I love Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée! It’s so creamy, light and delicious. In my humble opinion it’s a prefect dessert winter, spring, summer or fall. The impression most people have is that it’s tricky to make. This is not the case! In fact I am excited to show you that Creme Brûlée is accessible, even for a beginner in the kitchen.
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Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée! in a white ramekin on a beige tablecloth


How to Make Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée:

Creme Brûlée may sound intimidating but it’s actually easy to make. There are only a few ingredients: cream, sugar, egg yolks and in this case lemon zest and vanilla paste. Here are a few tips to make the process go smoothly.


1. Prepare Ingredients Before you Begin

Creme Brûlée cooks very quickly so you want all items measured out and prepared before you start. That way when you start the cooking process you don’t have to stop for any reason. This is important. Do it y’all.

2. Tempering

Tempering is the only semi-tricky part about making creme brûlée. If you follow the directions in the recipe below you will be fine, but I just want to explain the concept and give you the visuals. Visuals really help me, I hope they help you.

Ingredients for Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée
The purpose of tempering is to make sure you don’t have curdled Creme Brûlée. After heating the cream, if you were to add it to the eggs all at once the eggs would cook and your Creme Brûlée would be silky and smooth. To avoid this you ‘temper’ by slowly adding a small amount of cream to eggs and mixing in between additions. This prevents curdling by warming the eggs slowly while simultaneously cooling the cream.

A collage showing how to temper cream and eggs for use in Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

3. The Bain Marie or Water Bath:

Bain Marie means ‘water bath’ in french. This helps the Creme Brûlée cook evenly. Place ramekins in a glass baking dish and add 1″ of water to dish. Cook the Creme Brûlée only until sides are set and the center is still jiggly, usually about 25 minutes but this can vary depending on the size ramekin you use. Because ramekins stay hot after removal from the oven the Creme Brûlée continues to cook. If you wait till the centers are firm to remove from the oven you dessert will be over cooked. That’s it! Easy right?

Six ramekins sitting in a baking dish with water in it making a water bath for cooking Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

4. Bake the Creme Brûlée:

Bake Creme Brûlée only until sides are set and centers still jiggle, this usually takes about 25 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending what size ramekins you use. Becauseramekins remain hot after removal from the oven the Creme Brûlée continues to cook. If you wait till the centers are firm, it will be overcooked.These colorful Le Creuscet ramekins are available here(affiliate link)

5. Torching: The Final Touch!

Now you have options. Traditionally Creme Brûlée is sprinkled with a fine baker’s sugar , which is usually available on the baking aisle at the grocery store, and then torchedso the sugar melts and then hardens. There is something really fun about hearing the crack of the spoon breaking that glassy sugar.

A female's hand using a spoon to sprinkle sugar in preparation to torch Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

To torch: After cooling Creme Brûlée in refrigerator for three hours, spoon a thin layer of Caster or baker’s sugar on top. Hold the torch about three inches away from the ramekin and use small circular motions to melt the sugar and prevent burning.

A female's hand holding a ramekin of Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée and using other hand to melt the sugar with a torch


Another option: Top with Berries!

If you don’t want to invest in  buying a torch, or lack the time to wait for Creme Brûlée to cool, I think adding fresh raspberries or strawberries is a fantastic option. Whichever way you choose to go, this dessert will be delicious! Your friends are going to be so impressed.

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée topped with raspberries in white ramekin


Pro Tips!

The Vanilla Paste:

The combination of fresh zest and vanilla is lovely! I always use the amazing Nielsen Massey vanilla paste (affiliate link) instead of extract. Paste is more flavorful than extract without the overwhelming alcohol taste. And it contains vanilla bean flecks that are visible in the creme brûlée making it looks even prettier. But you are welcome to use extract. I just always like to offer you new options!


a brown bottle of vanilla paste


Zesting Citrus:

I use a  microplane (affiliate link) to zest the lemons used in this recipe. When zesting citrus, only scrape the very outer surface of the fruit. The white layer underneath is bitter. As soon as the white is exposed, move to a new area.


Three ramekins of Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée


The Recipe: Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée

You will need:  ramekins (mine are 6oz), vanilla paste, microplane (for zesting) and a large glass baking dish. (affiliate links)

Lemon Vanilla Creme Brûlée
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins

A lovely dessert for any time of year!

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: classic recipe, easy dessert recipe, holiday recipe
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Linda Spiker
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar or fine baker’s sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • Zest from three lemons
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or vanilla extract (but I highly recommend paste! )
  • Raspberries, a lemon slice, or torched caster sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in bottom 1/3 of oven to prevent browning. Place ramekins in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  2. Separate egg yolks from the whites. ( We will only be using yolks. Discard white or use for egg white omelette)

  3. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl (preferably a bowl with a pouring spout) Set aside.

  4. Zest lemons. Set aside.
  5. Pour cream into a pot (rounded bottom if you have one) Turn on high heat. Watch closely.
  6. As soon as bubbles form on the sides and the center is steaming, immediately turn off heat.

  7. Now add zest and vanilla to cream. Stir well.
  8. To temper: Add cream mixture one ladle full at a time to bowl with eggs/sugar mixture.

  9. Stir well between additions.
  10. This is called 'tempering'. When all cream is stirred into eggs pour into ramekins filling them 2/3 full. Depending on the size of the ramekins you use, this recipe should make 6-8 servings.
  11. Make a water bath or 'bain Marie' by pouring water into a baking dish until water is about an inch deep.

  12. Set ramekins in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center of the jiggles but the sides are firm. Do not over cook as this dessert will continue to cook in the ramekins once it is removed from the oven.

  13. You can serve warm with berries at this point. If you wish to torch with sugar keep reading.

  14. To torch: Once creme brulee is cooled, cover and place in refrigerator for three hours. Sprinkle creme brulle with baker's sugar. Light torch, and while holding torch three inches from dessert use small circular motions to melt sugar. Be careful not to burn sugar. Enjoy!


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Post tags: dessert, custard, pudding