Purin vs Flan: Discovering the Origins and Differences of These Popular Global Desserts

Purin and flan are two delicious desserts with a similar custard-like texture. While purin is a Japanese dessert made with caramel and eggs, flan is a Latin American dessert made with caramel and condensed milk. Despite their differences in origin, both purin and flan are loved for their creamy, rich flavours.

Try them both to taste their unique variations!

Purin vs Flan

Also Read: Pudding vs Custard: Which Will Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth?

Overview Of Purin vs Flan

Base IngredientsMilk, sugar, eggsMilk, sugar, eggs
TextureSmooth, creamySmooth, creamy
FlavorOften vanilla,Vanilla, caramel, or
various flavoursother variations
CaramelizationUsually caramelizedcaramelized
PresentationServed in small cupsOften inverted onto a
or ramekinsplate with caramel
VariationsDifferent flavours,fruit-flavoured purin
Chilled or a roomregional adaptations
Serving TemperatureChilled or at roomChilled or a room
Common RegionsJapan, other AsianSpain, Latin America,
countriesvarious European
and Latin American
PopularityPopular in Japan andWidely enjoyed in
other Asian countriesvarious countries

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Purin vs Flan

Purin and Flan are two popular desserts that have captured people’s hearts and taste buds worldwide. These creamy, sweet treats have been enjoyed for generations and are often found on the menus of restaurants and bakeries. But what exactly is the difference between purin and flan? This article will delve into both desserts’ origins, ingredients, and flavours to better understand their unique characteristics.


Purin, also known as creme caramel, is believed to have originated in Europe and was brought to Japan during the Meiji era. The Japanese version of purin has a slightly different texture and flavour than its European counterpart. It quickly gained popularity in Japan and became a staple in Japanese dessert culture.

On the other hand, Flan has its roots in Spain and is a traditional Spanish dessert. Spanish colonization introduced it to various countries and it has since been adapted and incorporated into different cuisines worldwide. Flan is particularly popular in Latin American countries and is often enjoyed during special occasions and celebrations.


The main ingredients of purin include eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. These simple ingredients combine to create a smooth custard-like texture by baking the mixture in a water bath. The caramel sauce poured over the purin gives it a rich, caramelized flavour.

Flan is made with similar ingredients as purin, including eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. However, some variations of flan may also include condensed milk, which adds a slightly sweeter and creamier taste. The caramel sauce is also a crucial component of flan, giving it its signature taste and appearance.

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Texture and Flavors

Purin has a smooth and silky texture, almost resembling a firm custard. It has a delicate balance of sweetness and a subtle hint of vanilla. The caramel sauce adds a pleasant contrast of flavours, providing a caramelized richness that complements the creamy purin.

Flan has a similar texture to purin but tends to be slightly denser and more firm. It has a distinctive creamy taste with a pronounced sweetness. The caramel sauce adds a deep and decadent flavour that enhances the eating experience of flan.


Purin is served in individual ramekins or small dishes. The caramel sauce is poured over the purin before serving, creating a beautiful golden layer. It is often garnished with fresh fruits, such as berries or mint leaves, to add a touch of freshness and colour.

Flan is usually prepared in a larger baking dish and then sliced into individual servings. The caramel sauce is poured over the entire flan, coating it with its luscious sweetness. It can be served plain or accompanied by a whipped cream dollop or a cinnamon sprinkle for added flavour.

Also Read: Baking Vanilla vs Vanilla Extract: What’s the Best Choice for Your Recipe?


In summary, while purin and flan share some similarities in ingredients and cooking methods, they also have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Purin is a beloved dessert in Japan with its silky texture and delicate vanilla flavour. On the other hand, Flan offers a denser and creamier experience with a pronounced sweetness that is popular in Spanish and Latin American cuisines. Both desserts are rich, indulgent, and a delight to the taste buds. So whether you prefer the smooth elegance of purin or the creamy decadence of flan, there is no doubt that these desserts will continue to captivate dessert lovers worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between purin and flan?

Purin and flan are the same desserts, with different names in different countries. Purin is a Japanese-style caramel custard, while flan is the Spanish and Latin American versions of the same dessert.

How is purin/flan made?

Purin/flan combines eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. The mixture is then baked in a water bath until it sets and forms a silky smooth custard. It is then chilled and served with caramel sauce.

Is purin/flan gluten-free?

Yes, purin/flan is gluten-free as it contains no wheat or wheat-based ingredients. However, checking the individual recipe and ingredients is always recommended to ensure it is gluten-free.

Can I make purin/flan without eggs?

Yes, there are eggless versions of purin/flan available. These recipes use ingredients like silken tofu or agar agar to substitute eggs for a similar custard-like texture.

How long does purin/flan keep in the refrigerator?

Purin/flan can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days if adequately covered or in an airtight container. Consuming it within this timeframe is best to maintain its freshness and flavour.

Can I freeze purin/flan?

It is not recommended to freeze purin/flan as it can affect its texture and result in a watery consistency when thawed. Consuming it fresh or storing it in the refrigerator for a few days is best.

Can I make purin/flan ahead of time?

Yes, you can make purin/flan ahead of time. Preparing it a day or two before serving is best to allow it to set and develop its flavours fully. Keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.

Can I use different flavours in purin/flan?

Yes, you can experiment with different flavours in purin/flan. Apart from the classic vanilla, you can add flavours like chocolate, coffee, matcha, or even fruits like mango or coconut to give it a unique twist.

Can I make purin/flan in individual servings?

Yes, you can make purin/flan in individual servings by using ramekins or small moulds. This allows for easy portion control and presentation. Adjust the baking time accordingly based on the size of the individual servings.

Are there any vegan versions of purin/flan?

Yes, vegan versions of purin/flan are available that use plant-based ingredients like coconut milk or almond milk instead of dairy. These versions can be just as delicious and satisfying as the traditional ones.

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