This milk carton flan recipe gives you a tasty, smooth custard dessert with sweet caramel sauce. The best part, you can easily whip up just enough flan for one person, as it’s perfectly portioned for a solo indulgence.
❤️ Why this recipe works
- This recipe is also perfect for those who only want a single serve Crème caramel as it allows you to make just enough flan for one.
- By using a milk carton as the container for the flan, it requires no molds and it could become a fun and eye-catching dessert to impress your family and friends.
- This recipe is also incredibly easy to make with 3 methods. An Instant Pot can greatly shorten the cooking time up to merely 3 minutes of steaming. However, I’ll also share two other easy ways: steaming and oven-baking to make this single-serve mini flan.
To make this delicious “flan for one”, you’ll only need a handful of simple ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. These include:
- Full cream milk: The star ingredient of this recipe. Full cream milk adds richness and creaminess to the flan. It’s recommended to use full cream milk instead of low-fat or non-fat milk to achieve the best texture and flavor.
- Eggs: The eggs are essential for binding the ingredients together and creating a smooth custard base for your flan.
- Sugar: You’ll need sugar to create the caramel syrup that will coat the bottom of your milk carton and add a sweet and slightly bitter flavor to the flan.
- Water: You’ll use water to dissolve the sugar and create the caramel syrup for the flan.
For the Caramel Syrup:
- Empty the milk from the carton completely. Take a knife and create a small tear at the bottom of the carton. Afterward, cover the tear with tape. You now have an instant mold for your single-serve mini flan.
- Start by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Be careful not to stir the mixture too much, as this can cause the sugar to crystallize and turn solid.
- Once the sugar and water have combined, turn the heat up to medium-high and let the mixture melt and start bubbling. Keep a close eye on it, as it will take approximately 5-7 minutes to bubble. Keep monitoring it until it starts to change color to a golden-orange or amber color. This indicates that the caramelization process has begun, and you can swirl the pot to move the syrup around.
- When the syrup looks dark orange, which should take only a minute, remove it from the heat and continue to swirl it around until you achieve an even color. Quickly pour the caramel syrup into the milk carton and tilt the carton to ensure the bottom is evenly coated. Set the carton aside to cool.
For the Custard:
- Start by beating the eggs lightly in a large bowl.
- Heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, making sure it doesn’t come to a boil. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Slowly pour the hot milk over the beaten eggs while stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. To make the mixture even smoother, strain it through a fine sieve.
- Pour the flan mixture into the milk carton. Use a binder clip to secure the top of the carton tightly. In case you use ramekins, cover the ramekins with Aluminium foil.
🔥 Three ways to cook:
You have three options to choose from when cooking the flan. Simply select the method that suits your preferences or circumstances:
- Steaming flan with an Instant Pot:
- Add 250 ml (1 cup) of water in Instant Pot Pressure Cooker. Place steamer rack inside the pressure cooker. Put the closed milk carton on the rack.
- Check the Steam Release Valve to ensure it is in the “Sealing” Position.
- Select “Steam” and pressure cook at High Pressure for 3 minutes, then let it naturally release for 12-14 minutes.
- Once the Floating Valve drops, carefully open the lid.
- Refrigerate the flan for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) to firm it up.
- Steaming flan with a Steamer
- Steam the flan over low heat (where the water is gently bubbling, not boiling) for approximately 20-30 minutes.
- To determine if the flan is cooked through, insert a toothpick into the mixture. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
- Take the flan out of the steamer and let it cool while keeping it covered. Place the flan in the refrigerator overnight to help it set.
- Oven-baking the flan
- Preheat the oven at 150°C (300°F) for 15 minutes.
- Prepare a baking pan by placing a small towel at the bottom (this helps regulate the heat and ensures a smooth and silky flan).
- Pour hot water into the pan, making sure it reaches about halfway up the sides of your flan inside the milk carton or your ramekins.
- Bake the flan in the preheated oven for approximately 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of your flan. To check if it’s done, insert a toothpick into the flan. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
- Once cooked, remove the flan from the oven and allow it to cool while still covered. Refrigerate the flan overnight to help it set.
🍮 How to serve
- Remove the tap at the bottom of the milk carton. Use a pair of scissors to carefully cut off the top part of the milk carton. Then run a knife along the edges of the carton to loosen the flan. and invert the carton onto a plate to release the dessert.
- Serve the Flan cold and enjoy its creamy texture and sweet caramel flavor.
Why didn’t my flan come out smooth?
Overcooking flan can make your flan unsmooth since it causes the milk to boil and thickens. You should cook flan with gentle heat and shorten your time when cooking (use a toothpick to check)
How to remove bubbles from flan?
If your custard mixture has developed too many bubbles, you can strain it twice before pouring it into molds.
Is your flan’s surface dry, or did water seep into it while steaming?
To solve this problem, you can cover the flan with aluminum foil while cooking.
Why is my flan not firming up?
Firstly, your flan might not have been cooked thoroughly. Secondly, you used a higher proportion of milk to eggs (The more milk you use, the softer and jigglier your flan will be, but be careful.)
If you’ve tried this recipe or any others from my blog, please share your creations with me on Instagram by tagging #savour_thepho or mentioning me in your stories with @savour_thepho. I would be thrilled to see what you’ve made and it would definitely brighten my day! Don’t forget to stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube 🥰.
Milk Carton Flan (Flan for One)
- 1 500ml Milk Carton (or a 6-oz ramekin)
- 1 Instant Pot (or a steamer or an oven)
- 1 Saucepan
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 Whisk
- 1 Fine mesh strainer
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tbsp water
- 1 Egg
- 1 Egg yolks
- 0.7 cup Full cream milk (170ml)
- 1½ tbsp Sugar
Making the Caramel Syrup:
- First, ensure that the milk carton is completely empty of milk. Then, using a knife, carefully create a small tear at the bottom of the carton. Cover the tear with tape, and now you have an instant mold for your single-serve mini flan.
- To make the caramel sauce, combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Avoid stirring excessively to prevent crystallization. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the mixture melt and start bubbling.
- Monitor it closely for about 5-7 minutes until it turns a golden-orange or amber color. Swirl the pot gently to distribute heat to the syrup.
- Once the syrup reaches a dark orange hue, remove it from the heat and continue swirling to achieve an even color. Pour the caramel syrup quickly into the milk carton, ensuring the bottom is evenly coated. Set the carton aside to cool.
Making the Custard:
- Begin by lightly beating the eggs in a large bowl.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk and sugar over medium-low heat, ensuring it doesn't reach a boiling point. Stir occasionally until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Gradually pour the hot milk into the beaten eggs while stirring constantly. Add the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. For an even smoother mixture, strain it through a fine sieve.
- Pour the flan mixture into the milk carton. Secure the top of the carton tightly with a binder clip. If you're using ramekins instead, cover them with aluminum foil.
1. Steaming flan with an Instant Pot:
- To start, pour 250 ml (1 cup) of water into your Instant Pot Pressure Cooker. Next, put the steamer rack inside the cooker and place the closed milk carton on top of the rack.
- Make sure the Steam Release Valve is set to the "Sealing" Position.
- Choose the "Steam" setting and set the pressure to High. Allow it to pressure cook for 3 minutes, and then let the pressure release naturally for 12-14 minutes.
- Once the Floating Valve has dropped, cautiously open the lid.
- To allow the flan to set up properly, refrigerate the flan for at least 6 hours, or better yet, overnight.
2. Steaming flan with a Steamer:
- Steam the flan over low heat for about 20-30 minutes (ensuring that the water is gently bubbling rather than boiling).
- To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the flan. If it comes out clean, it means the flan is ready.
- Remove the flan from the steamer and allow it to cool while keeping it covered. Then, place the flan in the refrigerator overnight to aid in the setting process.
3. Oven-baking the flan:
- Preheat your oven to 150°C (or 300°F)
- Prepare a baking pan by placing a small towel at the bottom to ensure even heat distribution and a smooth texture for your flan.
- Fill the pan with hot water, ensuring it reaches about halfway up the sides of the flan.
- Place the flan in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-40 minutes, adjusting the time based on the size of your flan. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the flan. If it comes out clean, it's ready.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the flan from the oven and allow it to cool while keeping it covered. Refrigerate the flan overnight to aid in the setting process.
Serve the flan:
- First, take off the tap at the bottom of the milk carton. Next, use a pair of scissors to carefully chop off the upper part of the carton. Then, use a knife to gently slide along the edges of the carton to loosen the flan. Finally, flip the carton upside down onto a plate to let the dessert come out.
- Serve the Flan cold!!