How long can you keep creme brulee?

Creme brulee is a delicious French dessert with a smooth, creamy custard base and a crunchy caramelized sugar topping. It’s made by cooking a mixture of cream, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks to thicken into a custard, which is then chilled and topped with sugar before serving. While creme brulee tastes amazing when fresh, leftovers can be kept for a short time if stored properly.

Quick Answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about how long creme brulee lasts:

  • Freshly made creme brulee will last 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Creme brulee can be frozen for 2-3 months without the crunchy sugar topping.
  • Once topped with the burnt sugar crust, creme brulee is best consumed within 12 hours.
  • Properly stored creme brulee lasts longer than most cream desserts due to the egg yolks helping stabilize the custard.
  • Look for signs the creme brulee has gone bad like watery separation, mold growth, or sour smell before consuming leftovers.

How Long Does Uncooked Creme Brulee Last in the Fridge?

If you’ve made creme brulee but haven’t yet topped and caramelized the sugar, the uncooked custard mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Be sure to cover the surface directly with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form. The egg yolks help extend the fridge life compared to pure cream mixtures. But after 3 days, the creme brulee will start to break down and become watery.

Tips for Storing Uncooked Creme Brulee:

  • Pour the uncooked custard into ramekins or shallow dishes before chilling to make it easy to cover.
  • Make sure the creme brulee is chilled within 2 hours of cooking for food safety.
  • Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming.
  • Store creme brulee on the middle shelf of the fridge, away from foods with strong odors.

How Long Does Finished Creme Brulee Last?

Once you’ve caramelized sugar on top, the shelf life of creme brulee is reduced. The crunchy topping can start absorbing moisture from the custard, causing it to soften. Here’s how long finished creme brulee will last:

  • At Room Temperature: 1-2 hours max. The sugar topping will start to soften and melt.
  • Refrigerated: 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container. Keeps the sugar crisp longer.
  • Frozen: 2-3 months when frozen without the burnt sugar topping.

For best results, creme brulee should be consumed soon after the sugar is torched and caramelized. The contrast of the crunchy topping and smooth custard is lost after about 12 hours in the fridge.

How to Store Finished Creme Brulee:

  • Let cool completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate within 30 minutes of topping with sugar.
  • Avoid storing for longer than 3-4 days as quality declines.
  • Don’t freeze creme brulee with the burnt sugar topping still on.

How to Tell If Creme Brulee Has Gone Bad

Creme brulee doesn’t keep as long as some other desserts, but it can last for a few days when properly stored. Here are signs that creme brulee has gone bad and needs to be discarded:

  • Watery or Curdled Custard: If the custard loses its thick, creamy texture, turns watery, or separates, toss it.
  • Mold Growth: Check closely for fuzzy white or green mold, especially near edges.
  • Sour Smell: An unpleasant sour dairy aroma means creme brulee has turned.
  • Odd Colors: Discoloration or unnatural colors like yellow, pink, blue, or green indicate spoilage.

When in doubt, remember the old saying “When in doubt, throw it out!” Don’t risk getting sick from eating creme brulee past its prime.

Does Creme Brulee Need to Be Refrigerated?

Proper refrigeration is important for keeping creme brulee fresh and extending its shelf life. Warm conditions accelerate the growth of bacteria in custard and cream desserts. Follow these refrigeration guidelines:

  • Refrigerate uncooked creme brulee within 2 hours of making.
  • Chill finished creme brulee within 30 minutes of adding sugar topping.
  • Store creme brulee on a middle fridge shelf, not in the door.
  • Keep fridge at 40°F or below.
  • Never leave creme brulee out for over 2 hours.

The custard needs continuous refrigeration. Letting it sit out too long, even for serving, allows bacteria to multiply quickly.

Can You Freeze Creme Brulee?

Freezing is a great way to enjoy creme brulee past its prime while preserving the smooth texture. Here’s how to freeze creme brulee:

  1. Pour the cooked, chilled custard into a freezer-safe container.
  2. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap.
  3. Freeze for 2-3 hours until solid.
  4. Transfer to an airtight freezer bag.
  5. Remove as much air as possible and seal bag.
  6. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.
  7. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before topping with sugar and serving.

Do not freeze creme brulee after adding the burnt sugar crust, as it will cause the sugar to soften and melt. The custard alone freezes well.

How Should You Serve Creme Brulee?

For the best presentation and taste, serve creme brulee chilled right out of the refrigerator. Remove ramekins from the fridge about 10 minutes before serving to take the chill off. Use a small kitchen torch to quickly brûlée and caramelize the sugar topping just before eating.

Creme brulee is ideally served in ceramic ramekins, but can also be served in small bowls or cups. Be sure to use oven-safe dishes for cooking the custard base.

Accompaniments like fresh fruit, whipped cream, or cookies complement the rich, elegant flavor of creme brulee. For easy entertaining, prepare several ramekins at once and let guests self-serve their own.

Creme Brulee Serving Tips:

  • Chill creme brulee in serving dishes so you can bring straight to the table.
  • Caramelize sugar topping just before eating for crispiest texture.
  • Garnish with fresh berries, lemon zest, chocolate shavings, or chopped nuts.
  • Serve with coffee, tea, or dessert wine like Sauternes or Moscato d’Asti.
  • Prep in advance and finish with sugar torching to simplify entertaining.

Common Questions About Creme Brulee

Can you make creme brulee in advance?

Yes, creme brulee can be made 1-2 days in advance. Prepare the chilled custard, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, top with sugar and caramelize it.

Do you have to chill creme brulee before brûléeing?

Yes, proper chilling is important. The custard base should be thoroughly chilled before topping with sugar and torching. Hot or warm custard will cause the sugar to melt instead of crisping.

Can I use granulated sugar instead of brown sugar on creme brulee?

Either white or brown sugar can be used. Brown sugar provides richer caramel flavor, while white granulated sugar makes a crunchier brûlée top. Use what suits your taste!

Is creme brulee supposed to jiggle?

A set yet jiggly texture is ideal for creme brulee when chilled. The custard should wobble slightly when gently shaken, but not be watery or thin. Some jiggliness indicates the right creamy, smooth consistency.

Can you make creme brulee without a blowtorch?

You can broil creme brulee briefly in the oven, but it’s tricky to get an evenly caramelized sugar crust. Investing in a culinary torch is recommended for the proper brûlée technique.

Storage Method Shelf Life of Creme Brulee
Refrigerator 3-4 days
Freezer 2-3 months (custard only)
Room temperature 1-2 hours

This table summarizes how long creme brulee lasts when stored in the refrigerator, freezer, and at room temperature. Proper storage is key for preserving freshness and texture.

Tips for Making Creme Brulee Last Longer

Follow these tips for keeping your creme brulee fresh for as long as possible:

  1. Refrigerate quickly after cooking, within 2 hours.
  2. Always store creme brulee covered in the fridge.
  3. Use shallow ramekins or dishes so the custard chills faster.
  4. Cook the custard properly to a temperature of 170-175°F.
  5. Don’t let finished creme brulee sit out more than 1-2 hours.
  6. When freezing, wrap ramekins well in plastic and freezer bags.
  7. Avoid introducing bacteria – use clean utensils and dishes.
  8. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard before covering.

With proper refrigeration and air-tight storage, you can enjoy perfectly creamy creme brulee for 3-4 days after preparing it.


Creme brulee is a delicious, elegant dessert that can be kept for 3-4 days when handled properly. Always refrigerate it quickly after cooking and storing in an airtight container. The uncooked custard mixture lasts 2-3 days in the fridge, while finished creme brulee with caramelized sugar topping will keep for up to 12 hours. For longer storage, freeze the custard only for 2-3 months. With proper refrigeration, air-tight wrapping, and careful monitoring for spoilage, you can enjoy leftover creme brulee almost as good as the day it was made.

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