Creme Caramel Custard Flan Recipe (Italian)

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Creme Caramel Custard Flan Recipe (Italian). The most irresistibly smooth, silky, and sweet creme caramel custard flan recipe. This Italian Flan is a rich, sweet custard baked in a caramel sauce. It looks fancy, but it’s simple to make.

flan on plate
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This is a silky smooth custard recipe for creme caramel or flan! Flan, or crème caramel, is a custard baked in a dish coated with caramelized sugar that forms a sauce when the custard is unmolded. This is my nonna Laura’s recipe. It is perfect for special occasions, or a lazy weekday afternoon.

More cream desserts you will love: Italian Cream Crumb Cake (sbriciolata alla crema), Puff Pastry filled with Italian Chocolate Cream, Traditional Italian Cream Horns (Cannoncini), and BEST Authentic Sicilian Cannoli Recipe.

Why I love this recipe

The eggy custard basically gets a steam bath in the oven to create a silky smooth egg custard that is made in a round bundt-like pan.

This caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of caramel sauce that resembles a chewy caramel candy but in liquid form. I promise this dessert is a slice of heaven that you just want to keep eating!

Don’t delay in trying this spectacular and unique dessert. It is a great recipe to “wow” your guests or keep in the fridge for when that sweet tooth comes calling.

Simple Ingredients

The ingredients for this easy recipe are ones you likely have on hand.

  • Whole milk
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Large eggs
  • Vanilla pod
  • Salt
  • Lemon peel or lemon zest

My Nonna always added a little lemon peel that adds flavor to the flan. You can serve it with lemon peel or discard it before serving.

Accompany crème caramel with whipped cream or fresh fruit, or just enjoy the way it melts in your mouth! This is a classic flan recipe you don’t want to miss.

Tools

  • 1 round bundt pan as the mold or cake pan (another option: about 8 (6 oz) individual ramekins).
  • 1 roasting pan or oven-safe baking dish that is deep enough to fit the baking pan or ramekins with enough room for 2 inches of water at the bottom. This is needed for the water bath- as we say in Italian ‘bagna Maria’, or as they say in French ‘bain Marie’.
  • Sieve or strainer to strain the hot milk.

Creme Caramel Custard Flan Recipe (Italian)

This is creme caramel, an Italian upside-down flan dessert with luscious caramel on top. The texture is smooth and silky. The taste is sensational.

Similar in texture to an Italian panna cotta, crème caramel is made without gelatin or starches. The eggs are the thickening agent to create a perfectly smooth, velvety, and smooth texture. The trick is the water bath and cooking it at a fairly gentle temperature.

This silky, elegant custard makes for a show-stopping dessert, or simple afternoon snack to satisfy a sweet craving. This is a great make-ahead recipe that can be stored in the fridge until it is ready to serve.

How to flip Creme Caramel Custard Flan (Video)

Perhaps the most intimidating part about making flan is after you’ve made it and need to flip it! I always hold my breath at this point hoping it will all come out in one beautiful piece!

Here is a little video to show you the process. Good luck!

The difference between Creme Caramel, Flan, and Creme Brûlée

Creme caramel is eggier and silky, unlike creme brûlée which is more like a custard sauce with a sugar candy crust. They contain similar ingredients, yet the presentation and taste are slightly different.

Creme brûlée is known for the hard sugar shell that you break with a spoon to get to the creamy interior.

The creme caramel is the same texture from the inside out with the caramel as a liquid sauce that infused the outer layer. I prefer creme caramel for the stronger caramel-infused taste in the custard.

Another distinction- is crème caramel (“caramel cream“) and flan are French names, but flan has come to have different meanings in different regions. Some recipes only call for egg yolks, while this recipe uses the whole egg.

In Spanish-speaking countries, like Latin America, and often in the United States, crème caramel is known as flan. You may also hear it called ‘Leche flan’, or milk flan.

In Italy we call it both creme caramel AND flan- so take your pick!

Best Flan

Creme Caramel Flan Story

I vividly remember my Nonna Laura making this recipe in our beach house in Sardegna and the metal mold she used that my mamma now keeps in her kitchen. I remember the way she said “creme caramel” and “flan” like a song so sweet I could hardly wait to eat.

She always added a little lemon zest that brought in a unique and subtle flavor that separates it from the rest. My nonna made it often when she came to visit us in the United States as it is one of my mother’s favorites as well.

My mamma makes it often now when she craves a taste of home. When I was pregnant and nursing she often brought me creme caramel flan since it is rich in protein with the eggy custard, yet a sweet and silky dessert.

There are some recipes that forever stay in your heart as they remind you of someone and this is definitely one of those recipes for me.

I hope you can try and see the sweet sensation that lies in this creme caramel flan recipe.

Flan on a plate

Top Tips

Tips to get the smooth and creamy custard texture for creme caramel flan:

  • Use warm milk (don’t skip this step!).
  • Use room temperature eggs.
  • Incorporate the warm milk into the egg mixture a little bit at a time and stir constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • Make sure to pour the final mixture through a Sieve or strainer to avoid any lumps and get a smooth custard.
  • Bake low and slow at a gentle heat with a water bath to ensure the perfect and even bake.
  • Follow these tips to achieve a perfectly sweet custard dessert.

More Desserts for YOU:

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

Creme Caramel Custard Flan Recipe (Italian) is a delicious dessert the entire family will love! Add this popular Italian recipe to your list of favorites.

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flan on plate with bite taken

Creme Caramel Flan Recipe

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5 from 2 reviews

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This is the smoothest custard recipe for creme caramel or flan! Flan, or crème caramel, is a custard baked in a dish coated with caramelized sugar that forms a sauce when the custard is unmolded. I promise, this dessert is a slice of heaven that you just want to keep eating! Don’t delay in trying this spectacular and unique dessert. It is a great recipe to wow your guests or keep in the fridge for when that sweet tooth comes calling.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 1/4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar (divided)
  • 6 whole large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean (cut lengthwise with the seeds scraped out) OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 pieces of lemon peel (cut lemon skin just the yellow part), or 1 teaspoon lemon zest.

Equipment: 

  • 1 round bundt pan as the mold (another option: about 8 (6 oz) individual ramekins)
  • 1 roasting pan or oven-safe dish that is deep enough to fit the baking pan or ramekins with enough room for 2 inches of water at the bottom

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
  2. For the caramel, in a stainless small saucepan and add 1/2 cup of sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the sugar is completely dissolved, bring it to a boil without stirring until the color turns dark caramel brown. Quickly pour the caramel into the bottom of the bundt pan (or ramekins) to coat all the sides. Set aside. 
  3.  Add the milk and lemon peel to a separate medium saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat until just hot, (not boiling!!). Then remove it from the heat.
  4.  Beat the eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until well combined. Slowly whisk the egg mixture in the warm milk, a ladleful at a time until completely incorporated into the eggs. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. 
  5. Pour the entire custard mixture through a sieve (mesh strainer) into a large bowl. You can put lemon peel back into the creme mixture and bake with it or discard it at this point. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pan or individual ramekins lined with caramel. Place bundt pan or ramekins in an oven-safe dish or roasting pan. 
  6. Very carefully pour 2-3 cups boiling hot water into the bottom of the roasting pan (it should reach halfway up the side of the baking dish), avoiding splashing or pouring into the creme mixture. Place in the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour for the bundt pan and 30-35 minutes for the ramekins until the center jiggles just a little bit. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. 
  7. Allow to cool slightly and then wrap with the bundt pan or ramekins with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
  8. When ready to serve gently run a butter knife near the edges just enough to loosen the flan and tip upside down onto a flat plate. Watch the caramel sauce pour out onto the plate. Yum. Enjoy! 
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Sweet/ Dessert
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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8 Comments

  1. Your recipe is very similar to the one I have. My in-laws parents are from Italy and the recipe is from them. Theirs is with 1 can cold evaporated milk, 1 can cold milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 eggs, 1 tbsp vanilla. The big difference is I add a shot of amaretto to the egg mixture. I also use 1 1/2 cups of burnt sugar . Have been told it is the creamiest dessert they have ever had. Our family calls it Boo-ding.