Skip to Content

Low Carb Mexican Flan: Orange Flan De Queso

Low Carb Mexican Flan: Orange Flan De Queso
Home » Diets » Low carb Mexican recipes » Mexican orange flan

This Low Carb Mexican Flan (Orange Flan De Queso) is a dessert that works well with low carb diets. It is creamy and scrumptious, with the only sugar coming from the fructose in a small amount of fresh orange and natural sugar substitute that doesn’t spike blood sugar.

Low Carb (Keto Friendly) Mexican Orange Flan
Low Carb (Keto Friendly) Mexican Orange Flan

Jump to: RECIPE | What is a Mexican Flan? | Do Flans Need Waterbaths? | How to Modify to Low Carb | Range of Sugar Substitutes

This post may contain affiliate links, and you can read our disclosure information here– 

What is a Mexican Flan?

Flan is a popular dessert in Spain and Latin America, and it most often refers to a custard made with eggs, sweetened condensed milk, cream or whole milk, plus flavorings such as vanilla, orange, coconut or coffee.

Because this type of egg-based custard is delicate, flan is baked in a water bath in the oven.

Another name for a Mexican flan is flan napolitano, which has a caramel layer on the bottom that is then inverted onto a serving plate so the caramel is on top.

Caramel flan on a white square plate with caramel underneath the flan.
Caramel flan

A Mexican type of flan is similar to a French crème brulee, except that in the Latin American flan, the caramel top is more like a thin sauce with a less sweet flavor. In the French crème brulee the top is a layer of hardened caramelized sugar which often requires a torch to make.

Creme  brûlée with a bite on a spoon showing the creamy texture
French creme brûlée

While there are also savory flans made with eggs and often cheese (like the Italian sformato), Mexican flans are usually sweet and served for dessert.

The recipe below is actually a Flan De Queso, which uses cream cheese as an ingredient. This is not an uncommon ingredient to add and it makes for an even creamier flan!

Do All Flans Need a Water Bath?

Latin American egg-based flans are known for the smooth and creamy consistency of a custard and that is achieved by cooking the flan in a water bath. This creates steam within the oven which cooks the flan evenly and ensures that the eggs do not curdle or get scrambled.

The caramel is cooked on the bottom of the pan and the custard mixture on top. After it’s cooked (and cooled), the flan is then inverted onto a plate. The result is visually stunning and looks like a “cheffy” thing to make, but it is actually quite easy for a home cook.

Caramel flan on a white plate from a Spanish restaurant.
Caramel flan at a restaurant in Spain

How to Modify a Flan to Low Carb?

The trick to making flan low carb friendly is swapping out the sugar for a low carb sweetener and using heavy cream instead of condensed or evaporated milk.

The recipe below adds some orange zest and a tiny bit of orange juice. Be aware that If you add fruit to your flan the fruit may add carbs and sugar.

Most custard ingredients are low carb with the exception of some sweetener. I have opted for a sugar substitute for the sweetener since we are not using sweetened condensed milk. Feel free to use regular sugar if you are not concerned with the carb count.

Using Sugar Substitutes in Desserts

If you steer clear of the Mexican desserts that use sweetened condensed milk and the higher sugar fruits, there are actually quite a few desserts that can be modified to low carb without a loss of flavor and texture.

I’ve recently been trying out desserts that highlight cheese, dark chocolate or berries, achieving sweetness without added sugar. These Mexican paletas are a great snack that don’t need much sugar of any kind, with these Mexican chocolate pots using a little sugar substitute.

Low carb Mexican chocolate pots with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick garnish on a white plate.

While I recommend avoiding the artificial sugar substitutes, there are some natural substitutes that don’t contain chemicals and are not likely to cause blood sugar spikes.  This would include xylitol, erythritol, stevia, and monk fruit extract.  Truvia, Swerve and a few other brands are blends of these substitutes.

Working with natural sugar substitutes can still be a bit tricky however.  A couple of things to watch for are:

  • There are some sugar substitutes that will spike blood sugar more than others.
  • Some baked goods and desserts work better with granulated sugar substitutes, some work better with liquid substitutes, and some work best with a combination.
  • They do have different tastes, with some imparting a bitter taste if not masked by other spices or flavorings.
  • The texture of sauces (in this case the caramel sauce) can be challenging to get right.

My favorite sugar substitute as far as taste goes is Truvia (a mix of erythritol and stevia), but I think I might try liquid Stevia alone next time I make this flan. 

While it tasted wonderful (really quite awesome to tell the truth), the Truvia did result in a “crunchy” caramel on the outside rather than a more flowing caramel you would get with regular pure cane sugar. 

The crunchy texture was due to it crystalizing a bit.  I didn’t mind the crunch at all and it was a rather nice contrast to the creaminess of the flan, but it isn’t what you would expect when you think of an authentic Flan De Queso.

One way to prevent crystallization is to use less Truvia.  You would lose some of the sweetness that way but that may be preferable to you. 

At any rate, this recipe for a flan held up in flavor to a recent tasting of Mexican flans in some of the better restaurants over a recent vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sugar Alcohols vs Artificial Sugar Substitutes:

There is quite a bit of confusion over some of the qualities of sugar substitutes.  Erythritol is currently one of the more popular sugar substitutes due to taste and it is important to note that even though the name sounds like a chemical it is a “sugar alcohol” which is different from an artificial sugar substitute. 

Sugar in various forms and kinds, including brown sugar and sugar cubes.
Sugar in various forms

While sugar alcohols do contain fewer calories than sugar, they occur naturally in plants, like fruits and vegetables. Erythritol and Stevia is the blend in Truvia, which is what I used for the Low Carb Mexican Flan.

Erythritol is:

  • Fermented – it is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn.
  • Heat stable up to 160 degrees C.
  • Non-caloric – While most sugar alcohols are low-calorie, erythritol has zero calories.
  • Non-glycemic – Does not raise blood sugar – erythritol is considered suitable for people with diabetes because it does not raise plasma glucose or insulin levels.
  • The easiest sugar alcohol to digest – more than 90% of erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine, so minimal amounts reach the colon where other sugar alcohols end up causing diarrhea and other symptoms.
  • Noncarcinogenic– studies have shown that erythritol, like xylitol, does not have carcinogenic properties.
  • An antioxidant – erythritol helps to fight free radicals, responsible for the aging process. It is considered to be even more efficient than other sugar alcohols because it is so readily absorbed and yet not metabolized (it is excreted unchanged).
  • Erythritol has the status of generally recognized as safe (GRAS) from the FDA and is widely used in many other countries like Japan, the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

There has been a lot of research on sugar alternatives and you now have quite a few options, but they all differ a bit.

Low Carb Custard-Like Desserts

Panna cotta with strawberry balsamic vinegar sauce
Panna cotta with strawberry balsamic vinegar

If you enjoy all types of Mexican food, check out this category of ALL Mexican recipes, where you will find over 40 Mexican recipes, from casual, to low carb, to fancy.

See this post to learn more about the similarities and differences between Low Carb, Slow Carb and Keto diets.

Low Carb Mexican Orange Flan

Low Carb (Keto Friendly) Mexican Orange Flan
This Low Carb Mexican Flan (Orange Flan De Queso) is a dessert that works well with low carb diets. It is creamy and scrumptious, with the only sugar coming from the fructose in a small amount of fresh orange and a natural sugar substitute that does not spike blood sugar.
4.44 from 16 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 723

Equipment

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup Truvia divided into 1/2 cup portion and 1/4 cup portion
  • ½ teaspoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla divided
  • 8 ounces full fat cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 5 large eggs room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1.5 teaspoon orange zest

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease an 8 or 9 inch cake pan or 4-6 ramekins (the number will depend on their size.  You want to fill them 3/4 of the way full).  Set cake pan or ramekins in a 13×9-inch baking pan.
  • In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup Truvia, molasses, water, butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla over medium-low heat until Truvia dissolves.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook until syrup turns amber, about 10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on the sweetener, as it can quickly go from amber to burned.
    3/4 cup Truvia, 1/2 teaspoon molasses, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Quickly pour the caramel into the ramekins or cake pan.  Be very careful to not touch or taste the caramel.  It is very, very hot and will burn you!
  • In a food processor, blend the cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, sea salt, 1/4 cup Truvia, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice and orange zest until it becomes a smooth batter.
    3/4 cup Truvia, 2 teaspoon vanilla, 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 5 large eggs, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 3 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice, 1.5 teaspoon orange zest
  • Pour the cream cheese batter over the caramel.
  • Add hot water into the larger pan, around the ramekins or cake pan, making sure not to get water in the flan batter.  The hot water should come up the sides of the cake pan about an inch deep so that the cake pan or ramekins will be sitting in a water bath.
  • Bake for 1 hour and remove from oven and let the flan cool in the water bath.  Once it is cool to the touch, refrigerate for a 3-4 hours or overnight.
  • When you are ready to serve the flan, run a knife around the edges ofthe flan to loosen it up.  Place a larger serving plate over the top of the flan and then flip upside down to invert flan onto serving plate. 
    If it doesn’t easily fall onto theplate, try loosening it up again with the knife and tapping the bottom of cakepan or ramekin while inverted onto the plate. When you lift off the ramekin the caramel syrup will run over the flan.  Garnish with orange peels or orange zest.

Video

Notes

**Note:
The trick to making flan low carb friendly is swapping out the sugar for a low carb sweetener and using heavy cream instead of condensed or evaporated milk.
This recipe adds some orange zest and a tiny bit of orange juice. Be aware that If you add fruit to your flan the fruit may add carbs and sugar.
 
**Want more like this? Subscribe to our  Sunday newsletter  to get recipes, gardening guides and diet help. Let’s go from Inspiration to Done!
 
If you enjoy all types of Mexican food, check out this category of ALL Mexican recipes, where you will find over 40 Mexican recipes, from casual, to low carb, to fancy.
 
See this post to learn more about the similarities and differences between Low Carb, Slow Carb and Keto diets.

Nutrition

Calories: 723kcalCarbohydrates: 4.5gProtein: 12gFat: 66.8gSugar: 3.9g
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. Comments are always helpful also and I respond to all of them (except rude ones)

Online Diet/Health Coaching:

Although I am not currently taking clients for diet & health coaching, I was a coach for many years with the online service called coach.me. It is a great platform for all kinds of coaching – anything from specific diets, writing a blog, getting up early, or getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  

There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Contact me at [email protected] to get a referral to some of the tested, experienced online coaches on Coach.me.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.