This keto crème brûlée recipe is sponsored by Lakanto, a brand I use and love. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Stem and Spoon!
With a quick prep time and only five ingredients required, keto crème brûlée is easy and elegant. Rich and creamy vanilla custard with crackly, burnt "sugar" topping (in this case we're using monk fruit) results in a simple and delicious treat with a mouthfeel just as delightful as its flavor.
And while creme brulee is the creme de la creme (literally) of the dessert world, this sugar-free crème brûlée recipe is all about options. My recipe includes notes for a dairy-free version, a small-batch iteration (keto crème brûlée for two) and a family-style option, if you'd rather dig into one large dish of yummy vanilla custard (and who wouldn't?!).
why this keto crème brûlée recipe works
Creme brulee is similar to cheesecake in the sense that it is an easy dessert to transform into a low-carb and sugar-free treat.
Five simple ingredients (plus an optional sixth for a touch of flavor) come together to form a basic custard. While sugar is typically used to sweeten the custard and create that hardened burnt topping, Lakanto's Brown Monkfruit Sweetener makes the perfect, low-carb swap for sugar that takes this keto creme brulee recipe to a whole new level.
Keto creme brulee is:
- rich and creamy
- simple to make with only five ingredients required and 20 minutes of prep time
- a dreamy, sophisticated keto dessert perfect for special occasions
- low-carb, low-glycemic and gluten-free
about the sweetener
Lakanto's Brown Monkfruit Sweetener is a keto-friendly sugar replacement with the same rich, nutty and caramel-y flavor notes as actual brown sugar. Not only is it low-carb and low glycemic, but it is also vegan, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and a 1:1 swap for brown sugar.
For this keto creme brulee recipe, I recommend using Brown Monkfruit Sweetener or Lakanto's Golden Monkfruit Sweetener (their raw sugar substitute with similar flavor). Both add a rich, caramel-y sweetness to the custard that you just can't get from any other monk fruit/erythritol blend.
the ingredient list
To make sugar-free creme brulee, you will need:
- heavy cream or whipping cream (see recipe notes for dairy-free version)
- egg yolks
- Lakanto Brown Monkfruit Sweetener (or Golden)
- vanilla extract
- espresso instant coffee (optional)
- strawberries or raspberries (optional topping)
While the espresso powder adds the most deliciously subtle coffee flavor to the custard that I recommend, it isn't an absolute must.
As for special equipment, you will need:
- shallow ramekins (4-6 depending on their size) or a medium baking dish if you're making this family-style
- a large baking sheet or baking dish for the water bath (it should be able to hold the ramekins)
- a culinary torch (preferred, but you can also use your oven's broiler)
how to make keto crème brûlée
Crème brûlée is a dessert that might seem a bit intimidating but is in fact, shockingly simple, as long as you know the right steps.
Here's how to make a low-carb creme brulee:
- Warm the cream. In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You want it to be warm-hot but don't let it reach a full boil.
- Make the egg mixture. While the cream heats, combine the egg yolks (save the whites to make pavlova!), half of the monkfruit sweetener (set aside the remaining ¼ cup), vanilla, salt and espresso powder in a mixing bowl. Whisk until it is smooth and well combined.
- Pour in the cream. Very slowly pour the warm cream (almost a drizzle) into the egg/sweetener mixture, whisking vigorously until combined.
- Bake the keto creme brulee. Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet (use one with a 1-inch lip) and pour the custard into the ramekins. Pour warm water into the baking sheet so that the ramekins are sitting in a water bath. Transfer to the oven and bake at 300°F for about 30-35 minutes or until only the center has a slight jiggle.
- Chill. Remove from the oven and cool in the water bath for 30 minutes. Transfer the creme brulée to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Caramelize the sweetener. Spoon a small amount of the reserved Brown Monkfruit Sweetener on each serving to create a thin, even layer on top (get the entire surface area!). Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sweetener. Hold it 1-2 inches away from the sweetener and torch until it is entirely melted. It will quickly harden. Top with berries (optional) and serve!
tips for success
- Pour the cream into the egg mixture slowly (almost a drizzle). The slow pour will help raise the egg temperature gradually and prevents the eggs from scrambling. Whisk it vigorously as you pour.
- Strain the custard before baking. This isn't absolutely necessary but it will ensure that your custard is smooth and without any hard bits of overcooked egg. You can usually eyeball this- if you see any lumps in the custard, I recommend pouring it through a fine-mesh strainer before baking.
- Place the ramekins into the water bath (bain marie) before filling them with custard.
- When pouring the custard into the ramekins, pour a small amount into each one first, instead of filling up one at a time. This will help make sure the servings are even.
- Bake just until custard appears set with a jiggly center. Overcooked custard will crack. If you're unsure, err on the side of underdone since the custard will continue to cook outside of the oven from the residual heat of the water bath.
- Using the oven broiler: I recommend making creme brulee with a kitchen torch, but if you don't have one, you can also use your oven's broiler. Once the creme brulee has chilled for several hours, place the ramekins back on a baking sheet. Cover the top of each with the brown monkfruit sweetener and place under a hot broiler (about 2-3 inches from the heat) for about 5 minutes.
- For a dairy-free keto creme brulee: Instead of heavy cream, use 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or macadamia milk) and 1 cup of full-fat coconut cream.
- To make low-carb creme brulee for two: Divide the recipe in half, using only 3 egg yolks. You will need just a pinch of salt and a pinch of espresso powder. The bake time will remain the same.
- For a family-style crème brûlée: Make a water bath with a large baking dish (I've used a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan) that will hold a medium-sized dish. Pour the custard into the medium dish and bake at 300 for 35-40 minutes. Follow the remaining steps in the recipe, using the reserved ¼ cup monkfruit sweetener (or more as needed) to form the burnt sweetener topping.
Note: I use Lakanto's granulated sweeteners so much -in most of my keto baking - that I'm an affiliate. That means you can use my code STEMANDSPOON at checkout to receive a 15% discount on your Lakanto order. I earn a small amount of those purchases, at no extra cost to you (in fact, you get a discount!!). This helps support my site and I will only ever recommend products I absolutely love.
watch the recipe video
frequently asked questions
You don't have to use ramekins- you can easily transform this dessert into a simple, family-style treat. Simply prepare a water bath with a large roasting pan (or a pan that will hold your smaller baking dish). Pour the custard into the baking dish and bake at 300°F for 30-40 minutes or until the custard is set and the center is still jiggly.
Yes- don't skip the water bath! A water bath prevents the custard from overcooking and splitting because the water temperature will not get as hot as the oven temperature. The water helps distribute the heat evenly to cook the custard.
Cover any leftovers with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. I recommend only preparing the burnt sweetener topping when it's time to serve to ensure it has the best, crisp and crackly texture.
Enjoy this classic, beloved treat- it's a personal fave that I can never resist anytime I see it on a dessert menu. Thankfully, it's easy enough to make a delicious, healthier version at home anytime you're in need of a special treat.
you might also love...
- Keto Basque burnt cheesecake, an ultra creamy and light, custard-like cheesecake with an incredibly delicious burnt top.
- Keto French silk pie, a smooth, chocolatey mousse filling on an Oreo-inspired crust.
- This keto chia pudding post includes three easy chia pudding variations to please any palette!
- Keto pavlova! It's almost a must since you have all those egg whites to use up now. 😉
- 2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream (see notes for dairy-free substitute)
- 7 egg yolks
- ½ cup Lakanto Brown (or Golden) Monk Fruit Sweetener, divided
- 1-½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- fresh strawberries or raspberries for topping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat water on the stovetop until warm/hot- it does not need to be boiling. Set it aside to use later for the water bath.
- Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Warm on the stovetop over medium heat until it is hot, about 5 minutes. Do not let it reach a full boil.
- Place the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl and whisk well.
- Add ¼ cup Lakanto Brown Monk Fruit Sweetener (reserve the remaining ¼ cup for later) to the egg yolks and mix.
- Add the vanilla, salt and espresso powder. Whisk the egg yolk mixture for a couple of minutes or until it is smooth.
- Very slowly pour the warm cream (in a stream that is almost a drizzle) into the egg/sweetener mixture, whisking vigorously until combined. Continue pouring slowly until all of the cream has been added. The slow pour will gradually heat the egg mixture and will help prevent any egg from scrambling.
- Place four shallow ramekins onto a baking sheet that has a 1-inch lip and pour the custard into the ramekins. Pour a small amount into each ramekin, then top them off to create even portions.
- Carefully pour the warm water into the baking sheet so that the ramekins are sitting in a water bath (the water should come halfway up the side of the ramekin).
- Transfer to the oven and bake at 300°F for about 30-35 minutes or until only the center has a slight jiggle.
- Remove the creme brulee from the oven and let the custards chill in the water bath for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the crème brûlées to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Divide the reserved ¼ cup Brown Monkfruit Sweetener between each serving, spreading it on top to create a thin layer that covers the entire surface (use more as needed). Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sweetener. Hold it 1-2 inches away from the sweetener and torch until it is entirely melted. It will quickly harden.
- Top with berries (optional) and serve.