Flan 101

Flan is a traditional Puerto Rican dessert. We've all eaten it and love it. Most of us are a bit weary of the task of making it. But, we are here to tell you it is easy. These are the 'basic' instructions. All that changes are the ingredients. We've included several flavors on this page.

 

First prepare the caramel so that it has time to 'set' before pouring in the custard.

The Caramel

The most daunting part of preparing a flan was the caramel. I was always afraid of burning myself or burning the caramel. Preparing the caramel in the microwave is so easy, un guame!

Pour 1 cup sugar and about ¼ cup water in a microwave safe cup. I use a 2 cup glass Pyrex measuring cup. Just stir the sugar and water a bit and microwave on high for about 5 minutes until it reaches the right color. Once 4 minutes have passed keep your eye in the microwave. You need to open the door once the caramel reaches that golden color. If it is not dark enough at 5 minutes, add another 30 seconds, but open the door once the color is right. You are looking to get the perfect color, not too light and not too dark.

Then just pour into the flan pan and swirl to cover the bottom. Always let the caramel set before pouring in the custard. How easy is that?

Next get the 'baño de María' or bain-marie (water bath) ready. I use a large cookie sheet on the bottom, then set a large roasting pan on the sheet. At the last minute you will need to boil some water to pour into the roasting pan. Start water to boil when just before you begin preparing custard.

 

Now that the mold and baño are ready prepare the flan as per your recipe. see photo on right

 

 

Carefully pour the custard into the mold. Cover with foil, sit in the roasting pan, add the hot water to the roasting pan no more than half way up, and bake at 350° for about an hour.

Test for doneness by inserting a wet knife in the center, if it comes clean it's done. Larger flans will take 1½ hours. If the flan does not seem solid in the middle, bake it longer, test again. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to the touch. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

To serve run a knife around the inside of the mold, cover the mold with a dish that has a bit of a lip to hold the caramel, such as a pie plate. Carefully flip it over and wait a few minutes until the flan has dropped. Carefully lift the mold. (For ramekins use individual saucers).

I often bake my flan ahead 2 or 3 days leaving in in the mold in the fridge. Leaving it in the mold makes it easy to carry out of the house, make sure you put it in an ice chest if you are taking it out. Serve cold.

Good to note here that traditional Puerto Rican flan usually has more than 6 eggs, and turns out firmer than the flan served in the United States. I use 8 - 10 eggs since I am a traditionalist and like to prepare things the way my mother did (she used 10). I add a tablespoon of vanilla for richer flavor.

More eggs means a larger flan and takes a bit longer to cook and it is more solid or firm and not jiggly. It is a Puerto Rican thing. Just add extra eggs and vanilla and that's all, if you like it firm.

See our 'How to Make Flan' visual here.


Basic Flan Recipe - Vanilla Flan
The most popular flavor

1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 13-oz cans evaporated milk
1 tb vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page.

Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean

 

Flan de Queso - Cream Cheese Flan
This is the second favorite flan

6-8 eggs
2 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sugar
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth add eggs and mix. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean

 

Flan de Coco
This is very popular

8 eggs
2 15-oz can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bañi de Maria and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean

 

Flan de Coco y Queso - Coconut-Cream-Cheese Flan

Follow the recipe for Flan de Coco, add 1 8-oz package softened cream cheese. Mix the cream cheese first with the mixer then add the eggs, then the rest of the ingredients. YUM!

 

Coffee Flan

6 eggs
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
7 oz whole milk
8 oz cream (or evaporated milk)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs instant coffee (dissolved in a tablespoon of water)
1 tbp of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.

 

Orange Flan - Flan de China

6 eggs
2 cups half-and-half (or heavy cream for a richer, denser custard)
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
grated zest of ½ large orange
grated zest of ½ large lemon
½ cup orange juice
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. . Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.


Coquito Flan

2 cups coquito (yes, must have Puerto Rican rum, of course)
6 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth add eggs and mix. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.

 

Flan de Piña - Pineapple Flan

8 eggs
2 cups pure (100%) pineapple juice
1 tbs corn starch
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs rum

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.


Almond Flan

6 eggs
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.

 

Loly's Flan
Puerto Rican Style
this recipe makes a large flan

Mami used to make the most delicious flan than none of us have been able to match. It was a thick flan and it was always perfect.

12 eggs, whole
1½ cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 cup fresh whole milk
1 tbp vanilla plus another ½ tsp vanilla
dash of salt


Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bain-Marie and caramelize the mold as per instructions at the top of this page. Mix eggs with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend smooth but do not over mix. Pour custard into caramelized mold, cover with foil, and sit in the baño de María. Then pour hot water into the baño and into the oven for 1 to 1½ hours until done and knife comes clean.

 

Microwave Flan

With a microwave flan, there is no need for a baño de María. You will need a caramelized pan prepared the same way. The pan must be microwavable. This flan cannot be too large. Use only 6 eggs at the most. Test it out in your microwave before you serve it to anyone. I made it in my old microwave and it was good, but not so in my new microwave.

5 eggs
1 cup white sugar
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Beat eggs, add the other ingredients. Cook in the microwave at 50% power for 7 minutes, then cook at 100% power for 8 minutes. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean when it is done. If it is not done after the 8 minutes, cook at one minute intervals, checking each time. Cool and refrigerate before serving.

 

Pressure Cooker Flan

No need for a bien-Marie or baño here. You will need deep a caramelized metal pan that fits in your pressure cooker. Use a simple pot without handles and a secure lid. There should be enough room between the caramelized pan and the pressure cooker so that the pan can be lifted out when done.

Follow your recipe. Pour into caramelized mold and secure with lid. If no lid, cover with foil and secure with rubber band. Carefully lower the mold into the pressure cooker with about 3" of water or no more than half way up the mold. Secure the pressure cooker lid and lock it. Cook for 50 minutes after lowering heat. Turn it off. Let it cool down enough to open the cooker lid. Then let this cool down enough again to lift the mold out. Once it gets to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. If making a larger flan add additional time.