Mexican Caramel Flan

10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Chilling Time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 20 minutes

Mexican Caramel Flan is a delicious traditional Mexican Dessert recipe. Easy creamy vanilla egg custard with a sweet homemade caramel sauce.

This classic Mexican Dessert has all the rich, creamy texture of a New York Cheesecake, topped with a delicious thick, sweet caramel sauce.

Mexican Caramel Flan slice on a plate with bite on fork

You can find versions of this popular Mexican-style custard dessert all over the world, under different names, with many flavors and styles. They all start similarly with an eggy, milk custard cooked low so it melts in your mouth and have a caramel topping that gives it the perfect amount of sweetness.

Unlike a creme brûlée, with it’s crispy sugar crust that you finish after it cooks, the sauce for Caramel Flan is cooked on the bottom and then the custard is inverted. The result is a perfectly creamy custard dessert with a thin sauce that completely covers the flan, for caramel flavor in every bite.

Mexican Caramel Flan ingredients in separate mixing bowls

The liquid caramel heaven that is the sauce for this baked flan is what really makes this Mexican-style dessert special. As fancy and complicated as is seems, Mexican Caramel Flan is actually pretty easy to make. All you need are a few pantry ingredients and some patience. This step by step recipe gives you perfect Caramel Flan every time, but be sure to read it all the way through and take it one step at a time.

Caramel Flan is made in a water bath, similar to a cheesecake or creme brûlée. The difference is that you remove the baked flan from the oven to cool instead of just cracking the oven door. Since a Mexican Flan is flipped upside down and covered in caramel sauce, you don’t have to worry about cracks.

Mexican Caramel Flan preparation collage

Flan comes with it’s own delicious topping baked right along with the creamy custard. However, you can always bring out the vanilla flavor of flan with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream, or add texture with crushed nuts or chocolate chips. It is the perfect finish to your favorite Mexican Dinner, especially with  Cinnamon Tortilla Chips to dunk into the creamy, rich vanilla custard.

Mexican Caramel Flan on plate top view

Some Delicious Toppings for Flan

Baking Tips

  • If you’ve ever watched a cooking show, there’s always that one contestant that turns their back and burns the caramel. So the number one tip is stay focused – don’t take your eyes of it or move on to other tasks until it’s done!
  • The water bath is key to any Caramel Flan recipe. The water keeps the temperature around the pan even so the egg mixture cooks slowly and doesn’t curdle.
  • Be sure to use hot water in the water bath so that the water comes up to the right temperature quickly. You don’t want to get any water in the egg mixture, so pour the boiling water in slowly and carefully.
  • No need for a fancy flan mold, you just need a shallow baking dish that will fit inside a large baking dish or roasting pan.

Mexican Caramel Flan on plate with slice removed on spatula


  • Eggnog Flan: Replace the sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup eggnog, and add 1 tablespoon dark rum and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg. In the caramel sauce, add 2 tablespoons rum. Prepare as usual.
  • Chocolate Flan: Melt 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir into evaporated milk until smooth and combined. Use the evaporated chocolate milk in the recipe as usual for a rich Chocolate Caramel Flan.
  • Flavoring: Use fresh Mexican vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract for extra rich vanilla flavor. You can use other flavorings like brandy, almond extract, or up to ½ cup strong brewed coffee.
  • Mini Mexican Flan: Divide the caramel sauce and flan mixture between individual ramekins. Place ramekins in one large baking dish and pour hot water until reaches ¼ inch below ramekin lip. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until set and slightly jiggly.

Mexican Caramel Flan on plate with slice removed

Decadent Cheesecake Recipes

How to Store

  • Serve: Serve Mexican Caramel Flan chilled and keep at room temperature for no more than 2 hours. It’s best to keep this custard dessert cold so it holds together.
  • Store: Refrigerate baked Mexican Caramel Flan up to 2 days before removing to serve. Store flan for up to 1 week in an airtight container, preferably with space so the lid doesn’t stick to the sauce.
  • Freeze: The best way to freeze Mexican Caramel Flan is before flipping it, with the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before flipping over, removing from the pan, and serving.

Mexican Caramel Flan slice on a plate with bite on fork

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Mexican Caramel Flan

Mexican Caramel Flan is a delicious traditional Mexican Dessert recipe. Easy creamy vanilla egg custard with a sweet homemade caramel sauce.
Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 9 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add sugar and water to a medium saucepan on medium low heat and stir.
  • Cook until golden brown (if sugar crystals start to form around the edges, brush the edges with water).
  • Pour caramel into a 2 quart baking dish and tilt all around to spread the sauce.
  • Whisk the eggs until well beaten.
  • Add in cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Pour over the sauce evenly.
  • Place baking dish into a larger baking pan and fill pan with 1" of boiling water.
  • Cook for 55-60 minutes until the edges are set and the middle just jiggles.
  • Cool on a cooling rack, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Run a knife around the inside of the baking dish, place a plate upside down over the baking dish and quickly flip over.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 225mg | Potassium: 337mg | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 431IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Mexican Caramel Flan

Mexican Caramel Flan slice on a plate with bite on fork collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. A little confusing; what do you do with the water and sugar mixture in Step 2/3? When do you mix in the cream cheese?

    1. Hi! The water mixture turns into the sauce, and should be put at the bottom of your baking pan (step 4) and you add the cream cheese with the eggs and milks. good luck!

  2. I made the caramel sauce three times and it never turned out. I cook all the time so I finally just used another recipe I already had. Also, the recipe doesn’t tell you when to put the cream cheese in. The recipe turned out ok, but I won’t make it again.