Vegan Crème Brûlée￼
This Vegan Crème Brûlée is a twist on the traditional French dessert that translates to “burnt cream”. By using coconut milk and all-natural sweeteners, we make a paleo and vegan version of this classic dessert.
My oh my, has this recipe been on my to-do list for a WHILE.
Back in high school, a family friend bought me a blow torch, butane fuel, and a set of ramekins after I expressed my interest in making creme brulee, but not having the tools to do so. I quickly learned to make the classic French dessert in the traditional way – with heavy cream, eggs, and sugar. Not exactly vegan.
Since I’ve gone dairy-free and mostly plant-based, creme brulee has not been on the menu. EXCEPT, when I went to Stanford Inn Resort in Mendocino, CA. It’s an all-vegan resort with an incredible restaurant, and you guessed it – they had a bomb vegan creme brulee for dessert. Every time I’ve seen the torch since I got home from that trip, the need to make a vegan creme brulee worms it’s way back into my brain.
A few weeks back, I asked for any recipe requests for Valentine’s Day. Vegan creme brulee came through a few times, and I knew it was time. Thankfully, it turns out that vegan creme brulee is way easier than I thought it would be to make, and way easier to make than traditional creme brulee.
So, how exactly do you make Vegan Creme Brulee?
Well first, let’s chat ingredients. To make this paleo vegan creme brulee, you’ll need:
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk – make sure to use full-fat, as it’s super important for adding creaminess to this recipe.
- Tapioca Starch – this is used for thickening. It can be replaced with arrowroot starch or cornstarch. However, cornstarch will make this recipe not Paleo.
- Maple Syrup – you can substitute with any other liquid sweetener if preferred.
- Agar Powder – this is a vegan gelatin replacement derived from algae. You can find it at most health food stores or buy it on Amazon.
- Sea Salt
- Vanilla Bean Powder or Vanilla Extract – this is the vanilla bean powder I use, and a little goes a long way!
- Cane or Coconut Sugar, for the caramelized top
I made this recipe a few times to simplify the process and get the creamiest creme brulee possible. The final result makes this a SIMPLE recipe to make! Let’s walk through it…
Blend all the ingredients together. Everything into the blender together – this helps make sure we don’t have any clumps of the tapioca starch when everything goes into the pan. Clumpy creme brulee is no good!
Pour the mixture into a saucepan. Whisk it constantly while it comes up to heat, not letting it boil. It will gradually thicken.
Whisk for 10 to 15 minutes. It will get thicker and thicker as the starch and agar activate. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture is similar in thickness to pudding. When you run your whisk through it, you should be able to see the trail of the whisk for a second or two before it disappears.
Divide between your ramekins and let it cool for about an hour at room temperature before moving to the refrigerator to cool and set completely.
Dust the top of each with sugar and torch it! You’ll want to use a blow torch (or see below if you don’t have one) to caramelize the sugar on top until it’s browned and bubbling. In about a minute, it will set into that crunchy, delicious top that we love about creme brulee!
Serve immediately and enjoy alone or with berries on top!
What if I don’t have a blow torch?
Well, I’d recommend getting one because they’re A) cheap and B) SUPER fun to use (s’mores, anyone?). But if you’re not interested in buying another kitchen gadget, you can always caramelize the top of your creme brulee using the broiler setting on your oven.
I’d recommend putting the sugar-dusted creme brulees on the top rack of your oven, under the broiler, for about three to five minutes. The top won’t get as crunchy as with a blow torch and it will heat the custard a bit, but it should do the trick!
This recipe is perfect for Valentine’s Day, dinner parties, or any other time you want to impress someone…or just your own tastebuds ;)
Want more Valentine’s Day Recipes?
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Melting Cakes
- No-Bake Chocolate Raspberry Tart
- The Best Gluten-Free Vegan Brownies
- 60+ Valentine’s Day Recipes
Vegan Creme Brulee
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 creme brulees 1x
This Vegan Creme Brulee is a twist on the traditional French dessert that translates to “burnt cream”. By using coconut milk and all-natural sweeteners, we make a paleo and vegan version of this classic dessert.
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) full-fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup (30g) tapioca starch, you can also use arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- ¼ cup (84g) pure maple syrup
- ¾ teaspoon agar powder, this is the one I use, you can usually find it in health food stores
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean powder, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 to 6 teaspoons cane sugar or coconut sugar, for the caramelized top
- Set out four to six ramekins (depending on size) on a small baking sheet.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisking frequently, cook the mixture until it’s thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do NOT let it come to a boil, and turn down the heat if necessary. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s thickened significantly and is a smooth, creamy texture, similar to pudding. You should see the trail of the whisk when you whisk the mixture.
- Divide between your prepared ramekins. Let cool for about an hour at room temperature, and then transfer to the refrigerator to firm up.
- When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar evenly over each creme brûlée. Use a blow torch to caramelize the top. If you don’t have a blow-torch, you can put the sugar-dusted creme brûlées under the broiler on the top rack of your oven for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Make sure to only caramelize as many as you’ll be serving immediately, otherwise the sugar will soften in the fridge. The pre-caramelized creme brûlées will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Keywords: dessert, creme brulee, vegan creme brulee, agar powder
How big are the cans of coconut milk that you use? There are different standards everywhere, and using two of the wrong size would completely throw the proportions off… A real shame, I really wanted to make this recipe today because it seems delicious, but don’t want to risk doing it wrong. :)
Hi Sara! The standard cans of coconut milk here are 15 oz – I’ll update the post to reflect that!!
Thanks for this recipe. How far in advance can I make these? Thanks
Hi Lisa, they would probably be okay covered in the fridge for a few days – just don’t do the brulee until right before serving!
Does it taste like coconut? I don’t want a coconut flavor. Looks delish!
Hi Constance, I don’t find it tastes overwhelmingly like coconut but if you don’t like coconut at all, this probably isn’t the recipe for you!
Hi! Could I use gelatin instead of the Agar powder? I don’t have it and I am not vegan.
Thank you for the recipe!
Hi Lili, I know they work slightly differently, I think you’d need a little less gelatin than agar. Unfortunately, since I haven’t tried it that way I can’t confidently recommend the right amount!
We love this recipe. It turned out great.
I cut the recipe in half so we could try the recipe without wasting ingredients.
I used six- 3″ ramekins so we would have small portions. I will probably continue to make it cut in half since there are just two of us, it was so successful and we were pleased with the small portions size.
We did not find it to taste overwhelmingly like coconut.
So thrilled you loved it, Ann! Thanks so much for the feedback, and good to know it works well cut in half!
Looks delicious!!! Can i use a mix of coconut milk and condensed coconut milk (half/half)?
Hi Pilar, I haven’t tested that way but it may work – you may just want to reduce the sweetener to taste because the condensed milk is pre sweetened.
We LOVED this!!! So fun bruleeing the top. We’ve missed creme brûlée since going vegan and this was a fun and easy recipe to make.
So glad you enjoyed it!
Help! The mixture didn’t set. Can I reheat it and add more agar agar. I have made it successfully many times and don’t know what went wrong!!!!
Hi Nicola, how odd! I haven’t had this happen but I think agar can sometimes be finnicky with temperature. Did you manage to fix with more agar?
I mistakenly added cornflour and ruined the consistency. Maybe just agar would have been ok. A shame as it one of my, go to, recipes as it is very easy and everybody loves it…
Oh no, yes that change would definitely affect the texture – sorry it ruined the recipe but hopefully it will be perfect next time with the correct flour!