Make Ahead

Buttermilk pudding

February 21, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Buttermilk pudding is so wonderful, it's almost unbelievable. It has that fresh tang that floats lightly over the creamy custardy texture. But, most buttermilk pudding recipes call for gelatin, and ever since I had a traumatic experience trying to use gelatin in middle school (call me melodramatic, but a ruined chocolate mousse is traumatic in my world), I have been loathe to use it in anything. So, I set out to create a perfect buttermilk pudding recipe without gelatin.
At first I thought it would be best to try to make pots de creme, since I know you can make baked buttermilk pie. However, I didn't want to use the massive quantities of sugar called for in a pie, and maybe I just didn't use enough egg yolks, but the texture didn't come out how I wanted it (I saved it by turning it into a perfectly acceptable ice cream!). So, then I started working on a stovetop creation instead. It took a bit of fiddling, but finally I've created a pudding that has exactly the wonderful light flavor and unctuous texture I was looking for.
In the summer this pudding would be amazing with macerated berries or peaches or a fig sauce. In the winter it's great with passion fruit - if you can get your hands on some - or caramelized citrus fruits, or brown butter pears, or even just a drizzle of honey. Of course, it's also fabulous just on its own. It's up to you! —fiveandspice

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you have vanilla bean you could also use that, simmering it with the cream instead of adding it at the end)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks to lighten them, then set them to the side near your stove.
  2. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Bit by bit whisk in the cream, making sure there are no lumps. Then whisk in the buttermilk.
  3. Heat the buttermilk mixture to a simmer over medium or medium-low, stirring the whole while. As it heats it will suddenly reach a point where it seems noticeably thicker, at this point take it off the heat.
  4. Stir about 1/4 cup of the hot buttermilk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking really vigorously to prevent the yolk from cooking into scrambled egg. Whisk in another quarter cup of the buttermilk mixture, then another, each time whisking until smooth. Then, scrape the yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining buttermilk mixture.
  5. Return to medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula, until the pudding is thick and the spatula leaves thick trails behind it as you stir. Pour the pudding into a bowl - if it seems lumpy you can press it through a strainer, but mine was quite smooth - and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding (unless you really like pudding skin, in which case, don't!). Chill for at least a few hours and up to several days. Serve chilled accompanied by a fruit sauce or cookies of your choice, or by itself.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sabine Gagnon
    Sabine Gagnon
  • pauljoseph
  • lapadia
  • dymnyno
  • Sagegreen

31 Reviews

Sabine G. January 26, 2020
This was excellent! I had chilled 4 servings- but after licking the spatula I decided not to tell my little girls that I had made pudding! How awful am I? It was just that tasty! My husband and I ate after baby bed time- almost licking the bowls! Loved how tangy this was. Nice and smooth. Directions didn’t mention exactly when to add vanilla- so I did it when I tempered the eggs! Will be making again...and maybe next time
my girls will get a taste! Or maybe I’ll let the guilt overcome me tomorrow and they’ll get some sooner than later!
Dianne June 22, 2014
Thanks for your input. The recipe said it should leave thick trails. I was not sure just how thick it should be. Should it actually stay parted when you run the spatula through it?
fiveandspice June 22, 2014
Hi Dianne! It's always frustrating when pudding gets grainy. I think HLA might be right, the pudding has to come up to a very gentle boil to activate the cornstarch. Then I usually cook it until it is thick enough that the trail left by a spoon will still close back in on itself, but it should take a moment. It's so hard to describe! I cook it until it is almost the whole way to the thickness you'd ultimately like the pudding to be, but not quite.
fiveandspice June 22, 2014
Ooh, I just read someone describe it as being as thick as loose yogurt. That's a pretty good description.
Dianne June 21, 2014
What would cause the pudding to turn out grainey?
hardlikearmour June 21, 2014
Most likely the cornstarch didn't cook enough.
Dianne June 21, 2014
What would cause the pudding to turn out grainedy?
pauljoseph February 28, 2011
great recipe
fiveandspice February 28, 2011
Thanks so much pauljoseph!
lapadia February 25, 2011
Yum, love using buttermilk, my corn-coconut uses a bit of it, too!
fiveandspice February 25, 2011
Thanks! Isn't the tang it adds just the greatest?!
lizb February 24, 2011
I have exactly one cup of buttermilk in my fridge that I was trying to find something to do with. This is going to be perfect. I'd never thought of buttermilk as a sweet before.
fiveandspice February 24, 2011
Oh that's great! Let me know how you like it!
dymnyno February 23, 2011
fiveandspice February 23, 2011
Thank you dymnyno!
Sagegreen February 22, 2011
What a great combo!
fiveandspice February 23, 2011
Thanks Sagegreen! I'm pretty hooked on it at the moment!
Homemadecornbread February 22, 2011
Midge, re: buttermilk over cornbread or "redneck cereal" - a fine and delicious southern tradition indeed. 'Round these parts we call it "cush-cush".
Midge February 23, 2011
I like the sound of cush-cush better. Now this is all I can think about. Must make some cornbread today! Oh and fiveandspice, I love the photo!
fiveandspice February 23, 2011
Wow, I love the word cush-cush! That's just exactly what I imagine it feels like scooping your spoon into a buttermilk soaked piece of cornbread. And thanks about the photo Midge! (p.s. regarding using up extra buttermilk - I wound up baking soda bread and discovered another fabulous combo, which is soda bread slathered with creme fraiche. Dairy overload, hehe!)
gingerroot February 21, 2011
Mmmm...I bet this is delicious. Last summer I experimented with a tangerine buttermilk sherbet and I loved the tangy profile.
fiveandspice February 21, 2011
I actually made some caramelized tangerines to go with the batch I have right now! It's a wonderful combo.
gingerroot February 22, 2011
Gorgeous photo!!
fiveandspice February 22, 2011
Thank you!
mrslarkin February 21, 2011
Me too! I sometimes sneak a sip - when nobody's looking. ;)
Midge February 21, 2011
I'm intrigued too. I love buttermilk in any guise, even straight up.
fiveandspice February 21, 2011
Wow! Straight up buttermilk is pretty hard core. Though, not really that different from kefir. I guess I know what to do with my little bit of leftover buttermilk. :)
Midge February 21, 2011
My favorite buttermilk vehicle is warm cornbread (over which you pour it). I learned this when I lived in the south, where I've heard it called "redneck cereal." Delicious!
fiveandspice February 21, 2011
That sounds AWESOME! I'm trying that the next time I make cornbread.
hardlikearmour February 21, 2011
Yum, I never would have thought of buttermilk pudding. Now I'm intrigued.
fiveandspice February 21, 2011
I hope you give it a try! Buttermilk pudding is so yummy!