Classic Flan

Desserts, Holiday, Quick and Easy

This Classic Flan recipe 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. In this recipe we’re using evaporated milk (leche), sweetened condensed milk and the perfect ratio of eggs. This is a super easy flan recipe. Plus, it’s silky smooth with the best texture.


My history with this dish hasn’t always been a love affair. I grew up eating it, reluctantly. When we’d go to restaurants there was always someone in our family ordering 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 Latin-American favorite!

What Is Flan?

Let’s talk about basics! 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. Where is it from? Well, its origins begin in Spain and through colonization, has traveled to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Philippines. In the Philippines it’s often referred to as crème caramel.

What Are the Main Ingredients to Make Classic Flan?

  • Granulated sugar. The 1/2 cup of sugar transforms into a thin layer of caramel that will live on the top.
  • 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 Caramel for Flan recipe

  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. It requires a cup sugar and 1/3 cup of water. That’s it!

How to Make Flan

  1. Pour the caramel into the baking dish or pan. This process goes FAST! So be diligent. Have everything prepped before hand. Working quickly, pour it in the baking pan and move it around until it’s a nice even layer. It will quickly harden and be room temperature. As a result, you’ll have a lovely smooth layer of caramel on top.
  2. Make the milk mixture. I do this in a blender and it could not be simpler. Add everything to the blender and pulse it up!
  3. 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!
  4. Transfer it to the water bath. The water bath is essential to baking it evenly (see below for more of an explanation).
  5. Bake it. I like to bake the custard at 325 F (a lot of recipes set the oven to 350). I feel like that’s too hot. It needs to be “low and slow.”
  6. Cool completely. This is a really important part because it really sets the dish 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 custard, 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 11 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 cup 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 | High-Powered Blender (Splurge) | High-Powered Blender (Budget) |
CourseDessert
CuisineCentral America, Hispanic Recipes, Holiday, South American
Keywordcomo hacer flan, easy flan recipe, flan, flan recipe, how to make flan
Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Sodium: 195mg | Sugar: 33g
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!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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54 Comments

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  • Reply Tiffany B. July 7, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    This is probably the most delicious flan I’ve ever tasted!!! I did waste 3 cups of sugar trying to make the caramel topping and each time was an utter fail so I gave up and ate the flan by itself which still tasted amazing. My ONLY complaint was that it was way too sweet and as a candy lover, that says a lot. I will probably use 1/2 to 3/4 a can of sweetened condensed milk next time. Thank you sooooo much for this recipe! Going to make another batch in ramekin cups tonight! 🙂

  • Reply Danielle Cooke May 29, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    I love this so far, and I love your site! I’m making the flan right now, but I’m having trouble getting it to set in the oven—it seems to be cooking pretty slowly and is still really liquidy. Any advice?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 10, 2020 at 10:01 am

      hi danielle – sorry i missed this comment. did it end up being ok?

  • Reply Liz S April 7, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Can you use regular whole milk instead of evaporated?

  • Reply Katherine. March 20, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    5 stars
    Quarantine flan! It was amazing everyone in my house loved it. Making again next week!

  • Reply Noemi January 29, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    5 stars
    I had it a few years ago, I still remember the taste of it. Surely, I’ll try this recipe!

  • 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!

  • 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 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! 🙂

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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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