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 caramel with a candy thermometer. Caramelization usually happens at about 320 F to 350 F.

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

Prepare the Custard

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

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

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

Bake the Flan

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

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

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

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

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.