Bittman’s Dairy-Free Coconut Flan


I must admit that I still prefer dairy-free flan with eggs, but if you can’t have eggs or need a vegan option (see the agar option as thickener), then this dairy-free coconut flan recipe is one to turn to. It is a feature recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living by Mark Bittman.

Mark Bittman's Dairy-free Coconut Flan - shared from his cookbook, Food Matters.  Includes vegan and soy-free options!

Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Coconut Flan

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally vegan / plant-based and optionally vegetarian.

For a soy-free, dairy-free coconut flan, you can replace the silken tofu with additional coconut milk.

1.0 from 2 reviews
Bittman’s Dairy-Free Coconut Flan
Prep time
Total time
Recipe feature from The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living by Mark Bittman (Simon & Schuster, $35). Note that the prep time does not include chilling - plan ahead!
Serves: 4 servings
  1. Put ½ cup of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally (it’s best not to stir) until the sugar liquefies, turns clear, then turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. Immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of a medium glass bowl or gelatin dish, or four 6-oz ramekins.
  2. Put the coconut milk in a medium saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it, let sit for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the gelatin dissolves entirely.
  3. Put the tofu, vanilla, salt, and remaining 2 Tbs sugar in a blender or food processor and puree. Add the coconut mixture and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the custard into the prepared bowl or ramekins and transfer to the refrigerator.
  5. Chill until set, at least 4 hours up to 24 hours. Serve the flan from the bowl (with a big spoon for scooping out the caramel) or ramekins; or dip the bottom of the vessels in hot water for about ten seconds, run a thin knife all around the edge, and then invert onto plates, scraping the sauce over all.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. Also, how did you get the orangish-caramel color? The caramel did stick to the bottom when the flan came loose. I heated the bottom of the second flan and it ran all over the flan leaving a white exposed top, not an ombre-esque hue of caramel color. Not sure what went wrong.

    • Mori-nu doesn’t typically have any liquid to drain, but if you are using a brand in water, yes, I would drain it. For the coconut milk, just as instructed. You add the coconut milk to the pan with the gelatin, let sit, then heat.

  2. What does “put 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 c water” mean? If making caramel, adding 1/2 c of water to 1/2 cup of sugar, you end up with sugar water. Is this a typo? Should any water be added to the sugar?

    • Susan, this is the method for making a “wet caramel.” There are two types of caramel – one where you simply caramelize the sugar, the other is this method using a sugar water mixture. If done correctly, you definitely won’t end up with sugar water!

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