vegan purin on a white plate with caramel sauce

Learn how to make the perfect Vegan Purin (Japanese Creme Caramel) with this step by step recipe. Like a cross between flan and panna cotta, this vegan custard pudding is silky smooth and topped with a layer of bitter-sweet caramel! (Dairy free, egg free & gluten free)

drizzling caramel over custard pudding on a white ceramic plate

I LOVE JAPANESE PURIN. The moment we would arrive to my grandma’s apartment in Japan, we would drop off all our luggage and RUN to the supermarket next door. First thing I’d hunt down? Purin. I’d buy my three favourites (along with a bunch of other stuff), run back home and devour them all. Something about Japanese purin… not too sweet, silky smooth and the caramel sauce is just 🤤.

When I went vegan, it was painful knowing that a part of me wanted it but a part of me refused to. I dreamt of the day Vegan Purin would come to Japan. Fast forward to 2021: the famous Pucchin Purin came out with a vegan line! Because of our current situation now though, I haven’t been able to plan a trip back to Japan which hurts my soul but also inspired me to try and make Vegan Japanese Purin at home. I’ve attempted to make vegan flan and custard puddings but they’ve always come out quite a different texture: either too soft or too agar-texture like… if you know what I mean.

After a LOT of experimentation (we’re talking almost 3L of homemade soy milk), I FINALLY came up with a recipe I’m so excited and proud to share today. This is insanely close to Pucchin Purin that I remember eating– soft, silky, jiggly, not too sweet with the perfect bitter-sweet caramel sauce. Holy moly friends, I’m feelin’ hella giddy.

What is Japanese Purin?

Before getting into the recipe though…what IS Japanese Purin? It’s basically a type of sweet custard dessert topped with a bitter-sweet caramel. It’s basically a Japanese version of flan, creme caramel, caramel custard, flan fe leche, custard pudding or any kind of custard dessert you might have in your culture. In Japan, we call it purin and not pudding, because the letter ‘d’ is pronounced like ‘r’.

Purin is one of the most popular desserts in Japan– you can literally find it at every convenient store, department store, grocery store and even vending machines! There are actually three varieties of pudding you can find:

  • Yaki Purin (焼きプリン) – where the custard is cooked in the oven and has a slight browned baked layer on top.
  • Purin (プリン) – the custard is set typically with gelatin, and is the one sold at supermarkets and convenient stores.
  • Mushi Purn (蒸しプリン) – where the custard is steamed.

No-Bake Eggless Vegan Purin (Creme Caramel / Pudding)

Today we’ll be making purin, which requires no baking or steaming. Very reminiscent of my childhood favourite Pucchin Purin (プッチンプリン) where you flip it and push the tab down to release it out of the plastic container. This recipe is completly dairy free, gluten free and egg free. It’s silky, smooth and creamy with a slight firmness to it (kind of similar to a creamy panna cotta). Highly delicious and perfect for the warmer season coming!

ingredients for no bake creme caramel pudding

How to Make No Bake Creme Caramel Purin

The Ingredients (+ Substitutions)

You only need 6 ingredients to make delicious purin! Here’s a run down:

  • Kudzu starch OR rice flour: I’ve found kudzu starch to produce the most purin-like consistency but because this starch is not as common in North America, I’ve found rice flour (NOT sweet rice flour) to work very similarly. I do not recommend using potato starch, corn starch or tapioca starch for this recipe.
  • Unsweetened soy milk: I highly recommend using homemade soy milk or an Asian brand of soy milk for this recipe without too many gums and additives because it’s much creamier in texture.
  • Cane sugar: A bit in the purin but mostly for the caramel. You can opt to use your sweetener of choice but please note that the flavour will change.
  • Maple syrup: Adds another tone of sweetness.
  • Vanilla: For flavour.
  • Agar: Please use agar agar powder for this recipe and not the flakes or strips.

The Directions

For the Purin:

  1. First, dissolve the rice flour, sugar and lesser amount of soy milk together and then heat it to make a paste. This ‘paste’ prevents any clumping in the purin when dissolving the remaining ingredients in. Then slowly whisk in the warmed soy milk a little as a time to prevent any clumps. Once all the soy milk is mixed in and is smooth, stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and salt.
  2. To another pot, add the agar and water and stir to dissolve. Heat the pan over medium heat and as soon as it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to dissolve the agar for another minute or two while whisking.
  3. Strain the soy milk mixture over the pot. Be sure the soy milk mixture is warm or it will cause the agar to harden quickly and cause clumps. Whisk the mixture gently. Try not to form any bubbles (to prevent air bubbles in the purin).Turn off the heat, divide between 4 pudding cups and let it cool at room temperature first. Then cool in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

For the caramel: Making the caramel is easy but timing is key. Add the sugar and water to a pan over medium heat and wait for it to turn auburn in colour. DO NOT be tempted to touch it or it will cause the caramel to crystallize. As soon as you see larger bubbles that turn golden brown, turn off the heat. Then carefully pour in the hot water. PLEASE be careful when adding in the hot water because as soon as the water hits the caramel, it vigorously bubbles and may splash.

Recipe Notes + Tips

  • Smooth paste: Ensure the initial paste is lump free in consistency. This is key the silky smooth purin.
  • Weigh the ingredients: I highly recommend using a scale to weigh the ingredients for this recipe because of the nature of how agar and starch works with the liquid ingredients.
  • Properly activate the agar: Be sure to melt the agar throughly to active it.
  • Keep the soy milk warm: Ensure that the soy milk mixture is warm before adding it to the agar or it may clump up / start hardening.
  • DO NOT stir the caramel: I know it can be tempting to stir the caramel but stirring will cause the sugar to clump and crystallize.
  • Add HOT water: Ensure when adding the water at the end, it is HOT because this prevents the caramel from completely solidifying as it is cooling. Remove from the pot immediately after swirling in the hot water to prevent further cooking of the caramel as well.
scooping vegan custard pudding with a wooden spoon on a white plate

More delicious Japanese desserts to try:

If you recreate this Vegan Purin recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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vegan purin on a white plate with caramel sauce

Vegan Purin プリン (Japanese Creme Caramel)


  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 40 minutes minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Learn how to make the perfect Vegan Japanese Purin with this step by step recipe. Similar to flan or creme caramel, it’s a no-bake silky smooth custard topped with a layer of bitter-sweet caramel!


Ingredients

Units Scale

Purin

Caramel sauce

  • 1/2 cup cane sugar (100g)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp hot water

Instructions

Purin

  1. Add the rice flour (or starch), sugar and 1/2 cup of soy milk to a medium pot. Whisk well to combine. Warm the remaining 400ml of soy milk in the microwave until lukewarm. 
  2. Heat the mixture until it turns into a paste like consistency over medium heat. Use a whisk first and then switch to a silicon spatula to prevent the bottom from burning. As soon as it thickens into a paste, turn the heat low and keep mixing for about another minute until smooth. 
  3. Add the warmed soy milk slowly, a little at a time and whisk it into the paste. Once all the soy milk is mixed in and is smooth, stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and salt. 
  4. Into another pot, add the agar and water and stir to dissolve. Heat the pan over medium heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to whisk for about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes or until agar is fully dissolved. Strain the soy milk mixture over the pot. TIP: be sure the soy milk mixture is warm or the agar will firm up quickly. Whisk the mixture gently and try not to form any bubbles or foam. Turn off the heat and remove from stove. Quickly give pudding cups a rinse with hot water. Divide into 4 pudding cups and let it cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Then transfer to the fridge and allow it to cool for at least 8 hours. 

Caramel

  • Add sugar in pan with 2 tbsp of water over medium heat. DO NOT touch the pot or mix it. Once it starts to bubble and turn amber in colour (about 8 minutes), turn the heat off and then pour in hot water. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute and to give it subtle mix so that the bottom does not get too thick. NOTE: please be careful when adding in the hot water, as soon as the water is added it does bubble vigourously. You can use a lid of a pot as a shield.

Notes

  • Helpful Equipment: whisk, silicon spatula, medium pot, pudding molds
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: japanese, vegan, gluten free

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 214
  • Sugar: 34.5
  • Sodium: 112mg
  • Fat: 2.2
  • Saturated Fat: 0.06
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0.2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 44.2
  • Fiber: 0.8
  • Protein: 3.9
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: japanese pudding, purin, creme caramel, flan

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Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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12 Comments

  1. Hello.

    I omitted the cane and maple syrup and instead used a combination of homemade oat/hemp/coconut milk (by mixing 2 tablespoons oat milk powder, 2 teaspoons coconut milk powder, and 1 tablespoon hemp seeds together) to make up for the sweetness and used some Japanese mulberry (桑) powder to make a faux matcha caffeine-free version for a lovely green color. I even screwed it up and at the end let it sit too long and start thickening in the pot after straining before putting in the mold and it still turned out excellent tasting with just the texture off a bit. I then sprinkled a tiny bit of maple syrup powder over each portion. Awesome recipe. I’ve made it twice now and it worked well both times.