Breaking all the rules, this vegan crème brûlée is completely free of dairy and eggs. It’s even made without gluten and soy! Yet the recipe results in a creamy custard-like dessert with a crusty, sugary topping. It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for special occasions.
Vegan Crème Brûlée made without Dairy, Eggs, Gluten, and Soy
We originally posted this recipe about a decade ago, when shared with us by So Delicious. They adapted it from Pure Ella. It uses a mix of coconut milk beverage, full fat coconut milk, and cashew butter for the creamy texture, and a combination of starch and agar flakes to help the custard set. The sweet blend of maple syrup and brown sugar add a wonderful caramelized flavor. We’ve updated the recipe a bit, and also have some notes, tips, and substitution options for the ingredients.
- Coconut Milk Beverage: This variety tends to be a bit richer than other types of milk beverages. But you can substitute another type, like almond milk, if needed. For lower sugar, feel free to use an unsweetened vanilla version.
- Arrowroot Starch: This is a pricier starch than most, but many cooks like its specific properties. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute tapioca starch or non-GMO cornstarch.
- Coconut Milk: This is canned coconut milk. It’s sold in the Asian section of most supermarkets, and can be purchased online. I recommend picking the “regular” full-fat variety and passing on the lite version for this recipe.
- Cashew Butter: This is a rich and creamy nut butter with a beautiful flavor for dessert recipes. It can be hard to find, but is so easy to make! Simply grind your own cashews until they start to turn into “butter.”
- Agar Flakes: This gelatinous seaweed replaces eggs and gelatin in recipes to keep them vegan. In this case, it helps the crème brulee to set-up for a thick custard consistency. If you opt to skip this ingredient, the results will be more like a rich pudding. Please note that this is agar flakes specifically. If using agar powder, reduce the amount to 2 teaspoons.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Crème Brûlée
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose organic brown sugar for strict vegan needs.
For nut-free vegan crème brûlée, you can substitute sunflower seed butter for the cashew butter, but note that it will change the flavor profile a touch.
- ½ cup + 1½ cups cold vanilla coconut milk beverage, divided
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (see sub options in post above)
- 1 (14-ounce) can full fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons cashew butter (see sub options in post above)
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons agar flakes (see notes in post above)
- 2 tablespoons sugar, for topping
- In a small dish, whisk together the ½ cup milk beverage and starch, until the starch is dissolved.
- Add the coconut milk, cashew butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and agar to your blender, and blend until smooth.
- Pour the coconut milk mixture into a medium saucepan and whisk in the remaining 1½ cups milk beverage. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk continuously while bringing the mixture to nearly boiling.
- Give the starch-milk beverage mixture another quick whisk, and then slowly add it to your saucepan while whisking.
- Continue cooking while whisking for about 3 minutes being careful that the mixture doesn’t boil but stays very hot. It will thicken quickly.
- Pour the mixture into four crème brûlée dishes or ramekins; they will be quite full.
- Place the crème brûlées in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, remove the crème brûlées from the refrigerator and let them stand for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up the dishes slightly.
- Sprinkle the tops of each vegan crème brûlée with about ½ tablespoons sugar.
- Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar to form a crispy layer on top. If you don't have a torch, position a rack on the top level in your oven. Turn the oven on to broil, and place the ramekins under the broiler for 2 minutes (this method may soften the vegan crème brûlée a touch).