Flan: a traditional dessert

includes a video recipe and exercises (PDF free for download).

In Spain, flan with eggs is a dessert “de toda la vida”. What means “de toda la vida”? It means that it’s a traditional dessert everybody knows and that exists since long. You can find it in a supermarket as well as on the menu of a restaurant, and if you ever have been on vacation in Spain, I’m sure you already tried it. Or maybe you know it from your own country, because flan is a dessert that’s quite international with different versions in lots of countries.

There’s little I can tell you about its origin, because after searching around a bit, it seems that little is known about who invented it or where exactly it comes from. That’s because it’s very old. It’s a dessert that has already been prepared centuries before Christ.

What exactly is it?

The dessert flan is based on eggs, milk and sugar, and it’s cooked in a “baño María”. From this basic recipe there are many variations of this dessert. It can be made with cream, coffee, oranges, vanilla, and many more. I’m going to show you how to prepare the flan I do at home and which before my mum prepared for me. It’s the basic and traditional version and very easy to prepare!

As I mentioned above, this dessert is cooked in a “baño María”. I’m sure that when I explain you what it is, this type of cooking will ring a bell. To cook something in a “baño María” you have to fill a container with water and then add smaller pots with the food you want to cook. This is put in the oven or on a stove where it’s cooked until it’s done. I bet you’ve heard of it!

How to prepare our flan

Traditional flan is always prepared using liquid caramel. You put the caramel on the bottom of a mold so that when you serve the flan, the caramel runs down on all sides. The mold we use to prepare it is called “flanera”. It can be big so you can make a big, single flan, or small, so you can do individual portions.

The ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized eggs (or 3 eggs if they’re large)
  • 1/2 liter whole milk
  • approx. 100 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp per mold of liquid caramel
  • flaneras (see note below)

*optional: vanilla bean to aromatize the milk in case you like a hint of vanilla. However, take care to let the aromatized milk cool down before using it. Otherwise, your eggs will curdle.


  • Put the milk in a high blending container.
  • Add the eggs and the sugar.
  • Blend on maximum.
  • Done. The result isn’t a dough but more like a liquid.
  • Put the caramel in each flanera.
  • Afterwards, add the blended liquid, but not until the top. Leave a bit of space so that when it rises, it won’t spill over.
  • Take a deep casserole and put the flaneras inside.
  • Pour water to cover the flaneras slightly, about halfway up.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 ºC (356 ºF) and put in the casserole with the flaneras.
  • Cook for approx. 40 min. This depends on the oven.
  • After 40 min. prod the flan with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, let it cook another 5 min. and repeat until the wooden skewer comes out clean. The surface of the flan will be golden brown.
  • Watch out! Danger of burns! Take lots of care when you take out the casserole with the flaneras from the oven, because the water is very hot and you could burn yourself.
  • Take the flaneras out of the water and let them cool down.
  • Afterwards, put them in the fridge. Flan is served cold (Do not server warm or the flans will fall apart).
  • To serve them use a knife to separate the flan from the flanera and turn out onto a plate or bowl.

Try this recipe and practice Spanish while preparing a typical dessert!


It’s a round mold made of metal that is usually used to prepare flan. In Spain, flanes traditionally have the peculiar form of the flanera. The flaneras can be big or small. Although in general we use the small ones, because it’s easier to store and serve the flan in small portions. Of course, you can prepare flanes in whatever mold you choose. They’ll be just as delicious!


Exercises for download


Featured image: dl Spanish lessons
Picture 01-06: dl Spanish lessons