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

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.


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


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.


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. 
9-inch round baking pan | Silicon Spatulas | Pairing Knife | Roasting Pan | High-Powered Blender (Splurge) | High-Powered Blender (Budget) |
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
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  • Reply Kitty May 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Love, love flan!! Yummy!

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

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

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

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

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