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Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Pumpkin Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

I finally cracked open a can of pumpkin.

I figure if it’s cold enough to have the heat running, I can stop holding on to the last rays of summer light and finally accept that it’s gone, and subsequently drown my sorrows in canned pumpkin. It’s the only thing that makes fall bearable, in my opinion.

Pumpkin Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

Pumpkin crème brûlée seemed like an obvious choice, especially now that I finally have a crème brûlée torch to my name (yay, cookbook for giving me an excuse to get one!) Throw in some swoon-worthy Uganda vanilla beans from my Food Blog Forum swag bag (thanks, Beanilla!) and you have yourself one heck of a fall dessert.

Pumpkin Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

Call it a gateway dessert, if you will, paving the way for many more sweet amber treats to come. I have a feeling there will be a lot of them.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 4 hours


1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup turbinado or granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil (this will be used for the water bath later).

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla until light in color.

Heat cream in a small saucepan until it starts to steam. Gradually pour warm cream into bowl with egg yolks, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking vigorously, until incorporated. Skim off foam. Pour into 4 (4-ounce) shallow ramekins. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour in just enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until just set. Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, sprinkle a generous tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each ramekin. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar, moving torch evenly across the tops of the custards to keep the sugar from burning. Alternatively, you place the custards on the top rack of a broiler set to high, and broil until sugar is golden brown and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

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71 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

    What a wonderful way to use up pumpkin puree! I love me some Creme Brûlée!


  2. 2
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Sigh…I’m going to have to get a torch aren’t I? This looks wonderful, so creamy and with a perfect brulee top!


    • Angela
      Posted On November 22, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      No! Just put them under your broiler & watch carefully ?

  3. 3
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Is there anything that doesn’t taste better in the pumpkin version? I LOVE this!


  4. 4
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

    That sounds great! I love the first photograph, especially.


  5. 5
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

    What?! That sounds like the most amazing dessert!! Love the flecks from the vanilla!


  6. 6
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I love creme brulee but pumpkin creme brulee sounds even more amazing! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. :)


  7. 7
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I bet my husband (the pumpkin lover in the family) would love this! Though we only have camping torches – probably a bit over kill huh? ;)


    • Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

      When it comes to torches, I don’t think there is such a thing as overkill. :)

  8. 8
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:47 am

    My coworker ordered a pumpkin creme brulee last week in san francisco at Incanto, chef Chris Cosentino’s restauarnt (from the Next Iron Chef) and it was out of this world good. (of course I tried some) I want a torch so badly so I can make this myself!


    • Andrew Bandy
      Posted On December 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      You can pick up a torch at Home Depot for around $3-$4. I’ve been using one for all of my creme brûlées which works great. It’s much cheaper than spending the $30-$40 they charge for a “creme brulee torch” at other places

  9. 9
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:51 am

    i am hanging on to anything i can with summer! i can’t stand the thought of what fall brings–winter! ugh.
    Yes, pumpkin makes it a bit better. lol


  10. 10
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Heavenly! I saw another pumpkin creme brulee on the cupcake project recently. They both look so fantastic!


  11. 11
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Great recipe…I was planning to making something similar for the next weekend :)


  12. 12
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

    YUM. this looks incredible!


  13. 13
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

    PS- now I need to convince the hubs that a kitchen torch is a necessity ;)


  14. 14
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:23 am

    i’ve been yearning for a torch for months now.

    i have to say, while the whole brulee was certainly beautiful – i really dig the empty eaten one with all the little seeds in the bottom. it’s gorgeous against the orange of the pumpkin. Yum yum!


  15. 15
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    “Gateway dessert” – definitely! This sounds so good right now.


  16. 16
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I don’t have a kitchen torch but if I promised a dessert like this, I think I could convince my husband. Sounds absolutely divine, Lindsay!


  17. 17
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Oh man, that looks great. Specks of vanilla bean get me every time. Love your pretty pumpkin, too! I don’t have a culinary torch, but I use my husband’s blowtorch. So massive, but fun :)


  18. 18
    Elle @ Chellbellz
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Yay, another reason to use my torch!! This is exciting! I have this stuff at home. I just need Ramkins.


  19. 19
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    You. Are. Kidding. Me. !


  20. 20
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one mourning the disappearance of summer. Like you, pumpkin is helping me through! This looks like a good distraction :)


  21. 21
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Yum! I bought a torch but haven’t ever gone to get the butane- I think it may be time to change that, this looks delicious!


  22. 22
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    This looks like heaven. Creme brulee is one of my all-time favorite desserts. Haven’t ever had a pumpkin one though. Good excuse for me to break out my torch as well!


  23. 23
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    omg. That looks soooo good.

    gateway dessert, love it.

    and this may be the reason i just ‘have to have’ a mini blow torch. bed bath and beyond has plenty in stock that are calling my name :)


  24. 24
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    omg, i love creme brulee — and with pumpkin?! this is a must make!! i need some butane ha!


  25. 25
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    wow thats amazing! I never though creme brulee with pumpkin. what a genious idea!


  26. 26
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Aw man I’ve been wanting to take a crack at crème brûlée forever but I have no clue where to get a torch. Any tips on where to look?


    • Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm

      I found mine online, not too expensive either, and it came with 4 ramekins. This one here: Not anything super powerful, but it works!

  27. 27
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    wow looks fabulous! Great post as always


  28. 28
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    creme brulee just might be one of my all-time favorite desserts. i can’t believe that i don’t own a torch! definitely just registered for one for my bridal shower though!

    pumpkin + creme brulee = perfect.


  29. 29
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Super yum! Two spoons though….hmm, dunno if I would have shared:)


    • Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Well, we DID have 4 between the two of us, so…

  30. 30
    Posted On October 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    This is so gorgeous!

    I love the specks of vanilla in the orange custard.

    And I have a torch on my Christmas wish list :)

    PS: Do you know when your book will be out?!? That will be on my list, too.


    • Posted On October 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Tentative release date is June 5th. No idea what’s going to happen between now and then, so… we’ll see!!! :)

  31. 31
    Posted On October 28, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Thank you so much for an amazing recipe! My test friends loved it and I will be making it for Thanksgiving for the family! Hugs!


  32. 32
    Posted On October 28, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Mmm… I always love sweet flecks of vanilla… a sign of a good dessert. this is stunning.

    I’ve resigned myself to winter. turned on the heat 2 days ago (we have frost here, FROST!!) :)


  33. 33
    Posted On October 28, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I love flavoured creme brulee – I made a pistachio version recently which was delicious, but pumpkin sounds even better – and perfect for the season. I bought my blow torch recently too – they’re so much fun!


    • Posted On October 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Pistachio brulee? That sounds divine! I saw some pistachio butter online recently, would have bought it if it hadn’t been so $$. Is that what you used?

  34. 34
    Posted On October 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Looks so good! One of the best ones I’ve ever had was a salted caramel creme brulee … mmmmm


  35. 35
    Posted On October 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I love creme brulee, so I am def.going to give this one a try:)


  36. 36
    Posted On October 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I think I will make this for Thanksgiving at your mom and dads. Surely Wayne will have a blow torch! The photos are beautiful!


  37. 37
    Posted On October 30, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    It snowed here (weird for October) and I am still having problems giving it up. I pretty much pouted and waved my fist towards Mother Nature for the majority of the day yesterday. This creme brulee though – yeah, I could let it take me away.


  38. 38
    Posted On October 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Love canned pumpkin in all forms. Baking my mother’s pumpkin bread tomorrow (and posting recipe soon after) but this will be what I do with the extra can of pumpkin I bought!


  39. 39
    Posted On October 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    This looks like such a special treat, lady! however, being a college girl and all I don’t have access to a kitchen torch. Could I omit that step entirely or is there another way to caramelize the sugar?

    – Katie


    • Posted On November 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      Read the recipe – there are instructions for using a broiler instead if you don’t have a torch. :)

  40. 40
    Posted On October 31, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I just bought new ramekins, a torch, and vanilla bean paste this weekend! can’t wait to make this :)


  41. 41
    Posted On October 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

    That looks scrumptious!


  42. 42
    Posted On October 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Love all the vanilla bean seeds! Looks yummmm…


  43. 43
    Posted On October 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    such a great fall twist on a classic! yum!!


  44. 44
    Posted On November 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Wow … I need this now. I bet this is totally a gateway dessert!!


  45. 45
    Posted On November 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I made this last weekend, and it was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe!


  46. 46
    Posted On November 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    This was a wonderful dish! I liked that the pumpkin flavoring was not overpowering. I considered adding other pumpkin pie spices too but am glad that I did not. The vanilla bean and pumpkin are perfect together. Thank you for sharing!


    • Posted On November 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      Yes! I thought the SAME thing… to cinnamon, or not to cinnamon. But pumpkin can be such a delicate flavor I didn’t want to cover it up. Glad you enjoyed it!

  47. 47
    Posted On November 3, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I cannot tell you how up my alley this is. It’s totally not cold enough to have the heat running here… we’re movin’ on into summer! Still in the name of expat Thanksgivings, I think this one is a total must.


  48. 48
    Posted On November 3, 2011 at 7:19 am

    This looks amazing – love making creme brulee and any excuse to try a new recipe is a good reason to make it. It’s on the menu for my next dinner party. And don’t you just love the little torch!!


  49. 49
    Posted On November 3, 2011 at 11:12 am

    YUM! I almost got some Creme Brulee when I went to a Portland icon restaurant, Papa Haydens, last weekend, but settled on a Caramel Macadamia nut tart. I love Creme Brulee. I’ve made several pumpkin things recently and am at the moment making pumpkin bagels.


  50. 50
    Posted On November 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you for this great idea. I tried it last weekend and it was a big hit! Everyone liked it and I’m going to make it again and again (maybe for christmas…).
    Greeting from Germany


  51. 51
    Posted On November 10, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I’ve been wanting a reason to get a torch as well. Maybe I can use this as an excuse since I’m not writing a cookbook! crème brûlée is awesome so pumpkin crème brûlée must be epic.


  52. 52
    Posted On November 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    You know, we’re a small group for Thanksgiving this year and your pumpkin creme burlee will be a much better choice for dessert than an entire pie. Can’t wait to make it!


  53. 53
    Posted On November 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Just made this for my family for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! My only problem was that it didn’t set well, and turned out pretty soupy. I allowed it to sit in the fridge overnight and didn’t undercook — any tips?? Thanks!


  54. 54
    Posted On August 14, 2012 at 3:37 am

    I love classic creme brulee but with the taste of pumpkin it sounds really delish! I have to try this!


  55. 55
    Posted On October 15, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Nagyon finom lehetett,nem csoda ha kiürült a tál!!!!


  56. 56
    Posted On October 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I made this tonight and it was awesome. We used some in a water bath and others not a water. The one in the water bath turned out awesome. This is an awesome recipe.


  57. 57
    Posted On November 1, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m about to start preparing your wonderful creme brule… What size was your pumpkin puree can? I’m making 8 servings, so I’ll be using the whole can. I’ve got a 30oz can (Libby’s). Help, Lindsay!


    • Posted On November 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Standard size (15oz) can is what I used, which usually is about 1 3/4 cup of pumpkin, but you only need 1/2 cup of it for 4 servings as per the recipe.

  58. 58
    Posted On November 2, 2014 at 6:50 am

    First I have to say that I love your blog, your recipes, your photos… it’s a very nice site to visit.

    I’ve never made creme brulée, and I love it, maybe because I’ve never used a kitchen torch, or any kind of torch :)  Anyway, this recipe looks fantastic, but I wonder if I could use real pumpkin, instead of can pumpkin.



  59. 59
    Posted On November 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Loved your recipe, but the batch I only refrigerated for 5 hours did not set. And was like a ‘sauce’. But the batch that I let set overnight was perfection, so maybe you should revise that bit? Maybe it was just me, but 5 hours wasn’t enough time.


  60. 60
    Posted On September 11, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Confused about vanilla bean.  ive never baked with vanilla bean. Do I open the bean up and split the seed open?


    • Posted On September 12, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Correct, you’ll want to split the bean in half lengthwise, then use the back of a knife to scrape all the seeds out of it. You can save the leftover pods and use it to make vanilla extract or vanilla sugar if you want.

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