You will love this Vegan Crème Brûlée recipe made with coconut milk and vanilla bean! It has the most creamy, smooth vanilla custard topped with a crunchy caramel layer. Plus, this coconut creme dessert is super easy to make, and no baking is needed for a quick and elegant dessert any time of the week.
I have been making creme brulee – which translates into ‘burnt cream’ – for many years, but I had to try making a vegan version.
Traditionally, creme brulee is a typical French dessert that is not vegan at all, made with eggs, cream, and milk. I always thought it was a challenging recipe because you need to temper the egg yolk before combining it with warm milk.
But, when I started working on a vegan creme brulee recipe, I realized that swapping eggs for cornstarch as a thicker was turning the original recipe into a super easy dessert.
My goal was to develop a recipe that had the same rich and creamy texture as the authentic French dessert recipe that I used to love so much. So, I played with the amount of cornstarch until I reached the perfect balance: thick but not too thick.
I then added a touch of vegan butter at the end for a boost of richness! This secret addition is my touch to make the best vegan creme brulee that tastes and looks like the one French restaurants serve.
Of course, I created this recipe from my previous recipe, the vegan custard recipe because in the end, a creme brulee is basically a vanilla custard, topped with caramelized sugar layer on top!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Non-Dairy Milk – With a light texture like almond milk oat milk or a carton of coconut milk.
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk – Make sure you shake your can before opening it so both layers come together.
- Sugar – like caster sugar or white sugar to keep your custard nicely golden white. However, healthier sugar alternatives like coconut sugar work as well. It only impacts the color of the custard.
- Lemon Juice – To lightly curdle the plant-based milk and add a light tangy flavor to the dessert. If you have a citrus allergy, you can skip this ingredient.
- Cornstarch – also called cornflour in the UK. It is used as a thickener for the custard. Arrowroot starch or tapioca flour should also work in the same quantity, but the texture is usually a bit more elastic, so I don’t recommend this choice first.
- Turmeric for a light golden color that mimics the egg yolk from regular creme brulee recipes.
- Vegan Butter to add creaminess to the custard.
- Vanilla Extract or use a fresh vanilla pod, slice in half lengthwise and release the vanilla bean seeds in the milk.
Making Vegan Creme Brulee
- Prepare round small size ramekins. Mine are 12-ounce small ramekins. In a non-stick saucepan off the heat, whisk the dry ingredients evenly: sugar, cornstarch, turmeric, and salt.
- Whisk in coconut milk, almond milk, lemon juice – if used, and bring the mixture to a light boil.
- Reduce heat and cook 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens and looks like a custard.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, and vegan butter, until melted.
- The mixture is going to be glossy, creamier, and smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the ramekins, filling them up to 3/4 their level. Film each ramekin with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the top of the custard closely so it doesn’t form a film on the top. Refrigerate it overnight.
Burning The Sugar
- The next day, remove the plastic wrap on top and sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of sugar on top of each ramekin. The more you use the thicker the caramel will be.
- There are two ways you can burn sugar to form the typical caramel layer on top of your creme brulee.
- Blow torch – bring the torch 1 inch (3cm) away from the top of the ramekin in a 45 degree angle and move into circle above the creme to burn the sugar. Stop when golden brown and before black spots form.
- Broiler – set your oven broiler mode, place the ramekin on a baking sheet, and pop it on the top rack of the oven. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the sugar has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.
Expert Tips For The Best Vegan Creme Brulee
- Use a combo of low-fat and high-fat milk – This creates a rich custard but light at the same time, like the classic French recipe.
- Add vegan butter. Adding a touch of vegan butter adds an extra layer of richness, a silky smooth texture.
- Pick the right ramekin size – Depending on the width of your ramekin, your custard layer will be thinner or thicker; the thicker it is, the longer it takes to firm up in the fridge. Authentic French creme brulee is thick and served on 12-oz taller ramekins.
- Don’t use agar powder. Agar agar is an excellent thickener to replace gelatin in vegan recipes. However, it creates a jelly-like texture that is not what we expect from a creme brulee. Creme brulee is a silky smooth curd, not firm like jelly.
Frequently Asked Questions
This creme brulee can be stored in the fridge, in their ramekin, for up to 4 days.
I don’t recommend freezing this vegan dessert.
Yes, you can pour the entire custard into one large dish and serve it like a flan pie.
More Classic Vegan Desserts
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Vegan Creme Brulee
- Prepare 4-6 round ramekins. Set them aside.
- In a saucepan, off the heat, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, turmeric, and salt.
- Whisk in the almond milk, coconut milk, and lemon juice. Keep whisking and bring to medium heat.
- Bring a light boil, stirring constantly, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is thick and looks like custard.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and vegan butter until melted.
- Fill each ramekin with about 3/4 cup of creme brulee. Film the top of the ramekins with plastic wrap – making sure the wrap touches the custard to prevent a film from forming on top. Refrigerate overnight.
- Before serving, sprinkle evenly 1-2 teaspoons of sugar on top of each ramekin and use a kitchen torch to burn the sugar and form a crusty caramel layer.
- Serve immediately.