Pressure Cooker Burnt Caramel Custard

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It’s no secret that one of my primary motivations for getting myself an Instant Pot was to make foolproof flan.  And, sure enough, my flan pan is one of my most-used accessories.  However, making custards in individual ramekins had always been a crapshoot, with the likelihood of having overcooked custard was pretty high.  I had been seeing a lot of posts about people making custards and creme brulee in their pressure cookers, and I was still a bit skeptical that I could really get the right texture in any way other than the “slow and painful way” of baking in a water bath.  Still, when I wound up with too much heavy cream nearing its expiration date one day, I took the plunge and tried creme brulee in the Instant Pot.  And, I have never looked back.  This burnt caramel custard  is basically a creme brulee without the sugary crust.  Instead, the caramelized sugar flavor is infused into the cream before it’s cooked, also giving the custard a light caramel color.

Place your egg yolks in a bowl with a pinch of salt and whisk them until they’re slightly foamy.  While you’re doing this, infuse your cream with the vanilla bean.  Heat the cream over medium heat with the vanilla bean and seeds.  When it starts to simmer, remove it from the heat and set it aside.  Leave the vanilla bean in there for now so that the cream continues to absorb the flavor.

While the cream rests, take place your sugar in another small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it melts and turns deep amber.  Then, remove it from the heat and slowly pour in your cream mixture.  Be careful, because it might splatter, but stir it constantly so that the sugar doesn’t harden before you finish adding the cream.  If some of the sugar does end up hardening, though, just place the pot back on stove on medium-low and stir until all of the sugar has melted.  Then, take your cream mixture and add it to your egg yolks, a little bit at a time.  Once you have incorporated about 1/3 of the mixture into your yolks, you can slowly pour the remaining cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking to combine.

Strain the mixture evenly into 6 custard cups.  Add 1 cup of water to the liner of your pressure cooker.  Cover each custard cup with foil, then place in the liner of your pressure cooker in 2 layers.  Seal, then cook for 1 minute on High Pressure.  When the timer goes off, turn off the pressure cooker and allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.  Remove the custards, uncover, and set on a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

After your custards have set in the fridge, they can be served as is directly from the refrigerator.  If you wish, you can also garnish with whipped cream or fresh berries, but it’s delicious on its own.

If done correctly, any custard (creme caramel, creme brulee, pot de creme) will have a smooth and creamy consistency.  It should not have any lumps or bubbles, or that’s a pretty good indication that your custard is overcooked.

These can be made up to 2 days before serving, so they are a great make-ahead dessert.  If they last that long, that is.

Pressure Cooker Burnt Caramel Custard


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 7 tbsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt


In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with a pinch of salt until slightly foamy.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla bean and seeds over medium heat.  When the mixture starts to simmer, remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate small saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat until it melts and turns deep amber.  Remove from heat and, then remove vanilla bean from the hot cream mixture and slowly pour it into the melted sugar, stirring constantly until smooth.  The mixture will bubble vigorously, so be careful.

Temper your egg yolk mixture by gradually adding in the hot cream mixture, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly.  When about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been incorporated into the yolks, pour the remaining hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture and whisk until smooth.  Strain the mixture evenly among 6 4oz ramekins.

Pour 1 cup of water into the liner of your electric pressure cooker.  Cover your filled ramekins with foil and arrange in 2 layers on wire racks in the liner.  Cover, seal, and cook on High Pressure for 1 minute.  After the time goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing any remaining pressure.  Remove the ramekins from the pressure cooker, uncover, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Then, refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Makes 6 servings


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