Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding

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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.

Butterscotch pudding with whipped cream.
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4.87 from 15 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


  • 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)


  • 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.

butterscotch pudding pin

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • 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
    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
      September 30, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      That’s a classic!

  • Reply
    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
      September 19, 2020 at 5:45 am

      yes definitely ~ and Happy Pudding Day 🙂

  • Reply
    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
    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
      June 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Just lightly pack it.

  • Reply
    May 9, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Would light brown sugar work in this recipe?

    • Reply
      May 9, 2020 at 7:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    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
      April 29, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      My mom used to make it too <3

  • Reply
    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
      April 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm

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

  • Reply
    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
      April 21, 2020 at 4:18 pm

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

  • Reply
    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
      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
      April 20, 2020 at 1:43 pm

      I think that would work great.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2020 at 8:38 am

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

    • Reply
      April 20, 2020 at 11:45 am

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