Creme brulee has never been easier! This recipe for Instant Pot Creme Brulee comes together in minutes and is baked a perfection at the perfect temperature in the pressure cooker. Be prepared to WOW with this dessert recipe!
If you asked me what my favorite dessert recipe is of all time, I may be tempted to say anything with chocolate and peanut butter in it, like Homemade Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut Butter Banana Bars, but if I stopped and thought about it for long, my answer would be Creme Brulee.
While I love my chocolate and peanut butter combination, when I go out for a fancy dinner, the perfect ending to my dessert would have to be Creme Brulee.
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.
My husband and I traveled to Tahiti earlier this year and we were told over and over, be sure to try the Creme Brulee--like I needed to be told that.
BUT Tahiti is known for its vanilla bean crop and let me tell you there is NOTHING like fresh vanilla beans and warm custard. All that to say Tahitian Creme Brulee was one of the highlights of the culinary cuisine there and will be a flavor memory I will carry with me forever.
I was lucky enough to get to bring back some vanilla beans from Tahiti and let me tell you when they run out, I think I need to head back to Tahiti. Tough job, huh?
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.
How do you make 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.
Step One: Start by warming up whipping cream to a warm heat. You don't need to measure the temperature, just make sure the cream is very warm to your touch but not boiling--about 170-185 degrees.
I complete this step by placing my cream in the microwave for 45 seconds. That seems to be the magic number for me.
Step Two: Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt together.
Step Three: Whisk in a tablespoon or two of the warm cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly.
This is called tempering. What this does is help the eggs reach a higher temperature without scrambling. Once you have whisked in the small amount of warm cream, add the remaining cream, stirring constantly.
Step Four: Transfer the mixture into your custard cups. Cover each cup with foil.
Step Five: Place your trivet into your inner pot of your instant pot and pour in 1 cup water.
Step Six: Place your custard cups on top of your trivet, you can do two layers if you double this recipe (either carefully stacks your custard cups or use a second trivet.)
Step Seven: Cook on High Pressure for 7 MINUTES--yes, 7 minutes is it!
Step Eight: Let naturally release for 5 minutes and then do a quick release.
Step Nine: Carefully remove your custard cups and take the foil off your baked custard and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
Step Ten: Remove from refrigerator 15-30 minutes before serving, to let the custard cups come closer to room temperature.
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.
How do you brown the sugar on Creme Brulee?
As my directions stated above, I use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar.
However, you can also 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.
I tried to use a kitchen lighter to see if that would work in a pinch, and while it did, it used up the entire gas in the lighter for one custard cup--so I would NOT recommend that method. But I wanted to try it for you all!
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 your cream before whisking into custard?
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.
- The warm custard bakes more evenly.
Tips on making Creme Brulee at home:
- Is it necessary to warm your cream before whisking it into custard? Yes, this helps the creme brulee recipe turn out better for 2 reasons--the warm cream helps to dissolve the cream.
- 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.
- It is best to use pure 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.
- 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 back in your instant pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes on high pressure.
- Remember to use cold water not warm water in the bottom of your instant pot--this helps the instant pot to the proper temperature.
- Don't throw away your egg whites--use them in my Mediterranean Frittata or Asparagus Frittata.
- If you are intimidated by your pressure cooker, check out my Instant Pot 101 to overcome your fears.
- Also, be sure to check out my complete recipe collection for Instant Pot Recipes.
Instant Pot Creme Brulee
For Baked Custard
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 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
For the Caramelized Sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons per custard cup
- Prepare your instant pot by placing trivet in inner pot and pouring 1.5 cups cold water on the bottom of your pressure cooker.
- Heat heavy cream of 45 seconds in the mircrowave or until very warm but not boiling.
- Whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, ¼ cup sugar, and salt into mixing bowl.
- Quickly whisk in 1-2 tablespoons warm cream and then slowly add in remaining cream, stirring well.
- Divide cream mixture between 6 ounce cup heat safe ramekins and cover with foil.
- Place custard cups on trivet (stacking on top if you double recipe) and close lid.
- Cook on high for 7 minutes. Let naturally release for 5 minutes and then do a quick release. Carefully remove custard cups and let cool.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 3 days before serving.
- Removed custard cups from refrigerator 15-30 minutes before sering.
- 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. Serve immediately.