Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~ this silky, crave-able pudding recipe satisfies a primal need for comfort. Warm or cold, homemade butterscotch pudding is always right.
A perfect butterscotch pudding recipe is long overdue on the blog!
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long because one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was a dense, rich, butterscotch pot de creme at a restaurant that haunted me for years after. I eventually made my Salted Caramel Pot de Creme, which scratched that itch for a while, but I’ve been craving a simpler, throw it together on a whim recipe that would give me the butterscotch-y experience without the extra trouble. Enter this old fashioned homey butterscotch pudding, yum.
This simple butterscotch pudding recipe has been well tested
I must have made 4 different versions till I got it perfect. I’m not complaining, we ate every last bite of every batch. But this final pudding is just what I was looking for.
I first tried the simplest approach, using just cornstarch to thicken the pudding. But I didn’t get that super thick lush texture I was after. I discovered that you can’t really leave out the eggs in a great classic pudding without sacrificing richness and texture.
What exactly is butterscotch?
Butterscotch is a simple mixture of brown sugar a butter. It can be a hard candy, or a sauce, or a flavor profile like it is in my pudding recipe today.
The difference between butterscotch and caramel? Caramel uses white sugar and also includes heavy cream.
Pro tips for making butterscotch pudding ~
- Use a good heavy bottomed pan so the pudding cooks evenly without scorching.
- Adding a little bit of water helps your sugar melt evenly.
- Don’t stir while your brown sugar is bubbling.
- I like to have both a whisk and a silicone spoonula available while the pudding is cooking so I can switch back and forth as needed.
- When adding the butter at the end, I make sure to whisk very well to get it all incorporated.
Warm or cold?
I love to eat at least one serving of pudding warm, right out of the pan, there’s nothing like it. But it won’t be as thick as it is after it’s been chilled. I like to enjoy it both ways.
If you’re making this for guests, allow at least 2 hours of chilling time.
- Over medium/medium-low heat, melt the brown sugar with the salt and the water. The water helps the sugar to dissolve and melt evenly. Heat until bubbling, and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes more, keeping a close eye on it and making sure it doesn't burn. Don't stir it while it is cooking, but you can swirl the pan around a bit to distribute the heat if needed.
- Allow the melted brown sugar to cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in a little bit of the milk, and whisk until very smooth. Add the egg yolks, and whisk until smooth.
- Add the corn starch slurry to the rest of the milk and cream, and whisk briefly to combine everything.
- Add the milk/cream mixture to the partially cooled brown sugar, whisking as you go. The sugar will seize up and become hard, but don't worry, everything will melt once the pan goes back on the heat.
- Return the pan to the heat, and gently bring the whole mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Once all the brown sugar has dissolved and the mixture is beginning to thicken, switch to a silicone spatula so that you can scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as it thickens.
- Once the pudding comes to a boil, (it should be quite thick), take it off the heat and immediately pour it through a fine mesh strainer.
- Add the butter, vanilla extract, and whiskey (if using), and whisk vigorously to combine (I whisked mine for a good minute or so to get the butter well incorporated.)
- Pour the pudding into serving containers, and enjoy warm, or allow it to fully set in the fridge. It will be fully set in a couple hours.