Coconut Milk Creme Brulee – Easy, Spot-On and Dairy Free!

How time does fly!

This recipe is from 2011, and it’s still one of the most popular ones on this site. It produces a quick, thick creme brulee that’s great for beginners. Want something a touch above? Try my updated version with Chef Joe Murphy as part of my Pro Pastry, Gluten (and dairy!) Free series.

And for the adorable original text, scroll below the recipe.

Happy torching!

– Jacqueline

Crunchy crust and lightly lemon scented biscuits

This recipe made FoodBuzz’s Top 9 on December 29th! Thanks for all the buzzing love!

Dairy-Free Creme Brulee


  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped


  • 4 5oz ramekins
  • glass or ceramic baking dish
  • kitchen torch


Preheat oven to 300° F.  Set a pot or kettle full of water on to boil.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth.  Add coconut milk and blend until smooth.

Pour into ramekins.

Place in ceramic baking dish and pour hot water until it comes halfway up the ramekins.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until just slightly jiggly in the middle.

Cool until ready to serve or chill until cold.  When ready, sprinkle with about 2 tsp white sugar and torch until crispy and brown.

Notes: It’s a bit dense.  I based the recipe on one that used lemon to cut the thickness.  But unlike some other dairy-free creme brulee recipes you won’t have to worry about it not setting.  While I was totally pleased with this turnout, you could probably omit one yolk and still find success.

Also, HERE’S THE TORCH I HAVE. You’ll use it more than you think you will. Charring marshmallows and browning meringue are just two fun things…

Life is delicious.  After a packed weekend of family and amazing food and lit fires and lots of hugging, I sat back at a desk Monday morning, worked the day away, then packed Mitra and my Christmas loot into my little blue Subaru and booked it back to NYC.  Because I had a guest coming over.  A man.  Who was cooking me dinner.

I’m not the easiest person to cook for, having this whole gluten and dairy free diet thing.  My last two boyfriends were great eaters and practically non-existent cooks (Ruark, three bf’s ago, makes a meat sauce to die for).  Being domestically bent, I easily fall into the role of kitchen wizard (so a friend once called me) in relationships.  I now have a “no cooking for you before the 4th date rule” (a loose rule, but there nonetheless).  So a guy offering to come to my place to cook on our second date… was a first.

(Side note: I’m getting distracted writing up this post because there’s a horrible holiday movie my roommate recorded playing and while it’s truly wretched Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a-DOR-able. Definitely aging well.)

While I made some fancy cocktails (ginger ale, fresh sweet lime and zested ginger with bourbon for me and vodka for him), date man made us an incredible dinner.  Flavorful, tasty, relaxed, and much appreciated.  I made dessert.  A dairy-free creme brulee with loads of vanilla and a perfectly torched crust.

We didn’t end up eating it.  Cocktails with neighbors led to a late evening and full bellies.  So tonight my under-slept self enjoyed the crap outta it while watching Mad Men (and said horrible/adorable Christmas movie)  and cuddling the dog.  Neighbors upstairs got the rest.  It’s dense and just sweet enough, with the perfect little crunch.  Using vanilla bean gives it an incredible punch.  I’ve so missed creme brulee, and now I’m satiated.

Let me know if you make it, who you share it with, how you adapt it, and what you think.

Cheers to second dates, Christmases full of goodness, Mad Men, and little dogs.


  1. Um, I love everything about this post! A man cooking a gluten-free/dairy free dinner for you (my dream), fancy cocktails with the neighbors (how fun), cuddling with your dog the next day while eating this amazing creme brulee (yum). I have been wanting to make a dairy free creme brulee recipes for a while. So thanks for this! Two questions, do you think coconut sugar would work in place of white sugar? Also, where the heck do I get butane for my torch? Anyway, you are awesome! Keep us posted for date three! ;)

    • It was a particularly great few post-Christmas days. And now with good friends in the Hamptons, working with a dog at my feet, so no complaints here! Coconut sugar will definitely work in the recipe, but I’m not sure of the top, since it’s a larger crystal. Maybe a whirl in a food processor or mortar? I got my butane at a hardware store. A pharmacy might have it too, for lighters. YOU are awesome.

    • Dani says:

      We get butane from smoke shops or the grungy places that sell cigarettes/cigars. And when I say “we” I really mean I send my husband in there! ;)

  2. celiacasaurus says:

    How fun! Can I live vicariously through you? Oh to be on a date….enjoy!
    I do enjoy my family life, kids tugging at pant-legs, but a date sounds marvellous, especially a date where the man cooks!
    The creme brulee looks divine. Does it have a coconutty taste? I do hope so. Lovely as usual !

    • I am very content being at this stage in life. Dating can be fun, and new things are always exciting. And luckily I have enough friends with kids to spoil too :)
      It doesn’t have a highly coconuty taste because of the abundance of fresh vanilla, but yes, definitely it’s there. I want to eat this again now!

  3. Maggie @ kitchie coo says:

    You’ve got to love (or at least really appreciate!) a man that can cook! My husband is a great cook and it makes life so much easier when we can share the duty and still eat great food all the time. Here’s to a third date!
    The creme brulee looks fantastic and I love the coconut milk substitution. Although, put coconut in anything and I’m bound to go crazy!

    • Yeah, I dated a man for 8 years who was an incredible cook – we learned together (and are still great friends). This is the first time since then a date has cooked for me. So much appreciated. And the coconut milk in this was SO creamy and perfect, sigh :)

      • Beckie Hudson says:

        Hi! I just received this recipe/link from a friend and I am sooo excited to try it! I have been gluten/casein free for about a year now. I would LOVE to talk to you because I read that you are a “veteran of Lyme Disease,” I have been suffering from joint inflammation for over 12 years now, and just received a Lyme Disease diagnosis. I would be very interested in finding out what you’ve learned!
        Thank you!

        • Hi Beckie, I’m sorry to have to say “welcome to the club” :( Please feel free to email me about ANYTHING if you have questions or just need to rant. We’re a smaller community than other chronic illnesses and I know there’s so many differences with every diagnosis, but I’m always here to commiserate. Thanks for visiting!

  4. rosemarried says:

    This post is full of so many great things. Second dates, Mad Men, coconut creme brulee, cocktails, and Mark Paul Gosselar (I love him). Sounds like you’ve had a great week! And, as usual, this is a great recipe. I adore this post.

  5. j3nn says:

    That is brilliant! I am trying to reduce my dairy consumption for better digestion and I love that I now have a dairy-free creme brulee recipe on standby. Woo hoo :)

  6. Lauren says:

    I always mean to make a creme brulee and I have always been a bit scared, unfortunately your addition of coconut milk has only made my craving worse…

    Thanks ;)

  7. My son is lactose intolerant and this would be a real treat for him. We have been turning to coconut milk more and more often. Wonderful job!
    Good luck with Date Man! My husband man is still not cooking for me!!!

  8. Iris says:

    Ooh yay for fun dates who can cook you dinner! :) And I had to laugh because I saw that holiday movie… I not so secretly love holiday tv romance movies, and yet I have not seen a good one in years! The sad thing is, the Mark Paul Gosselar (sp?) one was the best of the 3 I’ve watched this year…which tells you how bad the others were.

  9. Bisous A Toi says:

    Hi Jacqueline, a wonderful blog and a great recipe which I need to try (since coconuts are after all abundant here).. I recently did Crema Catalana which is the Spanish version of Creme Brulee (they keep arguing who came up first with the recipe).

    Rgds Rima

  10. SimplyBakes says:

    hi dusty baker,
    what is a gluten-free diet? Like what must you not eat and what will happen if you accidentally eat it? Do people choose to go on a gluten-free diet like how some choose to go vegetarian or is it born?

    Btw, i love your post. The date sounded really relaxed and smooth. Keep posting!

    • Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelt, and other grains. It gives foods that wonderful chew that we love in bread and pastry and the like. Many people are allergic to it – if they eat it it affects their digestion, energy, bone pain, skin… lots of different symptoms. So omitting it isn’t a choice such as being vegan, but a medical necessity. Thanks for stopping by – I love your site!

  11. chefdennis says:

    Wow, I never thought of using anything else to make my creme brulee with, I love coconut milk, I can just imagine how delicious it was!
    Thanks for the inspiration, and Happy New Year!

  12. Pingback: These Are A Few of my Favorite (Gluten Free) Things: 2011 | The Dusty Baker

  13. Sasha says:

    Damn, this looks good. I love coconut-flavored foods… and, coincidentally, Man Men! I’d love to be your upstairs neighbor :)

  14. Pingback: Hot Chocolate Foam – A Vintage Recipe Swap | The Dusty Baker

  15. Kim Bee says:

    I want to try this one out. I love coconut milk. It’s like magic in a can. This is a beautiful dessert. Congrats on having the dude cook for you, sounds like a keeper. Or a frequent guest at dinner time at the very least. xx

  16. meganosity says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled onto this, I thought creme brulee was out of my life once I went gluten/dairy-free. Can’t wait to try this, thanks!

    • Yay – best comment EVER! Creme brulee is something I too almost thought I wouldn’t be able to have again, but it’s rather easy once you get the hang of it. Please let me know how it comes out if you try it!

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  18. Patricia says:

    I’ve been dreaming of coconut creme brulee and that’s how I found your adorable blog. I can’t wait to try it, and looking forward to exploring more of what you’re offering here. Looks great!!!

  19. Arianna says:

    Thank you sooo much for this recipe. My Mom is trying to stay away from dairy, like milk. But she loves creme brulee, she asked me to see if I could find a recipe for coconut creme brulee, and I found one, thanks to you! :D

  20. Anonymous says:

    Found this recipe when cooking for my gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant and fish intolerant friends (it’s a nightmare doing dinner parties!!!)
    Have adapted it by putting pineapple in the bottom of the ramekin prior to cooking and it’s yummy.
    Thanks for a great, stress-free recipe :-D

  21. Pingback: Vanilla Crème Brûlée | Vegan Yack Attack

  22. Victoria says:

    Just saw your recipe and am going to try it tomorrow night for my family. Any idea how to add unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate and make “Chocolate Creme Brulee”?

  23. My GF/DF daughter really misses creme brulee (it’s cute; she’s 7). Which coconut milk; the one in the can or carton? I read through some other comments. The torches are sold at stores like Williams Sonoma, etc. Thanks!

      • amythefamilychef says:

        Look for coconut milk in the dry goods section near the soy and almond milk. It’s made by So Delicious and is also carried by Trader Joes. It’s a thinner version of the can. Coconut water is just the water and would not be a good substitute. The unsweetened coconut milk in the carton is a great milk replacer for cooking as it doesn’t have a coconut flavor and also has a slightly thicker consistency. Hope you find it to try!

        • Oh, right! I DEVOUR coconut water but only ever bake with the coconut milk in a can – almond milk is my regular milk replacement so I honestly haven’t even tried the cartoned coconut milk kind. I see it everywhere – will definitely try it, thanks!

  24. susan mccarthy says:

    so there is no warming of the coconut milk to warm the vanilla bean? you just split it and scrape it?

    • I just scrape the bean, but infusing into the coconut milk would definitely add if you want it even richer. I haven’t felt a need to get more in there, but let me know how it goes if you do!

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