This Cuban flan recipe uses an almond milk base to make a light and creamy custard that has a subtle sweetness. This dairy free take on a traditional Cuban dessert is SCD and Paleo friendly. It is also gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free.
Some of you might know that I'm Cuban. Many of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the delicious Cuban food that my grandmother's would make for us.
Flan is one of those desserts that I associate closely with my paternal grandmother. She used to make a KILLER Cuban flan! It was so sweet, rich, and creamy...one small sliver was all that was needed!
I've slowly been making my way through my favorite Cuban recipes and reworking them to be SCD and Paleo friendly so that I can share them with my kids. I want to make sure they get some of the Cuban heritage that I grew up with.
Turning this traditional dessert dairy and refined sugar free was no easy task, but I'm happy with the final result. This dairy free Cuban flan is lighter than its traditional counterpart and has a subtle sweetness.
Personally I like it better! It means I can have a larger piece AND my stomach won't get upset with all the dairy!
what is flan?
Flan, also known as creme caramel, caramel dessert, or baked custard has a base of eggs, whole milk, and condensed milk. It's traditionally flavored with a cinnamon stick and a little vanilla.
Flan is similar to a creme brulee but instead of a hardened shell of sugar, it has a liquid caramel topping.
Tips for Cuban flan ingredients
This flan recipe is just a handful of ingredients; clover honey, almond milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla extract, and eggs.
- I personally like clover honey for this flan. It adds a touch of sweetness without the bitterness that other varieties can sometimes have.
- If your gut can't handle almond milk, cashew milk will also work.
- I don't suggest using canned coconut milk for this recipe. While coconut milk gives the flan a lovely added layer of flavor, every time I tried using it, the coconut cream would separate and form a hard layer on top as the flan cooled.
If you don't have a cinnamon stick, you can use ⅛ tsp of ground cinnamon instead. Just keep in mind that the flan will be slightly darker in color.
how to make the honey caramel sauce topping
The key to a creamy flan is patience! Nothing about this dessert is fast, so take your time and enjoy the process.
Begin by turning the clover honey into a substitute for caramel. Place the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat and continue to cook until it has turned dark amber in color. The caramel is done when you drop some honey into a cold cup of water and the honey forms a firm ball.
Pour the caramel into a 6" round cake pan and turn the pan until the caramel has covered the bottom and sides. Work fast though, the caramel will begin to harden once removed from the heat!
how to make a dairy free cuban flan
In a medium saucepan, bring the almond milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer for 20 minutes, this ensures that the milk is infused with the flavor of cinnamon.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and honey in a large bowl until well combined. Here's the tricky part; pour the almond milk in a slow and steady stream into the egg mixture making sure to whisk the eggs the ENTIRE time!
If you pour the hot milk too fast or don't whisk the entire time, the eggs will start to scramble, and we don't want that!
Once the milk and eggs are well combined, strain the mixture into the cake pan. The flan will be baked in a water bath, so cover the pan with aluminum foil place in an 8x8 baking dish.
Pour hot water (NOT boiling) into the 8x8 baking dish until it's halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Carefully place the flan into the oven and allow to bake until the sides have set and the middle jiggles when moved.
DON'T over bake or the flan will be very rubbery in texture. It's better to under bake it a bit because once removed from the oven, it will continue to cook in the water bath until cooled.
Chill the flan overnight or for up to two days before serving.
When you're ready to serve this delightful treat, run a sharp knife around edge of the flan and invert the flan onto a plate or platter (place a plate on top of the cake pan and quickly flip it over). Gently remove the cake pan and enjoy!
Here are more Cuban and Spanish inspired recipes!
If you’ve made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below!
Recipe was inspired by my grandmother's recipe and The Columbia Restaurant.
Cuban Flan (SCD, Paleo, Dairy Free)
Honey Caramel Sauce
- ½ cup clover honey
- 3 cups almond milk
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp clover honey
Honey Caramel Sauce
- Heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes. You'll know the honey is ready when it's bubbly, dark amber in color, and a small amount of the honey turns into a firm ball when dropped into a glass of cold water.
- Carefully pour the honey into a 6" round cake pan, tilting and turning the pan until the honey coats the bottom and sides. Work quickly as the honey will begin to harden once removed from the heat! Place the pan inside an 8x8 square baking dish (or any baking dish with tall sides) and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 300F. In a large saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the almond milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Allow to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid the milk burning.
- While the milk is simmering, place the rest of the flan ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a slow, steady stream pour the milk into the egg mixture, making sure to whisk the ENTIRE time! Continue whisking until well combined.
- Pour the flan mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the cake pan. Take hot water (not boiling but the hottest water from your faucet is fine) and pour it into the baking dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
- Cover the cake pan with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven.
- Bake the flan for 80 to 90 minutes. Remove the flan from the oven when the sides have set and the center jiggles a bit when moved. It's better to UNDER COOK than OVERCOOK the flan as it will continue to cook once removed from the oven!
- Remove the foil from the flan and continue to rest in the water bath on the counter for 1 hour. Remove the cake pan from the water bath and cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight or up to 2 days before serving.
- To unmold the flan, slide a sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Invert a plate or platter that has a raised rim on top of the flan and turn the pan and plate over. Allow the flan to sit inverted for a few minutes if it does not immediately release from the pan. Remove the pan from the flan.
- Spoon some of the honey caramel over each individual slice of flan. Cover leftovers and store in the fridge 2 to 3 days.
- This recipe should be made at least one day before serving.
- The texture of the flan will be rubbery if overcooked. Remember to take it out once the sides have set and the center jiggles. It should be similar to a jello mold.