Pumpkin Flan is a creamy custard dessert in a simple caramel sauce with hints of pumpkin and warm spices. It is perfect for fall, Thanksgiving, or if you just want to cozy up to something sweet and creamy.
My Recipe for Pumpkin Flan
I made flan for the first time in 2010. A coworker brought homemade pumpkin flan to a Thanksgiving potluck. It was delicious and had that “abuelita made this” kind of feeling.
I wasn’t into collecting recipes the way I am now and never asked her how she made it. Instead, I went home and experimented. It tasted so much like baked custard that I used my baked custard recipe and added pumpkin.
Over time I added dulce de leche, because once when I was making it that’s all that I had. It gave it a rich but overwhelmingly sweet taste, so next go around I just added a 1/2 cup of dulce de leche instead and it worked! Then I started making the caramel sauce and that is how this pumpkin flan recipe came to be!
Why You’ll Love This Pumpkin Flan Recipe
- Fun Fall Treat: Just when you thought you’d tried every pumpkin treat known to mankind, here comes this dessert! It has all the familiar flavors of pumpkin pie without the crust. But that caramelized topping makes up for it!
- Great Make Ahead Dessert: If you’re hosting and don’t want to do too much day-of prep, this dessert is perfect because you can make it up to 2 days in advance.
- Easy to Make: With just 20 minutes of hands-on prep, making pumpkin flan is a breeze! The hardest part is waiting for it to cool down in the fridge so you can dig in!
What is Flan?
Flan is a caramel custard that is baked and then chilled before serving. It has a distinct smooth, creamy texture and a caramel topping. This dessert is popular across the world, including Mexico, France, Spain, and Puerto Rico.
Traditional flan is made with eggs, sugar, and milk but there are many variations of this dessert, including this easy pumpkin flan recipe (also known as flan de calabaza).
Ingredients for Pumpkin Flan
What I love most about flan is that it’s made with simple ingredients. Take a look at the list below and I guarantee that you already keep most of these ingredients stocked in your pantry.
- Evaporated Milk: This enriches the flan and gives it a luscious, creamy texture.
- Condensed Milk: Combine this with evaporated milk for sweetness.
- Dulce de Leche:
- Pumpkin Puree: This provides the pumpkin flavor. Read the label and ensure it only has 1 ingredient: pumpkin!
- Sugar: You may use granulated white sugar or brown sugar.
- Spices: Cinnamon and Nutmeg
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Pumpkin Flan
Follow these few simple steps to make the most delicious and creamy pumpkin flan.
1. Add evaporated milk, condensed milk and dulce de leche milk to a pot on medium heat and simmer until the dulce de leche completely dissolves. Then add the spices.
2. Whisk together the eggs, then whisk in some of the warm milk, to temper the eggs.
3. Add in the pumpkin puree, then all of the remaining warm milk, and set aside.
4. Make the caramel, by adding the granulated sugar to a pan on high heat. Cook until sugar caramelizes.
5. Preheat your oven to 350 °F (177 °C).
6. Pour the liquid caramel into a 9X3-inch cake pan. Then swirl around until the caramel coats the pan. Place the pan into a baking dish deep enough to hold water for a Bain Marie (water bath).
8. If you sieved the custard into a pot, pour the custard into the 9X3 inches cake pan with the caramel.
7. Pour the flan through a sieve, either directly into the pan with the caramel or into pot our bowl with a spout, so that you can easily pour the strained mixture into the pan.
9. Pour hot water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan. You can do this on a counter if you have a pan with handles or carefully in the oven.
10. Bake for 1 hour at 350 °F (177 °C). Then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours.
11. When you are ready to serve the pumpkin flan, run a pointy knife along the sides between the flan and the pan. Invert the flan on a plate and remove the pan
Store leftover flan in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Flan
- Be sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. They are not the same thing. Puree is 100% pumpkin whereas pumpkin pie filling contains additives and sweeteners that will overpower the flan.
- Ensure the pumpkin puree isn’t too watery. If there is excessive moisture, it will ruin the flan. Blot it with a paper towel if necessary.
- Don’t skip the water bath. This helps the custard cook evenly. It adds moisture to the flan so it doesn’t get rubbery as it bakes.
- You may cover the pumpkin flan with foil or cook uncovered. I’ve found there was no real significant difference in the outcome when I covered it, so I stopped doing it, but traditional flan recipes will say to cover it while it bakes.
- Do not rush the process. Flan takes up to 2 hours to properly set and chill so ensure you have the time to make it the right way.
- Make pumpkin flan up to 2 days in advance. Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional flan is made with sugar, eggs, milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
Flan is ready when outer rim is set, and the center is jiggly (not watery). If the senter is still watery, it is not done and should be cooked for an additional 5-10 minutes. However, you don’t want the center solid. That means it’s overcooked.
Flan is best served chilled, straight from the fridge. Don’t leave it at room temperature for more than an hour or it may spoil.
Flan is a custard dessert with a smooth and creamy texture. Tres leches is a moist sponge cake soaked in milk.
- 9×3 inches Round Cake Pan
- Large Pan deep enough to contain the cake pan for water bath
- 30 oz Evaporated Milk 2 15 oz Cans
- 14 oz Condensed Milk 1 can
- 1/2 Cup Dulce De Leche (Optional)
- 6 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (may use brown sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177 °C)
- Add evaporated milk, condensed milk and dulce de leche to a sauce pan. Then add to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the dulce de leche dissolves completely, gently stirring to avoid too many bubbles. This should take about 5 minutes. Alternatively before adding the dulce de leche to the other milks, you may microwave the dulce de leche for 30 second intervals until it becomes loose like the condensed milk.
- Remove the milk from the heat and set aside. Then in a small bowl whisk together the eggs. Whisk 2 cups of the milk, one cup at a time, into the eggs. Then combine the eggs and milk mixture with the remaining milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg and gently whisk together. Try not to make the mixture frothy.
- Next have a 9×3 inches round cake pan handy. A spring form pan will not work for this. Then add the granulated sugar in a single layer to a saucepan on high heat. Let cook untouched until the sugar caramelizes and is brown and completely liquid. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes so don't take your eyes off of it. The sugar caramel will start to get bubbly and a little smoky but will be a rich caramel color and completely liquid and pourable. As soon as this happens, immediately pour the caramel into the cake pan, and quickly swirl it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Don't worry if it doesn't cover every inch of it. It will during baking.
- Place the cake pan into another pan deep enough to hold enough water to come half way up the cake pan. Then pour the custard mixture through a wire mess sieve into the cake pan. Straining the flan is done to eliminate air bubbles. You may cover the cake pan with foil or leave it uncovered. This step is optional. I've done it both ways and it didn't make a difference to me.
- Transfer the pan to the oven. Carefully pour hot water into the pan that the cake pan is resting in. Pour enough hot water so that it comes half way up the cake pan. Then bake at 350 °F (177 °C) for 1 hour.
- Remove from the heat and allow the flan to cool completely then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then run a pointed knife between the circumference of the flan and pan, to free the flan from the sides of the cake pan. Then invert the flan unto a flat plate. Gently wiggle the cake pan free to reveal your beautiful pumpkin flan with the the rich caramel sauce.
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.