Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding

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.

butterscotch pudding in a cup

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.

Butterscotch pudding with whipped cream.
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4.95 from 58 votes

Butterscotch Pudding

Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~ this silky, crave-able pudding  satisfies a primal need for comfort.  Warm or cold, butterscotch pudding is always right.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Author Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp bourbon (optional)

Instructions

  • 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.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

butterscotch pudding pin

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52 Comments

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  • Reply
    Kim
    May 12, 2021 at 9:39 am

    5 stars
    WOW! Butterscotch pudding has always been my 85 yr. old dad’s favorite pudding flavor! Now that he ie elderly and loosing weight from a chronic illness, I’ve been looking for ways to boost his calories, and this recipe is perfect! Super easy and really rich and delicious. I added the whiskey and vanilla, so delicious! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Lori Grevstad
    April 26, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    I wa afraid to burn the brown sugar and took it off the heat too early. Perfect texture but it’s a little too buttery and not a deep butterSCOTCH flavour. Anything I can do about it now?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      April 26, 2021 at 5:35 pm

      Probably nothing you can do once it’s made, Lori, but definitely try it again when you have a chance.

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    March 27, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    5 stars
    The very best butterscotch pudding I have ever tasted.

  • Reply
    Ursula
    March 15, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    4 stars
    Are there any bad reviews? Followed the recipe exactly. I’m not the best cook in the world, but found this too time consuming. The test will be if my husband likes it.

  • Reply
    Deb Kelner
    February 19, 2021 at 5:43 pm

    5 stars
    Sue, you’ve done it again! I have searched for butterscotch pudding that wasn’t so overly sweet that you couldn’t taste the lovely caramelized flavor. This is it! Made this today (doubled the recipe) because I brought dinner to the neighbor who just had hip replacement surgery. Couldn’t make it for them and not have some for us….. Holy yum! I’ve decided that your pecan sandie recipe will be a yummy accompaniement. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Joy
    February 13, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    5 stars
    This is the most delicious butterscotch pudding I have ever tasted. We ate it all warm and it was amazing! Followed the recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing! Also, I wouldn’t bother with the whipped cream on top because it is perfect. 11/10

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 13, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks Joy…there’s nothing better on this earth than warm pudding.

  • Reply
    Barbara Wagner
    February 12, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Hi – Can I make this a day ahead?

  • Reply
    Bonnie
    February 10, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Would this be the recipe to use for a pie as well as a pudding? (Dumb question probably…) but I’m making a butterscotch icebox pie and this recipe looks great.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 11, 2021 at 5:18 am

      You could use it but remember it does need to get cooked.

    • Reply
      Dotty McClelland
      February 11, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      5 stars
      Definitely! I was trying to think about a topping. Praline? Delicious pudding. I also think it would be a great ice cream base without the cornstarch. Didn’t strain and didn’t need to.

      • Reply
        Dotty McClelland
        February 11, 2021 at 4:51 pm

        Meant to give 5 stars.

        • Reply
          Sue Moran
          February 12, 2021 at 5:44 am

          I fixed it for you, thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy Appell
    February 1, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    5 stars
    Excellent pudding! Because we are a large family andwe do not like a lot of sugar, I doubled the recipe, except for the sugar. I also used three cups of milk and one cup of heavy cream and it came out beautiful… We didn’t strain it either, and there was none left (in fact, one of the kids who was too slow on the draw didn’t get to taste too much)! Definitely a keeper!

  • Reply
    Caren
    January 31, 2021 at 4:27 am

    5 stars
    This was simple and perfect for a chilly day, warm out of the pan. I doubled the recipe, and everything came out very well – and I had plenty left to chill & set! Really nice balance of flavors.

  • Reply
    Genola
    January 28, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    5 stars
    It’s a cold gloomy day here in South Dakota. I just made this pudding and it is beautiful! I didn’t have cream so used a can of evaporated milk and added whole milk to make the two cups. It turned out perfect! I did not strain and it is perfectly smooth and satiny. Probably the best homemade pudding I’ve ever made. Thank you! ( did not add the bourbon)

  • Reply
    Heather Mader
    January 23, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    5 stars
    Made this today using the exact recipe except instead of regular milk I only had coconut milk. I still used the heavy cream and all the other ingredients. It was delicious and worked perfectly. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Sheila
    January 8, 2021 at 10:25 am

    5 stars
    I made it with whole milk, no cream, tho I’m sure cream would’ve been even tastier. Also, I used coconut sugar so not sure the taste was the very best. No need to strain, it was totally smooth and delicious.

  • Reply
    Kristin Daniel
    December 26, 2020 at 11:32 pm

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I made it two nights in a row. The first batch was lighter than the first in color and taste. I figured I didn’t let the brown sugar brown long enough. I was a afraid of it burning. I also cut the bourbon in 1/2 for kiddos. Second night (no kiddos!): I let the sugar brown for 1-2 min longer and added the full bourbon the recipe calls for. It was amazing! My husband (who tried both and loved both) agreed that the second batch was perfect. Topped with whipped cream and a shavings from a spiced chocolate bar. This could seriously be served at a very nice restaurant. It’s a keeper.

  • Reply
    Leah
    December 26, 2020 at 7:00 am

    5 stars
    This pudding is delicious and cooked up exactly per the instructions. The only thing I wouldn’t do next time is strain it as there were no lumps.

  • Reply
    vivian
    December 5, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    5 stars
    This was so good! I haven’t had pudding in a long time, maybe because I got turned off by the packaged kind. This is a totally different thing – so smooth and rich. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Reply
    Jake
    November 24, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    5 stars
    Great recipe! This came out perfectly smooth and tasty on the first try! I’ll add a little more bourbon next time, for my own taste buds, but great texture and flavor. Excellent instructions also.

  • Reply
    chris
    November 16, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    the flavor is very good but there must be something wrong in the amounts of ingredients. it turned out like paper mache paste! so sticky and thick. to bad we were looking for a good recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2020 at 7:05 am

      So sorry this didn’t work out for you Chris, without more details I’m not sure what could have gone wrong.

  • Reply
    Laurie D
    October 10, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! this pudding came out so well! It’s absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly – no additions or changes were needed. We love it! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 30, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    5 stars
    My mother use to make Butterscotch pies. She would make a pie crust, the butterscotch pudding, and top it with merengue made with the reserved egg whites….delicious!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 30, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      That’s a classic!

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    September 19, 2020 at 3:18 am

    5 stars
    Is it ok if we only have whole milk? I don’t have heavy cream, but I have all of the other ingredients! I want to make this today, since it’s National Butterscotch pudding day!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 19, 2020 at 5:45 am

      yes definitely ~ and Happy Pudding Day 🙂

  • Reply
    Trudy
    September 14, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    5 stars
    This pudding is AMAZING! I make it all the time. Thanks for an absolute fav recipie

  • Reply
    Karen
    September 5, 2020 at 7:13 am

    Why do you use only the yolk?

  • Reply
    Meredith Collinson
    June 20, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Is the brown sugar a packed 1/2 cup?

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Just lightly pack it.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    May 9, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Would light brown sugar work in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 9, 2020 at 7:25 pm

      Yes, for sure. Your color and flavor might be a shade lighter.

    • Reply
      Rich Haney
      February 14, 2021 at 2:38 am

      5 stars
      Add about 1 1/2 tsp of molasses to the light brown sugar (1 tbsp per cup). That’s the major difference between light and dark brown sugar.

  • Reply
    j
    April 29, 2020 at 10:16 am

    5 stars
    super easy & sooooo yummy!!! my mom used to make butterscotch pudding back in the day…this took me back!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 29, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      My mom used to make it too <3

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 23, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Damn! I have all the ingredients AND ONLY SKIM MILK in the house… Arrrrgghhhh.
    This would’ve really hit the spot tonight. Oh, well. C’est la vie.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm

      You can make it with skim milk, Beth, it just won’t be as good 😉

      • Reply
        Kelly G
        November 9, 2020 at 8:39 pm

        5 stars
        I used Skim Milk and added a whole stick of butter. It was delicious!

  • Reply
    Carol
    April 21, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    I dont have heavy cream. Do you thonk half and half would work or do you have a suggestion? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 21, 2020 at 4:18 pm

      Yes, for sure. You can also use milk, or any combination of the three.

  • Reply
    Shaban
    April 21, 2020 at 7:37 am

    5 stars
    Oh man that looks delicious! Why do I keep seeing all these food blogs and recipes now that I am quarantines without the ingredients to make anything :<

  • Reply
    Estelle Cole
    April 20, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Have you ever made this with Almond Milk?

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 20, 2020 at 7:25 pm

      I haven’t, but I think it should work just fine.

  • Reply
    Angela McDarren
    April 20, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    This looks so delicious. I only have skim milk. . Do you think it would work if I replaced some of the milk with heavy cream and if so what would the proportions be? Thanks Sue for all your wonderful recipes.

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 20, 2020 at 1:43 pm

      I think that would work great.

  • Reply
    Martha
    April 20, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Very curious as to why this would have to be strained? Is it okay without straining?

    • Reply
      Sue
      April 20, 2020 at 11:45 am

      Yes, you can skip the straining, it’s just a precaution in case you have any lumps.

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