Chef John's Cheesecake Flan


A cheesecake-like custard bakes over a layer of caramel in my attempt at making flan that tastes like cheesecake. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, I ended up with a flan-flavored cheesecake instead, thanks to the power of caramelized sugar. Careful, that thin layer of caramel can be overpowering. Whether or not you make a successful graham cracker crust topping, I hope you give this gorgeous recipe a try soon.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
50 mins
Additional Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
4 5 1/2-ounce flans


For the Ramekins:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • ½ cup white sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

For the Custard:

  • ½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 3 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • ½ cup white sugar

For the Topping:

  • ½ cup graham cracker crumbs (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (Optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Rub the insides of four 5 1/2-ounce ramekins with oil.

  2. Melt 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, without stirring, in a skillet over medium heat. Swirl the skillet occasionally until sugar caramelizes to an amber color. Quickly pour caramel into each ramekin to cover the bottoms. Place ramekins in a baking dish.

  3. Combine cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs in a bowl. Whisk until smooth.

  4. Heat 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk until almost simmering. Stir in sugar and pour into the cream cheese mixture.

  5. Ladle mixture into the ramekins. Fill the baking dish with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

  6. Bake in the preheated oven until custard is just barely set, 45 to 60 minutes. When shaken, custard should jiggle as one mass. Remove ramekins from baking dish and let cool to room temperature.

  7. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and spread some of the mixture over each flan. Refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 2 hours.

  8. Run a knife along the edge of each chilled flan and invert onto a plate. Drizzle any remaining caramel on top.

Chef's Notes:

I used four 5 1/2-ounce ramekins, and had a little custard mixture left over, so you can probably get 5 out of this recipe if you use slightly smaller ramekins, or fill them with less batter.

Ramekins can also be greased with melted butter.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of custard. The actual amount consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

542 Calories
25g Fat
71g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 542
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 194mg 65%
Sodium 345mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 71g 26%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 63g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 158mg 12%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 195mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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