Filipino leche flan is easily a party, potluck, and family gathering favorite! This recipe is so rich and creamy with only 5 key ingredients! Includes the traditional technique to making leche flan with modern tips to make your life easier!
This Filipino leche flan recipe is hands-down a party favorite the whole family will love! Think of this dessert similar to a caramel custard due to the dense, rich flavor from the eggs and milk.
The smooth texture combined with the caramel sugar topping makes this the perfect dessert and is a popular Filipino cuisine item for the dinner table.
I grew up with both the Filipino and Mexican flan desserts, and I can honestly say there are differences. (Both are extremely delicious, I’m not picking a side here!), but if you want a flan that is thicker, and a whole lot creamier, this recipe will be perfect for you.
This post will go over everything you need to know to create this Filipino leche flan recipe.
Recipe difficulty: Intermediate (Don’t let this turn you off, as the end result is delicious!)
This creamy leche flan recipe uses only 5 key ingredients, which are common basics! While the ingredient list is simple, cooks will have to separate the egg yolks from the whites and manage to flip the leche flan onto a plate. Don’t worry! The tips provided below will make this all too simple!
Sam’s Pro Tips for this Filipino Leche Flan
- Have the right equipment! To get a perfect steamed leche flan, you need to have a steamer and a “llanera” (traditional Filipino tin used to make the flan). If you don’t have these items, it’s no problem at all! I describe below how to make an oven leche flan recipe with any basic baking mold. The steamer I use sits on top of a boiling pot of water where the leche flan will be covered with a lid. (The one I have in the pictures below is a passed down family wood steamer). For the “llanera,” typically this is an oblong tin container used to steam the flan. This isn’t anything fancy, but it gets the job done! Measurements for the llanera are 7½ x 5 inches and 2 inches deep, which is what I used for this recipe.
Cooking and Plating the Flan
- Pay close attention when browning the sugar: This is one of the more challenging steps in this recipe as there are a lot of “What Could Go Wrongs.” However, once you understand the process it becomes a breeze. To get the caramelized sugar topping on top of the flan, you’re going put your llanera on top of the stove over low heat. Alright, here’s the trick to ensure your sugar melts evenly and doesn’t “seize” (turn gritty and becomes burnt)! Add 3 tablespoons of water and mix with the brown sugar in the tin. This will help the brown sugar melt evenly and will give a nice coating to your tin before the egg mixture is poured in. Make sure the water is mixed evenly with the brown sugar so that the sugar doesn’t burn on the edges. Remove the tin from the stove when the mixture has a syrup like texture. Watch this closely so that it doesn’t burn!
- Before flipping the flan on the plate, loosen the edges with a thin knife: This is the scary part! Not to scare you, but if the flan is not loosened around the edges or hasn’t cooled enough, you run the risk for the flan to tear when flipping! This hasn’t happened to me, but I already know if it did, I would totally be on the floor crying! So what you want to do right before flipping, is run a thin knife around the edge careful not to cut the flan by accident. Try to use the back side of the knife when doing this step. If using the llanera, I have seen my mom try to expand the edges of the llanera gradually as the flan is cooling.
Two Ways to Separate the Egg Yolks
I know this part is not fun! Honestly, if I can buy egg yolks like I can buy egg whites in the store, I would! So I have two ways to separate the egg yolks that I know works for me. By no means, is this like a professional tip or anything!
The first is to make sure when you’re separating the yolk from the white, to crack your egg in the middle over a large rimmed bowl. You’re aiming to get an even crack in the middle. If you smash the egg over the counter, this won’t work. Once cracked, between the two shells rotate the egg yolk back and forth over a bowl so that the egg white falls into the bowl. By rotating the egg yolk back and forth a couple times between the shells, you’ll be left with only the yolk in the shell without anymore egg white. This process isn’t too bad!
My other method, which is messier but way easier is to crack the top part of the egg (the skinny part) enough to peel the eggshell to expose the egg and dump the egg yolk on your hand over a bowl. The egg white will slip through your fingers and your palm will be holding the yolk. I know this is a lot messier and not pretty, but at least you will not accidently mix some of the yolk with the white.
Oven Baked Leche Flan
Ok, so remember above how I said if you don’t have a steamer or a llanera, there are a couple things you can do to bake the flan? You’ll bake the flan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the top covered in aluminum. You can use any circular or rectangle baking mold depending on the shape you want that is similar to the dimensions given above for the llanera. Please be sure to melt the sugar mixture in a separate saucepan over the stove and transfer to the baking mold.
A key step to make sure you incorporate when baking the flan is to have a water bath for your flan. This is very similar to when you bake a cheesecake to prevent getting a crack on the top of the flan. Using either a roasting pan or a large rimmed baking tray, pour boiling water until it reaches about an inch to 1½ inches. If you can, try to have your leche flan raised above the water by using a wire rack or have the pan a rack below.
Bake for 55 minutes to an hour. You’ll know it’s done when you insert a toothpick or knife halfway down the center and it comes out clean. Make sure you don’t go all the way to the bottom! (Don’t worry, no one will see this because the flan will be flipped over on a plate.)
Key Ingredients – Filipino Leche Flan
Below are some key ingredients for this recipe:
- Egg yolks: Yes, only the yolks! This is what creates that rich, custard-like texture. This leche flan is dense and extremely satisfying!
- Evaporated milk: Try to use the Nestle Carnation brand. I have used low-fat 2% evaporated milk and the full thing. The evaporated milk will help with the creamy texture.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Again, I use the Nestle Carnation brand for this. The sweetened condensed milk gives you all the sweetness you need and adds to that custard texture. What makes this so easy is that I dump the whole can of the evaporated milk and the sweetened condensed milk into the bowl without measuring.
- Vanilla: All you need is a hint of vanilla for added flavor! I’m totally thinking of a cup of coffee with this right now!
- Brown sugar: Alright, so some leche flan recipes use white sugar for the caramelized syrup on top. Our family recipe uses brown sugar, which gives a deeper, richer flavor to the syrup. Mixed with the water to develop the syrup topping, your sugar won’t lose a beat since brown sugar has a richer taste.
More Variations to this Recipe
There are a few ways you can variate this Filipino leche flan. Here’s how:
- Use white sugar: If you don’t have or wish to use brown sugar for the caramelized topping, you can use white sugar. The use of white sugar for the syrup is pretty common and is more of a traditional flan.
- What can I pair with this dish? Oh my goodness, if you’re a coffee drinker like me, I love a good leche flan with some coffee. Or if you don’t like coffee, milk is also a good option! When plating this dish, make sure the dish is not too big and is slightly rimmed so the syrup can flow around the sides of the flan. For other good desserts with coffee, try our Better Than Grandma’s Gingersnap Cookies. It’s done in 25 minutes using only 1 bowl!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ingredients of leche flan?
Filipino leche flan is made with egg yolks, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and white or brown sugar.
What can I use instead of Llanera?
A cake mold or any type of ceramic dish can be used in place of a llanera. However, when making the caramelized topping be sure to cook this in a separate saucepan.
How do you know your flan is ready?
The flan will appear smooth and firm in the pan. A quick way to check this is to stick a knife or toothpick halfway through the center. If it pulls away clean, the flan is ready. This won’t be seen when plating as the flan will be flipped.
Should flan be served warm or cold?
Flan can be served room temperature or cold. As long as the flan has cooled down and set from the pan, either way is dependent on preference.