Creme brulee has never been easier to make at home! This recipe for Instant Pot Creme Brulee comes together in minutes and is baked to creamy perfection in the moist heat of the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot is the perfect vessel to make this classic French Dessert. The custard is heated evenly and the results are a creamy, rich, luscious custard that is the perfect ending to any special meal. Be prepared to WOW with this easy Instant Pot dessert recipe!
What is Creme Brulee?
If you have never had Creme Brulee, you may be asking yourself, what is it?
French for "burnt cream," creme brulee is a custard made with eggs, whipping cream, salt, sugar, and vanilla. But the magic comes when this baked custard is topped with sugar and then caramelized with the help of a kitchen torch or simply a broiler.
Creme Brulee is creamy, and crunchy and warm, and cool all at the same time. Sweet but not overly sweet and hinted with rich notes of vanilla. Creme Brulee really is SIMPLE perfection.
Most people think this classic French dessert is complicated to make at home, yet it could not be simpler. Especially when you make it in the Instant Pot.
Why the Instant Pot is Best for Creme Brulee
Typically creme brulee is made by baking slowly in a water bath. A water bath is a pan of water that is placed in the oven when delicate dishes like cheesecakes or custards bake. A custard needs to have moist heat when baking to prevent it from becoming a rubbery texture.
This is why the Instant Pot becomes the perfect kitchen tool to make creme brulee--the electric pressure cooker uses water and pressure to cook with moist heat--essential for just the right texture in a baked custard. The instant pot is also a great tool for making homemade yogurt, chicken stock, and dried beans.
Now that you know WHY the instant pot makes the BEST tool for cooking creme brulee, let's get started on making this easy recipe for creme brulee.
Ingredients and Tools Needed
- Egg Yolks: Creme Brulee only calls for egg yolks, but don't throw away the egg whites. Use them for Mediterranean Frittata or Asparagus Frittata.
- Cream: It is best to use pure heavy whipping cream to achieve the best texture for creme brulee. Look for one without carrageenan or other stabilizers (it should just read cream on the ingredient label.)
- Vanilla Bean: While vanilla beans are traditional in creme brulee, you can use pure vanilla extract instead.
- Ramekins: You need three 6-ounce heat-safe ramekins for this recipe.
- Kitchen Torch: This is optional, a broiler will work nearly as well!
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together.
- Cut open the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the vanilla beans into the mixing bowl.
- Place the cream in the microwave and warm for 45 seconds to 1 minute. You don't need to measure the temperature, just make sure the cream is very warm to your touch but not boiling--between 150-185 degrees.
- Whisk in a tablespoon or two of the warm cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. This is called tempering. DO NOT ADD ALL THE CREAM AT ONCE OR YOU WILL SCRAMBLE THE EGG YOLKS.
- Once you have whisked in the small amount of warm cream, add the remaining cream, stirring constantly.
- Transfer the mixture evenly between the custard cups and cover each cup with foil.
- Place a trivet into the inner pot of your instant pot and pour in cold water. Place the custard cups on top of the trivet.
- Cook on High Pressure for 7 MINUTES--yes, 7 minutes is it!
- Let naturally release for 5 minutes and then do a quick release of any remaining pressure. This is really important to keep the custard super smooth and creamy. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO DO A QUICK RELEASE OF PRESSURE.
- Carefully remove the custard cups and take the foil off and let them cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
- Remove from refrigerator 15-30 minutes before serving, to let the custard cups come closer to room temperature. This helps to prevent the custard cups from cracking when heated, so do not skip this step.
- Right before serving, top each cup with a teaspoon or two of sugar and then using a kitchen torch or broiler brown the sugar.
How do you brown the sugar on Creme Brulee?
To brulee the sugar, you can opt to use a kitchen torch or simply use your oven's broiler.
To use a kitchen torch, place the flame of the torch about 2 inches above the custard and in a circular motion, melt the sugar to form a caramelized topping.
To use your oven broiler to caramelize the sugar for creme brulee, simply place the custard cups that have been sprinkled with sugar on a cookie sheet and place under your broiler for 3-4 minutes, watching carefully not to burn.
The sugar will become caramelized and harden so that a spoon must crack the surface. The contrast between the caramelized sugar and the soft, creamy custard is absolute perfection.
IS IT NECESSARY TO USE VANILLA BEANS FOR CREME BRULEE?
By scraping out the inside of a vanilla bean pod, you achieve absolutely incredible vanilla flavor. However, vanilla beans are expensive. You will still have delicious creme brulee if you use vanilla extract. Just be sure to use PURE vanilla extract. This is not the time to be using imitation vanilla.
If you are using vanilla beans for this recipe, simply cut open a vanilla bean pod and use the back of your knife to scrape out ½ of one side of the vanilla bean pod (save the remaining pod to use in future recipes.)
IS IT NECESSARY TO WARM The CREAM?
Yes, I highly recommend warming cream BEFORE whisking into the custard from creme brulee.
This helps the creme brulee recipe turn out better for 2 reasons. The warm cream helps to dissolve the sugar, creating a smooth custard and a warmer custard will cook more evenly.
Recipe Tips and Troubleshooting
- Before browning the sugar, it is best to let the creme brulee come to room temperature for 15-30 minutes. This helps the glass custard cups from cracking. Cold glass CAN break when exposed to high heat--while it is very rare, better to be safe.
- Not Cooked? If you open your instant pot and your custard is still liquid in the center, don't panic. Replace the foil on the custard cups, place them back in your instant pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes on high pressure.
- Doubling the Recipe: If you would like to double this recipe, simply double the ingredients and carefully stack the custard cups on top of each other in the instant pot.
- Water Temperature: Remember to use cold water not warm water in the bottom of your instant pot--this helps the instant pot to the proper temperature.
More Instant Pot Dessert Recipes
- Instant Pot Lava Cakes
- Instant Pot Chocolate Cheesecake
- Instant Pot Cheesecake
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake
I hope you enjoy this classic, yet easy French Creme Brulee recipe, and I would love for you to share your experience in the comments below.
Instant Pot Creme Brulee
For Baked Custard
- 2 egg yolks (use yolks from large eggs)
- ¼ fresh vanilla bean pod (scraped) or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Caramelized Sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons per custard cup
- Prepare your instant pot by placing trivet in the inner pot and pouring 1.5 cups of cold water on the bottom of your pressure cooker.
- In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks with the vanilla, ¼ cup sugar, and salt.
- Heat the heavy cream for 45 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave or until very warm but not boiling. You are looking for a temperature between 155-180 degrees.
- Quickly whisk in 1-2 tablespoons warm cream and then slowly add in the remaining cream, stirring well.
- Divide the cream mixture between 6-ounce cup heat-safe ramekins and cover with foil.
- Place custard cups on the trivet (stacking on top if you double recipe) and close the lid.
- Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Let naturally release for 5 minutes and then do a quick release. Carefully remove custard cups and let cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 3 days before serving.
- Removed custard cups from refrigerator 15-30 minutes before serving.
- Right before serving, top each cup with a teaspoon or two of sugar and then using a kitchen torch, place the flame of the torch about 2 inches above the custard and in a circular motion, melt the sugar to form a caramelized topping. Alternatively, place the custard cups under a preheated broiler and watch closely until the sugar is browned. Serve immediately.
This post was originally posted in 2018 but updated in 2021 with a new video.