This pumpkin creme brulee is creamy, full of spiced creamy pumpkin flavor, and has a crunchy caramelized sugar layer on top. Creme brulee is so easy to make, it comes together in 5 minutes, and you can even bake it inside of mini pumpkins like I did here. The recipe includes instructions on how to make them inside of mini pumpkins (that you can eat!) and/or ramekins.
🍮 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- Creamy: This pumpkin creme brulee is smooth, creamy, and perfectly set.
- Quick & easy: The ingredients are whisked together before poured into pumpkins or ramekins and baked. So quick and easy!
- Baked inside pumpkins: You can (optionally) bake these creme brulees inside of mini pumpkins and you don't need to use a water bath if you do!
📝 Key ingredients
You only need a few simple ingredients to make creme brulee, plus a couple of additions to make it taste like pumpkin.
If you don't want to go the extra step and bake them inside mini pumpkins, you don't have to! Use ramekins instead.
Read through for all the tips you will need for success!
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below.
- Pumpkin puree: I use storebought canned pumpkin puree for consistency and convenience. If using homemade pumpkin puree, make sure it has a thick consistency like hummus (squeeze out extra moisture with a cheesecloth or cook it down in a dry pan on stovetop).
- Pumpkins (optional): Baking the creme brulee inside of mini pumpkins makes the cutest creme brulees and you can eat the pumpkin too! This is a great way to use up your decorative fall pumpkins. Optionally, you can make the creme brulee inside ramekins.
- Egg yolks: They thicken and add richness to the creme brulee.
- Pumpkin pie spice: A mix of spices that are used to complement and enhance the pumpkin flavor. Alternatively, you can use cinnamon instead or make pumpkin pie spice at home.
There are so many ways to flavor creme brulee! One of my favorites is this earl grey creme brulee recipe.
👩🍳 How to make creme brulee
Step 1 (optional): Cut the tops off your pumpkins, clean out the seeds and strings with a spoon. Spread softened butter, sugar and pumpkin spice all over the inside. Cover with tops and bake at 355°F (180°C) for 30-40 minutes until flesh is tender but firm.
Step 2: Whisk yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl just until smooth and combined. Do not whisk until lightened.
Step 3: Add pumpkin puree, whisk to combine. Add cream and milk, whisk to combine.
Step 4: Lower or preheat the oven temperature to 320°F (160°C). Pour the creme brulee mixture into the baked pumpkins and/or ramekins. If baking in ramekins, place them into a baking dish with taller walls and fill the baking dish halfway with boiling water. If baking in pumpkins, you don’t need to add boiling water.
Tip: Use a kettle to boil water quickly. A waterbath helps the creme brulee cook evenly and be perfectly set. A waterbath isn't necessary when baking inside mini pumpkins because they have thick walls with water that act as insulation.
Step 5: Very carefully place the creme brulee into the preheated oven and bake until the edges are set and the center is still jiggly - about 25-30 minutes.
Step 6: Once baked, remove the ramekins from the hot water and cool completely to room temperature before refrigerating for 8 hours or overnight (up to 49 hours).
Step 7: Right before serving, sprinkle sugar liberally over chilled creme brulee and use a torch to caramelize the top until a deep, golden brown color. You can also caramelize the top by placing the creme brulee in the top rack under your oven broiler and watching very closely.
Step 8: Wait a few minutes and serve immediately and enjoy by cracking through the caramelized sugar topping with a spoon.
🥄 Make ahead & storage
Creme brulee needs to chill to set. I like baking it a day or two ahead of serving. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
It's best to torch or broil the top just before serving for the ultimate satisfying crack.
Store any leftover creme brulee in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
❔ How to I make creme brulee without a torch?
Place the sugar covered creme brulee directly under your oven's broiler and broil until melted and caramelized. Keep a very close eye and don't leave your oven unattended because the tops can burn really fast.
Essentially you want to melt the sugar until caramelized with a few burnt spots, without melting and warming up the creme brulee too much. This will give you a perfectly set creme texture with a crisp sugar topping.
❔ Can you make creme brulee without a waterbath?
If you're baking inside of ramekins, I highly recommend using a waterbath. This helps the creme brulee bake and set evenly. The edges don't get overbaked while the middle is still not set.
You can skip the waterbath if you're baking creme brulee inside of mini pumpkins. The thick walls and water content inside of the pumpkins help to even out the baking temperature and act as a waterbath.
❔ Can I eat mini pumpkins?
Yes you can! This pumpkin creme brulee recipe is the cutest way to use up leftover decorative pumpkins from fall, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Mini pumpkins make the perfect vessels for creme brulee.
You do want to choose pumpkins that aren't too small or they won't fit much creme brulee inside. If using very small pumpkins (4" diameter), you may need to lower the bake time by 10 minutes. I used 5"-6" diameter wide pumpkins so they were a little larger than mini pumpkins.
White pumpkins taste more like squash while orange varieties taste more like traditional pumpkins.
📖 Recipe FAQs
You can make your own from pumpkin or squash by cutting in half, cleaning the inside, placing it cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 355°F (180°C) for 50-60 minutes. Mash with a fork or blend for a smoother consistency.
If it's too wet you may need to squeeze the puree in cheesecloth to remove excess moisture or cook it down in a dry pan until thickened - you're looking for the consistency of thick hummus.
Granulated (white) sugar, or cane sugar are the best for creme brulee because it forms a very satisfying smooth, continuous crust. I tried brown sugar and golden sugar before but they tend to burn faster than they melt and caramelize.
I don't recommend torching or broiling the sugar on top of the creme brulee ahead of serving. After a few hours, the sugar might melt again and the top will be covered with a messy syrup. If that happens, pour the syrup off and dab the top with a clean paper towel. Sprinkle more sugar on top and torch or broil again.
🍂 Related fall recipes
Check out my best pumpkin desserts for more easy pumpkin recipe ideas.
Did you make this recipe? I would love for you to rate this recipe and hear what you think in the comments below! Share your creation on Instagram and tag @flouringkitchen. Follow me on Pinterest to save and for more recipe ideas.
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
- 4 oven safe ramekins optionally, use mini pumpkins instead of ramekins
Mini pumpkin shell (optional)
- 4 pumpkins 5-6 inch diameter
- 4 tablespoons butter softened
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 pinches pumpkin spice
- 5 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- Skip this step if using regular ramekins: Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C) if using mini pumpkins as ramekins. Cut the tops off your pumpkins, clean out the seeds and strings with a spoon. Spread 1 tablespoon softened butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of pumpkin spice all over the inside of each pumpkin. Cover with tops and bake for 30-40 minutes until flesh is tender but firm.4 pumpkins, 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons sugar, 4 pinches pumpkin spice
- Whisk yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl just until smooth and combined. Do not whisk until lightened in color.5 large egg yolks, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, ⅛ teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Add pumpkin puree, whisk to combine. Add cream and milk, whisk to combine.⅓ cup pumpkin puree, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 cup milk
- Lower or preheat the oven temperature to 320°F (160°C). Pour the creme brulee mixture into the baked pumpkins and/or ramekins. If baking in ramekins, place them into a baking dish with taller walls and fill the baking dish halfway with boiling water. If baking in pumpkins, you don’t need to add boiling water.
- Very carefully place the creme brulee into the preheated oven and bake until the edges are set and the center is still jiggly - about 25-30 minutes.
- Once baked, remove the ramekins from the hot water and cool completely to room temperature before refrigerating for 8 hours or overnight (up to 49 hours).
- Right before serving, sprinkle sugar liberally over chilled creme brulee and use a torch to caramelize the top until a deep, golden brown color. You can also caramelize the top by placing the creme brulee in the top rack under your oven broiler and watching very closely.
- Serve immediately and enjoy by cracking through the caramelized sugar topping with a spoon.