This easy vegan crème brûlée recipe is everything you want in a creamy, decadent dessert. Make this crème brûlée without eggs for a simple but elegant dessert! This plant-based dessert is easier than the traditional recipe and uses only 7 ingredients.
Drizzle some blueberry sauce over the top for an even more dramatic presentation and flavor.
Vegan Crème Brûlée
Growing up in a super small town, I would not have pictured myself oohing and ahhing over a vegan crème brûlée recipe. And yet… here I am. This deliciously creamy custard recipe comes with a crispy burnt sugar topping that makes this dessert sing!
The contrast between that crispy topping and the creamy custard in this vegan coconut creme brulee is nothing short of spectacular. It surges this simple vegan dessert into another hemisphere!
Making a crème brûlée vegan may seem like an affront to die-hard French dessert connoisseurs, but I’m here to tell you, it’s the only way to go! The thing is dairy-free crème brûlée is still just as creamy but it’s ready without even baking.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Using full-fat coconut milk makes this dessert rich and creamy
- Adding raw cashews impacts the flavor and texture of this dish
- Using a tiny pinch of turmeric adds a hint of golden color.
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Coconut milk — We’ll use full-fat canned coconut milk (it should have 12+ grams of fat)
- Arrowroot powder — This is a thickener, and you can substitute others, like cornstarch.
- Nutritional yeast flakes — There’s a bit of nutritional yeast flakes for color and flavor.
- Ground turmeric — There’s a pinch of ground turmeric for color.
How to Make Vegan Creme Brûlée
It may seem complicated to make this healthy crème brûlée recipe, but of course, you might think that about any creamy dessert with a fancy, French name. Trust me, this recipe is easy!
In fact, I think making vegan crème brûlée is easier than the standard recipe. Because you don’t have to crack eggs, or worry about bacteria in your kitchen from said eggs, or temper the egg yolks, or ensure the eggs are cooked adequately.
See? This vegan crème brûlée is easier.
So, let’s get started.
- Make the cream base by simmering the coconut milk, arrowroot powder, sugar, and cashews in a saucepan while stirring for about 5 minutes.
- Blend the cream base with nutritional yeast flakes, vanilla, and turmeric until creamy.
- Pour the cream into brûlée dishes or ramekins.
- Chill the brûlée in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Sprinkle the top of each dish with granulated sugar.
- Make the burnt sugar topping by suing a kitchen torch to carmelize the sugar and create a crispy top coating.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.
Here are more detailed, step-by-step instructions for this vegan creme brûlée:
Step One: Bring Coconut Milk and Cashews to a Simmer
Add the coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and cashews in a small saucepan. Use a spatula and stir to combine. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook it for 1 minute, then remove it from heat. Don’t worry about lumps if they occur. We’ll take care of that in the next step.
Step Two: Blend & Chill
Add the cream mixture to a high-speed blender. You can use a food processor here, but to get the creamiest texture, a blender works best.
Add the yeast flakes, vanilla, and turmeric. Blend for a few seconds, then use a spatula to push ingredients down from the side of the blender jar. Blend again until smooth.
Blending Hot Liquid
- Allow the liquid to cool slightly.
- Never fill a blender more than half-way with hot liquid.
- Remove the center cap from the blender lid.
- Place a towel over the top of the blender lid.
- Blend until smooth.
Pour the vegan brûlée into 4 brûlée dishes or ramekins. Place them in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours up to overnight (it gets creamier as it chills).
Step Three: Burnt Sugar Topping for Serving
Brûlée actually means burnt. This requires a kitchen power tool — bring on the kitchen torch!
So, before serving, cover the entire surface of the brûlée with a thin layer of sugar. Use a kitchen torch to carmelize the sugar and create a crispy top coating. Let the sugar sit for a few minutes (so the sugar isn’t too hot), then serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to an hour before eating it.
Don’t have a kitchen torch? Use your oven broiler to burn the sugar. Move the oven rack to the highest position. Heat up the broiler so it’s very hot. You won’t achieve the same golden color as with a torch, but this works. I’ve also read that a grill lighter (the ones with a long wand) can burn the sugar topping, too.
Use these expert tips to make this vegan crème brûlée perfect every time:
- The texture of crème brûlée is more like Greek yogurt than a true custard, so serving this dish after it chills will let it thicken properly.
- Add up to 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the milk mixture to make vegan chocolate crème brûlée (and leave out the ground turmeric).
- Traditional crème brûlée is served in ramekins to ensure they cook evenly. Of course, that’s not an issue here because we’re not baking it. You can serve this in any dish you want, but I love the “traditional” look of ramekins.
- I used plain granulated sugar for the topping and it works just fine!
That burnt-sugar, crackly topping on a cashew creamy custard creates such a simple, elegant dessert.
WOW! Creme brûlée is a favourite dessert in my house and, since going plant-based, we’ve missed it dearly. Not any more! This is truly delicious, decadent, creamy, and wonderful. It’s also just so darned much easier to make than the “real” thing.
Is Creme Brûlée Vegetarian?
Although crème brûlée is technically a vegetarian dish, because it’s made with both milk and eggs, it is not considered vegan. However, it’s a very easy recipe to adapt to a vegan diet and tastes just as creamy and delicious!
What's the best coconut milk to use?
There are so many types and brands of coconut milk. Which ones are best? I recommend using full-fat coconut milk, regardless of the brand. To make sure you’re using full fat, simply check the label. It should indicate somewhere between 12 and 15g of fat. The amount of fat in each can vary, and this will have an impact on how creamy the custard is. It will take longer to set if there’s less fat in the can.
Fancy Vegan Desserts
If you love this vegan creme brûlée, you obviously like the finer desserts in life. Be sure to try these indulgent vegan desserts.
No-Bake Crème Brûlée
- Scoop one cup of the fat from a can of chilled coconut milk, arrowroot powder, sugar, and cashews in a saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer (low boil) over medium heat while stirring (this can take up to 5 minutes). Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Don't worry about lumps in the sauce if they occur.
- Add the cream mixture to a high-speed blender. Add the nutritional yeast flakes, vanilla, and pinch of turmeric (for color). Blend until creamy.
- Pour the cream into 4 brûlée dishes or ramekins (or 8 smaller containers). Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours to overnight (the longer it sits the thicker the cream will become).
- Before serving, sprinkle the top of each with approximately 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and make sure the entire surface of cream has sugar over it. Use a kitchen torch to carmelize the sugar and create a crispy top coating. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.
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For Chocolate Creme BrûléeAdd up to 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the milk mixture (and leave out the ground turmeric).
Regarding Coconut MilkUse full-fat coconut milk. The label should read between 13 and 15g of fat. The amount of fat in each can varies which will have an impact on how creamy the custard is. Keep your coconut milk in the fridge so the fat hardens. Then you can scoop the fat from the can. If your can has 1 cup of fat that’s good. If your can has less than 1 cup, use 1.5 tablespoons arrowroot powder.
Make-Ahead TipsTo make ahead, prepare the custard and pour it into serving dishes. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving.
Burning Sugar OptionsDon’t have a kitchen torch? You can use your oven broiler to burn the sugar. Simply, move the oven rack to the highest rack in the oven. Heat up the broiler so it’s very hot. It helps if the custard itself is well chilled. Just be sure to set it out at room temperature for a few minutes so the ramekin doesn’t crack. You won’t achieve the same golden color as with a torch, but this works. I’ve also read that a grill lighter (the ones with a long wand) can burn the sugar topping as well. However, it seems like that would take a while so it may not be practical. Once the sugar coating is done, let it sit for a few minutes before eating it, so you don’t burn your mouth.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2019 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.