This delicious Earl Grey crème brûlée recipe is silky smooth, creamy, thick, and packed full of Earl grey and vanilla flavor. Earl grey tea leaves and a whole vanilla bean are infused in the milk to give it lots of flavor - like a London fog! The crunchy caramelized sugar layer on top is so satisfying to crack and complements all the flavors. It's the perfect light and indulgent dessert to end off a dinner.
☕ Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- Easy: Crème brûlée is such an easy, impressive dessert to make.
- Earl grey: The milk is infused with earl grey tea and vanilla to give it beautiful deep flavor.
- Creamy: The texture is perfectly set and creamy! With a signature crackly top.
📝 Key ingredients
Read through for all the tips you will need for success!
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below.
- Whole milk: I prefer whole milk but you can use 2% if that's what you have instead.
- Earl grey tea (loose-leaf or 3 teabags): Use a good quality loose leaf tea for the best flavor. I find that loose-leaf tea has the most amount of flavor. The fresher the tea the more flavor it will infuse into the milk.
- Whole vanilla bean: this will infuse the brûlée with all the delicious vanilla flavor. If you can't find one, you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
- Egg yolks: This will thicken and set the dessert. Save the whites for an egg white omelet or a delicious meringue.
- Heavy whipping cream: Use a cream that is about 35%. This will give the crème brûlée lots of richness and creaminess.
- Sugar: You can use cane or granulated sugar for the crunchy caramel top. I do not recommend brown sugar because it burns before getting crunchy.
👩🍳 How to make crème brûlée
Step 1: Cut a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a knife.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, tea leaves, and vanilla bean - halved with the seeds scraped in.
Step 2: Bring to a simmer then turn off to steep for about 10 minutes. Strain out the leaves and vanilla bean.
Step 3: In a large bowl or pitcher with a spout, stir together sugar and egg yolks just until smooth. Do not whisk until lightened in color.
Step 4: Add cream, infused milk, and salt and stir.
Step 5: Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins. Place the ramekins into a baking pan.
Step 6: Pour boiling water into the tray halfway up the ramekins.
Step 7: Bake for 25-30 minutes in an oven preheated to 320°F (160°C) until mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center.
Carefully remove ramekins from the water bath with tongs while still hot. Let cool on a metal rack until room temperature. Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 8: Just before serving, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar on the surface of each crème brûlée.
Heat with a kitchen torch or directly under a broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Let the sugar cool and serve immediately.
✔️ Expert crème brûlée tips
- Don't over whisk the yolks and sugar. Over-whisking will add too many air bubbles and will make a frothy crème brûlée that won't be creamy.
- Bake in a water bath. This ensures even baking and a perfectly set all the way through texture.
- Chill before serving. In order to thicken up fully and for the flavor to develop, they need to be completely chilled before serving.
- Use granulated sugar for the topping. Brown or golden sugar will burn before it melts into an even crunchy layer and caramelizes.
🥄 Make ahead and storage
The crème brûlée can be made a few days ahead of serving! Just keep them covered and chilled in the fridge until ready to torch and serve.
Once the sugar topping is added, they need to be served immediately. It will melt in the fridge to create a sticky, goopy topping.
❔ Can you use other tea flavors?
Yes! Use your favorite tea like English breakfast, Chai, or even herbal teas like chamomile. There are so many flavors to choose from!
Check out my pumpkin crème brûlée recipe that's so perfect for the fall and winter.
🍯 What is the best sugar for crème brûlée topping?
The best sugar for the torched topping in creme brulee is granulated sugar. It melts beautifully and easily, and gets a lot of texture and flavor without tasting burnt.
Sugar that's coarser or darker will take longer to melt down into a smooth layer. This means that it would probably burn before melting down. I've tried brown and light brown sugar, and it would always turn out lumpy and without that satisfying crack.
Brown sugar also tends to have a very bitter burnt flavor, more so than granulated sugar.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Brûlée means burnt! You want to see golden brown sugar with bits of charred areas. This will give it a bit of a smoky flavor and that hard satisfying crack when you hit it with a spoon.
You can use the broil function in your oven. Just set it to high and place your ramekins in the top portion of your oven. Make sure to keep a close eye on them so that they don't burn too much because this will take a matter of seconds.
I prefer the using a kitchen torch because I can control the exact areas that need heat. That way I can get a perfect even browning all over.
I've tried using brown sugar but I don't recommend it. It burns before it gets a chance to melt down completely to form a hard crust, resulting in an uneven and grainy topping. I recommend regular granulated (white) sugar.
Its unique flavor comes from bergamot. Bergamot is a citrus fruit that comes from the Citrus bergamia plant. Commonly grown in the Mediterranean, it is the size of an orange and its coloring ranges from green to yellow. There is a lot of speculation about how the flavor was discovered. My favorite story was how the flavors infused by accident when a container of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together from Chinese diplomats to an Earl Grey.
🍮 More related recipes
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Earl Grey Crème Brûlée
- 4 oven safe ramekins
- Deep baking tray for water bath
- 1 ⅓ cups milk preferably 2%
- 2 tablespoons loose leaf earl grey tea or 2 teabags
- 1 whole vanilla bean whole
- 5 egg yolks large
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (35%)
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Combine vanilla bean pod, seeds, tea, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a seive and discard the tea leaves and vanilla pod.1 ⅓ cups milk, 1 whole vanilla bean, 2 tablespoons loose leaf earl grey tea
- Fill a kettle to the top with water and set to boil. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).
- In a large bowl, stir together sugar and egg yolks just until smooth. Do not whisk until lightened in color. Add cream, infused milk, and salt and stir.5 egg yolks, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup heavy cream, ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- Pour evenly into 4 individual ramekins. Place ramekins in a large and deep baking tray (9" by 12" or 9" by 13"). Carefully pour boiling water into the tray to about halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake at 320°F (160°C) for 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of the ramekins). They should be mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center.
- Carefully remove ramekins from the water bath with tongs while still hot. Let cool until room temperature then cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours until completely chilled or overnight.
- Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar on the surface of each crème brûlée. Heat with a torch or directly under a broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Let the sugar cool completely before serving. Serve immediately.4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Don't over whisk the yolks and sugar
- Bake in a water bath for an even set texture
- Chill before serving
- Use granulated sugar for the topping - not brown sugar