Appetizers and Drinks, Pressure cooker
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Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel (Flan de Cajeta)

I was shopping at my local Mexican market, picking up ingredients for taco night, when I saw it. A glorious tub of cajeta, Mexican caramel. Visions of caramel flan danced in my head as I put it in my car.1

I know what you’re thinking. “Evaporated milk? Condensed milk? What are you doing? That’s not Authentic!” As it turns out, condensed and evaporated milk are common ingredients in Mexican desserts. (They’re two of the three kinds of milk in “Tres Leches” cake.) They also make custard easy – whisk them together with eggs, and they’re ready to cook.

Of course, I’m pressure steaming the flan in my Instant Pot. Five minutes under pressure? It’s a no-brainer. The 6 quart models are just wide enough to fit 3 (6-ounce) custard cups in a single layer. Then I stack a second layer of cups on top of the first, balancing them on the edges of the lower layer of cups.

So…why flan? I’m a fan of make-ahead desserts. Cooked flan needs to rest in the fridge for a few hours to set up, but after that, it doesn’t matter when you serve. Am I using them tonight? Great. Tomorrow? Sure, that’s fine. They’ll last for a few days in the refrigerator. And, no fussy last-minute work is needed. Pull the flans out, unwrap, unmold onto serving plates, and serve.

Adapted from:  Vanilla Flan [] 

Video: Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel (2:48)

Video: Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel (Flan de Cajeta) []

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Mexican Flan on a red plate

Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel (Flan de Cajeta)

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Flans 1x


Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel (Flan de Cajeta) – a fantastic make-ahead dessert from the Instant Pot or pressure cooker.


  • 12 tablespoons Mexican cajeta (or caramel sauce)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Prepare custard cups for cooking: Put 2 tablespoons of cajeta in the bottom of each custard cup or ramekin. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. (I use a 2 quart Pyrex with a spout, to make pouring easier.) Add the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Divide the custard between the prepared custard cups – this recipe will fill 6 (6-ounce) cups or ramekins, with about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each cup. Cover each cup with a piece of aluminum foil, and crimp the edges.
  2. Pressure cook the cups for 5 minutes with a natural pressure release: Put 1 cup of water and the cooking rack in the pressure cooker pot. Stack the prepared cups in the pressure cooker. I do this in two layers of 3 cups each, with the second layer balanced on top of the first layer. Lock the lid on the cooker. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes (“manual” or “pressure cook” mode in my Instant Pot), then let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes more, to gently finish the cooking.
  3. Cool the flans: Remove the cups from the pressure cooker and let rest at room temperature for an hour. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set the custard. (You can refrigerate for longer – up to 3 days – but wrap tightly with plastic wrap to keep out fridge odors.)
  4. Serve: Run a paring knife around the edge of the cup to loosen the custard. Set a plate on top of the cup (like a lid), grab both the cup and the plate, and flip them together. Lift the cup off of the flan – tap gently on the plate to unmold if it sticks. Spoon the cajeta left in the cup over the top of the flan, serve, and enjoy!


  • Cooking time is the same for both electric and stovetop pressure cookers.
  • Can’t find cajeta? Use caramel sauce. Authentic cajeta is made with goat’s milk, not cow’s milk, so it has a slightly different taste. But regular caramel is close enough.


  • Category: Appetizers and Drinks
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican
Adding caramel to cups, filling cups with custard, covering cups with foil, stacking cups in pressure cooker, adding a little extra caramel to the finished flan |

Pressure Cooker Mexican Flan with Caramel – step by step tower

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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  1. Then I had to protect the cajeta from my kids. They spotted it when I was unloading the groceries. “Can I have some of that? When are you using it? Are you sure you don’t have extra?” Later, after making the flan, I found the tub in someone’s bedroom, scraped clean, with the spoon still in it. Yikes.

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Filed under: Appetizers and Drinks, Pressure cooker


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Kathleen says

    Fantastic flavor and texture! Cajeta is a huge improvement over regular caramel, thanks for helping me find a new addiction.

    The first time I prepared this, I followed your instructions exactly, but I was a bit skittish trying to stack filled custard cups. So for round two, I used six 8-oz straight sided mason/ball jars. Put caramel on the bottom of each jar, distributed the custard evenly among the six jars, placed on steamer rack in single layer and cooked according to your recipe. I did not even try to unmold to serve; just added a little extra caramel and served in the jar.

    Bonus: the lids make storage in the refrigerator much more secure.

  2. I’m guessing the super fine sugar gets mixed in with the milk and eggs? The recipe does not make that clear.

    • Whoops. That’s leftover from a different recipe. Cut and paste will be the death of me.

      Thanks for letting me know, I removed it from the notes.

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