How to Create Leche Flan

By Christina Kalinowski

A delightfully wiggly, creamy custard crowned with a sweet caramel sauce, leche flan is an elegantly simple dessert. Adapted from Bon Appetit's Classic Flan, this version replaces vanilla extract with coconut and includes coconut milk to create a flan with tropics-inspired flavors. Baking the flan divided among six 3/4-cup ramekins produces individual serving sizes.

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Start to Finish: 1 hour and 25 minutes, plus 2 to 6 hours to chill

Servings: 6

Difficulty Level: Intermediate


  • 1 cup sugar, divided in half
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Step 1

Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, bring the pan to a boil without stirring. Let boil, swirling the pan occasionally, for approximately 5 to 6 minutes. When the mixture begins to turn a light golden brown color, turn off the burner and let sit for an additional 1 to 2 minutes; its appearance will continue to deepen until it reaches a dark golden amber color.

Step 2

Divide the caramel evenly among the ramekins. Working quickly, tilt each ramekin to completely coat the inside sides and bottom. The caramel will harden as it cools, clinging to the sides of the ramekins.

Step 3

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 4

Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar in 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of coconut milk over low heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove the pan from heat. The milk should be lukewarm. Let cool for at least 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well blended. Slowly pour in the milk mixture, whisking the entire time. Add the coconut extract and stir to combine. Strain through a fine mesh sieve before baking to ensure a smooth and creamy consistency.

Step 6

Divide the milk and egg mixture evenly among the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a deep-sided baking pan. Add hot water to the pan, until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully put the pan in the oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the center of the flan is just set; it should be jiggly, but firm.

Step 7

Remove the ramekins from the pan of water and let cool for 30 minutes. Chill the flan in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Step 8

When ready to serve, cut around the sides of the ramekins with a sharp knife, then flip over onto a plate. The flan should slide right out, and the caramel will pool around and on top of it.

Flavorful Variations

Instead of coconut, try using other extract flavors to mix up the flavor. Almond extract adds a rich, buttery flavor, rum flavoring contributes complex caramel and vanilla notes and chocolate lends a sweet and subtle decadence.