Julia Child's Créme Brûlée Recipe Will Surprise You


Créme brûlée is without a doubt one of the most exquisite French desserts. Who can resist the thrill of cracking its thin caramelized crust only to be greeted by a creamy vanilla custard?

Eating créme brûlée shouldn't just be relegated to restaurants. To help you with that endeavor we are sharing an exquisite créme brûlée recipe from the late Julia Child, who pioneered French cuisine in the United States.

Child uses an unconventional technique to prepare her créme brûlée, which will save you time in the kitchen. Curious? Let's get started!


In her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child shares an interesting tidbit about créme brûlée. Apparently, this beloved dessert originated in England at Christ's College in Cambridge. How's that for an interesting plot twist?


The beauty of créme brûlée is that it can be prepared with just a handful of ingredients: sugar, cream, egg yolks and vanilla extract. Its simplicity is astounding but the artistry lies in knowing how to cook the custard without lumps.

Child's recipe is prepared in the same fashion as créme Anglaise, a light custard sauce. This means the custard base is prepared on the stovetop and won't require baking in a bain marie (as you would if you were making flan).

Créme Brûlée Recipe

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup cream, scalded
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cooking Instructions

1. Mix half of the sugar into the egg yolks. Beat 3 minutes until the egg yolks turn pale yellow.

2. Meanwhile, place the cream and the rest of the sugar into a saucepan. Heat until the cream is scalding hot but not boiling.

3. Very slowly add half a ladle of scalded cream to the egg yolk mixture. Beat vigorously to incorporate.

4. Continue adding the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture in a small stream while whisking continuously. The idea is to warm up the egg mixture without cooking the egg.

5. Once the cream has been whisked into the egg yolks mixture pour it back into the pot. Cook over slow heat, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot until the mixture thickens.

6. Remove the heat immediately. Strain and add the vanilla extract.

7. Pour the creme sauce into ramekins for creme brulée. Allow to cool. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

8. Once ready to serve sprinkle each ramekin with sugar and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Serve immediately.

Once you master this créme brûlée recipe, try making another French classic: madeleines.