Vietnamese Crème Caramel Flan (Bánh Flan)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 25/01/2022 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 1 hour 15 minutes
Total 5 hours 35 minutes
This silky, velvety smooth Vietnamese crème caramel flan or bánh flan is my family’s favorite dessert! It is delicate, creamy and has just the right amount of sweetness for an ultra-luxurious experience.
Vietnamese Crème Caramel Flan (Bánh Flan)

This silky, velvety smooth Vietnamese crème caramel flan or bánh flan is my family’s favorite dessert! It is delicate, creamy, and has just the right amount of sweetness for an ultra-luxurious experience.

Lifting out a slice of Vietnamese flan to serve.
Pro tip: slice and serve yourself first before this irresistible dessert is all scooped up.

I will be in SO much trouble after I post this because this is my family’s top-secret Vietnamese crème caramel flan recipe. This flan recipe was tweaked and perfected over the last 20 years by my uncle who has always kept this recipe a secret. It is the shining star of every family party and is always such a treat to have. My family always fight for the biggest slice and pray that there will be leftovers to take home for tomorrow.

This creme caramel flan has the perfect balance of sweetness, the most delicate and velvety texture, and is possibly the best flan that has ever existed. This flan recipe is so ridiculously delicious that it was impossible for me to not share it with you.

This creme caramel recipe may seem really simple but it requires precise timing for every step! So follow the steps and tips and tricks closely to achieve the best results. If you loved this recipe, check out my Vietnamese coffee tiramisu cake or my Chè Ba Màu or Vietnamese three-color dessert!

A slice of flan being drizzled with creme caramel on a small plate.
This flan has the perfect balance of sweetness and delicate creaminess for a satisfying flavor.

What is Vietnamese Flan?

Bánh flan is the Vietnamese version of the French crème caramel and is known as flan in other regions. It is delicate and soft and covered in a layer of sugary caramel. Vietnamese bánh flan uses condensed or evaporated milk and is steamed rather than baked in an oven.

Up close of someone scooping a bite out of a slice of flan.
The texture of this steamed flan is silky smooth and nearly as delicate as softened butter.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Fine Mesh Sieve: you will use a fine mesh sieve to remove any bubbles and to make the flan smooth.
  • Whisk: you will use a whisk to combine all the ingredients.
  • Steamer: you will need a steamer large enough to hold the 8 inch round cake pan.
  • 8 inch round cake pan: this recipe is perfect for a 8 inch non-stick cake pan. Alternatively, you can use ramekins or smaller cake molds if you prefer. The cook times will vary depending on the size of the mold.

Ingredients

This Vietnamese crème caramel flan only requires 6 ingredients that you can find at your local grocery store.

  • Large Eggs: make sure to use large eggs at room temperature for this recipe. The eggs are what create the silky custard texture of this flan.
  • Evaporated Milk: evaporated milk is a milk that has evaporated about 60% of the water content. The result is a creamier, thicker milk. This will result in a creamier custard.
  • Water: the water slightly thins out the milk and also creates the amber caramel sauce
  • Granulated Sugar: the granulated sugar creates the rich amber caramel and sweetens the custard
  • Vanilla Extract: the vanilla extract is the main flavoring component to the custard
  • Lemon Juice: the lemon juice is added to the caramel for a touch of acidity and flavor

How To Make This Recipe

This Vietnamese crème caramel flan recipe requires very few steps but each step is very important so read carefully!

Make the Caramel Syrup

  1. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the sugar water and lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a small skillet on medium heat, until the sugar dissolves and melts into a golden amber. Do not stir! You can pick up the skillet and swirl it around 1-2 times to prevent it from burning.
Caramel color preferences often vary, but a golden amber color has just the right level of richness for this flan.
  1. Pour the caramel into the 8 inch cake pan and quickly swirl the brown sugar syrup to cover the entire bottom of the pan. The syrup will harden in a few seconds.
At first, the caramel might seem too liquidy, but it hardens quickly in a few seconds.

Make the Custard

  1. Using a fine mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs over the sieve and use a fork to break up the yolk to go through the sieve. Add the vanilla extract and gently whisk slowly until combined. Try not to whisk too quickly to create any air bubbles in the mixture. Then pour in the evaporated milk, water, and sugar and slowly whisk until the sugar dissolves.
Sifting whisked egg yolk through a metal sieve to achieve a silky consistency.
Sieving the egg yolks takes a little bit of patience, but this dish is worth the payoff.
  1. Slowly pour the flan mixture through the fine mesh sieve into the sugar cake pan. Make sure to pop any air bubbles with a tooth pick.
Straining the flan creme through a metal sieve to ensure it is silky smooth.
Be sure to poke and pop any air bubbles to ensure a silky smooth finished creme caramel texture.
  1. In your steamer, fill the water until the bottom pot is 3/4 full and heat you steamer on high heat until it reaches boil. Then when it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to low or a low simmer. Place the flan in the steamer and steam for 1 hour. Place the lid on the steamer with a chopstick in the lid so that the lid is slightly open. Every 10 minutes wipe down the condensation on the lid to prevent water from dripping into the flan. The flan is done when the outer rim is set and the center has a slight jiggle.
Setting the cake pan with the flan in a steamer to cook.
The steamer method allows much greater control as you no longer have to blindly cook the flan.

Chill and Remove

  1. When the flan is finished steaming, remove and let the flan cool until it reaches room temperature and then chill it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. To remove, use a pairing knife to run it along the edge of the pan. Place the plate on top of the cake pan and flip the cake pan 180 degrees. Tap the top of the cake pan a few times to release the flan. Serve immediately.

Tips For The Best Vietnamese Crème Caramel Flan

  • Work fast with the caramel. You will need to carefully monitor the caramel. When it begins to turn amber it turns very quickly. Turn off the heat immediately once it turns a medium brown and immediately pour it into the cake pan. It will solidify almost immediately so be sure to cover the entire bottom of the cake pan.
  • Use room temperature eggs. For an evenly cooked flan, you will want to use room temperature eggs.
  • Strain the eggs and then custard. For an extra silky custard, you must strain the eggs before you mix the ingredients. Then, after you have combined the mixture, you must strain the custard again to ensure you have a silky smooth custard.
  • The cook time will vary if you use different sized pans. I have not tried to make it with other sized pans but you will know the flan is set when it has a subtle jiggle in the center and is not too liquidy.
  • Set the flan in the refrigerator. You must set the flan in the refrigerator to solidify the custard. You can remove it by running a small thin knife along the outer rim of the cake pan.

Frequent Q’s and A’s

Why does my Vietnamese crème caramel flan have bubbles?

The bubbles can be a result of 2 different reasons.

You could have over whisked your custard and accidentally incorporated too much air into the mixture. To prevent this, gently combine your ingredients and avoid whisking in a quick motion.
The flan is overcooked. The key to cooking a perfect flan is cooking it
LOW AND SLOW. The bubbles could also result from the steamer being too hot and the custard was boiling. This can result in an overly hard custard that is too eggy. To avoid this, turn the heat down to low and carefully monitor it while it is steaming.

When is the flan ready?

You will know the flan is cooked when the outside rim is fully set and the center will have a slight jiggle. Don’t be alarmed if it seems a little underdone. After fully cooling and setting in the refrigerator, the custard will firm up.

Can I use different-sized pans or ramekins?

If you opt for a larger cake pan, I recommend doubling the recipe so that the cake will be thick enough. The cook time may vary depending on your size and may need an additional 10-40 minutes. You may need a larger steamer for the cake pan to fit.

Alternatively, you can make these in smaller ramekins too for bite-sized portions. The cook time for ramekins should be about 40 minutes.

Can I make the flan in the oven?

Yes, you can. However, the oven method is much harder to control the temperature and how quickly the flan cooks since you are cooking it blindly. This may yield a lot of air bubbles in your flan.

To cook the flan in the oven, preheat your oven to 350 F. Cover the ramekins with foil. Place the ramekins into a larger tray and place them in the middle rack in the oven. Pour in enough hot water into the tray so that it reaches about 1/2 way up the ramekin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the outer rim is set and the center has slight jiggle-like jello.

An individual sized creme caramel flan with a bite out of it on a plate with a spoon.
Flan can easily be made in individual ramekins too, please see above for this variation’s cooking time.

Storage Instructions

You can store the Vietnamese crème caramel flan in the cake pan covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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A slice of flan being drizzled with creme caramel on a small plate.

Vietnamese Crème Caramel Flan (Bánh Flan)

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours 35 minutes
This silky, velvety smooth Vietnamese crème caramel flan or bánh flan is my family’s favorite dessert! It is delicate, creamy and has just the right amount of sweetness for an ultra-luxurious experience.
Servings: 8
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Caramel Syrup

  • ½ cup (105 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 g) water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Flan

  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup (370 g) evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup (170 g) water
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar

Instructions

  • Make the caramel syrup. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the sugar water and lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a small saucepan on medium low heat, until the sugar dissolves and melts into a golden amber about 10-12 minutes. Do not stir! You can pick up the saucepan and swirl it around 1-2 times to prevent it from burning. Pour the caramel into the 8-inch cake pan or ramekins and quickly swirl the brown sugar syrup to cover the entire bottom of the pan (Careful pan will get hot). The syrup will harden in a few seconds.
  • Mix the custard. Using a fine mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs over the sieve and use a fork to break up the yolk to go through the sieve. Add the vanilla extract and gently whisk slowly until combined. Try not to whisk too quickly to create any air bubbles in the mixture. While slowly whisking, gradually pour in the evaporated milk, water, and sugar and continue whisking until the sugar dissolves and just combined.
  • Pour the flan through the sieve into the sugared pan. Slowly pour the flan mixture through the fine mesh sieve into the caramel cake pan or ramekins. Make sure to pop any air bubbles with a tooth pick.
  • Steam the flan. In your steamer, fill the water until the bottom pot is 3/4 full and heat you steamer on high heat until it reaches boil. Then when it reaches a boil, turn down the heat to low or a low simmer. Place the flan in the steamer and steam for 1 hour. Place the lid on the steamer with a chopstick in the lid so that the lid is slightly open. Every 10 minutes wipe down the condensation on the lid to prevent water from dripping into the flan. The flan is done when the outer rim is set and the center has a slight jiggle. If a toothpick comes out liquidy, then it will need to steam longer.
  • Cool and remove. When the flan is finished cooking, let the flan cool about 15 min until it reaches room temperature and then chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. To remove, use a pairing knife to run it along the edge of the pan. Place the plate on top of the cake pan and flip the cake pan 180 degrees. Tap the top of the cake pan a few times to release the flan. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Work fast with the caramel. You will need to carefully monitor the caramel. When it begins to turn amber it turns very quickly. Turn off the heat immediately once it turns a medium brown and immediately pour it into the cake pan. It will solidify almost immediately so be sure to cover the entire bottom of the cake pan.
  • Use room temperature eggs. For an evenly cooked flan, you will want to use room-temperature eggs.
  • Strain the eggs and the custard. For an extra silky custard, you must strain the eggs before you mix the ingredients. Then, after you have combined the mixture, you must strain the custard again to ensure you have a silky smooth custard.
  • The cook time will vary if you use different-sized pans. I have not tried to make it with other sized pans but you will know the flan is set when it has a subtle jiggle in the center and is not too liquidy.
  • Set the flan in the refrigerator. You must set the flan in the refrigerator to solidify the custard. You can remove it by running a small thin knife along the outer rim of the cake pan.

Nutrition:

Serving: 8g | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 194mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 149mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. Hi,
    I was wondering how many ramutans would this serve? And you said the time to steam it would be different. How long should I steam since I’m using little ramutans/jars?

    • Hi,
      The answer of how many ramekins it will serve depends on how big the ramekins/jars that you are using. Since there are so many different-sized jars and ramekins out there, unfortunately, I can’t really provide you with an accurate estimate. This recipe yields enough for 1 eight-inch round pan.

      The steaming time will also depend on how large the ramekins are and how high you fill the ramekins. I suggest for best results check on the steamer every 10-15 minutes. Smaller ramekins will most likely be done be faster than 1 hour–approximately 30-40 minutes. The flan is done when the outer rim is set and the center has a slight jiggle. If a toothpick comes out liquidy, then it will need to steam longer. I hope this helps!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this lovely recipe with us. In the past, I would add gelatin to firm the custard. While it’s tasty, it’s kind of a cheat. Your recipe creates a great texture and the taste was godsend!