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

Tips and Tricks

  • Use your blender to combine the ingredients super quickly. But it will create some bubbles if you do it for too long. Let it settle before pouring it onto the caramel. If it’s super bubbly when you pour it onto the caramel, you can always use a kitchen torch to burn off the bubbles.
  • The water added to the sugar to make the caramel may take longer but it makes the caramel step fool- proof!
  • Be sure to run a knife around the inside edge of the pan before inverting the flan onto a plate.

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: 

Classic Flan Recipe

PRINT
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chilling Time 3 hours
Total Time: 4 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

Tips and Tricks:
  • Use your blender to combine the ingredients super quickly. But it will create some bubbles if you do it for too long. Let it settle before pouring it onto the caramel. If it's super bubbly when you pour it onto the caramel, you can always use a kitchen torch to burn off the bubbles. 
  • The water added to the sugar to make the caramel may take longer but it makes the caramel step fool- proof! 
  • Be sure to run a knife around the inside edge of the pan before inverting the flan onto a plate. 
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
Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

61 Comments

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating




  • 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 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 Miss K May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Delicious! Would love to have one now…

  • 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 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 Megan May 21, 2012 at 10:44 am

    And P.S. that bear! Love it.

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

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

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

    The custard looks like perfection.

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

    I might have just licked my computer screen. Yum.

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

    Mmmm this sounds awesome!

  • 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 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).

  • 1 2 3