Kick Butt-erscotch Pudding

February 24, 2011
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I have to admit, butterscotch is not my favorite pudding flavor, but I am absolutely not letting this contest close without a single plain old, old-fashioned butterscotch recipe! Butterscotch, as far as I can tell, relies on the wonder that is the flavor of dark brown sugar. This recipe, tweaked from an old recipe card from a neighbor with inspiration from David Lebovitz, is incredibly simple and fast - it doesn't even require tempering egg yolks. And while usually I feel strongly that pudding should have egg, the butterscotch flavor is rich enough, it doesn't really need it. - fiveandspice —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: fiveandspice is a fierce home cook, hostess, and food blogger.
WHAT: A butterscotch pudding that lives up to its name.
HOW: Butter, sugar, salt, cream, cornstarch, milk, vanilla. On the stove. That's it -- no egg-tempering necessary.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is definitely an adult butterscotch pudding -- toasty dark brown sugar, sea salt, and (optional) booze balance out the traditional sweetness. Note: If you want to have leftovers, make sure to divide up the pudding into 4-6 small bowls or ramekins. Placing one big bowl of this stuff in the fridge is simply too tempting. —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey or dark rum (optional)
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the sugar and salt and stir to combine well. Whisk in the heavy cream and turn the heat to low.
  2. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl, whisk in the milk bit by bit, until the cornstarch is totally dissolved. Stir this into the saucepan, then turn the heat back up to medium and let the mixture come to a simmer, stirring all the while. Simmer (keep stirring) for about a minute, until the pudding has thickened enough that your stirring utensil leaves a thick trail. Remove from the heat and stir in the last Tbs. butter, the vanilla, and the whiskey/rum.
  3. If the pudding seems lumpy, press it through a fine strainer. Pour it into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly onto the pudding if you wish to avoid a skin forming. Chill for at least several hours before serving. Serve topped with lightly sweetened softly whipped cream.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Christine Mohn
    Christine Mohn
  • bodhi_lisa
  • Etta
  • Kimberley Healey
    Kimberley Healey
  • WnnaBTrvlWrtr

45 Reviews

Baying January 14, 2023
Used coconut cream for the cream, it was what I had on hand. Turned our absolutely delicious
alisonia October 15, 2020
I’ll make this on repeat all winter! So flavorful. I used a heaping 1/2 tsp salt, and omitted the alcohol. Just the best and creamiest pudding ever! Ten stars!!!
Christine M. July 20, 2019
This cane out excellent. My only change was to decrease the rum to 1 Tb. I wanted it to enhance the butterscotch... not actually taste like rum
bodhi_lisa April 22, 2019
Super easy and so delicious!
Zoom October 14, 2018
This recipe is currently sitting in my fridge, chilling. The taste right off the heat was swoon-worthy. I didn't add the alcohol because I wanted to let my kid try some, but I did up the vanilla to 1 teaspoon to give it a little more flavor. I can't wait until it's set and ready to eat!
anita July 10, 2017
Absolutely the best butterscotch pudding going! I've been trying out several recipes. This
one has smoothness, a bit of saltiness, and deep flavor. Didn't add liquor, didn't need it. Next time I will brown the butter, not because it needs improving upon, but because I love that burnt taste. A winner.
kate March 25, 2017
This is amazing. Just made it twice in a 24 hr period because everyone ate it. Left out the booze, which I'm sure makes it even better, but that kept it from being "an adult butterscotch pudding." My 8 year-old and 14 year-old begged for more.
Etta January 28, 2017
This pudding is amazing!

Instead of using brown sugar, I followed steps 2-4 for Midge's Burnt Caramel Pudding ( using 1/2 c. sugar and 1 c. cream. I added 1 tbsp. butter when I took the hot cream mixture off the heat to cool briefly. I then proceeded with this recipe from step 2, as written.

The resulting pudding was smooth, rich and not too sweet.
Nancy S. February 7, 2019
Can you explain exactly the steps you followed? I'm a bit confused. Sorry. Midge's called for 2 cups heavy cream but you reduced it to one cup? I'm just interested in the recipe you used. Thanks.
Ann B. October 29, 2016
This recipe may well have been around for a while, but it's a keeper. Easy, rich, delicious. Like others, I browned the butter. Truly delicious.
jayaymeye September 24, 2016
This recipe was perfect! Topped with some smoked sea salt. Delicious.
Kimberley H. April 17, 2016
I thought the texture was lovely but this pudding is way too sweet for me.
WnnaBTrvlWrtr March 1, 2015
This is seriously good! I browned the butter but used 1% milk and forgot to add the last tablespoon of butter -- and can't imagine how much richer it would have been had I followed the recipe exactly. The Glenmorangie added at the end was the perfect scotch to complement the butter! Yummm!
sullymorgan April 1, 2014
This is the best, most flavorful butterscotch pudding recipe I've tried (and I've tried a lot!). I browned the butter but otherwise followed it to a T. I was wary because I usually don't like cornstarch-thickened puddings--they can be a bit grainy. But this was smooth, creamy...perfect. They kids loved it (of course), and I served it to friends too with a bit of whipped creme fraiche on top--nice tangy contrast. A new family favorite!
Olivier H. September 22, 2013
Wow! Made this with brown butter instead of regular melted butter, it was simply amazing! Thanks, will do it again!
fiveandspice September 23, 2013
LOVE the brown butter idea!
goobiedustbakes February 15, 2013
This recipe saved my butt last night. This was our first Valentine's Day as parents to our wonderful 7-month-old daughter and I had nothing planned. We were foolish enough to think we could actually cook dinner together, take her through her normal routine and eat together by a reasonable hour. After having our cocktails standing up, sharing a quick bite of dinner on the bed (while baby rolled around on said bed) just to get a taste of something before baby's bath, this dessert was the only thing we sat down and ate together like civilized humans. Savoring this pudding together was just the sliver of peace and luxury we needed to give us pause in a hectic daily schedule. I wanted to try it with dark muscavado, but i guess everyone had that idea last night, so i settled for organic dark brown sugar by wholesome sweetners, which along with local organic dairy made for a beautiful pudding. I topped it with a bit of fleur de sel, chocolate sauce and freshly whipped cream. As my husband said a few bites in 'it's just sexy.'
fiveandspice February 16, 2013
Oh I'm so glad I could help your Valentine's Day in some tiny way! :) Glad you guys enjoyed the pudding. My husband and I will probably be in that very sort of situation next year...
mommychef February 19, 2013
really???? that's exciting! enjoy sit down dinners while you can!
fiveandspice February 20, 2013
As long as everything stays on a healthy trajectory!! :) So, yes, we'll try to be extremely leisurely about our dinners and savor the quiet.
ginampen November 1, 2012
I am a huge lover of all this butterscotch. I made this the other night and the flavor was amazing! I want to make this recipe again however because the consistency of my pudding was slightly flour like. It wasn't lumpy so I didn't feel the need to run it through a strainer, but was wondering if anyone has any tips for me I would love to give it another go!
fiveandspice November 1, 2012
Hi ginampen! I'm not sure why your pudding would have had a flour like texture. I've never had that happen to me, more often I don't let my puddings set quite enough (I'm a little impatient), so I hope someone else has some helpful thoughts. I my one thought is maybe the pudding got overcooked, so maybe stop the cooking sooner, or cook it even more slowly over slightly lower heat?
gingerroot October 12, 2012
Congrats on the wildcard, Em!
fiveandspice October 12, 2012
Thanks Jenny!
Buttanio October 11, 2012
I just cooked this surprisingly simple recipe. Watching the ribbons of pudding dance elegantly out of the pan reminded me of melted caramel and Halloween. I couldn't wait to taste it and scraped the last bits out of the pan with my spoon. It was certainly worth the effort of finding dark brown sugar here in India. Thanks, fiveandspice, for a great post-fried-chicken desert!
fiveandspice October 11, 2012
Wow! I'm psyched that you put in the effort (funny how ubiquitous brown sugar is in the states and how hard it is to find in many other places), and that you enjoyed the results!
Kitchen B. October 11, 2012
Congratulations - it looks and sounds wonderful
fiveandspice October 11, 2012
Thanks so much KB!
TheWimpyVegetarian October 10, 2012
This looks wonderful! Congrats 5&S!! Yay for butterscotch!
fiveandspice October 11, 2012
Thanks Susan! Yay indeed!