Classic Flan

Desserts, Holiday, Quick and Easy

This Classic Flan is a silky smooth, classic version of this traditional Latin American dessert. This caramel-topped custard is gently cooked in the oven until it’s firm to the touch. 


My history with flan hasn’t always been a love affair. I grew up eating flan, reluctantly. When we’d go to restaurants there was always someone in our family ordering flan and LOVING it. It just was never for me. I’d always try it over and over hoping to fall in love and it never happened. What can I say? I grew up. My tastes changed and now I can’t get enough. I think it’s one of the most magical desserts ever so I couldn’t be more excited for us to be discussing this flan right here.

What Is Flan?

Let’s talk about basics: what is flan? Flan is a gently cooked custard with a clear glaze of caramel on its top. I like it when the caramel has been cooked until it’s an auburn brown, the texture of the custard is silky smooth and when I can really taste a hint of vanilla.

What Are the Main Ingredients to Make Classic Flan?

  • Granulated sugar. The sugar transforms into a thin layer of caramel that will live on the top of the flan.
  • Large whole eggs. Whole eggs thicken this entire mixture the egg proteins unwind, and trap in the milk or cream into a soft gel.
  • Egg yolks. They contribute to giving this custard a lovely rich quality.
  • Kosher salt. You cannot make sweet things without salt. It adds so much balance, even if it doesn’t taste “salty.”
  • Sweetened condensed milk. This adds as our sweetener for the custard as well as giving it a luscious texture.
  • Evaporated milk. This type of milk is super popular in Latin American desserts because it gives a very strong flavored milk flavor. I love it!
  • Vanilla. Who doesn’t love vanilla. It truly makes all desserts a little bit better.

Classic Flan

How to Make Classic Flan!

  1. Make the caramel top. My favorite way to make caramel is the fool-proof way which is with water. I’ve had success of just cooking sugar all by itself but other times it gives me trouble. I like that doing it with water makes it SO easy. Yes, it takes longer. But eventually it’s nice and even and smooth.
  2. Pour the caramel into the baking pan. This process goes QUICKLY. So be diligent. Have everything prepped before hand. Pour it in the baking pan and move it around until it’s a nice even layer. As a result, you’ll have a lovely smooth layer of caramel on top of the flan.
  3. Make the filling. I do this in a blender and it could not be simpler. Add everything to the blender and pulse it up!
  4. Pour the filling over the hardened caramel. If there are any bubbles on top, you can get rid of them with a blow torch. Or just leave them–no biggie!
  5. Transfer it to the water bath. The water bath is essential to baking the flan evenly (see below for more of an explanation).
  6. Chill it. This is a really important part because it really sets the flan and big note: flan tastes better when it’s cold.
  7. Remove it. This can be a nerve-wrecking part, but I believe in you! I like to run a paring knife along the outside of the flan, place a plate over it and invert it. I like to give the bottom side of the cake pan a few smacks. And then, I say a prayer, and lift up the cake pan, hoping it’s all in one piece. Bonus: it always is.

Classic Flan

Why Is a Water Bath Important When Making Flan?

A water bath (also known as a bain marie), provides an even temperature as it bakes in the oven. Usually how things bake, they cook from the outside in. With flan (or any other type of custards), we want to cook things slowly and evenly. Cooking them in a water bath really helps with achieving this.

The biggest challenge is not eating the stuff warm, straight out of the oven. It’s imperative that they have time to chill on the counter. And super important that they have time to chill in the fridge overnight.

The next afternoon or evening, you’ll take them out, run a knife along the sides, plate them up and watch all the caramel ooze out the sides. So good!

Classic Flan

Classic Flan Recipe

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5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Serving Size: 8
Calories: 129kcal
This Classic Flan is sillky smooth and utterly delicious and sweet. This custard topped with a runny caramel is a Spanish and Latin American favorite.

Ingredients

Caramel Topping:

  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Pinch kosher salt

Custard Base:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1/2 of a vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

To Prep:

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Prepare a water bath of some kind. You can make this flan in a variety of vessels. You can use a 8-inch cake pan, 9-inch cake pan or (six) 3-inch ramekins. I used a 9-inch cake pan and a turkey roasting pan.

To Make the Custard Base:

  • In a blender, add the eggs, egg yolks, salt, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and/or vanilla. Blend until very smooth, about 30 seconds. You don’t want to get it too frothy so try to avoid over blending. If you do over blend it, let it settle a bit so the bubbles can disappear. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, set over medium-low heat, add the sugar and water. Cook on medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved into the water completely. Then, turn the heat to high and allow to cook for about 5 full minutes, until the cooked sugar goes from clear to light golden brown. At this point, lower the heat slightly and keep cooking until it turns a golden brown.
  • Immediately pour it into the baking pan and twist it around until it’s in an even layer on the bottom.
  • Give the custard base a stir, just to make sure it’s still all combined. Pour it on top of the solid caramel. Cover with foil tightly. Transfer the flan to the water bath and fill up the water bath with water from a kettle.
  • Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until slightly jiggly but still firm. Carefully remove it (it'll be hot!) from the oven and set aside.
  • Allow to cool on the counter for about 30 minutes and then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge and then invert onto a large plate. Smack the top of the pan to loosen the flan and then lift up the cake pan. Slice it up and serve.

Notes

To Store for Later: 
This flan will stay good in the fridge for up to 1 week. 
To Make Ahead: 
If you want to make this ahead, you can make the custard mixture up to a day before and store it in the fridge overnight. And then assemble and bake the flan the next day. 
Equipment:
9-inch round baking pan | Silicon Spatulas | Pairing Knife | Roasting Pan
CourseDessert
CuisineCentral America, Hispanic Recipes, Holiday, South American
Keywordcomo hacer flan, easy flan recipe, flan, flan recipe, how to make flan
Nutrition Facts
Classic Flan Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 129
% Daily Value*
Sodium 195mg8%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Sugar 33g37%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen

Classic Flan

If you make this Classic Flan, let me know on Instagram! 

Looking for more Latin Dessert Recipes? Here are some of my favorites: 

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49 Comments

Leave a Reply

  • Reply Margherita May 21, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Here in Italy they called this kind of flan “Creme Caramel”. We have borrowed the word from the French as it sounds more classy (I guess…)
    This is a pretty solid recipe and I’m eager to compare to my grandma’s one. I especially like how you use the vanilla bean to give a bit of extra flavor (besides eggs and sugar).

  • Reply Steph May 21, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I’m dying to make this! I had the most delicious flan at a Mexican restaurant recently and it was not overly eggy at all, so creamy and sweet and the caramel was burnt enough so that it tasted like it had coffee in it. Delicious.

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 21, 2012 at 5:47 am

    Mmmm this sounds awesome!

  • Reply Allyn May 21, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I might have just licked my computer screen. Yum.

  • Reply Carlene @ Carlene's Figments May 21, 2012 at 6:57 am

    The custard looks like perfection.

  • Reply Sarah May 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Ah, delicious! I’m going to have to try to make them…I feel like the hardest part for me will definitely be to not eat it right away! Haha

  • Reply Margarita May 21, 2012 at 9:10 am

    My mom used to make flans on special occasions when we were little… it was the only dessert she made at home. I loved it so much and haven’t had one in such a long time! Now, I can recreate that childhood experience and make my mama proud.Thanks for the recipe share!

  • Reply Deb May 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I agree, I almost never order flan as it usually is a disappointment. Thank you for a scrumptious version of the classic! Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  • Reply Megan May 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Oh, I totally want to try this. They’re so pretty too!

  • Reply Megan May 21, 2012 at 10:44 am

    And P.S. that bear! Love it.

  • Reply Liza in Ann Arbor May 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I don’t usually choose flan either, when it’s one of many options. But Jose Andres? Barcelona? These gorgeous photos? I think this is a flan I can get behind!

  • Reply mallory @ totalnoms May 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Blaaahhh my family is from Argentina, but I grew up HATING flan too, which is total bait for the worst guilt trips ever from your flan-loving/making abuelas and tias. Plus my boyfriend’s family is from the Philippines where they go nuts their own version of flan as well, so I haven’t really been able to escape it. But if you are a flan hater and managed to like this, then maybe it’s worth a try for me, too!

  • Reply Miss K May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Delicious! Would love to have one now…

  • Reply kale May 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I love the encouraging words you start with: “If you’ve never made flan, I can tell you that it’s a lot scarier than it looks.”
    I knew it!! haha Truthfully, I am scared of flan. But I vow to try my hand at it. One day.

  • Reply B. Grow May 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

    My dad lived in Spain for a little while and absolutely LOVES flan and of course had us try it! I’m like you and thought that for the most part it was too eggy for my taste. But if you say this is delish I must try!

  • Reply Bev @ Bev Cooks May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    SERIOUSLY. I’m not big on sweets but this looks totes pimp.

  • Reply Lynna H. May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I love flan! And i think i`ll love this recipe too! 😀 thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Meki May 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    These are the kind of dessert that is almost present in every Filipino parties! plus we put these in our Halo-Halo (dessert) ~ I love love this!

  • Reply kelly May 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    i love flan. i grew up eating my puerto rican grandma’s flan, and she passed the recipe, and her favorite flan making dish, on to me before she passed.
    the best thing about her flan, when made just right, is that it’s super light and smooth. she used sweetened condensed milk, less eggs, and grates lime zest in. my husband says it’s the best dessert he’s ever had, and he did not grow up eating flan.
    this looks equally delicious, so maybe i shall experiment with some other dairy ingredients!

    • Reply Adrianna May 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Ooooo…I love the lime zest and condensed milk! I know a lot of South Americans use sweetened condensed milk, too. LOVE!

  • Reply Michelle @ Taste As You Go May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I was never a big fan of flan growing up either, but I think I’ve finally outgrown that phase. I might have to try making it at home now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Laura @ GotChocolate May 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Talk about PERFECTION!!! Beautiful! My daughter absolutely LOVES flan!!!

  • Reply Lyssa May 22, 2012 at 4:59 am

    I wasn’t big on down growing up either…. But that’s cos I’m English and over here flan is a savoury pastry case filled with an egg filling. Lol!

    This is what we call creme caramel and is one of my faves along with creme brulee!

    I find the language differences so funny.

  • Reply rmt May 22, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I looove flan! I have a little shortcut that I use when making it. To save time, I use maple syrup (the good stuff) to replace the caramel. That way I don’t have to bother with making the caramel, and it tastes just as good.

  • Reply sutanuka May 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

    can i use vanilla essence instead of vanilla pod coz where i live its quite impossible to get a vanilla pod

    • Reply Adrianna May 22, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Yes ma’am. I’d use 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.

  • Reply Let Me Eat Cake May 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    i am a huge flan fan HUGE! love the stuff can’t get enough of it. grew up eating leche flan (the filipino version) that is much sweeter but over time i perfected my own recipe too. love the smooth creaminess of it now i want some!

  • Reply Small Cozy Evening Framed May 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    […] Classic Flan – A Cozy Kitchen The next afternoon or evening, you'll take them out, run a knife along the sides, plate them up and watch all the caramel ooze out the sides. So good! Pour custard through small sieve to eliminate any eggy bits. Set aside. 3. […]

  • Reply Blondie May 26, 2012 at 12:56 am

    I love flan, but you are so right. I have had it many times in SoFla Cuban restaurants and they really overdo the sweetness. And sometimes they put coconut on it. Blech! I find that when restaurants call it creme caramel, it is usually lighter and not so sweet. Maybe it’s just me.

    I just received my shipment of ramekins for flan, so this is a very timely post. Thanks!! Love your blog!

  • Reply las artes May 26, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Into a blender, pour one can of sweetened condensed milk. Then fill up the empty can with milk and pour it in too. Add one egg, and a dash of vanilla. Blend until well mixed. Meanwhile, cook several heaping tablespoons of white sugar in a pan, rotating the pan occasionally to avoid burning the sugar. When the sugar is a golden caramel color, pour it into a metal doughnut-shaped mold (ring mold). Pour in the mixture from the blender, and bake in the oven at about 300-350 degrees with the mold pan in a larger pan of water, so that the water comes up about half way on the outside of the ring/doughnut mold. Bake until the top of the flan starts to turn golden, and a knife inserted into the flan comes out clean. It generally takes a little over an hour.

  • Reply Kitty May 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Love, love flan!! Yummy!

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  • Reply Sandra May 1, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Ok, promise not to kill me? Can I use store bought caramel for this (I’m thinking the jarred caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s)? I’m planning a menu for a Cinco de Mayo party this weekend and I really would like to take some shortcuts so I’m not in the kitchen all day long. I’ve used store bought caramel to make flan before, and it’s been fine. But I’m not sure if its recipe specific? Let me know if you think it wouldn’t turn out the same. Thanks Adrianna! You rock!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme May 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Sandra! HOW DARE YOU! JK, I think it’ll work just fine. This caramel was super thin so the only possible problem I can think of is TJ’s consistency. But I say give it a go! xo

      • Reply Sandra May 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        Hmmm…. I think I’m just going to make it instead of buying it. I dont want to sacrfice the awesome consistency that homemade caramel has! I just have such a hard time with it…the sugar always seems to turn granular on me before it browns and then it just turns into a sticky mess. It usually takes me 2 or 3 tries and an hour cursing over the stove to get it just right. Any tips? 🙂

        • Reply Adrianna Adarme May 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm

          Hmm…caramel is a tricky beast. I actually think it’s ok if the sugar gets a little clumpy and granular, it usually does that right before it starts to turn brown. I usually turn the heat off right at the sight of browning and then swirl the sugar (it’ll usually cook more) and then if it needs more heat I place it back over low heat for a 30 seconds or so. And then repeat this process. Hope this helps!

          • Sandra May 6, 2013 at 11:11 am

            5 stars
            So I made it and it WORKED like a charm and came out AMAZINGLY. Soooo many comments on how smooth and silky it was. Making it again for Mothers Day this weekend. THANK YOU!

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  • Reply Karen July 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I’m trying this tonight but I’m just wondering if I can use my 3 tier steamer instead and if so for how long. This looks really good!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Are you saying you’re going to try and cook it over the stove with the steamer?

      • Reply Karen July 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

        Yes

        • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 7, 2014 at 7:19 pm

          I would not recommend that. It might work but I imagine it’d impart way too much moisture into the flan. I mean, you can try it but I can’t guarantee it’ll work! 🙂

  • Reply Karen July 7, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    You’re right, I tried and one of them was swimming in water halfway through cooking. Thank you though!!:)

  • Reply Classic Flan | shylaskitchen November 29, 2014 at 8:05 am

    […] Recipe from http://acozykitchen.com/classic-flan/ […]

  • Reply Kat January 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    5 stars
    Made this yesterday with my girls. Chilled it over night and flipped it onto a plate with no problems!! Easy to make and incredibly delicious!