With this easy keto lemon crème brûlée (adapted from Alexis Watson in Epicurious), you can enjoy one of the most decadent custards out there without going to a restaurant (not that we know of any restaurants serving a low-carb or keto crème brûlée). Yes, it's easy to make velvety smooth and creamy crème brûlée at home when you simply follow the instructions and tips when making it. And, no, you don't need to buy a torch to create the caramelized sugar-free top — broiling will work just fine.
We say this keto lemon crème brûlée is easy to make since you're performing these basic steps: heating heavy cream with lemon zest, whisking egg yolks with sugar-free sweetener, slowly combining the two together, baking the custard in ramekins, chilling it in the refrigerator, and broiling the sugar-free sweetener on top.
This keto lemon crème brûlée is great spring or summer dessert (or anytime of year for that matter!). Since it's such a impressive dessert, you can serve on special occasions or even as a casual weekend dessert. Although crème brûlée is an easy dessert to make, you do need to build in time for it to bake and chill. But, that is hands-off time which doesn't require work. Each serving of the keto lemon crème brûlée is 3.7 net carbs.
Tips for Making Keto Crème Brûlée
You want to be careful when making crème brûlée as little mishaps can make it turn out not quite right (although it's definitely still edible). To help you get your crème brûlée just right, be sure to follow these easy tips.
- When adding the heated heavy cream to the egg yolk and sugar mixture, be careful not to curdle the eggs. To prevent this, you'll first scald the heavy cream by bringing it to a simmer, where there are bubbles forming at the edge. Then, you'll remove from the heat and let sit for several minutes while you prepare the egg yolk and sugar mixture. After, you'll slowly drizzle ¼ cup of the heated cream into the yolk mixture while continuously whisking to temper the eggs (process that warms the eggs without cooking them). You'll continue to slowly pour in the rest of the heavy cream, ¼ cup at a time while continuously whisking, until fully combined.
- To prevent the crème brûlée from overheating, you'll put the filled ramekins in a bain marie, a pan fill filled with hot water, so the crème brûlée can heat slowly and evenly. Be sure that the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins before putting in the oven.
- To prevent the crème brûlée from overbaking, bake at 300 degrees for roughly 30 to 35 minutes (or slightly more). Since every oven is different, we recommend checking for doneness after 25 minutes in the oven. When done, the center of the crème brûlée will slightly jiggle when moved while the edges will be more set. If you overbake the crème brûlée, it will turn out grainy in texture.
- Last, when caramelizing the sugar-free top under the broiler (or with a torch if you have), check it frequently to be sure it does not burn. Before putting under the broiler, put the oven rack at the highest position so it's several inches away from the heating element. Please be aware that sugar-free sweeteners do not work as well as regular sugar when caramelizing. That said, Swerve Brown Sweetener will melt and darken under high heat. As soon as it darkens (similar to above picture), then remove from heat. Our crème brûlée is done in about 2 minutes or less under the broiler. To help harden the sugar-free sweetener, place in the refrigerator after broiling for several minutes until the top is crisp.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are lemons keto-friendly? Yes, you can enjoy lemons while on a keto diet. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C and contain antioxidants. The USDA indicates that a large lemon contains 7.8 grams of carbohydrates and a small lemon contains 5.4 grams.
What size pan do I use for the bain marie? We use a 9x13 baking pan for the water bath. As long as you use a roasting or baking pan that can fit the ramekins and has higher sides.
What size ramekins should I use? Since crème brûlée turns out best in wide and shallow ramekins, we recommend using 8-ounce ramekins. We wouldn't recommend anything smaller than 6-ounce ramekins.
Can I use a different sweetener other than Swerve brown to caramelize the top? We tried Swerve granular and Allulose and they didn't work as well as Swerve Brown Sweetener when caramelizing the top. That said, you could use other brands of erythritol brown sweeteners.
Can I make in advance? Yes, you can make the crème brûlée 3 or 4 days in advance of serving. Simply store in the fridge covered. After removing from the fridge, let the crème brûlée come to room temperature before caramelizing the top. After caramelizing the top under the broiler and briefly setting in the fridge, serve immediately.
How long can I store in the fridge? It will last in the fridge for up to five days covered.
Other Low-Carb and Keto Dessert Recipes
Check out our other low-carb and keto-friendly desserts you may like:
- Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberry Compote: Although this low-carb and keto vanilla panna cotta is delicious on its own, when it’s paired with raspberry compote, it’s heavenly. And it’s so easy to make!
- Simple Strawberry Mascarpone Tart: Our simple strawberry mascarpone tart has a nutty crust, a sweet and creamy mascarpone filling, and is topped with fresh strawberries. It’s absolutely delicious!
- Quick Keto Chocolate Strawberries: Our low-carb and keto chocolate covered strawberries are such a refreshing treat! They’re light, fruity, chocolaty, and so quick and simple to make.
Easy Lemon Crème Brûlée (Low Carb / Keto)
- Heat the cream: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the heavy cream, lemon juice and lemon zest, while stirring occasionally, until nearly boiling with a few bubbles around the edge. Turn off heat and let cool.
- Make the crème brûlée: In a medium bowl, add the egg yolks and ¼ cup Swerve granular. Whisk together for several minutes until well combined and it lightens in color. Slowly drizzle ¼ cup of heated cream into the egg yolk mixture while continuously whisking. Continue to slowly add cream, ¼ cup at at time while continuously whisking, until the cream is completely combined. Stir in vanilla extract and salt. After, strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Divide the mixture equally into 4 ramekins (6- to 8-ounce ramekins). Place the ramekins in a large baking or roasting pan. Fill the pan with hot water until the water reaches halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake: Bake until the crème brûlée is barely set and slightly jiggles in the middle when moved, roughly 30 to 35 minutes (or slightly longer). However, start checking for doneness after 25 minutes as ovens vary. Be careful not to overbake! When done, remove pan from oven and ramekins from water bath. Let cool to room temperature before placing in refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours (or up to a few days).
- Finish: Spread ½ teaspoon Swerve brown sweetener on the top of each crème brûlée. Place top oven rack in the highest position, several inches below heating element, and broil for about two minutes, until the sweetener melts and the top begins to brown. To help harden the top, put the crème brûlée in the refrigerator for several minutes until hardened and crisp.