It’s so easy to make homemade butterscotch pudding from scratch! This recipe for butterscotch pudding is a little healthier than others because it uses less sugar, with a few tricks to pump up the depth of flavor so no taste is sacrificed. In just 20 minutes you can make this super smooth, cool, creamy homemade pudding for an easy make ahead dessert for any occasion.
This butterscotch pudding recipe was created out of pregnancy cravings. Butterscotch pudding, of all things! But I HAD to have it. So I made it from scratch, because the boxed mixes have so many preservatives and processed ingredients.
OK yes, this recipe is not the healthiest. But compared to the boxed ingredients, making butterscotch pudding from scratch is a healthier alternative.
This homemade butterscotch pudding is the perfect dessert for any occasion. It’s easy to make ahead of time and serve topped with homemade whipped cream, sprinkled with a little turbinado sugar, cookie crumbles, or cinnamon.
- Kosher salt (or another salt of choice, less in amount if fine grain)
- Whole milk (plant-based or low fat in a pinch, or half and half/heavy cream for a richer version)
- Egg yolks (save those egg whites for a quiche or frittata or something later!)
- Butter (I prefer salted)
- Brown sugar (use white if you like, but brown gives it a great color)
- Vanilla extract (can be omitted if you like)
- Whipped cream and toppings for serving (optional)
Tips and tricks for the BEST homemade butterscotch pudding
This version has less sugar than other butterscotch pudding recipes, with depth of flavor created by other means. Here are my suggestions for the BEST flavor:
- Brown the butter. The first step of the recipe is to melt brown sugar with butter in a saucepan. Before adding the brown sugar, I browned the butter to give it a richer flavor.
- Melt the sugar until it smokes slightly. This added a deliciously deep, smoky, kind of burnt flavor to the butterscotch base, similar in flavor to what you’d find in flan or on the scorched top of a crème brûlée.
- Use whole milk and four egg yolks. Some recipes call for 2 or 3 egg yolks, but require more sugar. Some call for heavy cream and low fat milk. I kept things simple with whole milk and more egg yolks- the fat in these ingredients also added to the flavor and texture.
- Add vanilla extract and butter at the very end. Yes, more butter. Adding a pad of it at the end adds a beautiful sheen and fresh butter flavor to the pudding, and the vanilla extract just makes it all the more flavorful.
How to make butterscotch pudding from scratch
- Mix cornstarch, sugar, salt, milk, and egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle the milk in slowly, to form a really smooth consistency, and add the egg yolks last.
- Brown butter in a medium saucepan and add brown sugar. Whisk together until the sugar has melted and starts to smoke.
- REMOVE the pan from the heat so the sugar doesn’t burn.
- Carefully and gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly. It will sputter a little bit, so keep your distance from the pan. It’s OK if lumps form.
- Add the pan back to the heat and whisk constantly until it’s super smooth.
- Temper the egg cornstarch mixture with a ladle or so of the hot sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
- Add all of the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
- Whisk and heat for 3-4 minutes, until the pudding has thickened. It’s a workout!
- Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir until it’s all melted.
- Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 48 hours, before serving.
How to serve it
I topped this butterscotch pudding with homemade whipped cream as well as some turbinado sugar.
I love using turbinado sugar, especially around the holidays, because it looks sparkly and fun. The color matched the caramel color of the pudding. It’s a fun way to make something as simple as pudding look extra fancy, and this dessert would be perfect to serve at your holiday dinner!
Or you could get extra fancy and throw it in a chocolate or gingerbread cookie pie crust… just sayin’. Or top it with crumbled up gingersnaps or even just some simple cinnamon.
Use a sturdy whisk for this and be prepared for an arm workout. You will be whisking a LOT.
Other easy pudding recipes from scratch
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Butterscotch Pudding from Scratch
- In a medium sized mixing bowl (preferably with a pour spout), mix together the cornstarch (1/4 cup) and kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon). Whisk in two cups of the milk gradually, making sure to smooth out any cornstarch clumps before adding more, so the mixture is smooth. Add the egg yolks (4) and whisk together until yolks are fully incorporated and broken up.
- In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Once it's melted, whisk continuously until starting to turn brown. Add the brown sugar (3/4 cup) and whisk together until sugar is melted.
- As soon as sugar has fully melted and you see a little bit of smoke rising from the top, remove from heat and CAREFULLY and gradually whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk. The sugar may clump up and harden again- this is OK, it will melt once it heats again. Add the pot back to the heat on medium-low. Continue whisking together until all clumps are gone and mixture is smooth.
- Ladle about half of this hot mixture gradually into the cornstarch, egg, and milk mixture, whisking continually, to temper the eggs. Then, gradually pour the mixture into the pot with the rest, whisking continuously.
- Continue heating over medium heat, whisking, until pudding has thickened to desired consistency. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and remaining 1 tablespoon butter until fully melted.
- Refrigerate pudding in a bowl, with plastic wrap pressed down directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- Just before serving, whisk it (again!) for a minute or so to smooth it out, then serve in individual ramekins, bowls, or glassware topped with the unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar. Or eat it directly out of the bowl- no judgement here! :-)
- Save the egg whites: You can use them for omelettes or scrambled eggs later!
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: