3 Unbelievably Good Crème Brûlée Variations

Crème brûlée is a fan favorite, and a staple of the baking and pastry arts. That said, even the best desserts can use a little mixing up once in a while. Take this basic crème brûlée recipe and try out some of the variations below, or bring this inspiration to your online baking courses:

Basic crème brûlée
​​Start to finish: 4 hours, 30 minutes (20 minutes active prep time)
Servings: 6


  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 quarts hot water


Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place six ceramic ramekins in a large cake pan.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the heavy cream and the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool covered for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with the egg yolks, and mix until the color just starts to lighten. Gradually stir in the cream, and whisk until fully mixed. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh into a separate container.

Pour the liquid into the ramekins, and pour hot water into the cake pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the ramekins.

Bake 40-45 minutes: crème brûlée should be set, but still jiggly in the middle. Remove ramekins from the roasting pan and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Ramekins may be left to cool for up to 3 days.

Remove from refrigerator, and allow to sit 30 minutes before caramelizing the sugar.  Evenly divide the remaining 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar among the six ramekins, sprinkling a thin layer of sugar on each. Use a kitchen torch or a broiler to evenly caramelize the sugar.

Let sit for five minutes before serving.

Chai tea crème brûlée
This recipe will work with any tea you like, but the spiciness of chai tea makes a great addition to crème brûlée’s caramelized sweetness. While heating the cream and vanilla bean, allow a bag of chai tea to steep in the mixture. Remove the tea bag when you remove the vanilla bean.

Fruit-on-the-bottom crème brûlée
This variation will add flavor and a surprise splash of color to your dessert. Before pouring the mixture into the ramekins, line their bottoms with fruit compote. You can also use fruit that has been cooked down: Fresh fruit will will cause your custard to separate.

Chocolate crème brûlée
Add a little bit of bitterness to your crème brûlée by mixing in some bittersweet chocolate. As the heating cream begins to simmer, mix in 3 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate. Stir until smooth.

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