The Best Flan in the World (Sous Vide)

In my home country, we would call it Pudim and it’s a very traditional dessert on the weekends. But now, a pinch of modern with sous vide.

Small glass with flan and caramel inside

In essence, pudim and flan will be the same thing or, at least, in the same category: creamy and soft desserts. But the biggest difference is a key ingredient.

Although the Condensed Milk Pudim is technically a flan-like French Crème caramel, the fact that it has condensed milk makes a difference and positive! It leaves with more intense dairy notes, I particularly believe.

Normally, you would cook pudim or flan in the water bath (or double boiler) over the stove or in the oven. Where I live, the market has a special pan just to cook pudim.

But now, I what a little bit of modern twist: Thermocirculator.

What is Thermocirculator?

The thermocirculator is nothing more, nothing less than a device that heats and circulates water. And the water temperature is very controlled, meaning you can precisely set the target temperature you desire.

Thermocirculator Sansaire

I’m not sure if somebody will make the recipe because the gadget isn’t that common in the home kitchen. I bought mine 5 years ago and rarely use. It’s a Sansaire that was a project in Kickstarter.

The thermocirculator is used for sous-vide: cooking in a temperature-controlled water bath with a vacuum. It’s not technically vacuum, vacuum really… it’s more of a modified atmosphere than vacuum.

This recipe is only a water bath with super controlled temperature. And that alone makes all the difference in texture because of how the proteins (egg and milk) are cooked is modified. Therefore, it results in a super smooth and creamy pudim.

Flan: with or no Bubbles?

In some places, we can read about the discussion if a pudim-flan should have bubbles or not.

Particularly, I believe it has a confusion between flan with bubbles (holes) and flan with curds (granules). These are different situations that can happen together, but it isn’t the rule.

  • Flan with Holes: the hole is an air bubble that couldn’t get out of the flan mix and get stuck in the protein web (egg and milk) during cooking. The viscosity of milk changes by adding condensed milk and eggs, so it becomes harder for the bubble to rise to the surface. It is more visual than the taste itself.
  • Flan with curds: granularity is a piece of coagulated protein (egg and milk), usually caused by changes in cooking temperature and time. Temperature too high and / or cooked too fast, so proteins coagulate unwantedly. This changes not only the visual but also the taste-tactile, it is possible to feel this granularity with the tongue.

If it is to classify in cooking mistake, the second case would be. After all, it has changed a lot about how the dessert should be and became noticeable when eating.

But as I usually say: who paid and will eat the flan that decides. If one likes smooth flan, hey, no problem. If the person likes flan with holes, that’s cool too. I just think nobody likes granulated flan, but you know, right?

Tips for an Amazing Flan

  • Mix the ingredients very well. Sounds silly, right? Distributing egg proteins well in milk is essential.
  • Blender: You can use it, you can blend the mixture in the blender. I’ve even done with a Thermomix (equipment that is a mix of processor and electric pan) that is much more powerful. Will you add bubbles? Certainly! Any way to mix will add bubbles somehow. But there is a way around this, see the next tip.
  • If you want a smoother flan and/or fewer bubbles: let the mixture rest for a few minutes before cooking. This literally gives the bubbles time to escape the viscosity of the mixture.
  • Control the temperature: the temperature setting seems silly, but it has a big impact on the bottom line. If you have never made flan in the water bath in the oven is a suggestion. The texture will be very smooth and delicate. The oven temperature depends on the recipe itself, but I generally use it at 350F/180°C because it is the lowest temperature in the vast majority of most common ovens. Oh, and the water from the water bath must be hot already!
  • Vanilla: usually, vanilla is not placed (in my recipe, but in the French one is). But if you can use the bean or vanilla extract, the flavor goes to another level.
A Scoop from an flan

The Best Flan in The World

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 1 hr
Total: 5 hrs
Servings: 9 servings
Author: Vitor Hugo


Sweetened Condensed Milk Flan

  • 395 g sweetened condensed milk (1 can (14 ounces))
  • 350 mL skimmed milk (or whole milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 mL vanilla extract

Caramel sauce

  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 50 mL water
I always recommend using weight and volume measurements when present. The measurements in cups/spoons are just courtesy of the system and are less accurate.


Sweetened Condensed Milk Flan

  • Place a sous vide cooker/thermocirculator inside a large heat-proof container filled with water. I used a ~3,1 gallons/12L pan, I don't have the fancy plastic box.
  • Preheat the water bath to 194F/90°C. Yes, the temperature is higher now.
  • Blend sweetened condensed milk, skim milk, eggs and vanilla extract together in a blender for 2-3 minutes.
  • Allow to rest for 30-35 minutes so bubbles can rise to the top and dissipate.
  • Blowtorch remaining bubbles and strain the mixture.
  • Pour about 90-100g of the mixture into each jar (used Ball 4-ounces).
  • If using the normal Ball lids, you need to twist the lid until almost closed: just barely closed and still possible to open with your fingertips. To allow air bubbles to escape, but not open to water.
  • Used the regular band with a silicon lid which is reusable and flexible, so closed the jar all the way down.
  • Place jars carefully into hot water, letting water cover the jars fully. Then, decrease the temperature to 175F/79,5°C and cooke for 1 hour.
  • Remove jars from the bath, let it rest for 1 hour.
  • Transfer to the fridge to cool down for at least 5 hours.
  • Serve with the caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce

  • Cook sugar into saucepan over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until dark golden brown.
  • Stir in water carefully and boil to dissolve the caramel.
  • Let it cool, serve with the flan.

Pinterest image: spoon scooping the flan with caramel

Oh, Hi! I'm Vitor Hugo!

Food Scientist and cook who mixed together two passions Science and Food: the best combination. Kind different, right? Read More…

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  1. 5 stars