This Pumpkin Spice Crème Brûlée recipe uses real pumpkin and fall spices to flavor a rich custard base that is topped with a hard shell of caramelized torched sugar. The pumpkin custard is baked in mini pumpkins for an extra festive fall touch.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Before I started this blog, I developed a pumpkin crème brûlée recipe to film, photograph and post on social media. I took it to a Friendsgiving party and it was an absolute hit. I decided it was time to finally get the recipe on the blog and test out using a mini pumpkin as the baking vessel. I took inspiration from NYT Cooking for the base recipe.
I love pumpkin anything this time of year. I put it in my Softest Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls last year and this year I took on pumpkin-ifying a classic pastry with my Pumpkin Kouign-Amann. When I bake with pumpkin I try to put more emphasis on the pumpkin, rather than the pumpkin spices, because it’s easy to overwhelm with the spices and miss the squash flavor.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This recipe uses only a few simple ingredients!
- These can be made a couple days ahead of time and torched just before ready to serve.
- The pumpkin flavor is achieved completely naturally.
- The custard is rich and creamy!
- Canned pumpkin puree gives a beautiful hue and flavor to the dessert.
- Granulated sugar sweetens the custard and is used to caramelize the top.
- Heavy cream brings richness.
- Kosher salt and vanilla extract balance the flavor profile.
- Egg yolks bring structure to the custard.
- Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves bring fall spice.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and variations
Here’s how to customize this dessert to your liking:
- No spices — skip or change the spices to your liking.
- No caramel — leave off the caramelized sugar topping.
- No pumpkins — use ramekins or any heat proof oven-safe baking dishes. Adjust the bake time.
- One big crème brûlée — instead of individual ramekins or pumpkins use any heat proof oven-safe baking dish or one big pumpkin.
- Another sweetener — use an equal amount of brown sugar or another sweetener if you do not have granulated sugar (note: other sweeteners may not brûlée the same as granulated sugar for the caramel topping)
This recipe has not been tested with any substitutions or variations. If you try any, please let me know how it turned out by commenting below!
How to make pumpkin spice crème brûlée
Step 1: Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until lightened in color and the mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is pulled up. Add the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Whisk to combine.
Step 2: Heat the cream and vanilla until simmering. Dribble in the warmed cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking constantly. Continue this until all of the cream mixture is in the egg yolk mixture and whisked together thoroughly.
Step 3: Pour the custard into the mini pumpkins. Place on the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until centers are barely set and jiggly. Chill completely.
Step 4: Sprinkle a thin coat of granulated sugar on top and torch. Repeat 2-3 times.
- You may find it easier to fill the bottom of the pan with water after it has been placed on the oven rack, just before closing the door.
- Tie your hair back and remove any fabric or flammable items before torching!
- I like to use a serrated knife to carve the pumpkin tops.
Store crème brûlée in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days until ready to serve. Wait to brûlée the tops until just before serving.
Serve crème brûlée with a sprig of mint, fresh fruit or whipped cream.
Crème brûlée will keep its crunchy caramel top for a few hours. It is best to caramelize the sugar just before serving for optimal crunch.
Yes, you can use homemade pumpkin puree instead of canned. Just make sure you cook out the majority of the moisture so the flavor is more concentrated.
More recipes you’ll love
Lastly, if you make this Pumpkin Spice Crème Brûlée recipe be sure to leave a comment or give it a rating. I love to see when people make my recipes, so please tag me @youthsweets on Instagram if you post!
Pumpkin Spice Crème Brûlée
Pumpkin spice crème brûlée
- 2 cups heavy cream (470g)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 5 egg yolks (95g)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar more for topping (67g)
- ⅔ cup pumpkin puree (160g)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- tiny pinch ground cloves
- 3-4 small-medium pumpkins 5 ½ inches wide 3 inches tall, washed, tops cut off, hollowed out
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Tear off sheets of foil, scrunch them up into rods and form into rings that the pumpkins will sit on. Place these on top of a large baking sheet with a lip spaced out 3-inches apart.
- Crème brûlée without the caramelized sugar can be made days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Make the custard
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste to a medium saucepan. Cook until simmering (185°F-205°F), then remove from heat.
- In a large heat-proof bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk or beaters until lightened in color and the mixture leaves a trail when the whisk is pulled up. Whisk in the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
- Slowly dribble in some of the warmed cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking constantly. Continue this until all of the cream mixture is in the egg yolk mixture and whisked together thoroughly.
- Divide this mixture evenly between the pumpkins. Do not overfill. Place the pumpkins on the prepared foil collars on the baking sheet. Fill the baking sheet with boiling or very hot water up to the top of the foil collars, but not touching the pumpkins.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until centers are barely set and jiggly. The pumpkins insulate the custard so it bakes much slower than crème brûlée made in ramekins. If making this in ramekins, only bake for about 30 minutes. Cool completely. Refrigerate for at least four hours and up to a couple of days.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle a very thin layer of granulated or caster sugar on top of the crème brûlée. Torch** this layer until melted and lightly caramelized. Sprinkle another even thin layer of sugar on top of this layer. Torch again until melted and lightly caramelized. I like to do 2-3 thin layers to achieve an even, crackable caramel.