Sous Vide Crème Brûlée – creamy and silky-smooth custard filling with a crispy caramelized sugar 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 these crème brûlées ahead of time and torch the tops with sugar right before serving. Add fresh berries and mint for an elegant dessert!
Foolproof easy sous vide crème brûlée
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. But with sous vide, you will be shocked at how easy this crème brûlée recipe is!
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 it’s the easiest and best way to make crème brûlée!
What is sous vide? Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. It’s a cooking method by sealing food in a bag or canning jar, then cooking for a long time to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique is known for being a precise and consistent way to evenly cook your food.
How do you make sous vide crème brûlée
- Preparing canning jars: I used 4-oz mason jars, which is a perfect size for making crème brûlée. Make sure to dry them completely and set aside.
- Make the custard filling: First beat egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Then 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 sous vide method. Just mix everything until smooth.
- Sous vide cook the custard filling: Pour the custard filling into mason jars. Cook them in sous vide warm water bath at 185°F (85°C) for 1 hour.
- Let them chill: Once cooked, take the mason jars from the water bath. Dry the top of lids with paper towels and open them to cool down in the counter for 30 minutes. Dry the inside of the lid and put the lid back on. Chill crème brûlées for 4 hours in the fridge or overnight.
- Burnt sugar topping: Add some sugar to the tops of the custard and caramelize it with a kitchen torch. The regular sugar works fine. Make sure to cover the entire surface with a thin layer of granulated sugar.
Best temperature and time
I have tested this recipe several times, and the best combination of temperature and time is to cook the custard at 185°F (85°C) for 1 hour.
Can you make crème brûlée topping 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.
Can you make sous vide crème brûlée without mason jars?
Yes, you can. If you don’t have mason jars, you can still make this recipe! Pour the custard filling into ziplock bags. Use several bags if needed. Vacuum seal the bag using “water displacement” technique. Cook the custard filling for 1 hour in the sous vide machine, and pour the custard into ramekins once cooked. The rest steps are the same as using mason jars.
Tips for making the best sous vide crème brûlée
- Ideal texture: 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 results 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 filling 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 your 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: Dry the surface of the lid immediately after the canning jars come out of the warm water bath. Then 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.
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Sous Vide Crème Brûlée (With or Without Mason Jars)
For the Custard
- 5 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 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
Preheat Sous Vide Machine: Fill a large container or pot with water, attach the sous vide precision cooker and set the temperature to 185ºF/85ºC. Set side mason jars (make sure the mason jars and the lids are dry).
Prepare the Custard Filling: In a large bowl add egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is light, about 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour the heavy cream into the egg mixture. Stir until combined.
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*.
- 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 your fingers.)
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.
Chill the Custard: Remove the mason jars from the water bath and pat dry the surface of the lid with paper towels.
- Open the lid and let them cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. In the mean time, dry the inside of the lid.
- Once the jars are cool to the touch. Put back the lid and fasten it. Let the custard chill completely in the fridge for about 4 hours.
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.
- Make Ahead: The custard can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Once torched, you should serve them immediately.
- Making sous vide crème brûlée without mason jars: Pour the custard filling into ziplock bags. Use several bags if needed. Vacuum seal the bag using “water displacement” technique. Cook the custard filling for 1 hour in the sous vide machine, and pour the custard into a ramekin 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.