homemade butterscotch pudding
Did someone say, “homemade butterscotch pudding”? (Me! It was me.) Grab your spoon and get ready to experience the most delicious scratch-made pudding of your life. Creamy, smooth, caramel-y pudding flavored with a kiss of bourbon and topped with a cloud of fresh whipped cream and chopped toffee bits is truly heaven on earth in dessert form, and requires just 30 minutes of your time to make it.
Butterscotch Pudding Recipe
If you’ve never made homemade pudding before, and you love pudding as I do, you must stop what you’re doing and make it now. It’s nothing like the instant pudding from the box and everything you never knew you needed in your dessert-loving life. And when it comes to this homemade butterscotch pudding, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never want anything but this again. (And that’s actually a good thing.)
Here is what you can expect from this butterscotch pudding recipe:
- Creamy, silky, indulgent pudding texture
- A delicate but delicious butterscotch flavor from two (!) special ingredients
- A simple few prep steps that take just 30 minutes
- A newfound love of classic desserts made from scratch
- A desire to never buy the store-bought stuff ever again
What Gives Butterscotch Pudding Its Unique Flavor
Butterscotch as a flavor has always been a bit of an enigma to me — like, what is it exactly? It’s not really caramel, but it’s not really vanilla, and it’s not really honey, either. And yet, it’s so, so distinct and so, so yummy.
For this butterscotch pudding recipe, there are two key ingredients that give it its iconic taste: Bourbon and apple cider vinegar. Just a 1/2 tablespoon of each is all you need to bring your homemade pudding from yum to YUMMM. It’s the rich depth of the bourbon combined with the pleasant acidity and tang of the vinegar that plays so well with the sweet, silky pudding base.
Of course, if you don’t have bourbon or don’t want to use it, you can leave it out — but just know that the butterscotch flavor might be more mild (yet still tasty!).
How to Make Butterscotch Pudding
Don’t let the idea of homemade pudding intimidate you! In fact, it’s one of the easiest desserts out there to make. Here is the overview (remember to scroll down to the bottom of this post for the FULL recipe and instructions):
- Step One: Make the butter-sugar mixture. Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan, then stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Gradually stir in warm heavy cream (it’s important that the heavy cream is pre-warmed so it doesn’t cool down the butter-sugar mixture in the pan, leaving it clumpy).
- Step Two: Add the thickeners. Pour a cornstarch-salt-milk mixture along with more milk (whole milk for best flavor!) into the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes, then add egg yolks, vanilla and that key ingredient, bourbon.
- Step Three: Strain and chill. Bring the pudding to a boil, then remove from heat and whisk in the vinegar. Strain the pudding mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then divide among your serving glasses/bowls. Cover the pudding surface directly with plastic wrap (to avoid a skin forming), and chill for at least 4 hours up to overnight. The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Step Four: Top and serve. Whip up a batch of homemade whipped cream, spoon dollops on top of the chilled pudding, sprinkle with toffee bits, and serve immediately.
Tips for the Best Homemade Pudding
To ensure the absolute best pudding experience, which you deserve, here are my top tips:
- Go by feel more than time. When it comes to cooking ingredients on the stovetop, all of our stovetops can vary, so go by feel first when you’re making this recipe — that is to say, wait until the pudding is actually thickened before removing it from the heat, not just once the time is up. Texture is key for pudding, so make that your priority!
- Use whole milk. We don’t often have whole milk on hand at home, but when I’m making homemade pudding, I make sure to buy whole milk for it. It lends that much-needed richness to pudding, and gives it the best, smooth texture thanks to the extra fat. I highly recommend buying a small container of whole milk just for this occasion.
- Add the toppings just before serving. For best results, I like to chill pudding overnight so it’s completely cold, thickened and has time to let the flavors meld more… and I also do not add the toppings until just before serving. This way, the whipped cream doesn’t weep into the pudding, and everything is tasting and performing at its best.
Enjoy your heaven on earth, spoonful after spoonful.Print
Homemade Butterscotch Pudding
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: American
Creamy, rich, caramel-y butterscotch pudding made from scratch! Top each serving with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream and chopped toffee bits for the ultimate spoonable dessert.
For the pudding:
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 tablespoon bourbon (optional, but highly recommended for that butterscotch flavor)
- 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Chopped chocolate-covered toffee pieces, as desired
- First, make the pudding: In a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, heat 1 1/4 cups heavy cream on High for 30 to 45 seconds or until warm but not boiling. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar; stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to bubble, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually stir in warmed cream. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup milk until mixture is smooth. Pour cornstarch-milk mixture into saucepan along with remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, whisk in egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and bourbon, if using.
- Return pudding to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; whisk in vinegar. Strain pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Pour pudding into 6 parfait glasses, small drinking glasses or dessert bowls. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding in each glass.
- Refrigerate pudding until well-chilled and thickened, about 4 hours up to overnight.
- Before serving, make the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped cream on top of chilled pudding in glasses. Sprinkle chopped toffee on top as desired. Serve immediately.
- Store pudding covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.
Keywords: butterscotch, toffee topping, homemade whipped cream, homemade pudding, stovetop pudding
“Heaven on earth” is exactly right. I made this yesterday late and we couldn’t go to bed until after it was ready so we could eat it! It is SO delicious. Followed recipe exactly – except i forgot to add vinegar at the end. It was sitting right there , too. I can’t say I missed it though. Next time. Thanks for your notes pre-ingredient list. It took about 10 minutes at the thickening step (before adding yolks) to thicken to where I thought it should be. I don’t make pudding often at all! Amazing recipe and I would love to someday pull out these beauties for dessert at a family gathering! Perhaps this year T-Day ?. Thanks!!
Cindy, Yay! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe as much as I do. Perfect option for T-Day. 😉 Thanks!
This sounds delicious! Definitely an element of nostalgia for me as my grandmother used to make butterscotch pudding. I don’t recall her recipe calling for vinegar, though, so would you please expound upon the purpose of the vinegar? It’s only a small amount of acid, but does it do any curdling of the dairy ingredients?
For those of us who make our own vanilla extract with bourbon, would you use an entire tablespoon of bourbon vanilla or just keep it at a half tablespoon?
And finally, speaking of halves… In the directions for the whipped cream, “cup” is missing between “1/2” and “heavy cream.”
Dayna, Thank you for your comment! The vinegar, combined with bourbon, gives the pudding its classic “butterscotch” flavor. No curdling occurs! As for the vanilla extract, I think you could go either way — it just depends on how much vanilla flavor you want to come through. Finally, thanks for the heads-up on the missing “half”! It’s been fixed. 🙂