Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding

A glass of Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding with spoon

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding ~ this thick, classic, creamy vanilla pudding spiked with bourbon is an irresistible and comforting adult dessert!

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding with a spoon

bourbon vanilla bean pudding is pure comfort

Not all desserts are created equal. There’s gooey pecan pie, sinful chocolate brownies, calorie laden cheesecake, artery clogging ice cream…and then there is this bourbon vanilla bean pudding. It’s innocent, almost angelic. Calorie-wise it’s almost indistinguishable from your after dinner latte. I think of it as a warm dose of calcium in a cup. With a kick.

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding in glasses with spoons

‘Plain’ Vanilla is one of the most complex flavors in the world

Vanilla beans are the seed pods of the vanilla orchid, which is originally from Mexico. There are 3 major types of vanilla beans ~ (there is no one ‘best’ type of vanilla bean, they are all good)

  • Madagascar vanilla beans have the most familiar, classic vanilla flavor and the strongest flavor of all the beans.
  • Mexican vanilla beans have a slightly spicy, woodsy characteristic.
  • Tahitian vanilla beans are the plumpest and juiciest, with a slightly milder, floral flavor.

Just to give you an idea of what you are missing when you eat something flavored with artificial vanillin, the fake stuff represents just one of over 200 identified flavor compounds in natural vanilla beans. If that wasn’t bad enough, the USDA has approved the use of “non-plant vanilla flavors extracted from beavers to be labeled as natural flavoring. Yeah.

Vanilla beans

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world (right after saffron).

Vanilla orchid flowers grow on vines in just a few tropical regions in the world, and it’s a super labor-intensive process that must be done by hand, to harvest them. One flower produces just one vanilla seed pod. A vanilla bean can run you up to $6 a piece. Ouch.


vanilla beans

tvfgi recommends: buying bulk vanilla beans6 qt Instant Pot pressure cooker

There’s no denying it, vanilla beans are pricy. But if you love vanilla, there’s no substitute for the beans themselves. I don’t have a specific recommendations for which beans to buy because it will depend on your taste and your budget. I will say that buying in bulk is more cost effective than buying them individually in those little jars in the supermarket. You can usually find bulk beans in varying amounts, some sold by weight, some sold by the number of beans.

I recommend purchasing your vanilla beans from a reputable dealer like Beanilla, Vanilla Queen, or the Boston Vanilla Bean Company, just to name a few.


How to re-use vanilla beans ~

The good news is that a used vanilla bean pod still has lots of life (and flavor!) left in it. First rinse and dry the used bean before re-using it.

  • Add them to a canister of sugar. The beans will infuse the sugar with the subtle flavor for months to come. You can add several beans to the sugar and leave them there as you refill the canister over and over again. Give the sugar a stir from time to time to distribute the flavor.
  • Add them to a canister of ground coffee ~ this will be the best vanilla coffee you’ve ever had because it will be naturally flavored.
  • Add them to a bottle of vodka or whiskey.
  • Use them to infuse milk or cream for any recipe.
  • Add them to your morning oatmeal while it cooks.
  • Let them infuse in lemonade or tea.
  • After a few uses your vanilla beans will probably have lost their potency, so you can toss them.


I have a soft spot for real vanilla, I loaded in on in my Triple Vanilla Pound Cake, I put vanilla extract, paste, AND beans in that one. I add vanilla where you don’t always expect it, too, and I love how it accents my Pink Grapefruit and Vanilla Bean Jam, or my Whipped Kabocha Squash.

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding in a glass with spoon

I serve this pudding in small glasses, and it needs no garnish, the creamy texture, full bodied vanilla flavor, and hint of bourbon stand alone.

What brand of bourbon do I use?

I used Bulleit Bourbon, but you can use any brand you happen to have or like.

Can you leave out the bourbon?

Yes, you can easily leave out the bourbon from this recipe, it will still be amazing. I know this because I forgot to add the bourbon to one of my test batches and it was still lovely ๐Ÿ™‚

Can you use vanilla bean paste instead of a vanilla bean?

Yes, you can use 2 teaspoons of paste for this pudding.

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean pudding in a glass with spoons

making Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding

TIP: I highly recommend eating this pudding warm, in fact I like it hot, right from the pan. (Definitely scrape the pan with a spoon, it’s the cooks prerogative.)


Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding in a glass with spoon
3.79 from 37 votes

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding

Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding ~ this thick, classic, creamy vanilla pudding spiked with bourbon is an irresistible and comforting adult dessert!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Calories 229.77kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 and 2/3 cups whole milk divided
  • 1 cup half and half or light cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp Kentucky Bourbon
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract


  • Put 1 cup of the milk and the half and half in a saucepan. Run the tip of a sharp knife along the length of the vanilla bean, split it open and use the side of the knife to scrape the seeds into the pan. Add the bean along too. Heat just until it comes to a simmer over medium heat.
  • While that is heating, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl.
  • Whisk in the remaining 2/3 cup whole milk, and then the eggs. Once the milk has just come to a simmer, very gradually drizzle it into the cornstarch mixture in the bowl, whisking the whole time.
  • Return the mixture back into the saucepan, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or whisk.
  • Once it comes to a simmer, cook it for one minute longer, stirring constantly. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon and divide the pudding among 5 or 6 dishes.
  • I like to eat this pudding warm, but you can chill it in the fridge to set it up. Whether you eat it warm or cold, you’ll get the nice follow up warmth of the bourbon in every bite.


Calories: 229.77kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.96g | Protein: 5.43g | Fat: 8.43g | Saturated Fat: 4.67g | Sodium: 166.84mg | Fiber: 0.02g | Sugar: 27.6g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make this bourbon vanilla bean pudding your own ~

Thanks for pinning this Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla Bean Pudding

Vanilla bean pudding pin.

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    October 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    how unfortunate that one’s face can’t fit into that cup to lick up the remains. note to self: serve in a broad bowl. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    October 20, 2011 at 10:44 am

    This is an absolutely fantastic share, Sue. I’m trying to be conscious of desserts since summer is coming up, and this is the perfect fit!

    And by the way… what on Earth is that about vanilla flavoring? Did I read that right… beavers???!?

  • Reply
    October 20, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Love the look and taste of little vanilla beans in your yummy treat. Your photos are awesome!

  • Reply
    October 20, 2011 at 12:37 am

    This looks amazing, Sue! I’m now considering it for a girl’s night dessert tomorrow night. Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

    oh yes please!!!! i’ll finish the bottle of bourbon off for you too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Yummy Mummy
    October 19, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Oh my gosh. I would be licking that bowl clean. I had to restrain myself from licking the computer screen. Bourbon in desserts is my favorite.

  • Reply
    Brownieville Girl
    October 18, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Wow, fantastic photos – it just looks so appealing.

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    October 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    This looks so yummy. I bet it was hard to eat just one little cup. After I scrape my vanilla beans out of the pods I put the used vanilla beans in a jar of sugar and it flavors the whole jar with vanilla flavor.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    This looks so good; I can smell it and almost taste it; I guess I will have to make it; great post. You are a real Foodie!

  • Reply
    October 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I’m so jealous of your family!

    By the way, Sue, what camera do you use? I’m planning on getting a new one and just browsing around with what people use. Your pictures are always so beautiful.

1 2

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!


Get my tips, tricks & recipes for easy

foolproof baking


logo png