If you’ve never had flan, you’re in for a treat! This easy, vegan version may be dairy- and egg-free, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor or texture. A dreamy, salted caramel sauce beautifully coats a coconut milk custard. The result? A cheesecake-like coconut custard covered in rich, salty caramel sauce. Swoon! Talk about a dreamy dessert. Plus, just 7 ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!
What is Flan?
Flan (also called crème caramel) is a creamy custard dessert with a thin layer of caramel sauce on top. While it’s enjoyed in many regions around the world, flan is thought to have first originated in ancient Rome and is especially popular in Latin America. Many variations now exist, and they often include regional ingredients, such as pineapple juice in Puerto Rico and coffee in Costa Rica.
Though flan is traditionally made with eggs, milk, and sugar, the following is a plant-based and refined-sugar-free version inspired by the concept.
How to Make Vegan Flan
We know we’re in for a challenge whenever creating a recipe that’s traditionally made almost exclusively from ingredients we’re trying not to use: milk, eggs, and cane sugar. But friends, with this one, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result!
Coconut milk provides a luxurious, creamy, rich base for the custard and pairs beautifully with vanilla and maple syrup for a simple yet bold flavor. Top with a pleasantly salty, vanilla-infused caramel sauce, and it’s love at first bite.
For the caramel layer, coconut sugar combines with salt, vanilla, and water and is heated until bubbly and thickened. It’s added to the ramekins before the custard so that once the flan ramekins are flipped onto a plate, the beautiful caramel layer is at the top.
For the custard layer, agar and cornstarch (or arrowroot starch) take the place of the eggs in a traditional flan. Agar comes from seaweed (red algae) and is used throughout Asia for making desserts. It’s fiber-rich (makes you feel full longer), and when boiled, it thickens like jello. Pretty neat, we’d say. What can’t you do, seaweed!?
We hope you LOVE this vegan flan! It’s:
& SO delicious!
It’s the perfect dessert for romantic occasions, holidays, or whenever the flan craving strikes!
More Caramelly Vegan Treats
- 5-Ingredient Vegan Caramel Sauce
- Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Ice Cream
- 5-Ingredient Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles
- Salted Cashew Caramel Energy Bites
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Vegan Flan (No-Bake!)
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot starch
- 1 tsp agar agar powder (not flakes)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 (13.5-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk (we like Whole Foods 365 brand)
- Start by getting out 4 individual ramekins; ideally they should be 3-4 inches in diameter (at the base) and 2-3 inches deep. Place them within easy reach.
- CARAMEL: Add the coconut sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and water to a medium saucepan and turn on medium-low heat. Set a timer for 3 minutes and stir constantly while cooking – the sugar will dissolve and the mixture should start to bubble vigorously and thicken slightly. Stick with it! If it is only gently bubbling, turn up your heat very slightly. Or if it’s smelling burnt at all, turn heat down. As soon as the 3-minute timer goes off, quickly distribute the caramel between your 4 prepared ramekins (~1 heaping tablespoon per ramekin). Set aside.
- CUSTARD: You can rinse the same saucepan with hot water and use it for the custard, or choose another — make sure whatever pan you choose is deep enough to hold 4 cups (950 ml) of boiling liquid.
- Add the salt, cornstarch or arrowroot, agar agar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the cooled (or room temperature) saucepan and whisk together until few lumps remain. Then add the coconut milk and whisk vigorously until well combined.
- Place the saucepan over high heat, whisking continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium low and set a timer for 2 minutes. Continue whisking until the timer goes off. The mixture will have thickened but should still be quite loose and pourable.
- Carefully distribute the custard between the ramekins, on top of the caramel. Let the flan cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring it to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 3 hours, uncovered. If chilling for more than 3 hours, cover lightly with foil, leaving room for a bit of ventilation.
- Once set, you can eat your flan straight from the ramekins with a spoon, or carefully remove them by loosening the edges with a butter knife and turning them upside down onto a plate. You may need to shake gently and tap the bottom to help them slip out!
- Best enjoyed the first day, but will keep for up to 3 days lightly covered in the refrigerator. Not freezer friendly.
*If using agar flakes (vs. powder), a reader mentioned it worked well with 1 ½ tablespoons flakes in place of 1 tsp powder. We haven’t tested it that way and can’t guarantee results.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with cornstarch.