Sous Vide Crème Brûlée – creamy and silky-smooth custard with a crispy layer of caramel topping! No tempering of eggs, and no risk of a curdled texture! Too good to be true? Sous vide technique guarantees the perfect results EVERY TIME by cooking this dessert to the precise temperature you set.
You can make this crème brûlée ahead of time and torch the top right before serving. Add fresh berries and mint for an elegant dessert!
Featured in 22 Fancy Desserts
Why Cooking Crème Brûlée in Sous Vide?
A foolproof recipe that’s so easy to make!
Crème brûlée has a reputation of being very tricky to make, as the custard tends to curdle when the temperature is above 185°F / 85°C, making it intimidating using a traditional baking method.
Enter sous vide! It’s a French cooking method by vacuum sealing food in a bag or canning jar, then cooking for a long time to a very precise temperature in a water bath.
Skip the steps of heating up the heavy cream, “tempering eggs”, or adjusting baking time for different-size ramekins. Sous vide crème brûlée takes all the guess work out, and guarantees the perfect consistency every single time. You can also easily make it in bulk ahead of time!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Egg Yolks: Egg yolks and heavy cream are the key ingredients in crème brûlée. I have tested different ratios, and loved 5 large egg yolks with 2 cups of heavy cream the most. If you use fewer egg yolks, your crème brûlée can be slightly runny.
Heavy Cream: Use heavy cream or heavy whipping cream with 35% fat. It will ensure a creamy and stable consistency.
You’ll also need regular granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.
How to Make Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
1. Add egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Whisk together to form a thick paste.
2. Make the custard: Slowly add heavy cream. Note that you don’t need to heat up the heavy cream like the traditional method, as your eggs won’t curdle with the sous vide method. Mix everything until smooth.
3. Straining the egg yolk and heavy cream mixture to remove any residues from the egg.
4. Pour the custard filling into mason jars. Close the lid “fingertip tight”. (You can easily open with 2 fingers).
5. Fill the container or pot with a sous vide circulator and set the temperature to 179°F (82°C).
6. Place the mason jars in the water while the water is still heating up. Cook for 1 hour.
7. Let them chill: Once cooked, remove the mason jars from the water bath. Open the lid to cool down the custard in the counter for 30 minutes. Dry the top of lids with paper towels.
8. Put the lid back on. Chill crème brûlées for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Pro Tip: Don’t caramelize the sugar topping until you are ready to serve! You can watch the video in the recipe for the step-by-step instructions.
Brûléeing the Sugar Top (Making a Caramel Layer)
For the best result, use a blow torch with a 2-step approach for a perfect caramel layer!
1. Sprinkle the surface of each custard evenly with 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. The regular granulated sugar works the best. Make sure to cover the entire surface with a thin layer of sugar.
2. Using a kitchen torch, hold the flame about 2 inches from the surface of the sugar. Move the flame across the surface and make sure all the sugar granules have melted. The longer you torch, the darker and more bitter the caramel layer will become.
Let it rest for 2 minutes until the surface cools down and hardens. Serve immediately.
Temperature and Time
I have tested this recipe several times, and the best combination of temperature and time is to cook the custard at 179°F (82°C) for 1 hour.
Sous Vide Crème Brûlée without Mason Jars
If you don’t have mason jars, you can still make this recipe! Pour the custard filling into a ziptop bag. Vacuum seal the bag using the “water displacement technique”. Cook the custard mixture for 1 hour in the sous vide water bath, and pour it into ramekins once cooked. The rest steps are the same as using mason jars.
Tips for Making the Best Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
- Perfect consistency: The best custard should be creamy, rich and silky-smooth. It’s almost pudding-like. To achieve this texture, the best ratio is to use 5 large egg yolks with 2 cups of heavy cream. More heavy cream can result in a texture that’s too runny.
- Strain the custard filling: I recommend straining the egg yolk and heavy cream mixture to remove any residues from the egg.
- Close the lid “fingertip tight”: After pouring the custard mixture into the canning jars, place the lid on the jar, and twist it gently until “fingertip tight”, which means the lid is barely closed and can be easily open with 2 fingertips. This tightness prevents water from getting into the jar while allows air bubbles to escape. If it’s too tight, the jars can crack easily when the trapped air press against the glass.
- Dry the lid: Open the lid as soon as the canning jars are cool enough to handle, and dry the inside of the lid. Put the lid back after the custard has cooled down.
- Cover the custard surface evenly with sugar: It’s important that the custard is completely covered with sugar. When applied to heat, any exposed custard will curdle.
Troubleshooting Sous Vide Crème Brûlée
- Why is my crème brûlée runny? If your crème brûlée comes out runny, it’s most likely that you’ve added too much heavy cream. Otherwise, it could happen when it’s undercooked.
- How can I prevent mason jars from cracking? When the jar is closed tightly, the excess air cannot escape from the glass, causing too much pressure to build up inside of the jar, and making it crack. To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to close the lid just barely, so that 2 fingertips can open it. In addition, adding the mason jars to the water bath when the water is not completely heated will also help to avoid the “Thermal Shock”.
- Why does my crème brûlée have a bumpy texture with bubbles? When you whisk cream and eggs together, the mixture will have foam on top. If you don’t strain the mixture, you’ll see some bubbles on the surface once the custard is cooked. I also recommend letting your custard rest in the mason jars for 20 minutes before cooking in sous vide.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Sous Vide Crème Brûlée Last?
Sous vide crème brûlée can last for up to 5 days in the fridge without loss of quality. You’ll need to seal each mason jar tightly before placing them in the refrigerator. This is a great make-ahead dessert for a party. Note that you cannot caramelize the sugar topping ahead of time.
What is “Thermal Shock”?
“Thermal shock” can occur when cold glass enters a hot water bath, cause the glass to break. To avoid this risk, you can place the mason jars into the sous vide water bath before it’s heated.
How to Caramelize the Sugar Top without a Torch?
To get the beautiful crunchy and crispy caramelized topping, it’s best to use a kitchen torch. If you don’t have one, you can broil them in the oven. Heat your broiler up super hot and make sure to move the rack just underneath. Place the custards on a tray and top with sugar. Watch carefully as it only takes 1-3 minutes. Note that you will get less even coloring than with a torch.
How Do You Serve Sous Vide Crème Brûlée?
Once you’ve caramelized the sugar topping, it’s best to serve it within 20 minutes. Otherwise, the sugar will absorb moisture and the top will start to soften. You can decorate it with fresh fruits and serve with a dessert spoon.
Pro Tip: I used 4-oz mason jars, which is a perfect size for making crème brûlée. Make sure to dry them completely before cooking.
If You Like this Recipe Try These Out:
If you’ve tried these sous vide crème brûlée then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know. I love hearing from you!
Sous Vide Crème Brûlée (With or Without Mason Jars)
For the Custard
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream, 35% fat)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Topping
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar about 1 ½ teaspoons for each crème brûlée
- Optional: fresh berries to serve with
- Prepare the Custard: In a large bowl add egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk together the ingredients until well mixed.
- Slowly pour the heavy cream into the egg mixture. Stir until well mixed.
- Strain the mixture, and slowly pour it into each mason jar, leaving about 1/2 inch from the top. If you don’t have canning mason jars, you can use zip-lock bags*. (Make sure the mason jars and the lids are dry).
- Let them sit for 15-20 minutes so that bubbles can dissipate.
- Place the lid on each mason jar, and twist it gently until “fingertip tight” (This means the lid is barely closed and can be easily open with 2 fingertips.)
- Fill a large container or pot with water, attach the sous vide precision cooker and set the temperature to 179ºF/82ºC.
- Sous Vide Cook the Custard: Use a kitchen tong and slowly place the mason jars into the sous vide water bath. Cook for 1 hour. (It's best to place the mason jars into the water bath BEFORE it's heating up to avoid the risk of cracking.)
- Chill the Custard: Remove the mason jars from the water bath.
- Once the mason jars are not too hot to touch, open the lid and let them cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. In the mean time, dry the lid completely.
- Once the jars are cool. Put back the lid and fasten it tightly. Let the custard chill in the fridge for about 4 hours or overnight.
- Burn the Sugar: When ready to serve, take the mason jars out of the fridge and remove the lid. Add about 1 ½ teaspoons sugar on top of each custard. Make sure to add enough sugar and cover the surface evenly.
- Use a kitchen torch to torch the tops until the sugar melts and caramelized.
- Decorate with fresh berries and mint and serve immediately.
- *Making sous vide crème brûlée without mason jars: Pour the custard filling into a ziploc bag. Vacuum seal the bag using the “water displacement” technique. Cook the custard filling for 1 hour in the sous vide water bath, and pour the custard into 4 ramekins once cooked. The rest steps are the same as using mason jars.
- If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can broil the sugar topping in the oven. Heat your broiler up super hot and make sure to move the rack just underneath. Place the custards on a tray and top with sugar. Watch carefully to avoid burning as it only takes 1-3 minutes. Note that you will get less even coloring than with a torch.
- Make-Ahead: The custard can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Once torched, you should serve them immediately.
UPDATED JULY 7, 2020: This post was originally published on November 23, 2019. We spiffed it up and added a brand new video to make it sparkle!