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Creme Brulee Recipe

One of Martha Stewart's favorites, creme brulee's seductive secret lies is in the contrast between the brittle caramelized topping and the smooth, creamy custard beneath. French for "burnt cream," creme brulee is best served immediately after caramelizing its sweet, sugary surface.

  • Servings: 8
Creme Brulee Recipe

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, February Winter 2009


For Custard

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For Topping

  • 3/4 cup sugar


  1. Prepare oven and baking dishes: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil. Place eight 5-ounce baking dishes in a large roasting pan.

  2. Gently heat cream: In a medium saucepan, combine cream and half the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons). Scrape vanilla bean seeds into pan, then add pod. Heat over medium just until mixture starts to bubble around the edge of the pan, 7 to 8 minutes (do not let boil).

  3. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with remaining sugar and the salt.

  4. Temper eggs: Use ladle to pour a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, then whisk to combine. (This is called tempering and prevents the eggs from curdling.) Add two more ladles of cream mixture, one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Gradually whisk in remaining cream mixture. Strain through a fine sieve into a large liquid measuring cup (to remove the vanilla pod and any cooked bits of egg).

  5. Bake: Divide custard evenly among baking dishes. Place pan in oven. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake until custards are just set (they should tremble slightly in center when shaken), 30 to 40 minutes.

  6. Chill: Remove pan from oven. Use tongs to carefully remove dishes from hot-water bath and place on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving. The custard will finish setting in the refrigerator. If you like, transfer the custards to the freezer 15 minutes before serving to ensure they stay cold after being bruleed (this is especially important if using the broiler).

  7. Caramelize tops and serve: Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar over each custard. Working with one at a time, pass the flame of the torch in a circular motion 1 to 2 inches above the surface of each custard until the sugar bubbles, turns amber, and forms a smooth surface. Serve immediately.

Reviews (18)

  • Barbara Colnar Morgen 29 Dec, 2014

    to bboy7up: a few tips if you are consistently not getting it to gel: 1. let the cream sit for 15 minutes with a lid on top while you whisk your eggs, sugar and salt. 2. in your review, you state that you are adding the eggs one at a time to the hot creme -- it's the other way around! add the hot creme a little at a time to the egg/sugar/salt mixture. 3. it's OK to turn the oven up to 325 degrees and even to cook longer than 40 min... I let mine "accidentally" cook for 60 min with great results

  • Barbara Colnar Morgen 29 Dec, 2014

    best recipe out of 3 that I've tried. thanks, Martha!

  • Joyce Feltz 27 Mar, 2014

    I've always felt creme brulee is best served with the custard just bit below room temperature, and certainly not chilled. So I take the custard filled ramekins out of the fridge about 1/2 hour ahead of serving time. And I use superfine sugar for both the eggs and the topping. I think it caramelizes easier than regular granulated sugar. A few years ago I scored a creme brulee kit from Marshalls...$9.99 for the torch and four ramekins! I love your recipe, Martha!

  • P-Rod 2 Apr, 2013

    Wonderful recipe! My suggestion is to create your own vanilla sugar (place used vanilla bean pods into a jar of sugar). For caramelizing try powdered fruit sugar again flavored with used vanilla bean pods spread evenly removing any excess, light spray of fine mist of water over top, then torch with some dark spots for flavor. Set in fridge to cool.

  • MAGROU 10 Aug, 2012

    Just coming back from Paris for our honeymoon and living in a place where creme brulee doesn't exist, I had to try this recipe. Really, it's as good as the one I had in Paris. It was my first time making it and really, take your time and you will see that it's a pretty easy recipe to make. I have an old oven so mine had to cool for 40 minutes and I did the recipe with 9 yolks and organic pure Madagascar vanilla extract. So good! :)

  • Alison 1derland Cakes 8 Jul, 2012

    SUPER RECIPE! Wow, this was good! I've tried several creme brulee recipes, with variations in the egg and dairy quotients, but this was by far the best. We have the tiny little shallow dishes that came with the torch, and I used them, as well as reusing some glass dishes from grocery store creme brulee that were deeper. I was afraid the shallow ones were overcooked at 30 min, but they were all lovely (though the deeper ones were slightly softer.)

  • Daphnesmom 24 Sep, 2011

    Easy and fail proof recipe. I try to only make it only twice a year as it is so rich. It's a lovely treat.

  • LSLeong 14 Feb, 2011

    This best cream brulee I have ever tried. Truly an ultimate brulee! I prepared it with my new <a href"> remekin dish </a>. Both of them work brilliantly.

  • Paul0824 13 Jan, 2011

    his recipe tastes great, but i can't ever get the broiling right. I now use a flambe kit from dessertsnowdotcom

  • CookieMonster81 12 Jan, 2011

    this was great

  • tara430 19 Nov, 2010

    This was absolutely delicious! It turned out perfectly, just like one I would order from a gourmet restauraunt. I accidentally let the milk boil, so I took it off the burner and let it cool for about 5 minutes and then started to temper the eggs and it turned out to be just fine. Also, I only have 6 ramekins, so I had some left over custard mixture that I refridgerated and made the next day and it was just as good as the first batch. Great recipe!!

  • Paul0824 5 Nov, 2010

    This recipe tastes great, but i can't ever get the torching right. I now use a flambe kit from

  • rikadel 17 Jul, 2010

    i had always wanted to try making creme brulee and im really more of a cake and cookie kind of baker so this was a challenge! i loved working with vanilla bean for the first time and it added AMAZING flavor. the tempering of the eggs was easier than expected just take your time. and biggest tip i would say is let it set in the fridge for over a day. and use 9 yokes! its a little thicker and everyone liked it a little more :)

  • jdevine 4 Apr, 2010

    This is outstanding. My husband said it's the best he has eaten. Very easy to make; the key is to have the eggs at room temp and don't boil the cream.

  • bboy7up 23 Feb, 2010

    I've made this twice now...its in the refrig. as we speak...I can tell that it didn't firm up again...the first time I made it was runny. I don't know if I'm over cooking the cream and sugar to much at the beginning or if its when I'm wisking the eggs in one at a tell me what to do....I love custard....I know it has something to do w/the eggs.any help out there?

  • Catmazur 29 Sep, 2009

    So easy and very good, just ask my hubby. Great recipe.

  • friendscallmemartha 2 Mar, 2009

    wow this recipe is great :)

  • iris68 27 Feb, 2009

    Oooo! Just love it!

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