Unbelievable Butterscotch Pudding (Homemade)

Homemade butterscotch pudding is underrated, yet unbelievable. In this recipe, you’re combining the outstanding flavors of caramelized brown sugar and butter with vanilla and a splash of bourbon. This butterscotch pudding recipe is luxuriously creamy, velvet-rich, and totally unforgettable with salted caramel and fresh whipped cream on top.

Homemade butterscotch pudding with salted caramel and whipped cream in glass cups

The work is cut out for me today as I have to twist your arm into trying TWO underrated desserts. First, butterscotch. Often overshadowed by chocolate, peanut butter, lemon, and every other flavor on the planet, butterscotch quietly sits in the corner until it’s noticed. Second, pudding. Normally pudding is as exciting as watching paint dry; a majority of dessert lovers don’t give it the time of day.

But let’s take a moment to appreciate both. Homemade butterscotch pudding is in its own playing field. In 1 pot, we’re combining caramelized brown sugar and butter with a splash of vanilla and bourbon. Butterscotch pudding is luxuriously creamy and velvet-rich. Top with salted caramel, fresh whipped cream, and toffee bits for a truly unforgettable dessert.

And the best part? Box mix pudding is not invited to this party!

Butterscotch pudding in glass cups

Guess what? Butterscotch pudding is actually making a comeback. LA’s restaurant Pizzeria Mozza has been all the buzz lately because it serves up an iconic dessert: butterscotch budino. (Budino is Italian for pudding-like desserts.) Reading about it, as my mouth totally salivated, inspired today’s recipe.


Video Tutorial: Butterscotch Pudding


Spoonful of homemade butterscotch pudding with salted caramel in glass cup

How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Pudding

Instant box pudding mix has skewed our perception of what real pudding actually tastes like. It’s much creamier and smoother, close to creme brûlée. And it’s easy to make! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you know how to stir, you know how to make pudding.

  1. Combine whole milk and heavy cream. Heavy cream is the secret to REALLY GOOD pudding. Thin it out with whole milk so the pudding isn’t overly thick.
  2. Combine egg yolks and cornstarch. They thicken the pudding to the best consistency.
  3. Cook brown sugar, water, and salt together. You are essentially caramelizing the brown sugar on the stove. It’s the most important step in the entire recipe because it develops the butterscotch flavor. Without it, you’re eating brown sugar pudding, not butterscotch pudding.
  4. Slowly add the milk/heavy cream to the pot. The colder the milk, the more the pot will sizzle. Add it carefully, then bring to a boil.
  5. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pot. Temper it first by adding some of the boiling pudding to the egg yolk mixture, then pour it all back into the pudding. You can watch me do this in the video above. The purpose of tempering is to slowly raise the egg yolk’s temperature without scrambling them. It’s very simple.
  6. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. You need butter, vanilla extract, and bourbon, rum, or scotch. Softened butter keeps the pudding creamy and the last 2 are for flavor. You won’t regret the splash of alcohol!

2 images of ingredients for butterscotch pudding

This is a 10 minute recipe. Add each ingredient to the pot in different stages, then let the pudding cool and thicken. Your 10 minutes of work will be certainly be rewarded!

Ingredients in Homemade Butterscotch Pudding

You only need a few basic ingredients for stovetop butterscotch pudding.

  1. Whole Milk
  2. Heavy Cream
  3. Egg Yolks
  4. Cornstarch
  5. Water
  6. Dark Brown Sugar
  7. Salt
  8. Butter
  9. Vanilla Extract and Scotch or Bourbon.

My #1 tip: Use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar. In my recipe testing, I found light brown sugar to be good, but dark brown sugar is great. The sugar cooks into a darker color and the butterscotch flavor is much more intense.

Butterscotch pudding in glass cups

What Does Butterscotch Taste Like?

My love for butterscotch runs deep. Deeper than peanut butter, deeper than apple pie, deeper than sprinkles. But what does butterscotch taste like? Butterscotch is like caramel, but its base is brown sugar, not regular white sugar. Therefore, butterscotch has that richer, more complex flavor than caramel. I actually have a homemade butterscotch candy recipe in Sally’s Candy Addiction! They’re called Butter Rum Hard Candies on page 27.

Butterscotch pudding in glass cup

Speaking of caramel, this butterscotch pudding is elevated to heaven with a generous dose of salted caramel and crunchy toffee. Homemade whipped cream is a convenient finishing touch since you already have heavy cream on hand for the pudding. But these toppings are optional. Truly all you need is a spoon to enjoy this stuff!!

PS: I serve the pudding in regular cups and/or these French wine glasses. So fancy!

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Butterscotch pudding in glass cup

Homemade Butterscotch Pudding

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This butterscotch pudding comes together in about 10 minutes on the stove. In this recipe, you’re combining the outstanding flavors of caramelized brown sugar and butter with vanilla and, if desired, a splash of bourbon. This butterscotch pudding recipe is luxuriously creamy, velvet-rich, and totally unforgettable with salted caramel and fresh whipped cream on top.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional but recommended: 1 Tablespoon scotch, rum, or bourbon
  • optional for topping: salted caramel, Heath Bar toffee bits, homemade whipped cream

Instructions

  1. Whisk the whole milk and heavy cream together. Set aside. Whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch together. Set that aside too. Have both ready to go in step 3.
  2. Whisk the brown sugar, water, and salt together in a medium heavy duty saucepan over medium heat. Without stirring, allow to cook and bubble until darker brown, about 5-6 minutes. It should begin to smell caramelized at that point. If desired, you can take the temperature with a candy thermometer to be certain it is ready. Look for around 240°F (116°C).
  3. Slowly and carefully whisk in the heavy cream/milk. It will sizzle and may splatter, so pour in slowly. Cook on medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Once boiling, remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and, in a slow and steady stream, whisk into the egg yolks. Keep those egg yolks moving so they don’t scramble. In a slow and steady stream, pour and whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pot.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. The pudding will immediately begin to bubble and thicken. Whisk and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until completely smooth, then add the vanilla and bourbon.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes, then pour into serving glasses or bowls. Cover tightly with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight until chilled and thickened.
  6. Serve with optional toppings. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Notes

  1. Whole Milk + Heavy Cream: I strongly recommend these two. You can try subbing both for the same amount of half-and-half, but I recommend sticking to the recipe for best results. Lower fat alternatives will yield a thinner pudding. I haven’t tested dairy-free alternatives, but let me know if you do! Milk and cream can be cold or room temperature, but the colder they are, the more they will splatter when added in step 3. To avoid a mess, room temperature is the better choice.
  2. Egg Yolks: Note that the photo above shows only 2 egg yolks, but additional recipe testing proved 3 egg yolks is the magic number. Here are recipes using egg whites.
  3. Dark Brown Sugar: For stronger flavor and darker color, I strongly recommend dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar.
  4. Adapted from Mozza’s Butterscotch Budino

Keywords: pudding, butterscotch

173 Comments

  1. Hi. I am keen to reduce the level of sugar since it was a bit too sweet for us. Is that even possible and would I need to adjust some other ingredient?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maliha, we don’t recommend it — reducing the sugar will change the texture and consistency of the pudding, so it would take some recipe testing in order to guarantee results.

    2. If you reduce the sugar, you’ll also be reducing the butterscotch flavor in your finished pudding. The solution is to add some straight molasses to compensate. Personally, I find the sweetness of most recipes to be fine, just the flavor is on the weak side. A little bit of molasses goes a long way in terms of flavoring, so I use 100g of dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of molasses for 2 cups of dairy.

  2. Could you please provide the nutritional value for this pudding….calories, sugar & calcium per serving. I don’t use salt in my cooking or baking so I left that out. I made it and it was delicious but I guess I didn’t temper the eggs properly because the consistency was like a tapioca pudding! Oh well, ces’t la vie! Hopefully, next time will be the charm.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Frankie! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

    2. Thank you for providing me with a very valuable website to obtain nutritional values.

  3. What kind of salt do you use for this recipe? Kosher or regular table salt?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathleen, we use regular table salt in all of our recipes unless otherwise noted.

  4. Stephanie Perrotta says:

    Hi, could this be used as a filling for a cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, we can’t see why not. You may want to layer the cake lightly with buttercream and then create a ring of buttercream around the edges to prevent the pudding from sliding and coming out the sides. Let us know if you give it a try!

  5. My pudding flavor is good, but not rich enough. Do I cook the brown sugar longer? I fear I will burn it. I also had a hard time getting it totally smooth. It had tiny lumps. Is that because I didn’t temper the egg correctly?

  6. Can u use this in a pie?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Renee, You can definitely use this as a pie filling. Enjoy.

  7. I don’t get egg yolks AND cornstarch. Isn’t the first for custard and the other for pudding and if it’s custard shouldn’t it be thickened in the oven in a waterbath?
    Other than that it looks real good I’m just wondering if I have to use both thickeners.

    1. Hi Rob, it’s common to use egg yolks in pudding recipes. I suppose the line between custard and pudding could begin to be a little blurry depending on the specific recipe, ingredients, and preparation methods. Use both in this recipe to properly thicken the mixture.

  8. Stephenie Kirkham says:

    Didn’t have any heavy cream on hand so I used a combo of whole dairy milk and cashew milk. Took longer than expected to heat up the milk mixture, and the cashew milk separated a little. I added an extra tsp of cornstarch, added all of the liquid to the egg yolk mixture. Rinsed out my pan, then strained the mixture back into the pot. The fully chilled pudding set up about the consistency of regular yogurt, the flavor is delicious, but the texture is grainy. Don’t know if that could have been avoided but this was my experience using plant milk for part of the liquid.

    1. You used too much cornstarch. If the mouthfeel of the pudding is grainy it is either too much cornstarch or the pudding was not cooked long enough to incorporate the cornstarch.

  9. Love this recipe! Any suggestions for making a bigger batch? Hubby’s birthday party on 10/31….BS Pudding is his favorite. We will have between 10-15 people….so I need more servings. Hoping I don’t have to make 3-4 small batches. Thoughts???

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cari! This pudding recipe can be doubled. We haven’t tested batches larger than that. Perhaps you could make two double batches? Let us know what you try!

  10. Hi Sally… the pudding looks so delicious but can you suggest a sub for eggs.I am from India and many of our friends avoid eating eggs..a egg free version would be perfect!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sunny, we haven’t tried an egg-free version of this pudding so unfortunately we can’t provide a confident answer on what substitutes might work best. If you do give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes! And here are all of our egg-free recipes if you’re interested.

  11. Autumn Outland says:

    This was my first attempt at homemade pudding, this turned out amazing! I used what I had on hand, evaporated milk and a 8.5 oz coconut cream, imitation rum. I appreciate your tips, how to temper the eggs and getting everything ready. I’m going to make this as dessert for Thanksgiving for my kids.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Autumn!

  12. Hi Sally: I was just wondering which alcohol you use in your pudding.

    Thanks,

    Lynn

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynn, We love using bourbon, but you can also use rum or scotch. If you enjoy drinking it, you’ll enjoy it in this recipe!

      1. I tried scotch in one batch and vanilla vodka in another- both good, preferred vodka!

  13. This is just amazing. Loved it! I made it for a piefilling and was eating out of the pot before it ever saw the piecrust xD BS Pudding has always been my favorite!

  14. I’m wondering if I could be made with a sugar substitute? My father is diabetic and butterscotch pudding is his favourite so I want to make it for Christmas for him

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Toni! We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!

    2. Hi, I subbed part coconut sugar with low glycemic index that is brown and tastes like brown sugar. Mine is good. It might work ? I’d make 1/2 recipe to see.

  15. Made the recipe exactly how is and it came out beautifully smooth and delicious! it was my first time making butterscotch pudding and this will be my go to recipe from now on!

  16. Hi Sally,

    First, I have to say that your recipe was delicious. However, I am looking to get the color of the pudding to more of a caramel (light brown). I believe cooking the dark brown sugar and butter together would help to achieve this. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Michael, thank you for trying the recipe. Cooking down the brown sugar with butter first (to create an actual butterscotch sauce) would certainly be delicious, but the recipe would require testing. I’m unsure of the results. Let me know if you try anything.

  17. Hello! I enjoyed making this recipe and loved the flavor!! However, after making the pudding for a pie, it did not set up in the fridge and stayed very runny similar to melted ice cream. I am unsure what went wrong. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lola, Thank you for trying this recipe. Did you make any ingredient substitutions? Whole milk and heavy cream are the best here – using a lower fat variety will lead to a thinner pudding that doesn’t set well.

      1. No substitutions, I followed the recipe exactly, and it looked great (thick) before going into the fridge.
        Thank you for your response!!

  18. I prepared exactly as written rum and all. DELICIOUS I also did crumble a bit of a Heath bar YUM!

  19. I used Widow Jane Decadence bourbon, and it was amazing! However, I think I may have scraped against the inside of the pot with I was pouring it into the glasses, as there are small lumps here and there in the pudding. Am I right to assume that’s the cause?

  20. Rebecca Anderson says:

    Good flavor but mine turned out quite lumpy. I followed the instructions. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Rebecca, it could have been over-cooked. You can place the pudding back over low heat and whisk in some whole milk to help smooth it out.

  21. I used almond milk with vanilla flavoring. Usually when I make pudding I cut the milk back by 1/4 cup but since I did use the heavy cream I’m hoping it comes out alright. It tastes great but I have to cool it still and see if it thickens. We love butterscotch so I know we will eat it anyway!

  22. I made this with 1 cup whole milk and 1.5 cup oat milk. It was delicious and consistency was lovely

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