This delectable keto flan is a sugar-free version of the classic Flan de Coco. It’s a rich custard with coconut milk and shredded coconut, topped off by a sweet caramel sauce. And it’s surprisingly easy to make!
Flan is one of those unassuming desserts that is so much more than it seems at first glance. It’s the sort of treat that, in my youth, I would have passed over in favor of more decadent looking creations. But believe me, passing this keto flan up would be a big mistake.
So stop with you’re doing, head to your kitchen, and make this sweet coconut flan right now. You won’t regret it!
This recipe has been on my website since 2012 and I decided to give it a little update. And the moment I took my first bite, I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. I had forgotten just how rich and creamy and utterly delectable it is.
I won’t make that mistake again any time soon.
What is flan?
Basic flan is a simple custard made with eggs and cream, and plenty of sugar. It has a long and storied history, dating as far back as the Roman Empire. From there, it spread all over the world and many cultures have their own unique spin on flan.
The flan most of us are familiar with typically features a clear sauce of caramelized sugar that sits on top and pools around the bottom of the custard as it is flipped out of the baking dish. It is extremely popular in Latin America, and is often served in Mexican and Latin American restaurants in the US.
Growing up in Canada, I had never even heard of flan. Instead, I ate something called crème caramel. Which, as it turns out, is essentially the same thing. And interestingly, both “flan” and “crème caramel” are terms of French origin.
Where does coconut flan come from?
Coconut flan, or flan de coco, is another spin on this classic dessert and a number of countries lay claim to it as a favorite treat. I’ve seen it featured as Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Vietnamese, and even Gabonese. Clearly the idea of making a custard with coconut milk appeals to people in a number of different places.
Many versions of coconut flan feature a combination of sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk, as well as some shredded coconut. Some versions feature regular milk and cream. Some feature whole eggs, and some feature just egg yolks.
There really is no one single way to make flan.
Updated Coconut Flan Recipe
When I first created a keto version of flan, I went to the trouble of making my own sugar-free keto condensed milk. It was delicious that way, of course, but I’ve since discovered that it’s an unnecessary step. Simply combining some thick coconut cream and some heavy cream works perfectly and creates a luscious texture.
Previously I also made the caramel portion separately and poured it over after the custard was baked. But keto sweeteners have come a long way since 2012 and we have so many more tools at our disposal that allow us to achieve the right consistency. So I re-vamped that as well.
The end result is a rich and creamy keto flan that’s easy to make and even lower in carbs!
How to make keto coconut flan
Are you eager to get started? Here are my best tips for getting it right:
The caramelized sweetener
You really need a combination of sweeteners for the caramel sauce so that it doesn’t recrystallize and become hard and gritty.
- Granulated Swerve or another erythritol based sweetener such as Lakanto
- Allulose, BochaSweet, or xylitol
Please, I beg of you, do not ask me if you can use “monk fruit sweetener” for the second sweetener. Most monk fruit sweetener is a blend with erythritol and so it falls into the first category.
Do not let it burn or become too dark. Use a good heavy duty pan and watch it carefully! Then divvy up this caramel between the prepared ramekins so that it sits at the bottom before the custard is added. It will harden somewhat as it begins to cool.
The coconut custard
Because coconut cream is semi solid at room temperature, you will need to warm it up and liquify it before proceeding. You can simply use the same saucepan in which you made the caramel. Just combine it with the heavy cream and shredded coconut.
As you whisk the warmed cream into the yolks, try not to froth it too much. Whisk gently to avoid whipping in too much air and creating bubbles in the mixture.
Now simply divide the cream/egg mixture between the ramekins, right on top of the caramel sauce.
Use a bain marie
A bain marie is a fancy French term for a water bath. Baking custard in a water bath protects it from the harsh dry heat of the oven, allowing it to cook more slowly and gently. This helps create a distinct creamy texture.
Out of curiosity, I once tried baking custard without the water bath. It rose and puffed up alarmingly, got far more browned on top, and tasted distinctly more eggy than those baked in the water. So don’t skip it!
To set up a bain marie, simply take a large baking dish or roasting pan that fits all of your ramekins. Place the smaller dishes inside and fill it up with hot or boiling water to about halfway up the sides of ramekins. Be careful not to let any water come over the top into the custards. Then transfer the whole baking dish to the oven.
One of the delightful parts about a dessert like keto flan is the presentation. It’s fun to flip the dessert out and watch the caramel ooze out over the top, down the sides, and create a delicious pool on the plate.
To get the custard out nicely, you need to run a sharp knife around the inside of the ramekin to loosen it. Really try to hold the knife close to the edge of the dish to avoid cutting into the custard too much.
Top the ramekin with a small dish and flip them over together. Then give the whole thing a good shake to loosen. You will often hear the flan plop out of the ramekin and onto the plate. As you lift the ramekin away, the caramel oozes out deliciously!
Make it dairy free
Want a dairy free version of this keto flan? Simply use another cup of coconut cream in place of the heavy whipping cream.
Can you make Keto Flan ahead?
Yes, this coconut flan is easily made a day or two ahead and stored in the fridge. The caramel will stay soft as long as you use the recommended sweeteners.
Wrap up each flan tightly to store and let come to room temperature before serving. This will allow the caramel sauce to liquify again.
More delicious keto coconut desserts
- Keto Coconut Cream Poke Cake
- Keto Chocolate Coconut Cups
- Keto Coconut Cheesecake
- Keto Raspberry Coconut Popsicles
- No Bake Coconut Balls
- Keto Almond Joy Macaroons
Keto Coconut Flan
- ¼ cup granulated Swerve Sweetener
- ¼ cup allulose (or BochaSweet)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup shredded coconut
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup powdered Swerve Sweetener
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease six 4-ounce ramekins. Set the ramekins inside a large baking dish.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the Swerve, allulose, and water. Cook, whisking frequently, until the sweeteners have dissolved. Allow to cook until it becomes deep golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Divide among the prepared ramekins.
- Using the same pan, combine the coconut cream, heavy cream, and shredded coconut over low heat. Bring to a simmer and whisk to combine, then remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, powdered Swerve, and extracts until well combined. Slowly whisk in the coconut cream mixture, trying to not froth it too much. Divide the egg/cream mixture among the prepared ramekins.
- Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, taking care not to get any water into them. Transfer the whole baking dish to the oven.
- Bake about 40 to 50 minutes, until the flan is almost completely set. Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish. Let cool completely.
- To serve, run a sharp knife around the edges of the flan. Cover with a small dish and flip over. Give a good shake to loosen the flan and remove the ramekin.
Lorry Norton says
Is it possible to make this in a glass pie plate instead of individual ramekins? I don’t have the ramekins. I understand the presentation will be lacking.
I haven’t tried but I can’t see why not.
Diane M Pfannerer says
As soon as I get back from work I plan on making this recipe for flan it sounds scrumptious thank you ever so much you’ve changed my life
Diane M Pfannerer says
I have two of your cook books. Love love love them
Oh my, this looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it. One question (I know, everybody hates questions about substitutions): Apparently I am very sensitive to the erythritol “cooling effect” as literally EVERY time I’ve tried using it I end up throwing out the result. I love, love, love allulose. Any idea what might happen if I used all allulose? I guess the only way to know is to try, she said as she headed out the door to buy coconut cream…
The trouble with allulose and custard-style desserts is that it can take a REALLY long time for them to set properly…
Joan Devine says
I’m planning on making this for a party and wondering if I could use mini muffin tin to make bite size flan. How would this change the cooking time and do you think a metal pan would work?
I don’t think flan is usually baked in metal so I really can’t say. You might google that.
Mary Lou says
RE: The use of metal in the preparation of flan: in the Philippines individual metal pans called llaneras are used to make leche flan. I like the portion control of the ramekins and will use them when I make this.
I made this recipe once and it seriously impressed my guests (I gave you credit for it, of course). Today I made it again just for family. It’s so creamy and deliciously decadent, it makes me feel sad for folks who are eating low fat & fat-free
I love having a dessert that I can enjoy while on Keto! Great recipe, I shared your this recipe with my friend and she loves it as well! Thank you
Looks so good! Can’t wait to try this one!
This coconut flan was divine, so creamy and delicious! I added a few berries on top and it was gone within minutes!!