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Classic Butterscotch Pudding

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Classic Butterscotch Pudding
When I was a kid, I never really had butterscotch pudding. I liked vanilla and chocolate puddings and often campaigned to see pudding cups in the fridge or in my lunch. Butterscotch puddings seemed overly sweet, even to me, when I had them so it just wasn’t a go-to flavor for me. That said, the first time I had homemade butterscotch pudding, I was a convert. Silky smooth and not too sweet in spite of its rich brown sugar flavor, homemade butterscotch pudding had me hooked from the first bite.

This is my version of Classic Butterscotch Pudding, a recipe I’ve been making in one form or another for years now. It gets its butterscotch flavor from dark brown sugar and a small amount of butter that is added to it. There isn’t enough butter to make the pudding taste buttery, but there is enough to ensure a clear butterscotch flavor. The finished pudding is not too sweet and it has a very good balance of brown sugar, dairy and vanilla that makes it quite addictive. Fortunately, since the pudding is neither too sweet nor too heavy, there is nothing wrong with giving into the addiction and having a second serving. Dark brown sugar is going to give you the best finished product and the richest butterscotch flavor. That said, golden brown sugar and even light brown sugar will still work well and produce a tasty pudding.

I also really like the consistency of this pudding. It is not too thick and not too thin, but a silky smooth medium somewhere in between. If you do like your pudding on the thicker side, add an extra 1/2 tbsp cornstarch to thicken it up a bit more. When I make pudding, I’ll use any kind of milk I have in the fridge, whether it is whole or skim milk. Whole milk will always make a slightly richer pudding, but skim milk will actually work out just fine if that is all you have. I recommend using whole milk or at least reduced fat for a pudding that has the best balance and as creamy a texture as possible.

Classic Butterscotch Pudding
Classic Butterscotch Pudding
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups milk, divided (pref. whole or reduced fat)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir well, until brown sugar is well moistened.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the milk, egg, egg yolk and cornstarch until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then slowly pour the mixture into the butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly.
Cook, stirring with a spatula and taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer and begins to bubble. Continue to cook, still stirring, for 1-2 minutes as pudding thickens.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.
Divide pudding into 4 individual serving dishes or ramekins.
If you want a pudding skin, leave pudding uncovered. If you do not want skin, press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of each serving of pudding.
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, until pudding is cold.

Serves 4.

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  • Shannon
    August 31, 2011

    Yumm! I discovered butterscotch pudding a few years ago and loved it, but I’ve completely forgotten how good it was. And that was store bought – I’ll have to try this very soon!

  • Katrina
    August 31, 2011

    Hey Nicole,
    I made your root beer brownies and posted about them on my blog and wanted to let you know. They’re great! Thanks!


  • Pattypro
    August 31, 2011

    One of my favorites. I must disagree with your serving size…I’m pretty sure that’s just one, delicious serving…just sayin’. : )

  • The Sweet Cupcaker
    September 1, 2011

    looks delicious! butterscotch is such a great flavor especially at the end of summer

  • Brenda
    September 1, 2011

    Yumm!! I will try this recipe for sure. I buy Jello brand no cook Butterscotch but I would really like to try homemade. thanks for everything you post.

  • Teri O.
    September 6, 2011

    My grandmother was the queen of butterscotch pudding. She passed away about 14 years ago and I haven’t had homemade butterscotch pudding since. Your recipe is quite similar to hers – looks as if I am making pudding tonight!

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Davi
    October 5, 2013

    Where is the other cup of milk in the recipe?

  • Nicole
    October 5, 2013

    Davi – One cup is whisked in with some of the ingredients to combine them, then the other is added to thin out the mixture:

    “Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the milk, egg, egg yolk and cornstarch until very smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, and then…”

  • Nicole
    August 4, 2015

    I love this recipe! But it came out a bit lumpy. Any advice to ensure it is smooth? Thanks!

  • Nicole
    August 4, 2015

    Nicole – I recommend straining the pudding after cooking to remove any lumps. Incidentally, I know a few people who find lumps to be part of the charm of homemade pudding and, to those people, I recommend skipping the straining!

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