Leite de Creme – Portuguese Egg Custard

If you are looking for a simple and delicious dessert that is perfect for any occasion, then this Portuguese Creme de Leite recipe is a must-try! This recipe is a classic egg custard that is similar to the famous French creme brulee, but instead of being baked, it is cooked on the stovetop. The custard is infused with the flavors of cinnamon and lemon peel, which gives it a warm and refreshing taste. To add some texture and sweetness, you can sprinkle some sugar on top of the custard and then caramelize it under a broiler or using a cooking torch.

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Zazz's Notes

Fun fact 1: Creme de Leite is a popular ingredient in Brazilian cuisine, and it is used in a variety of dishes, including desserts, soups, and stews. In fact, it is so commonly used in Brazil that many grocery stores sell it in cartons or cans, just like milk or cream.

Fun fact 2: In Portugal, where this recipe originated, Creme de Leite is called "Leite Creme" or "Crema de Leite" in Portuguese. It is a popular dessert throughout the country and is often served on special occasions, such as Christmas and Easter. In fact, it is so beloved that there is even a national contest held every year to determine who makes the best "Leite Creme" in the country.

"Found @ portuguesedinerdotcom/ (aka Tia Maria's Blog for the Portuguese Foodie). Maria Dias & her daughter (Lisa) are co-authors of TASTE PORTUGAL, 101 EASY PORTUGUESE RECIPES (Vol 1). In Maria's words, "Leite Creme is a Portuguese Egg Custard similar to French Cream Brulee, but cooked on the stove-top instead of baked. It’s rich, creamy texture is perfect as a light dessert. The 1st time I ate this custard was when I was a only 12 yrs old & on my family’s 1st trip back to Portugal after coming to America. We arrived in Lisbon & then took a long cab ride to Coimbra to stay at my Aunts house for a wk. She prepared this delicious creamy dessert for us when we arrived & I’ve been hooked ever since! ENJOY!"

Quick Overview

To cook this Creme de Leite recipe, start by beating the eggs and milk in a medium bowl until well combined. Add cornstarch and sugar, mix well, and then add the lemon peel and cinnamon stick. Heat the mixture in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring continuously. Do not let the custard boil, as it will affect its consistency. Once the custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, pour it into individual ramekins and allow it to cool to room temperature. Store the ramekins in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

When you're ready to serve, sprinkle sugar on top of each custard and brown slightly under an oven broiler or by using a cooking torch. This will give it a nice caramelized top. This creamy and rich dessert is perfect for any occasion and can be served chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy the taste of Portugal with this delicious Creme de Leite recipe!

For a fun twist on this classic recipe, you can try adding some grated orange zest or a splash of your favorite liquor, such as brandy or port. You can also experiment with different toppings, such as fresh berries or a dollop of whipped cream. Another variation is to use different types of milk, such as almond milk or coconut milk, to create a dairy-free version of the custard. Whatever variation you choose, this Creme de Leite recipe is sure to be a hit with your friends and family!

Original recipe yields 4 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (327.1 g)
  • Calories 741.4
  • Total Fat - 52.4 g
  • Saturated Fat - 19.7 g
  • Cholesterol - 1990.9 mg
  • Sodium - 216.8 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 32.7 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 0.6 g
  • Sugars - 22.7 g
  • Protein - 32.9 g
  • Calcium - 386.4 mg
  • Iron - 5.1 mg
  • Vitamin C - 1 mg
  • Thiamin - 0.4 mg

Step by Step Method

Step 1

In a med bowl, beat the eggs & milk w/a whisk until well-combined. Add the cornstarch plus the sugar & mix well.

Step 2

Add the lemon peel plus the cinnamon stick & heat in a saucepan on low–to-medium heat, stirring continuously. DO NOT LET THE CUSTARD BOIL. If it begins to boil, remove it from the heat to cool down while you continue to stir. The custard should be thick enough to coat the spoon like a pudding.

Step 3

Pour into individual ramekins & allow them to cool to room temp. Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Step 4

When the custard has cooled, sprinkle sugar on top & brown slightly under an oven broiler or by using a cooking torch.

Tips & Variations

  • No special items are required

Zazz's Recommendations

One interesting variation for this recipe is to add a touch of vanilla extract to the custard mixture for an extra layer of flavor. Another variation is to infuse the milk with a tea bag or spices like cardamom or nutmeg before adding it to the egg mixture, giving the custard a unique and aromatic twist.

A recommendation for serving this dish is to pair it with fresh berries or a fruit compote to cut through the richness of the custard. Additionally, instead of using a broiler or cooking torch to brown the sugar on top, you can sprinkle the sugar and then use a kitchen blowtorch to achieve a perfect caramelized crust. This not only looks impressive, but it also adds a pleasant crunch to the custard.


1 Reviews


Delicious! Much creamier than the baked custard version, and the subtle cinnamon and citrus is a nice touch.


review by:
(26 Jul 2016)

Last Updated: March 21, 2023