The only creme brulee recipe you'll ever need

Bowl of homemade Crème brûlée

Creme brulee is essentially melted vanilla ice cream, a basic custard – egg yolks, sugar and cream. While the name is heavily accented in some contexts – crème brûlée – that makes it sound oh, so fancy, you're just eating vanilla ice cream with caramelized sugar on top. Most recipes call for baking in a hot-water bath in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, an inconvenient method when it's easier to cook it on the stove in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Total Time: About 2 hours | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup plus 8 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Beat the egg yolks, using a mixer on high, until they're pale yellow and frothy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle in 1/3 cup of sugar.
  2. Heat the cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat until hot (about 120 F) and set the heat to low. Remove the vanilla bean, and whisk half the cream into the egg yolks, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time.
  3. Whisk the egg yolk-cream mixture (custard) into the saucepan. Cook the custard over low heat until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Pour the custard into four 1-cup ramekins or a 9-inch pie dish. Chill the custard until cold, 1 to 2 hours. Before serving, heat the bowl and sprinkle the top of each custard with about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Broil the custard (3 to 4 inches from the broiler) until the sugar caramelizes and crisps, about 5 minutes. 


You can make the custard up to three days ahead of time.