This banh flan recipe, also known as Vietnamese crème caramel, is a soft, silky custard with a layer of caramelized golden brown sugar. Banh flan is known for its smooth texture and its sweet, light eggy-cream taste. It is easy to make, with just 3 ingredients: eggs, sugar, and milk, with optional vanilla extract.


This is a great flan recipe for one or more people. You can put it in different individual sized bakeware like ramekins (also good for sharing). Or, you can put it in a larger dish if you prefer to slice it and share.

If you plan on bringing this to your next party, just make sure you handle with care when moving around with it! Flan is very delicate and one of those things that you need to treat with care otherwise you can cause it to break (yes it can break!).

What’s special about this flan?

This recipe was passed down from my grandpa, who used to make it for us when we were kids. We used to wait in eager anticipation as he took the flan out of the oven, and turned it over with caution and precision to reveal a perfectly smooth flan cake.

Also known as bánh flan, kem flan, banh caramel, kem caramel, this is a popular dessert common in northern Vietnam. Flan was introduced to the Vietnamese by the French.

There are many variations to this recipe, some which call for egg yolks only, or egg whites only. This recipe uses the whole egg.

How to make it

There are two parts to this recipe. We have the caramel part and the steaming part.

First, we make the caramel top layer, which will give the signature dark color of this dessert. This layer will melt into the flan and give it a sweet strong taste that balances out the mellowness of the golden flan part.

Secondly, we will use a water bath to make the golden flan part. You want to make sure you add enough water so the custard mixture gets heated evenly. Flan is made by steaming the milk mixture in the oven.

To serve, use a paring knife, or any thin knife to cut through the delicate flan cake.

What to have with it?

  • Coffee soak. I like to pour a little bit of instant coffee on top of the flan to let it soak.
  • Crushed ice. Some like to break the sweetness with crushed ice, which makes it taste texturally fun too.
  • Fruits. We serve it with berries, or strawberry coulis.
  • A drizzle of condensed milk. Makes it even sweeter. Add ice too to make it interesting.
  • A cup of coffee or tea. Self explanatory. I have it with an unsweetened hot drink.
  • Top with coconut cream.


  • Replace whole milk with skim milk, or evaporated milk. This will change the flavor but it may suit your taste more, if you like it to feel lighter or heavier.
  • Coconut milk to give a aromatic smell and flavor of coconut.
  • Heavy cream instead of milk.
  • Add black coffee to the milk mixture. You just need a shot of strong espresso to add to the milk mixture.
  • Vanilla bean, grounded, to add a natural vanilla essence.


  • 1 water bath: We use a medium baking pan to be filled with water. You want the water to be at least 1/2 to 1 inch tall, depending on the size of your ramekin or flan container. This is so the flan does not get burned at the bottom and instead cooks by steam.
  • Small sauce pan to heat up sweet milk
  • Small nonstick pan to make caramel layer
  • 1 small or medium round baking pan for the flan. Ideally the walls should flare out (bigger at the opening) so you can remove it easily, or at least have it parallel.
  • 8 ramekins or ceramic containers for individual servings. Or any glass container that can withstand high temperatures.
  • Sieve for filtering egg bubbles out.


  • 12 eggs
  • 3/4 cups sugar for the Sweet Milk Mixture
  • 1 cup sugar for the caramelization
  • 4 cups milk (I use whole milk, my mom likes 2% milk)
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional


Caramelizing The Top Layer

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In the small pan, on medium heat, pour in 1 cup of sugar. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes. Once the sugar melts, swirl continuously to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from heat once the sugar is completely dissolved and it turns an amber brown color.
  3. Working fast, pour the caramel liquid into each ramekin, making sure it covers the bottom of the ramekin in a thin layer. Let cool and harden.

Prepare Sweet Milk Mixture

  1. In a small sauce pan on low heat, warm up milk and sugar, stir sugar until dissolved. You want it slightly warm, with the sugar melted, so you can combine this with the eggs later. You don’t want it too warm that it cooks the eggs. I find that 120 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature to warm it to.
  2. Beat eggs in the blender or hand whisk for 3 min, then filter it through sieve to remove bubbles, making sure egg consistency is smooth.
  3. Mix warmed sweet milk and beaten eggs together.

Baking The Flan

  • Fill the baking sheet pan with hot water until it reaches halfway the height of the pan.
  • Pour in mixture of milk into the prepared ramekin with the caramelized layer. Cover with foil.
  • Bake 375 degree for 40 minutes. Use toothpick to check that it’s not sticking. This means it’s fully cooked.
  • Let cool then refrigerate for 3 hours. Loosen the pan with a sharp knife then invert it into a plate to serve.


What is the difference between flan and pudding?

Flan has a rich, toasted sugar caramel flavor from the topping, which pudding just has the same texture throughout. It is similar to crème brulee or panna cotta in taste as well, but they have very different textures.

Can flan still be eaten if left out overnight?

No because it contains eggs, which can harbor bacteria.

How long does flan take to set in the fridge?

1-2 hours. I usually leave it overnight.

How do you break flan?

Flan has a very jello-like texture, so you want to be careful not to jiggle it too much or it can split apart, like a crack in glass. This is purely esthetic as the taste is still completely delicious.

Why is my flan floofy like a soufle or a cake?

Its probably cooked too hot, or you didn’t have enough water in your water bath, which caused it to overcook and taste more like cake.

How do I cut flan?

Use a clean, smooth, non-serrated knife. A small knife works well. Cut straight down into even triangles.

Banh Flan Recipe – Vietnamese Caramel Flan (3 Easy Ingredients)

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Calories 288
Authentic Vietnamese creme caramel flan or leche flan without condensed milk. This banh flan recipe dates to the 1970s when my parents fled to America.


  • 1 Medium baking pan to be filled with water
  • 1 Small round baking pan or
  • 8 Ramekins


  • 12 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 cups whole milk ((or 2% milk))
  • teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare Sweet Milk Mixture

  • Warm up milk and sugar, stir sugar until dissolved.
  • Beat eggs in the blender for 3 min, then filter it.
  • Mix sweet milk and beaten eggs together.

Caramelizing The Top Layer

  • Fill the medium pan with hot water until it reaches halfway the height of the pan.
  • In the small pan (or ramekins), dissolve ½ cup of sugar turn on medium heat until caramel color. Swirl occasionally to make sure the sugar doesn't burn. Remove from heat.

Baking The Flan

  • Pour in mixture of milk, cover with foil.
  • Bake 375 degree for 40 minutes. Use toothpick to check that it's not sticking. This means it's fully cooked.
  • Let cool then refrigerate for 3 hours. Loosen the pan with a sharp knife then invert it into a plate to serve.
Author: denthu
Calories: 288kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: easy ingredients


Serving: 1 slice | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 260mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 275mg | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 554IU | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 1mg

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