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

138 Comments

  1. Would this recipe be suitable to pour into pieshell for butterscotch pie?

    1. Yes, absolutely!

    2. I’m excited to try this! I’ve used a recipe off a different food blog for years that is delicious, but doesn’t have caramelized brown sugar in it, or caramel sauce on top. Yours sounds fabulous!

  2. My husband and I first had this dessert in LA at the restaurant you mentioned, Pizzeria Mozza, in 2011. We have been in love with it ever since yet I have never made it at home. I can’t wait to try your version as I know it will be delicious! I love your presentation. So pretty!

    1. Thank you so much! Let me know if you try it at home.

      1. Sally, I made this tonight and it was wonderful! It is everything you said it is – luxurious, creamy and velvety. I loved your addition of the bourbon. So good!
        I appreciated that you stated the sugar mixture should reach a temperature of 240 degrees F because if I would have gone by color alone I would have probably ruined it. That is why I love your recipes – you help us succeed! Thank you!

  3. =O…Butterscotch pudding is way up there in my fave desserts list!!! Thank you so much Sally I am trying this as soon as I finish typing this comment…..thank you!

    1. I hope you love this recipe, Gemma!

      1. They turned out amazing!!! Definitely making this often in the (near) future…

  4. Love butterscotch! Might be making this soon.
    When covering with plastic wrap at the end, does the plastic need to touch the pudding to prevent a skin from forming?

    1. Yes yes yes, definitely! That’s always best to protect the pudding from a skin on top.

  5. Kasey Campbell says:

    Hi Sally,
    I had a question on the milk and cream. Should it be cold or room temp?
    Thanks for a blast from my childhood!

    1. Hi Kasey! This is a great question and I just added it to the notes. (I mention it in the video but forgot to add to the recipe note.) Either work, but to avoid a lot of sizzle and splatter in the pot, I recommend room temperature.

  6. Hi Sally, responding to your question if dairy free alternatives for milk work well in pudding, the answer is a qualified yes…I wrote about making Double Dark Chocolate Pudding using Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, and it was wonderful (to be clear, I used 1 1/2 cups Almondmilk and 1/2 heavy cream, but I think using a substitute for the heavy cream would work also, if necessary). More importantly, my husband, who doesn’t like almond milk, didn’t even notice the difference. You can read about my experience at Scotch and Scones.

    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thank you for sharing!

  7. This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to make it! The wheels are turning in my head trying to figure out how to make a butterscotch creme brulee! Might try topping this pudding with a burnt sugar crust until I have time to experiment. Hmm, maybe an idea for a future baking challenge!

    1. Oh YUM! Definitely let me know if you try it!

  8. Oh my! Definitely on my try list. Such fond memories of butterscotch pudding. A true comfort item. A cold day and bundled under a quilt with butterscotch pudding; why there is just not much better than this. I do so enjoy your recipes❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Kaye! I hope you enjoy this recipe 🙂

  9. Hi Sally, this looks amazing!! Can you do a tapioca pudding next? My favorite!

    1. Thank you Lucy!

  10. Sally, have you ever tried making these ahead for a dinner party? Just wondering if it’s possible to make ahead a couple of days or even freeze? Looks delicious and definitely want to make for my kids.

    1. I’ve never been able to freeze and thaw pudding successfully. The texture is always lacking! However, you can let this pudding set in the refrigerator for a couple days. It’s a wonderful make ahead dessert!

      1. Vicki Trotter says:

        Sally, could I leave off the scotch, rum, bourbon? If so do you recommend a substitute flavoring? Thanks!

      2. Hi Vicki! Yes, you can leave it out completely. If desired, add another 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

  11. I really don’t trust myself to caramelize sugar by sight/smell. If we were to use a candy thermometer, do you know what temperature to take it to? 300F?

    1. Hi Michael! Look for around 240°F (116°C).

  12. Claudia Donolli says:

    I’m writing this question in lowercase. calorie per serving? Thanks, Claudia Donolli in NC

  13. My Mom used to make homemade butterscotch pudding when I was a kid but I haven’t had it in ages! Can’t wait to try this recipe, everything I make of yours is delicious and I have no doubt this will be the same 🙂

    1. I hope this one is just as delicious as your mom’s recipe! Enjoy!

  14. Hi Sally!

    If I were to use whole eggs instead of just egg yolks, how many eggs would I need? Nothing against egg yolks – this is more curiosity than anything else. 🙂

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kat! The protein in the whites will prevent the pudding from setting up properly, so I don’t recommend testing that. Yolks are key.

  15. Butterscotch pudding/pie is a big favorite in my family. The recipe we’ve used for many years is very similar except for the step caramelizing the brown sugar. A much longer cooking time takes care of that. This looks much faster and I suspect the flavor is greatly enhanced. I’ll be making this for my sibs and their families this weekend. Thank you!

    1. I hope you all enjoy this recipe, Elaine!!

  16. With the coming of Spring l have the annual Passover challenge of making an exciting dessert without any yeast, baking soda, etc for my cake-minded family. Often l make flan but l think l will save this recipe as a possibility for our celebration come April.

    1. Perfect! Let me know how you like it.

  17. Tara Trillo says:

    Hi Sally, I can’t wait to try this! Do you think this would set up okay if I poured it all into a bowl, instead of individual bowls?

    1. Absolutely! May take a little longer to full set due to added volume.

  18. Dirtyhippiegirl says:

    Would this still be doable without the alcohol? I am a recovering alcoholic and don’t cook with it.

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

  19. Barb Huston says:

    Looks delish. Can u double the recipe

    1. Yes, the pudding recipe can be doubled.

  20. If I make it into a pie what adjustments would you recommend for cooking? And what size pie dish? This looks amazing!

    1. Hi Sofia! I recommend a 9-inch pie dish. Use a graham cracker crust. Pour the filling on top, then refrigerate until completely set. Let me know how you like it!

  21. Kathryn Grace says:

    I’ve been craving a good butterscotch pudding for weeks, even bought a (teeny tiny—about 2 tablespoons worth) BP dessert at a tony restaurant. Those tantalizing bites were all sugar and no butterscotch! So I couldn’t click through fast enough when your recipe turned up in my reader today. Thank you! SO looking forward to trying it and think I just might make it into a butterscotch pie and use those egg whites to make a meringue topping.

  22. Hi Sally! Would you consider adding captions to your videos for your deaf/hard of hearing fans?

    1. Hi Kate! We are in the beginning stages of this! Thank you so much for the reminder about it.

  23. This sounds so so yummy! I honestly always forget how good butterscotch is because I choose vanilla over everything. I will definitely have to try this to remind myself how delicious butterscotch can be!
    I just have a question, in step 4 you say “remove from heat and stir in the butter until completely smooth, then add the butter, vanilla and bourbon”
    Is that just a typo?

    1. Whoops! Yes, it should only be added to the pot once. 😉 Thanks for catching that.

  24. Lynn Cirillo says:

    Hi sally can’t wait to make this pudding . Is it ok to double the recipe? I need to make more then 4 servings . Also How many ounces would you say is in 1 serving ? It says it will stay up to 4 days in the fridge ? Sorry for so many questions

    1. Hi Lynn! You can double this recipe and it lasts for a few days covered in the refrigerator. The recipe yields about 4 6 ounce servings.

  25. From one butterscotch lover to another, I applaud you! It’s my favorite, and I will walk past All The Other Flavors to get to *real* butterscotch!

  26. Thank you so much for this recipe! My Grandmother used to make Butterscotch Pie for my mother every year on her birthday. And it wasn’t a replacement for her birthday cake it was a pie JUST for her. My Grandmother suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years before she passed away almost four years ago now. I’ve tried a couple times to replicate the pie for my mother and didn’t quite get it, until this! After my mother’s first bite she declared “this is as good as Mum’s!” YES, YES, YES! I could have cried! Thank you for providing the perfect gift for me to give to the woman in my life that needs nothing but deserves everything!

  27. Hi Sally,

    Can you help me with what I may have done wrong? The texture of my pudding did not turn out creamy and velvety, but instead mostly grainy. I flavor was definitely there and I my family loved that. Would love to make again but need some suggestions. My guess is I cooked too long or not enough? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Michelle! I’m so glad you enjoyed the flavor of this butterscotch pudding! Was your brown sugar particularly old and hard? The moister and fresher it is, the better it will melt down.

      1. Hi Sally,
        My brown sugar seemed pretty moist and didn’t seem to take long to melt down, though the bag has probably been open a few months. I don’t know if that considers it old…

  28. Made this yesterday as we had friends over, they looked like such fancy desserts and went down a treat. I must have kept the caramel sauce on the hob for a minute too long though as it went solid as soon as I poured it on top of the chilled pudding, yikes. Totally me, not the recipe and still delicious. Will definitely make this dessert again, so quick and super tasty!

  29. I can’t wait to try this amazing recipe! ❤
    I have two packs of Nestle Butterscotch Morsels sitting in my pantry for quite sometime…. Any suggestions to incorporate it into this recipe?

    1. Hi Nifra! I think they would be delicious stirred into the pudding when you add the butter, vanilla, and rum/scotch. No need to fully melt them. Some little chunks of butterscotch would be delicious!

  30. Try adding a handful of toasted pecan pieces on top of the caramel sauce topping the pudding…OMG stack my mouth!

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