Butterscotch Pudding

You asked for it, you got it. Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord as he shares this outstanding butterscotch pudding recipe. ~Elise

When I was interning at Grange restaurant the most popular dessert item on the menu was the butterscotch pudding. People just loved it, and the second it came off the menu the demand for its return was so high that we would inevitably put it back on. Maybe it was a dessert you had to grow up with? Maybe it was a generational thing? Who knows? Either way, I didn’t get it. What was so darn great about butterscotch? Eventually, I decided to take one of the puddings off the cart and see what the fuss was about.

People, I get it now.

This butterscotch pudding perfectly captures that brown sugar – butter combo that’s so nostalgic and intensely satisfying. While the recipe makes four you’ll be hard pressed not to eat them all yourself. Furthermore, the recipe is easy, affordable, and utilizes very common ingredients. It’s one of those delightful little recipes that requires no effort, but makes you a dessert god in the eyes of those you serve it to. Serve with freshly whipped cream and – if you want to go the distance – butterscotch cookies.

Follow on Pinterest

Butterscotch Pudding Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Method

1 Preheat oven to 325°F and set a kettle of water to boil. Set four ramekins or oven-safe bowls out and a large baking dish. In a saucepan melt the butter. Once melted add the brown sugar and salt, stir until well combined. Add the cream and milk to the sugar mixture. Heat until steamy and tiny, pinprick-sized bubbles begin to show around the side of the pot and the ingredients are combined (about 170°F to 180°F). You do not want it to boil or even simmer as this will cause scalding or curdling of the milk. Remove from heat immediately.

2 Slowly, in a thin stream, pour the heated sugar-dairy mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to catch any cooked bits of egg.

3 Ladle the mixture evenly into the ramekins. Place ramekins in a heavy bottomed pan and pour the hot water into the pan until the water rises halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Lightly tent the entire pan (not each individual ramekin) with some vented foil. The foil can simply be crimped on two opposite sides, it shouldn't be airtight. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pan half way through cooking. If you shake them they will have a jell-o-like wobble. It should not ripple or move like a liquid when you shake it. Don't worry as they will set up after they cool. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Links:

Butterscotch pudding, once removed from Michael Procopio
Stove top butterscotch pudding by David Lebovitz

48 Comments

  1. Kathleen

    I know that is luscious, made it today, but I did put the scotch in it from an old recipe.

  2. Morg Halley

    This looks delicious, but to me it’s not, technically, “butterscotch pudding.” It’s really butterscotch custard, because it’s baked, and its sole thickening agent is the eggs. My definition of “pudding” in this sense is “cooked on top of the stove, with an added thickening agent, such as cornstarch or tapioca.”

    Technically, puddings can be baked, steamed, or cooked on a top. Furthermore, they can even be savory. Puddings don’t even have to have cornstarch. ~Garrett

  3. Amanda

    How does this compare to Jello instant pudding? I’m sure it’s a lot better but how so? I would love to have an idea before since I’ve never made pudding from scratch before. Is the texture different? Is the flavor stronger?

    Thank you for sharing!

    The flavor is simply way better, like anything made with better ingredients and more care. ~Garrett

  4. Jamie

    Wow. I’m going to have to try making this dairy free. Probably with coconut milk and earth balance margarine. Yum. Not the same, I’m sure, but what’s a gluten-free dairy-free girl to do? Coconut milk and fake butter it is. I love butterscotch. :D

  5. Susan

    Mmmm..butterscotch pudding..my favorite! I make a stovetop version that has the cornstarch. It’s always good to have a baked version, too. I love the skin on top of chilled pudding. Will this baked version make a skin on top?

    No, there shouldn’t be any skin. ~Garrett

  6. Mari

    This sounds gorgeous. Any suggestions on making it as a pie? I love the pate brisee pastry crust elsewhere on this site – could I use that, and if so should I prebake it?

    Never tried it. Try it yourself and let us know how it works out. =) ~Garrett

  7. Lisa

    Looks totally yummy! What changes would you recommend for a stove top version? I’d like to use this as a filling for cupcakes, cakes, trifle, etc. Digging it out of ramekins wouldn’t be much fun.

    I would make the recipe as directed. Stove top would be a whole different recipe. ~Garrett

    You might want to try David Lebovitz’s butterscotch pudding. It’s made on the stove top. ~Elise

  8. Dee

    This looks wonderful and is my friend’s absolutely favorite dessert. I want to make it when she comes to visit and surprise her. Just want to check to be sure – if it is somewhere that I missed, I apologize. I assume when you say cream, you are talking about heavy cream. Thanks.

    Yes. =) ~Garrett

  9. dan

    And if instead of baking it you churn it in an ice-cream maker. I bet you get butterscotch ice cream.

  10. Jan

    Typically haven’t tented custards/puddings before.
    How does that help and will condensation occur to mar the top?

    Be sure it is vented. I lightly tented the foil over the whole pan. It helps keep the heat circulating. ~Garrett

  11. Megan

    Thanks for this recipe – looks amazing and simple enough to make. I am considering making for Thanksgiving – in which case I would need to double the recipe. Do you recommend this, or should I make two different batches?

    You should be able to without a problem. I suggest that you make a test batch first so you can see how the recipe works in your kitchen and adjust as you see fit. That way there are no surprises the day you serve it to guests. ;) ~Garrett

  12. laura

    Who knew that butterscotch pudding could be made with only two tablespoons of butter? This makes me eternally happy. Yum.

  13. athina

    Wow!!! This is REALLY delicious. Surprisingly, it was a bit too sweet for me – (even with the whipped cream to cut through the sweetness.) If I were to cut back on some of the sugar, would I need to make any other adjustments?

    I think you should be fine. ~Garrett

  14. Sara A.

    @Lisa
    If you want a simple stove top version, follow Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for caramel pudding but make butterscotch where she makes caramel swapping out the milk for butter and white sugar for brown. I kind of spliced one together that way using the butterscotch sauce recipe from this blog as a guideline.

  15. Kimberly

    As soon as I saw that pic and the words “butterscotch pudding,” I got so excited I nearly fell off my chair. That’s because A., I have always dearly loved butterscotch pudding, even though the only kind I’ve ever had was the Jello brand as a kid (nostalgia, anyone?), and B., I’ve been on a quest lately for an easy-ish dessert I could add to my repertoire of desserts. Which at this point includes only one thing, and that’s key lime pie, because it’s so easy to make without messing up. : )
    But I think I can do this, and I’m going to try!

  16. Melissa

    Hi Garrett,

    I had all the ingredients for the pudding on hand when I read this, so in a fit of anticipation I rushed over to the stove and got going. Everything went smoothly enough–though when I took them out the tops of my little puddings seemed a bit more, shall we say rustic, than yours–until I dug my spoon in.

    What gushed up at me had a consistency somewhere between very watery oatmeal and very curdled milk. Any idea what went wrong?

    It’s still delicious, mind, but at this rate my guests won’t think I’m a dessert disciple, much less a god.

    Melissa, I’m sorry for the appearance of the results. Sounds like it needed more time to cook and set. It should scoop out smooth and flan-like. Also, you said you took the tops off, did you tightly cover each ramekin with foil? You simply want foil over the pan to help keep some air and moisture circulating. A tight cap will cause condensation to drip down and that will greatly affect the results.
    Lastly, curdling happens when your oven is too hot or from overbaking. Still, I’m very glad that the flavor came out well. I think that, in the end, matters the most. ;) ~Garrett

  17. athina

    Garrett, when I posted my comment last night, about the pudding being too sweet, I hadn’t allowed it to chill completely, and tasted it while it was still considerably warm. Well, this morning, I decided to try one that had completely cooled, and not only was the texture perfect and flan/like, but cooling it seemed to take some of the sweetness down a few notches.just perfect! Excellent recipe. Thanks!

    Cold actually dulls sweetness. Little pastry fact for ya’. ;) Glad it worked out for you after all! ~Garrett

  18. Kaja

    Hi, I had much the same problem as Melissa did, and I didn’t close each ramekin separately, but only put a foil loosely over the top of the larger pan. I baked it for about 70 minutes and it was still kind of wobbly and the clear, buttery liquid was separated from the gooey, delicious light-brown paste.

    Since I agree that the taste is the most important thing, I’m not overly concerned, but I wouldn’t make this for guests, not until I figure out what went wrong.

    But thanks for the recipe, I’ve never made this before (in Slovenia, butterscotch is not very common – in any form)!

    Hmm, separation is a different issue. I’m not sure what may have caused that. Will look into it. 70 minutes might have overdone it a bit and caused the separation. ~Garrett

  19. Sally

    That sounds delicious! Butterscotch pudding is one of my favorites.

  20. Kathy - Panini Happy

    This recipe couldn’t have come at a better time. There’s a new restaurant in town, Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria in Encinitas, CA, that a group of friends and I tried a few weeks ago with an absolutely fabulous butterscotch pudding on the menu. I went back the following week with my husband and another couple to introduce them to the pudding (and pizza) – two of the girls from the group were there again too with their husbands! Very into the butterscotch pudding right now. Incidentally, Blue Ribbon serves theirs in mason jars with a layer of salted caramel on top.

  21. Rachel

    I’m making this today because it looks delicious and nostalgic. I haven’t wandered over to your site before, Garrett, so I’m happy to meet you.

    And I can tell I’m going to enjoy your posts because you said, “It’s one of those delightful little recipes that requires no effort,” and I agree. It looks like no effort at all. But if I told that to any of my friends (about this), they’d laugh at me! I guess it just depends on what makes you happy. If you’re happy in the kitchen, it doesn’t feel like an effort.

  22. wichitarick

    Thanks yummm! To answer your question YES it is a nostalgia/age thing. Grew up with a step mom who was not a great cook but always made this and tapioca from scratch weekly for a family of 7. My Gma and great aunts also made this with fresh eggs and cream mmmm memories!

    Your recipe is my ice cream recipe. I collect old-timey kitchen junk and have a large egg poacher that this recipe will work perfectly for. I am teaching my daughter to cook and will use this for a meeting she has on the weekend. It will be several mothers and daughters so dear dad sending this in antique dishes should tickle them. Thanks, Rick and Teresa.

  23. don baker

    Tried this yesterday. Turned out really well.

  24. pinky black

    This recipe is my savior! My friends just gave me a surprise visit and I didn’t know what to prepare for them until I remembered this easy but delicious recipe.

  25. Tapping Therapy

    Wow! I have such great memories of butterscotch pudding as a child. I’ve never made it from scratch, just from those pudding boxes – but at least I made the cooking kind!

    I’m going to make this. Hungry for it already!

  26. Alex G

    Ahhhh! I’m obsessed with butterscotch at the moment! Made butterscotch cream eclairs not too long ago. This looks fabulous as well – something about autumn and butterscotch just works so well together!

  27. Charlene

    This is sublime. Thanks for a great recipe, Garrett! The top of mine wasn’t as pretty as yours. I think my foil wasn’t loose enough and the initial condensation caused this. I loosened it more when I turned the pan at the halfway point. I had only made pudding on the stovetop before and was curious about the difference this technique would make. As I suspected, the flavor was more concentrated.

    I also made the Butterscotch Cookies to go with the pudding. They are also delicious but with the pudding a bit too much of a good thing, literally. The serving of pudding itself is more than generous. In fact, next time I think I’ll make this into 6 servings instead of 4.

    Thanks again, Garrett!

  28. Judith

    What size are the ramekins?

    I used 8 ounce ramekins, though feel free to use smaller ones. ~Garrett

  29. Luke

    The pudding was fantastic. Mine wasn’t as smooth looking (which didn’t alter the taste – and was fine) but it was a bit runny and it had separated a bit in the middle and under the surface. Any idea how to keep the liquid suspended in the pudding?

    Uneven cooking or the mixture didn’t fully mix together are the usual suspects for this recipe. ~Garrett

  30. Mary

    This was definitely awesome, everyone at my house couldn’t get enough!

    Curious, though — Garrett — do you use a special brand or variety of vanilla? I am just now exploring the different types of vanilla beans and extracts.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    I use Beanilla brands of extract or simply make my own. =) ~Garrett

  31. Andreea

    This is not that easy after all. I wish you had a difficulty scale or something when posting a recipe.

    At the beginning I thought the 325 was a typo, and it should be more. Anyway, after 50 min, my pudding was wobbly all over! After 75min, it was still wobbly, and there was a clearly liquid separated from the brown paste. I just took it out.

    As we speak it is cooling down, I will put it in the fridge overnight and I will let you know tomorrow how it tastes.

  32. shawn e stover

    I made it this morning. It never did get firm.

    Sounds like it may have needed to bake a bit longer. When baking it won’t be totally firm. It will still have some wobble to it even when done. ~Garrett

  33. Little Ol' Grammy

    My grandmother made the best butterscotch pies when I was a little girl. I have many of her recipes, but couldn’t find her butterscotch pie.

    Do any adjustments need to be made or the quantities of the ingredients changed or baking time? I want to bake one with my little granddaughter when I visit at Christmas. She loves to cook and has little aprons for every holiday.

    Yes, making a pie is a whole different recipe. Not sure what you would need to do for that aside from pre-baking the crust. ~Garrett

    Thank you,
    Little Ol’ Grammy

  34. Bast

    How would I make this without the cream? I have nearly everything but I simply cannot get the cream.

    I’m sorry, but you need the cream for this recipe. You can try it with something else but I cannot say what the results will be. ~Garrett

  35. Jeanne

    In case anyone was quietly questioning the need to tent with foil, I can tell you that you really need to! Rather than ramekins I used a glass baking dish, which extended the cooking time, which caused me to get impatient and remove the foil. I’ve not yet tried it, it smells divine, but it ain’t as pretty as the picture in this recipe.

    Hey Jeanne, yes the directions are very specific for a reason. Ha ha. Not following may affect the appearance. However, the taste should still be fine as long as the milk hasn’t been curdled. ~Garrett

  36. Suzanne

    I made this in one big bowl. I forgot to tent it in the oven. The top didn’t look smooth but underneath all was creamy and delicious! Loved it. Thanks for the recipe!

  37. Aurore

    I made those yesterday. After 75mn of baking they still seemed somewhere between liquid and wobbly, but after a whole night in the fridge they turned perfect.

    The top wasn’t smooth, more “foam” like, but given the amount of foam I made while whisking with the yolks, it does not surprise me. (And I didn’t have any fine mesh sieve so I had to skip that part. I guess that pouring the mixture through the sieve also helps to remove the bubbles and makes the result smoother.)
    Many thanks for the recipe. :)

  38. Nicholas Yap

    This looks like an excellent dessert to whip up and I really want to make a batch… but am having trouble finding Kosher salt. They don’t stock it in the stores from where I’m from.

    What exactly is Kosher salt? Can I use sea salt, Maldon etc (as recommended in the previous butterscotch cookies recipe)?

    Or could I just skip the salt altogether?

    I think you need the salt to accentuate the sweetness. If you use Maldon, I would sprinkle it on top of the puddings once they are finished. As for Kosher, it’s a coarse grained, processed salt. ~Garrett

  39. Yiotula

    I had to cook it for a LONG time too! I don’t think it is my oven but, could be I suppose. I was wondering if you didn’t get the stovetop mixture hot enough (scared of curdling) would that make it more difficult to get the pudding to set? I did end up with a bit of a crust which I think means I did overcook it a tad. I really need to find a good candy thermometer. Any suggestions?

    Yes, you overcooked it. You have to trust in the slight wobble when you check it. ~Garrett

  40. athina

    I loved this so much, that I made it again- this time for my dad…weird thing is, this time it didn’t set at all- it stayed liquid, never got that flan-like consistency…chilled it overnight even. What do you think could have happened? I baked it for the correct amount of time – had it tented with foil, rotated the pan halfway through…etc.

    Probably needed a bit more time in the oven. If you baked it on a cold or wet day that can make all the difference. ~Garrett

  41. Jacquie D

    Made this for a dinner party. Baked puddings is small shot glasses instead of large ramekins. Acutally made 20 three-bite servings. Topped with a dollop of home-made whipped cream and was absolutely devine.

  42. Tania

    I don’t have a stove oven but I do have a toaster oven & I wanted to know if this recipe can be made in a toaster oven. I also want to know how cooking varies for all baked foods (including meat etc) when baking in a toaster oven as opposed to a traditional oven. Thanks!

    Hi Tania, I don’t cook with a toaster oven so don’t know what to tell you. ~Elise

  43. EagertoBake

    I followed the recipe but I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar. I ran out of whole milk so I used 50 heavy cream and 50 fat free milk for the portion calling for whole milk. When I added the dairy mix to the sugar mix, the sugar carmelized and hardened. Eventually most of the hardened sugar melted back into the dairy mixture. But there was one chunk size of a quarter that I had to take out. Where did I go wrong?

    You didn’t do anything wrong really. You do need to add the milk slowly and not all at once, otherwise the sugar will seize. Pudding takes practice to know what it looks like at different stages. ~Garrett

  44. Yoko

    @Luke

    A great and easy way you can ensure that the pudding cooks evenly:

    1. Instead of using the oven, get a large pot (preferably a dutch oven).
    2. Place the ramekins inside, and fill with enough water to go up the sides of the ramekins halfway.
    3. Take the ramekins out, and boil the water.
    4. Once the water reached boiling point, lower heat to a simmer and place covered ramekins (if you don’t have ramekin lids you can just cover them with aluminum foil) and place the lid on the pot.
    5. After 7 min, turn off the heat and leave the pot untouched for another 7 min.
    6. Remove ramekins.

    This method only lets you make 2~4 ramekins at a time, but the results are perfect every time :)

  45. Rosalind

    My pudding was firm on top but when I broke through the top, it was like caramel sauce on the bottom. Mixing the top with the bottom helped a little but it was more sauce like than pudding like. What may I have done wrong?

    Rosalind, I’m sorry to say I’ve never encountered that problem making this. I’m not quite sure, but will look into it. ~Garrett

  46. christina

    My pudding didn’t firm up like I’d like but every bite I heard my self saying, “OMG,” it was so good. I think I’ll make it and can it to give out as Christmas presents next year.

  47. pip

    Growing up Butterscotch Pudding was my absolute favorite! My mum would also beat the egg whites with castor sugar and add to the top before cooking. No need to tent with foil. The blend of butterscotch and meringue is so good.

  48. Lauren

    I haven’t made this yet, but I wanted to throw something out there for those having trouble with their pudding separating: I often make a custard in a bain marie. Although the original recipe says (as all bain marie recipes do) that the water should go halfway up the sides of the bowl, I find that the texture of the pudding changes considerably at the water line – creamier below, denser above. As a result I now set the custard bowl in water up to the level of the custard. Yes it takes ages to bake, but it’s worth it!

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong