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Sous Vide Creme Brulee

This can't fail sous vide creme brulee recipe is so easy, there's no tempering eggs, sieving, or bain-marie required. It's silky, creamy and has a perfect cracking caramelized sugar crust.

"Come on honey, pick a restaurant!" Kevy implored the night before date night.

It's his thing, you know, to know the restaurant in advance. To read the menu before we go to any restaurant. To mentally savour each word on it. To chew on the thought of each dish.

That's my husband. The one who knows what he's eating before we've even arrived.

It took me a few years to figure him out, but there's one thing he will always choose, regardless of what else is on the menu.

Creme Brulee.

EVERY.freaking.TIME.

This recipe is dedicated to Kevy's favourite dessert.

An index card with the recipe for sous vide creme brulee hand written on it.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> Are you cooking sous vide yet? If not.... you need to be. There's so much easy deliciousness available at your fingertips with sous vide.

No. 2 --> Don't expect this to be like creme brulee recipes you've seen. There's NO tempering eggs, or bain-marie, or sieving. All that shit sucks - for real. This recipe is EASY! It's for people who love food with fewer steps, and not tempering eggs.

No. 3 --> Salt is necessary for this recipe. Salt brings out the subtle sweetness and enhances the vanilla flavour. Don't skip it, even if you're tempted!

No. 4 --> Remove the jar lids once the jars come out of the sous vide - water is the enemy of creamy custards - by removing the lids, you're reducing the chances of water accumulating on the surface of the custard.

A fermentation weight sitting on top of the creme brulee jars with the sous vide running.

Ingredients

These should come as no surprise. After all, we are still making creme brulee!

  • egg yolks
  • heavy whipping cream
  • granulated sugar
  • vanilla
  • salt
A cast of characters shot, including all the ingredients for this creme brulee.

Required Equipment:

I hate to suggest things you don't need, but there are a few items you do need for this recipe, I've also included substitutes you'll probably have around the house where applicable!

Sous vide. If you don't have one, allow me to recommend the Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide - that's the one I use and love. It's a great little unit at an entry-level price if you're wanting to just dip your toes in #sousvidelife.

Water bath for your sous vide – I always just use whatever – a tall stockpot, my ceramic fermentation crock, the inner liner of my Instant Pot– Anything that’s tall with straight sides will work. Or, you can get fancy and get one of these dedicated sous vide water baths.

Mason jars. You'll need a sealable container for your creme brulee goodness. Because the container is being submerged and heated, a mason jar makes the most sense as they are designed to let heated air out without allowing water in. I recommend these half-pint wide mouth jars.

A weight - this can be anything - literally a can of soup, or a clean rock. I used my fermentation weight because it was handy! In this recipe the jars are not completely filled, so we need to weigh them down.

Jar lifters or silicone oven mitt. You've gotta reach into a HOT water bath to grab the jars, use a jar lifter. Your unburned hands will thank you!

A torch or oven broiler. Creme brulee isn't creme brulee without the crunchy, cracky caramelized sugar topping. That comes from FIYYAAAH. or the broiler. I prefer the butane torch as it heats the sugar without heating the custard.

A blue torch burning the sugar on top to create the crackling creme brulee crust.

How To Make Sous Vide Creme Brulee

I'm not lying. These are the actual (abridged) steps. You can thank me later

  1. Whisk together custard ingredients in a medium sized bowl
  2. Cast into clean mason jars, screw on jar lids finger tight.
  3. Place jars into the sous vide bath with a weight on top.
  4. Fill and turn on sous vide, cook for the required time.
  5. Remove from water bath & cool.
  6. Use a torch (!!) to caramelize the sugar on top.
A finished sous vide creme brulee in a short fat jar.

Why The Weight?

Creme brulee is meant to be served in a wide, shallow dish so that you get a bite that ranges from cold custard on the bottom to warm crackling sugar on the top without being a dish that's too rich to enjoy.

This presents a problem when you're making creme brulee sous vide, as I haven't yet found an appropriate container. Ball jars, I'm looking at you - I want a 4 OZ with a gem lid. #bringbackgem (that's a rant for another day....)

Ok, back on track - we're aiming for a shallow layer of creme brulee which means we can't fill our jars full. Jars that aren't full have air in them, which means they float. Floating jars in sous vide is very much bad.

To overcome this, I've devised a plan.

  1. Fill your jars with the custard mix.
  2. Screw the lids on finger-tight.
  3. Place the jars into your empty water bath, and place the weight on top.
  4. Fill the water bath with HOT tap water.
  5. Then start the sous vide.

This is an easy way to overcome floaty jars, and it's pretty damn ingenious if you ask me. *buffs fingernails*

A stoneware weight on top of the sous vide creme brulee jars holding them down in a pot of water.

Make Ahead Creme Brulee

Um... heck yeah! That's the beauty of this recipe.

I lied, that's only one of the beauties of this recipe.

To make this creme brulee in advance stop after you've replaced the lids on the completely cooled custard and leave them in the fridge until just before serving. Up to 3 days.

Once you're ready to serve, just finish the process! Including that fun bit with the torch.

Don't tell anyone but I usually make a double batch when we're having company and hide the extras in the back of the fridge for the next night when I'm ready for a late night treat!

Two hands pouring the custard mixture into mason jars from a stainless steel bowl.

Ingredient Substitutions

This recipe has been tested quite a few times, BUT I have not played with ingredient substitutions because sometimes you just can't mess with perfection. If you sub anything and it works, I'd love to hear the results!

Half bruleed sugar on top of one of the custards.

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📖 Printable Recipe

cracked top of sous vide creme brulee
Yield: 4

Sous Vide Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes

Take the headache out of creme brulee. This incredibly easy sous vide creme brulee recipe is so perfect, you'll make it again and again.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • scrapings from 1/4 a vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional, but recommended)
  • ~ 4 tbsp extra fine sugar for caramel topping

Instructions

  1. Whisk all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, until well combined.
  2. Cast (pour) the custard mixture into 4 clean mason jars.
  3. Seal the mason jar lids finger-tight.
  4. Stack the jars into your DRY water bath. Place a weight (or weights) on the jars to keep them from floating.
  5. Fill the water bath with HOT tap water. Until the jars are covered and the water is at an acceptable level for your sous vide.
  6. Set the sous vide to 176f, and set a timer for 60 minutes.
  7. Once the custards have cooked in the sous vide for 60 minutes, use a jar lifter to remove the weight and jars from the water bath. (they will want to float but they will float evenly and bob because the custard is set)
  8. Remove the rings and lids from the jars while they cool at room temperature for 30 or so minutes.
  9. Once the jars are cool enough to handle with your bare hands, you can transfer them to the fridge to chill for 3-4 hours. (If you are making ahead - stop at this point!)
  10. When ready to serve, blot any water spots with a soft kitchen towel or paper towel.
  11. Sprinkle a thin, but even layer of extra-fine sugar on each custard.
  12. Use your torch in a circular pattern to heat and caramelize the sugar. Avoid stopping in any spot for a prolonged period.
  13. If you like to live dangerously, you should definitely add a second layer of sugar once the first has been bruleed to perfection. Follow steps 9 & 10.
  14. Allow the creme brulee to sit for a couple of minutes for the caramel to solidify and crisp up.

Notes

Make Ahead

This easy creme brulee recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead. If you're making ahead, simply stop at step 9, and then resume when you're ready to serve!

Ingredient Substitutions

This recipe has been tested quite a few times, BUT I have not played with ingredient substitutions because sometimes you just can't mess with perfection. If you sub anything and it works, I'd love to hear the results!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 506Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 378mgSodium: 105mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 0gSugar: 34gProtein: 7g

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