Side view of a slice of flan being lifted from the plate.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-make dessert that’s crazy delicious with an absolute knock-out wow factor—this creamy, citrusy Puerto Rican-style flan is where it’s at! You can make it up to a week ahead, and it’s ridiculously budget-friendly.  Are you ready for a new family favorite?

Overhead view of flan with one slice being lifted out.Overhead view of flan with one slice being lifted out.

What Is Flan? 

Puerto Rican-style flan is a chilled custard made with eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. The custard base is poured over a layer of caramelized sugar, and then baked in a water bath, ensuring even cooking and preventing the flan from cracking. Once the flan is baked, it’s cooled completely before being inverted onto a serving plate. The caramel sauce flows over the flan, creating a gorgeous, glossy presentation.

I love how truly simple this recipe is. You probably have everything you need right in your pantry! Here’s what you need to make my easy recipe for Puerto Rican-style flan:

  • White Sugar: Creates the caramel sauce for our flan.
  • Orange: The juice and zest of this fruit help flavor the custard.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk: Create the base of our custard. You can substitute with Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk and Evaporated Coconut milk.
  • Heavy Cream: Adds a velvety mouthfeel to the custard. You can substitute it with unsweetened coconut cream.
  • Bay Leaf: Adds an earthy note to the custard to balance the sweetness. If you don’t have a bay leaf, skip it.
  • Eggs: Thicken the custard and give it a buttery yellow hue. You need eggs to make this an authentic flan. But if you are trying to make this a plant-based dessert, mix 1/2 cup of cornstarch in 3/4 cup of water and add it to the milk mixture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a floral note to the custard and helps balance the sweetness.

What To Serve With Flan

In Puerto Rico, flan is usually served plain, but you can top yours with Homemade Whipped Cream or shaved chocolate. Citrus zest is also lovely with this recipe, as are sliced fresh berries. If you want to lean in on the fruit angle, Strawberry Sauce or Cherry Sauce are fantastic with it as well.

How To Store Flan

Flan shouldn’t be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container with a sheet of plastic or parchment directly on the surface. It will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. To freeze flan for up to 2 months, slice leftovers and wrap well, then place in an airtight container. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Side view of a slice of flan on a plate with caramel being drizzled over top.Side view of a slice of flan on a plate with caramel being drizzled over top.
Side view of a slice of flan being lifted from the plate.


Flan

This flan recipe is an easy-to-make creamy dessert that is budget-friendly and perfect to share with family and friends on any occasion.

Side view of a piece of flan being lifted from the plate.

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar ($0.18)
  • 1 orange, zested into thick strips and juiced ($0.78)
  • 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk ($1.99)
  • 1 12oz. can evaporated milk ($1.50)
  • 1 cup heavy cream ($1.50)
  • 1 bay leaf ($0.10)
  • 1 pinch salt ($0.01)
  • 4 large eggs ($0.36)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract ($1.74)
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Find a baking sheet large enough to accommodate a 9-inch pie dish or cake round with a flat top. It must lay flat for the flan to come out of it and onto a serving dish without breaking.

  • Set a light-colored sauce pot over medium heat and add the sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice. (If the orange didn’t release a ¼ cup of juice, make up the difference with water.) Heat the sugar and melt it until it turns light golden brown, then take the pot off the heat. The sugar will continue to brown off the heat. Do not stir the sugar, which can cause it to recrystallize and get grainy. Instead, swirl the pan.

  • Pour the hot sugar syrup into the 9-inch pie dish or cake round, coating the bottom in an even layer. Set aside.

  • Add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, bay leaf, strips of orange zest, and a pinch of salt to a medium pot. Heat until steaming, then take off the heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.

  • When the milk mixture has finished steeping, beat 4 eggs with 1 tablespoon of vanilla in a large bowl. Pour the steeped milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the egg mixture and mix. Do not whip; you don’t want to incorporate air into the liquid.

  • Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil for the water bath. Pour the milk and egg mixture into the prepared 9-inch pie dish or cake round, then place the pie dish or cake round onto the baking pan. Place the baking pan in the oven and fill halfway with boiling water to surround the pie dish or cake round, creating a water bath.

  • Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F. Bake the flan for 60 to 70 minutes until the custard has set but still jiggles like thick lava in the middle. Let the flan cool completely. Then, place it in the fridge to set for at least 8 hours.

  • To serve the flan, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Then, top the 9-inch pie dish or cake round with the serving plate and carefully flip it over. Tap the baking dish gently to help the flan release. When you hear the flan release from the pie dish, remove the pie dish carefully and let caramel sauce flow over the flan.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 434kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 11gFat: 21gSodium: 157mgFiber: 0.02g

Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.

Two plates with slices of flan, a fork with a piece on the end.Two plates with slices of flan, a fork with a piece on the end.

How to Make Flan

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Find a baking pan large enough to accommodate a 9-inch pie dish or cake round with a flat top. It must lay flat for the flan to come out of it and onto a serving dish without breaking.

Caramelized sugar and orange juice in a skillet.Caramelized sugar and orange juice in a skillet.

Set a light-colored pot or skillet over medium heat and add ¾ cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice. (If the orange didn’t release a ¼ cup of juice, make up the difference with water.) Heat the sugar and melt it until it turns light golden brown, then take the pot off the heat. The sugar will continue to brown off the heat. Do not stir the sugar, which can cause it to recrystallize and get grainy. Instead, swirl the pan.

Caramel poured into the bottom of a cake pan.Caramel poured into the bottom of a cake pan.

Pour the hot sugar syrup into the 9-inch pie dish or cake round, coating the bottom in an even layer. Set aside.

Milk, bay leaf, and zest in a pot.Milk, bay leaf, and zest in a pot.

Add one 14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, one 12oz. can of evaporated milk, one cup heavy cream, one bay leaf, strips of zest of one orange, and one pinch of salt to a medium pot. Heat until steaming, then take off the heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.

Steeped milk being poured through a sieve.Steeped milk being poured through a sieve.

When the milk mixture has finished steeping, beat 4 eggs with 1 tablespoon of vanilla in a large bowl. Pour the steeped milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the egg mixture and mix. Do not whip; you don’t want to incorporate air into the liquid.

Milk mixture poured into a cake pan.Milk mixture poured into a cake pan.

Pour the milk and egg mixture into the prepared 9-inch pie dish or cake round. Place the pie dish or cake round into the baking pan.

Boiling water being poured into a baking sheet around the cake pan.Boiling water being poured into a baking sheet around the cake pan.

Boil 2 quarts of water. Place the baking pan in the oven and fill halfway with boiling water to create a water bath around the pie pan. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350°F.

Baked flan in the cake pan.Baked flan in the cake pan.

Bake the flan for 60 to 70 minutes until the custard has set but still jiggles like thick lava in the middle. Let the flan cool completely. Then, place it in the fridge to set for at least 8 hours.

Finished flan flipped over onto a plate.Finished flan flipped over onto a plate.

To serve the flan, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Then, top the 9-inch pie dish or cake round with the serving plate and carefully flip it over. Tap the baking dish gently to help the flan release. When you hear the flan release from the pie dish, remove the pie dish carefully and let caramel sauce flow over the flan.

Overhead view of flan being served, one slice being lifted.Overhead view of flan being served, one slice being lifted.