Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Coconut Milk Mexican Flan (Dairy Free)

If you don’t know about flan, you are seriously missing out on a luscious dessert that will make your end-of-the-meal experience that much better.

Vertical slightly oblique head-on shot of two plates of homemade Mexican coconut milk flan with caramel sauce, with forks on the side and two more plates in the background beside a rustic gray ceramic mug, on blue, black, and white patterned cloth napkins, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the image.

Flan is sweet and soft. It’s jiggly and tender. Plus, it’s a really impressive recipe to bust out for any occasion, whether it’s a weeknight or a dinner party.

Vertical image of four white plates of coconut milk flan with caramel sauce, with two gray mugs and folded blue cloth napkins with a triangular design, and several scattered forks, on a brown wood table.

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, it’s time to board the flan train.

Vertical shot of three white plates of flan, with one centered and in focus at the center of the image and the others in soft focus behind it, with two dark and light gray mugs with handles, on a brown wood surface with folded patterned blue cloth napkins and forks, on a mottled blue and white background.

I do have to admit that this recipe takes a little bit of babysitting when you make it. While it’s not difficult to make, this isn’t a dessert that you can simply leave on the stove to come together on its own before baking it.

Vertical oblique shot of two white plates of homemade flan, with two more beside a gray ceramic mug in the background, on a brown table with folded blue patterned cloth napkins.

My biggest point of advice is to simply be patient, and take your time with it. Let yourself get caught up in the process of cooking, and you’ll end up with an impressive and delicious dessert.

Vertical oblique shot of four white plates of Mexican flan, with forks, folded dark and light blue patterned cloth napkins with a triangular design, and a dark and light gray mug with a handle, on a dark brown wood table.

Just so you can go into this recipe feeling as confident as can be, I have some tips that will help you make it perfectly every single time:

  • Be sure to keep an eye on the caramel so that it doesn’t get too brown. It should be nice and golden brown, but not too dark. Also, make sure that you work quickly with the caramel so that it coats the bottoms of the ramekins before it cools.
  • Before you start working on this recipe, measure out all of the ingredients and have them set out in the order listed. Though the recipe takes a little time to pull together, it goes quickly, so you don’t want to be measuring ingredients as you go along.
  • Take your time to temper the eggs. The step of adding the warm coconut milk to the beaten eggs in small amounts helps to avoid cooking them prematurely. Scrambled egg in your dessert is not what we are going for here.
  • Use that strainer when you are finishing the custard. This final step before baking the flan is really helpful to make sure that you don’t get any unwanted chunks that will change the texture.
    Flan is essentially a baked custard, and with this variation, your main milk component comes from coconuts. The coconut milk gives you a silky smooth texture, and it also adds a sultry flavor.

The water bath is essential so that the dessert bakes slowly and gently. This helps with the overall texture.

A forkful of homemade flan is held up to the camera, with plates of the dessert in teh background on a brown wood table with folded blue patterned cloth napkins and a gray ceramic mug.

When the custard is done, you flip it out, and voila! It’s a jiggly masterpiece that melts in your mouth like magic, topped with sweet caramel sauce.

I love to serve this flan with a cup of coffee on the side because the sweet coconut flavor matches up so well with the bitter notes of the hot beverage.

Vertical image of a white plate of coconut and caramel flan with a portion of the round custard removed to show the texture inside, with a fork, and three more plates of the same in the background in soft focus next to a gray mug, on a brown wooden table with folded dark and light blue patterned cloth napkins.

You can serve this flan to just about anyone who comes over, because there’s no dairy in it. The coconut milk makes it dairy-free, while also adding a ton of flavor.

It’s the best way to celebrate the upcoming holiday, or to cool off with a sweet treat at the end of any spring or summer meal.

Print
A white plate of Mexican flan with coconut sauce is at the center of the frame with another to the top right, on folded dark and light blue patterned cloth napkins with a fork, on a brown wood surface.

Coconut Milk Flan


  • Author: Shanna Mallon and Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 10 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

For a sweet treat at the end of your festive Cinco de Mayo meal, make this flavorful and rich coconut milk Mexican flan.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar or granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 6 eggs, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325˚F.
  2. Bring 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe off any sugar that sticks to the side of the pan.
  3. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup turns golden brown, about 10 minutes. Evenly divide the caramel between 6 4-inch ramekins. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a medium pot over low heat, warm the coconut milk until it reaches a low simmer. Stir in remaining sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and reduces by 1/3. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
  5. While the milk mixture cooks, whisk eggs together until lightly beaten in a medium bowl.
  6. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the milk mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly to combine. Add another 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture, and whisk again to combine. Repeat this adding process another two times.
  7. Add egg mixture back to the warm milk mixture in the saucepan, pouring slowly while whisking constantly until combined. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Divide the custard evenly between the ramekins and place them in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with hot water so it comes 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The centers might still be a little jiggly.
  10. Remove ramekins from the baking dish, cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or over night.
  11. To serve, run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate.

Notes

Inspired by a recipe from The Art of Mexican Cooking by Jan Aaron and Georgine Sachs Salom.

  • Category: Flan
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: flan, coconut, coconut milk, dairy-free, Mexican, coconut flan

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Zest Lemon and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Zest one large lemon to get 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.

Overhead vertical shot of six glass and metal bowls of various sizes, containing coconut milk, beaten egg, sugar, spices, and vanilla extract, on a striped light brown wood surface.

Measure out all remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Step 2 – Make Syrup

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, and continue to stir just until the sugar dissolves.

Overhead shot of a sugar syrup mixture in a saucepan, on a brown and beige wood surface with vertical stripes.

Use a wet pastry brush to wipe off any sugar that sticks to the side of the pan as the syrup comes together.

Overhead shot of four white ramekins with a homemade caramel sauce at the bottom, on a brown wood surface.

Once sugar is dissolved, stop stirring. Continue to cook at same temperature until syrup turns golden brown, about 10 minutes. Divide between the ramekins and set aside to cool.

Step 3 – Make Custard Base

Bring the coconut milk to a simmer In a medium pot over low heat, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the sugar along with the cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Overhead shot of a small stainless steel bowl of coconut milk and spices, on a brown and beige wood surface with vertical stripes.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces by a third. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

Overhead shot of a saucepan of a coconut milk mixture, on a striped wood surface.

Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Looking for the best whisk to do the job right? Check out our review!

Overhead horizontal shot of a stainless steel bowl of beaten eggs with a blue and silver wire whisk, on a tan and brown wood surface.

Ladle 1/4 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture slowly into the eggs while whisking constantly, to temper the mixture and avoid making lumpy scrambled eggs. Whisk constantly until combined.

Slightly oblique overhead shot of a stainless steel bowl of beaten egg, on a wood surface with beige and brown vertical stripes in various shades.

Add another 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly again until combined. Repeat this process two more times.

A wooden spoon stirs a coconut custard mixture in a red saucepan, on a striped wood countertop.

Add the egg mixture back to the hot coconut milk mixture in the saucepan. Pour it in slowly while whisking and continue to stir until combined.

A coconut custard mixture coats the back of a woodne spoon, over a red saucepan, on a wood surface.

Cook the mixture over medium heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and strain to remove any pieces that may have formed through a fine mesh strainer.

Step 4 – Bake

Divide the custard between 6 4-inch ramekins and place them side by side in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with hot tap water so the water is about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. I used about 3 1/2 cups.

Oblique overhead shot of four ramekins of a coconut custard in a metal baking pan, on a wood surface.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If the custards are still a little jiggly in the center at this point, that’s totally fine!

Step 5 – Chill

Carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish and allow them to cool to room temperature on a wire cooling rack. Transfer to a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

Overhead horizontal shot of four white ramekins of cooked coconut custard with tops that are slightly cracked at the centers, in a metal baking pan.

When you’re ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of each one and invert it onto a plate.

Dessert’s Covered, But What’s for Dinner?

When it comes to Cinco de Mayo, the options are endless. That is why this particular flan recipe is ideal. It is the best cool and creamy end to any meal you can think of, at any time of year really.

Personally, I love bringing it out at the end of a decadent meal at a dinner party. Some great ideas for main dishes to serve before the dairy-free finale are Carne Asada, Slow Cooker Pollo Verde Chili, Slow-Cooked Black Beans and Poblano Pepper Baked Taquitos, or Mexican Lasagna.

Everyone will be so wowed by your meal!

A white plate of Mexican flan with coconut sauce is at the center of the frame with another to the top right, on folded dark and light blue patterned cloth napkins with a fork, on a brown wood surface.

Do you need more inspiration for custard-based pudding-style desserts like flan? You’ll love every single one of these recipes:

What will you serve to lead up to this this flan as your main course? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on December 11, 2012. Last updated: July 20, 2019 at 23:59 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

11 thoughts on “Celebrate Cinco De Mayo with Coconut Milk Mexican Flan (Dairy Free)”

  1. Love it and love you. Also, if you are thinking about eating that last flan in the fridge and want to save me some, that would totally be cool.

  2. You’re making me think about trying to make flan sometime…I tried it once years ago and it was a disaster! But I think I know my way around the kitchen a little more now. 🙂

  3. I want to make this for more people than I have ramekins! Can I make it in a bigger vessel? Thoughts on what would work well and what the baking time would be? Thanks so much!

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