Today we’re making my mom’s Puerto Rican flan recipe. This classic dessert consists of a lusciously creamy custard filling topped with homemade caramel.

A plate with a slice of flan

A Puerto Rican Classic

Flan is a classic Puerto Rican dessert (also known as an egg custard to many) and is made with a milk and egg base. 

Traditionally, this custard is poured over a caramelized sugar base, baked and flipped upside down to reveal a beautiful caramel topping. 

It’s the perfect combination of light creamy custard and rich sweet caramel. 

Make sure to also try my flancocho, flan de calabaza (pumpkin flan), and budin (bread pudding) if you enjoy this sweet treat!

flan with bites taken out of it on a plate

Ingredients

Here at Salima’s Kitchen, we love an easy recipe and my mom’s Puerto Rican flan recipe is about as simple as it gets.

Heading to the store and need a list? I’ve got you covered!

To make this dish you will need:

For the caramel layer :

  • White granulated sugar 

For the filling: 

  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk 
  • milk 
  • vanilla extract 
  • A pinch of salt 
  • 5 eggs
  • More white granulated sugar 
evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt on a counter

Making the caramel (you’ve got this!)

Be very careful when making and pouring the caramel as it gets extremely hot and can cause serious burns.

My mom and I usually use a round glass pyrex dish or smaller ramekins for this recipe but you can use whatever you have on hand that’s oven safe.

Making the Flan Filling & Baking

Create a water bath by placing your baking dish or dishes inside another, larger oven safe dish. Pour in warm water until it is nearly as tall as the flan, but not tall enough to overflow into it.

The water bath technique helps the custard to cook evenly.

Some helpful tips if your flan isn’t budging: shake the flan dish gently, tap on the bottom, let the dish sit in warm water, patience is key!

What Not to Do

A few tips on things to watch out for:

  • Don’t overcook the caramel – it can develop a burnt flavor easily so it’s important to cook over low heat and be patient so that it reaches a liquid form before burning.
  • Be careful to not burn yourself with the hot caramel, it is extremely hot and can cause serious burns.
  • Don’t forget to let your flan cool and set, and loosen the edges with a knife before flipping.

Creme Brulee vs. Flan

For many Americans, flan is just the Spanish version of Creme Brulee. 

While the two dishes have many similarities, flan does not have the hard brulee crust or require any special tools (like a torch) to make. 

Additionally, flan involves the process of baking the custard on top of the caramel, then flipping it after it’s cooked and cooled. Creme brulee involves baking the custard alone, then sprinkling with sugar and using a torch to caramelize as mentioned above.

A plate with a slice of flan

Baking Vessels

As you may have noticed, you can make this flan in a large baking dish or in smaller ramekins and bake in a larger dish to create a water bath.

The result is essentially the same, with the only difference being single servings of flan or one larger flan that can be cut into slices.

Just make sure whatever baking dish/es you use are oven safe up to 350 degrees Fareinheit.

flan on a plate

Different variations to try 

This version of flan is the most traditional in Puerto Rico and can be found at most panaderias (Puerto Rican or Spanish bakeries). 

Many Latin cultures have their own versions of the traditional flan that will vary between countries. That said, there are also variations between flavors of flan. 

That said, you can experiment with any of your favorite sweet flavors in this dessert.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with flan.

And if you’re interested in trying more Puerto Rican food & desserts, check out this collection of my favorite Puerto Rican recipes.

More Puerto Rican Desserts

Buen provecho,

Salima written in cursive
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a plate of flan

Puerto Rican Flan Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 11 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Puerto Rican, Dessert, Custard, Flan
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the caramel:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the custard filling:

  • 1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Make the caramel. Pour sugar into a heavy bottomed pot and melt over low heat. Watch closely and mix occasionally to ensure the sugar melts evenly (can take up to 20 minutes). 
  2. Pour the caramel into baking dish/es. Once sugar has melted, carefully pour the caramel into an oven safe baking dish or dishes. Tilt the dish/es around to evenly distribute the caramel before setting aside.
  3. Make the custard filling. Add all remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until velvety smooth. Pour mixture into baking dish/es over caramel. 
  4. Bake in a water bath. Place the baking dish/es inside another, larger oven safe dish with a layer of hot water to create a water bath. Bake at 350° F for 60-80 minutes, or until the center looks jiggly (think jello) but no longer liquid. Remove the flan from the oven and allow time to cool. 
  5. Loosen & flip the flan. Using a knife, loosen the edges around the flan and baking dish/es. Grab a platter to serve on and place it over the baking dish. Carefully flip the flan onto the platter, allowing the caramel to drizzle over the top. Slice, serve and enjoy!

More Puerto Rican recipes: