This classic Leche Flan is creamy and rich made from egg yolks and milk. Learn the secret to making a very smooth and silky leche flan you could ever make.
What is Leche Flan?
Leche Flan or what is known as Spanish Flan outside the Philippines is a traditional Filipino dessert made of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and egg yolks. It also has a layer of caramelized sugar that turns into syrup after cooking them together.
It is commonly served as dessert at Fiestas, holidays and other special occasions. Aside from the basic ingredients, it is also normally flavored with vanilla and key lime zest.
Is it the same as crème caramel? The short answer is yes. They are very similar and look exactly the same. However, most crème caramel recipes call for the addition of cream, Filipino Leche Flan does not. The latter also uses condensed milk instead of just sugar. The Leche flan is richer while crème caramel has a lighter texture.
Being the eldest daughter, I was taught early to help in the kitchen. This recipe of Leche Flan was the very first dessert I learned and was taught to me by my Lola (grandma) when I was only ten or so.
The most important thing I remembered because she was very specific about it, is that I am not to make any bubbles while stirring the mixture to get that flawless texture. I also remembered how much my arms—yes both of them, and shoulders hurt from all that slow stirring until all the sugar has completely dissolved. We do big batches at this time.
Good thing I do not have to do this manually these days. I let my stand mixer do all the work and I also have a neat trick up my sleeves.
Well, it is not really so much of a trick, I only use a sieve or strainer to remove the stubborn pieces that take ages to melt.
I hope my Lola, bless her soul, is not frowning at me when she sees me doing this. (Yikes!) But I am sure she would understand.
How to cook Leche Flan?
The traditional way to cook leche flan is to steam it using a steamer. But nowadays, it is also common to bake it in the oven using bain-marie or a water bath. Rice cooker can also be used as a steamer.
- First, you have to make the caramelized sugar. Simply add sugar to the llaneras and cook it over medium heat until it melts into a texture similar to molten-lava. Let it cool down and set.
- Next is to make the custard by combining the egg yolks, condensed milk and evaporated milk.
- Pour this mixture to the now hardened caramelized sugar.
- Place the llaneras in a steamer or in a bain-marie and steam until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let it cooled down (in the fridge) to set. To serve, turn it over on a plate with the caramel layer on top.
The secret to a creamy and smooth Leche Flan
I will let you in a secret I learned to have a perfectly smooth and bubble-free Leche Flan like this one.
- This Leche Flan was baked in the oven in a water bath instead of steamed. I got this neat trick from Lalaine's Leche flan recipe of Kawaling Pinoy. I tried it on a batch I did for New Year’s Eve and it worked nicely!
- Try not to beat too fast to avoid adding air to the egg-milk mixture. This will become bubbles that will form holes in the custard once cooked. Tap the llanera on the counter several times before cooking to release trapped bubbles.
- When making the caramel, make sure that all the sugar has completely melted and not gritty. It should look like dark honey without any granules left. If not, this will leave marks on the sides of the flan as the caramel starts to melt when steamed.
- Try not to burn the sugar when doing the caramel. Burnt sugar will give the Leche Flan a bitter taste.
- You can add a bit of water to the sugar to melt it faster.
- Do not separate the egg whites and yolks too early. Exposing the egg yolks to the air will allow it to create a skin. This will become lumps that are difficult to melt.
You may also be interested in trying my Puto Flan recipe. Combining two well-loved Filipino desserts in one, the Puto and Leche Flan.
Smooth and Creamy Leche Flan
- 10 egg yolks
- 1 can (12 oz) evaporated or fresh milk - or fresh milk
- 1 can (10 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon key lime or lemon zest (optional)
- 8-9 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Prepare the caramel. Scoop 3 tablespoons of sugar in each (3 small) llanera or flan molds or 4 tablespoons for big llanera. Place the llanera on top of the stove over low heat. When the sugar starts to liquefy, using tongs, turn the llanera in a circular motion to prevent the sugar from burning and let them caramelize evenly. Remove from heat once all granules have turned liquid and are light brown. Set aside.
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl, and slowly beat them with a fork or whisk. Try not to beat too fast and create a lot of bubbles. Gradually add the milk and condensed milk while continuously stirring. Lastly, add the vanilla extract and zest of key lime or lemon and stir a couple of times more until all is well blended. Sieve the mixture with a strainer to remove undissolved bits.
- Pour the mixture into each mold. Tap the mold several times on a flat surface to get rid of trapped bubbles. Place the filled llanera or mold in a water bath and bake in the oven at 160°C/320°F for about 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Do not overcook or the will start to create tiny holes.
- Let them cool down and then chill in the fridge for at least an hour. When ready to serve, run a knife around the inner edges to separate the flan from the mold. Place a serving plate top-side down over the llanera and flip them over to transfer.
4 egg yolks
⅓ cup evaporated milk
⅓ cup condensed milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp lime zest (optional) If you do not have a llanera, you can also use a round aluminum mold.
Beautifully set and served everyone enjoys the perfect sweetness and texture.
Your Leche Flan is great.
Oh my goodness, oh so good!!
Thank you for making a single llanera recipe option!! I also used the oven method. Satisfied my craving! It was creamy, right amount of sweetness, oh so good and so easy to make! Will definitely make another one this weekend! =D
Glad you like it, Sarah!
Deanna poteet says
Delicious!!! And sooo easy to make!! One question.. the calories say kcal81?? Is that supposed to be just cal 81.. cuz when i look up kcal and convert it.. it comes out too 81,000 kcal per slice!!
Hi Deanna, that is per serving and this recipe makes 3 small llanera or 2 big ones and you divide those not 12 so a serving is about 4-5 tablespoons.
May I ask what is the size of the eggs used?
I used large eggs.
This is really good. Tried both ways - steam and oven method. The oven method was creamier though it took mine longer than 30 mins to cook. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Thanks for the stars Irene and I am glad you like it.
Thank you for sharing this recipe!
How many minutes if using steamer?
Aly Reb says
I made this. So funny ‘cause I didn’t have a llanera so I used my 9inch round cake pan. I had to caramelize the sugar in a saucepan and transfer it to the round pan. I got frustrated at first as it didn’t look promising but I still proceeded. Baked it for almost an hour with water bath, fridge for an hour and surprisingly turned out right and so yummy!
I put 200ml of condensed milk instead of the 10oz which is approximately 295 ml as Im not a fan of too much sweet.
Thank you for sharing your recipe. 🙂
God bless you!
Angela V says
First time to make leche flan and its a wow! Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe and for including the techniques on how to make it smooth and creamy. Big help for me since I just started cooking. Cant wait to try your other recipes!
I found your leche flan recipe last year when we were on lockdown. I really love leche flan and I've always been intimidated by it. But when I found your recipe, it has become my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. Your recipes are always so simple! I also learned how to make my favorite arrozcaldo from you. Your recipes are the best! Thank you for sharing your expertise.
It is our pleasure, Ann. I am happy that you like our recipes here.
Hi! I cooled the flan completely inside the refrigerator oevernight. The next morning I let it sit in the counter for 10 minutes before running a knide around the llanera. How come the carameliZed sugar was stuck at the bottom? And I had a hard time getting it out of the llanera? Any tips on easy removal? Also how come your caramel is all liquid while mine is so hard?
It is normal for some of the caramel to get stuck but most of it should have melted and will keep on melting the linger it stays in the fridge. But if the sugar is not completely melted then it will form crystals and that will not really melt. You can try placing the flan on top of a stove and reheat it to melt the caramel again.
Do I need to cover the lanera with foil when putting them in the oven? Thanks
I usually skip it just check it from time to time that the top does not burn.
this leche flanrecipe is slightly different than the ones we bought from the Philippines. much tastier, the sweetness is just right and my kids loved it. kudos to you!
In your printable recipe, you said to bake it to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Sinunod ko naman. My leche flan wasn’t cook. So I checked the video and you use 355 degrees Farenheit instead of 320. 😔
Hi Thia, sorry for that but actually the 320F should also be fine but with your oven maybe you need to cook it longer that is why there is a guide to cook it until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Ovens work differently so even if you used 360F it might still have a different result so it is better to check from time to time.
Sometimes we cannot rely on some recipes here on Google... we need to check the lecheflan ourselves whether it is cooked or not by inserting a cake tester.
By the way, I tried this recipe. It's the best lecheflan.
Thank you, Mary!