Sous vide is the best way to cook crème brûlée. You’re guaranteed a smooth, creamy custard that’s cooked all the way through every time with so little effort on your part! Even better, it’s cooked in small jars, so it’s already portioned and ready to serve to your guests. This decadent dessert with its rich custard and crunchy topping is always a crowd pleaser.
This recipe is from my cookbook Everyday Sous Vide, so if you’re looking for more recipes like this, make sure to check out the book!
The recipes in my sous vide cookbook are meals you’d want to cook any day, not just for special occasions or Sunday night dinners. I’m talkin’ everyday sous vide!
Sous vide cooking is often the answer for making hard-to-cook foods easy, whether we’re making a perfect medium-rare steak, flaky salmon, or succulent scallops. Since sous vide means cooking in a precisely temperature controlled environment, there’s no risk of over or under-cooking food! If you’re curious to learn more about how it works, make sure to check out my beginner’s guide to sous vide cooking.
If you’re looking for a crème brûlée with seasonal flair, make sure to check out my Sous Vide Pumpkin Crème Brûlée recipe! And there are so many other amazing sous vide desserts to try, like Sous Vide Cheesecake and Sous Vide Nutella Cakes.
Equipment & Ingredients Needed
If you already sous vide at home, you likely have almost everything you’ll need to make this crème brûlée. You’ll need:
- Immersion circulator
- Water bath container (you can also just use a stockpot)
- 6 8 oz wide mouth mason jars
- Culinary torch and butane
For a dessert with such a fancy reputation, the ingredient list is pleasantly short! You’ll need:
- Egg yolks
- White sugar
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla extract (I prefer to use vanilla bean paste)
- Raw sugar (this is what creates that crunchy topping!)
How to Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
With the help of sous vide, crème brûlée is surprisingly easy to make. It’s really as simple as whisk, pour, cook, torch, serve! However, there are some tips and tricks in between that will make this process easier, so let’s dive in.
Sous vide crème brûlée is cooked at 175 degrees F for 1 hour.
How to Get the Perfect Caramelized Sugar Crust
The thing that separates crème brûlée from a run of the mill custard? That crunchy sugar crust you break with your spoon! In order to create it, you will need a couple of things that you likely don’t already have in your kitchen: a culinary torch and butane.
Don’t create the caramelized sugar crust until you’re ready to serve the crème brûlée! If you make the crust and then refrigerate, the crust will lose some of that crunch and become watery.
Sprinkling on a thin layer of sugar, caramelizing, and repeating to create a thick sugar crust is the best way to ensure the sugar is caramelized all the way through without burning the sugar.
175 degrees F (80 degrees C) for 1 hour.
When using sous vide, the cooking environment is the exact temperature you want your food to reach, which means there’s no risk of over or under cooking. No curdled custard or wiggly, raw center!
My favorite jars to use are 8 oz, wide mouthed mason jars. For mini servings, 4 oz jars are perfect (and so cute!). Weck jars are generally my favorite for sous vide cooking, however, they aren’t ideal for crème brûlée because there’s less surface area for the sugar crust.
Yes! Go through the whole sous vide process, but wait to make the caramelized sugar crust until just before serving.
Sorry to say: there’s no way to lighten up crème brûlée. She is what she is! However, you can certainly experiment with nondairy milks, so long as they are quite thick and rich.
You can also view this recipe as a step-by-step web story here.
Get the Recipe:
Foolproof Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
- Preheat water bath using immersion circulator to 175 degrees F. This is a hot temperature for sous vide cooking: don’t forget to place a trivet under your container!
- Arrange 6 8 oz mason jars with lids in good condition, lids off.
- Whisk together all ingredients except the turbinado sugar. Mix until no solid parts of the yolk are visible.
- Evenly distribute the mixture between the six jars. To remove air bubbles on the surface of the custard, gently tap the jars on a hard surface.
- Place the undamaged lids on your jars. Close to "finger tight" (you should be able to easily unscrew with just your fingertips). Use silicone oven gloves or canning tongs to carefully set the jars in the water. Jars should be completely submerged and you should see small air bubbles escaping the jars. If the jars are floating, your lid is on too tight or they aren't full enough.
- Cook for 1 hour. Remove mason jars to a towel on the counter to cool for 15 minutes. Once cool to the touch, place in the refrigerator if not serving immediately. If serving immediately, place in an ice bath to continue cooling for 15-30 minutes.
- When ready to serve, it's time to add the caramelized sugar topping. Remove the lids and spoon a thin layer of turbinado sugar onto the custard. Use a small culinary torch to caramelize the sugar. Add another thin layer and repeat until desired thickness is reached (usually I do 3 thin layers). Repeat on all custards.
- Serve immediately.