5 Ingredients or Fewer

Apple Cider Butterscotch Pudding

October 21, 2019
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Classic butterscotch pudding calls for whole milk, dark brown sugar, cornstarch, butter, and vanilla extract—maybe heavy cream and egg yolks, too. The crux is the brown sugar (usually dark), which lends the pudding its caramel flavor and chestnut color.

Knowing this, it may come as a surprise when I tell you that this Big Little butterscotch pudding has no sugar. Not dark brown, light brown, or white. Instead, it has apple cider. That’s it. All you have to do is pour it into a pot, bring it to a boil, and leave it alone for an hour or two. (Go read a book or listen to a podcast or catch up on that show.) In this time, the cider goes from a sippable drink to spoon-coating sauce, a lot like the butterscotch you get from melting down brown sugar. In New England, it’s known as boiled cider—also cider syrup or apple molasses. I first found out about this technique from Erin McDowell, thanks to her wonderful cider caramel pie.)

Beyond the apple cider “butterscotch,” the rest of this butterscotch pudding recipe is just what you’d expect: half-and-half (a perfect middle point between milk and cream, if you ask me), cornstarch, egg yolks, and vanilla extract. (I found the usual butter added at the end entirely unnecessary.) From a distance, it looks like any other butterscotch pudding. But go ahead and take a spoonful. It’s as creamy and sweet as it is bright and sunny, like an apple orchard in the fall.

If you want, you can serve this with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or even thick yogurt. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
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Apple Cider Butterscotch Pudding
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Pour the cider into a large saucepan and set over medium heat to bring to a boil. Boil for 1 to 2 hours, rotating the pan and lowering the heat as needed to prevent any burning along the sides, until the mixture reduces to 1 cup. (No need to hover, just check in every 20 to 30 minutes.)
  2. When the cider butterscotch is almost ready, combine the cornstarch, egg yolks, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Use a fork or small whisk to stir until smooth (it will be very thick).
  3. When the cider butterscotch is ready (do measure it to make sure you have the right amount), pour a tiny splash into the cornstarch–egg yolk mixture. Whisk to combine. Pour another tiny splash and whisk again. Keep doing this (adding progressively bigger splashes) until all the cider butterscotch has been added. Now slowly whisk in the half-and-half and vanilla.
  4. Pour this whole mixture back into the saucepan and set it back on the heat, this time over medium to medium-low. Bring to a slow-gurgly boil, whisking slowly but constantly, then let it boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour the pudding through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to get rid of any chunky bits and bobs. Now transfer the pudding to individual dishes or glasses, if that’s how you’d like to serve it. Cover the top of the pudding with plastic film to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge until completely cold.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mary O'Neil
    Mary O'Neil
  • Nikki Miller Westervelt
    Nikki Miller Westervelt
  • Mariam
  • Dom Surprenant
    Dom Surprenant
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

19 Reviews

R00dscr33n July 6, 2022
Very good. The taste was subtle and mild. Not overly sweet which is just what I was looking for. It was a hit with my guests.
Mary O. October 4, 2020
Very disappointed, this taste like apple cider pudding, creamy texture but the taste is not sweet enough and doesn't taste like butterscotch at all. I had to add cinnamon,maple syrup and sprinkled with confectioners sugar and still didn't cut the apple cider taste. love apple cider just not as a pudding
Dom S. October 12, 2020
It's why "Butterscotch" was in italics. It's not suppose to taste like butterscotch though butterscotch-like in color. It is suppose to taste like apple cider.
Try boiled cider pie, an old NE recipe. It's sweet & tart and taste like apple cider. Boiling down cider is a wonderful thing.
I've been looking for a apple cider pudding recipe and this one looks right!
Mary O. October 4, 2020
Very disappointed, this taste like apple cider pudding,creamy texture but the taste is not sweet enough and doesn't taste like butterscotch at all. I had to add cinnamon,maple syrup and sprinkled with confectioners sugar and still didn't cut the apple cider taste. love apple cider just not as a pudding
mbelovich November 19, 2019
Hi Emma! I was thinking of making this for Thanksgiving dessert, and I was wondering how long it will keep in the fridge? If I make it the night before, do you think it will hold?
Emma L. November 19, 2019
Hi—yes, you can definitely make it the night before Thanksgiving!
Andrea November 9, 2019
I just made this and tasted it while still warm. I didn’t strain it..... bits and bobs don’t bother me 🤣 Right now it tastes more like apple cider pudding than butterscotch. Maybe it will taste different when cooled and refrigerated. 🤔
Nikki M. October 29, 2019
Suggestion on egg yolk substitute? We have an egg allergy in the house.
Emma L. October 29, 2019
Hi! You might be able to use cornstarch as the sole thickener (but in that case you might have to increase the amount—say by 1/2 tablespoon). And you might want to add a sliver of butter to make up for the lost richness.
Mariam October 24, 2019
Looks marvelous, Emma.
I don't know but this dish reminds me of a classic dessert here in Egypt, maybe it's about the colour or the texture.
We usually use dried sweet apricot in that recipe, soak it in some water overnight.
On the next day, we bring a huge pot, pour the soaked apricot with its water, and on a medium heat we leave it simmering for about 15 to 20 minutes until we have juicy texture.
Then we dissolve some cornstarch into some water, add them to the pot and keep stirring until we have creamy consistency.
After that we add sugar or honey, pour the pudding in cups, top them with nuts, raisin and coconut flakes.
I prefer to eat it as it is warm, but the authentic recipe says: "chill it and then dig in".
Emma L. October 24, 2019
That sounds so delicious, Mariam—thanks for sharing!
Caty October 23, 2019
Well, there *is* sugar in this. It's just in the form of fructose, not sucrose :)
Lynn D. October 22, 2019
Or how about using frozen concentrated apple juice?
judy October 22, 2019
That was my exact thought. I use frozen apple juice concentrate to sweeten all kinds of things. From Salad dressing to hot chocolate. I use it in place of maple syrup, which I don't tolerate, a lot. Or in place of corn syrup as well for some dishes. Works great. Arrowroot thickener when needed.
Emma L. October 23, 2019
Hi Lynn—fun idea! Hard to predict how that would work here (since one is a cider reduction while the other is a juice concentrate), but if you give it a try, please report back!
Lynn D. October 25, 2019
How about a creamsicle pudding with frozen orange juice concentrate?
Beth100 October 21, 2019
Love this idea! Could we use King Arthur Flour’s bottled boiled cider, or would the flavor be more vibrant if we distill fresh cider ourselves?
judy October 22, 2019
I used KA boiled cider for awhile, but it is expensive. I realized that I got the same flavor profile and results from a good frozen apple juice concentrate. I wonder if that would work here?
Emma L. October 23, 2019
Hi Beth100, I haven't tried this with a bottled boiled cider, but I don't see why it wouldn't work! Just use 1 cup (as indicated in the recipe method). If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes.