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

174 Comments

  1. made this tonight. with the salted caramel topping! the topping is a bit salty still warm so I dont know it it will get thick enough.. I love Traders Joes Hot Fudge and Caramel toppings.but they seem much thicker.the pudding seems good but not as rich ( burnt maybe is the flavor I want. LOL) as I would like

  2. So delicious. I halved the recipe, since I’m the only one with the sweet tooth in the house. Kept 2 egg yolks, the full amount of vanilla, no alcohol, and all heavy cream. It tastes amazing. Caramelizing the brown sugar really takes it to the next level, vs plain vanilla pudding with similar ingredients. Raspberries and whipped cream on top. It’s rich, so it doesn’t take much to feel satiated. Thanks for another awesome recipe.

    1. Akriti Sharan says:

      I’m not a big pudding fan but made this for dessert in small glasses when I had friends coming over. I made a chocolate biscuit base and poured the pudding on top. Very yum!

  3. This recipe was excellent! Thank you. I added a small hunk of caramel popcorn for garnish. So good!

  4. I need to preface my review with this…. I don’t like butterscotch pudding. My husband is the one who enjoys it. I’ve never been disappointed with recipes from SBA so I decided to try this one.
    My husband usually enjoys the pudding cups and I’m really trying to lean toward more homemade so we know what’s in the food we are eating. After many years of pudding cups, I decided to try the box kind. The hubs wasn’t thrilled. I saw this recipe and thought “it’s got to be better than the box.”
    I made it tonite… followed the directions and added bourbon. I decided to give it a try because it smelled pretty good and OH MY-LANTA!!! This pudding is THE BEST I’ve ever tasted! It’s so smooth and creamy! Oh, did I mention that it was still warm? I can’t wait to try it when it’s chilled!
    Thank you for this great recipe!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad this recipe was a hit for you and your husband, Kathy! Thank you for making and trusting all our recipes.

  5. Lovely texture and flavor, but takes WAY longer than “10 minutes on the stove”–more like a half hour. Just step 2 is almost 10 minutes! And yes, I used a heavy saucepan on medium heat.

  6. So, I was watching Scrubs (S2 Ep8, “My Fruit Cups”,) and JD and Turk were eating some hospital pudding out of their trunk, and I was like, “wow, pudding sounds amazing right now.” I decided to look up if it was worth my time to try to make it myself. So, imagine my surprise when I saw how easy this looked. I had to just whip it up–I figured, “well, I have all the ingredients; why not?”

    It was the right choice. This was delicious.

    A candy thermometer came in great handy, as did a kitchen scale–made the whole experience easier. I was convinced I was burning my brown sugar but it ended up being wonderful! Thanks for this.

  7. I’ve made a few different butterscotch pudding recipes and out of all of them this has very little butterscotch flavor – no depth at all. Note that egg yolks have a predisposition to scrambled when combined with hot or boiling liquid. Corn starch added to the egg yolks just thickens the egg yolks and creates a higher chance of scrambling. Save yourself the headache and add the corn starch to the liquid towards the end of the recipe after the eggs are added, similar to most pudding recipes.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Brian, Thank you for trying this recipe and for your feedback. If you ever wish to try again, be sure that you temper the eggs before adding them all back into the pudding. The purpose of tempering is to slowly raise the egg yolk’s temperature without scrambling them.

      1. Thanks for the feedback Sally. I followed your recipe the first time I made this and my eggs scrambled. I understand the concept of tempering eggs but with the corn starch added to them I do not think it helps. I made the second time without adding cornstarch to the eggs but instead added at the corn starch towards the end of the recipe it was fine. Also added the eggs to the pudding without tempering and it was fine. Just a comment. Thanks and good luck with your cooking endeavors.

  8. Substituted full fat Oatmilk for milk and coconut milk for cream and it works great. I love the Oatly brand for baking.

  9. Italian pastry chef here! in Italian pastry cream (cream pasticceria) as well as many versions of creme patisserie and other stove-top custards it is entirely normal to add a secondary thickening agent, be it cornflour or plain flour to your egg yolks. Tempering them as Sally describes will avoid scrambling eggs and the thickening agent has zero affect on this. This recipe is wonderful. Simple and so satisfying. The only thing I can imagine may have caused scrambling for some people is if they had inadvertently used too much of the hot mixture when tempering before combining completely.

  10. Karyn Pelletier says:

    I wanted to put this into a pie crust but i’m worried it’ll have a film over it. Should I put it in the pie crust as soon as it’s made or let it sit overnight and then pour into the pie crust?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karyn! We recommend you pour the filling on top, then refrigerate until completely set. Let us know how you like it!

  11. Can you make this alcohol free ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, it’s optional so you can simply leave it out.

  12. Tammy Coleman says:

    Place wax paper on top of hot pudding patting it down .When cooled just peel it off. No pudding will come off and no film on top!

  13. Julie Miller says:

    I just tried this for the first time. I made mine into a pie in a 9 / 13 inch pan so I doubled the recipe. I also added the egg yolk corn starch mixture to the milk and heavy cream . It worked out great. I will try the pie tomorrow for Easter. The pudding has a wonderful flavor.

  14. Rebecca Bagnall says:

    I really like your recipes, but I cannot navigate through all of the ads on your page.

  15. hello hi i dont like rum,bourbon and whiskey in my food..can I know with what I can exchange it

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can leave it out! Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, if desired.

  16. Three words: Oh. Em. Gee. Best freakin’ butterscotch pudding recipe on the internet. Hands down.

    I use 1 T. of my homemade bourbon vanilla extract in lieu of the recommended booze + vanilla ratios in the recipe. Softens the boozy load a bit and punches up the vanilla. Once again, Sally for the WIN!

  17. Katherine says:

    Recommend a fine mesh sieve. The cornstarch didn’t all cook out for me. The flavor profile was spot on!

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