easy butterscotch pudding recipe
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This easy butterscotch pudding recipe relies on pantry ingredients and fridge staples, so you can probably whip it up right now.

I am a pudding lover from way back—like all the way back to Snack Packs in my lunchbox. And although chocolate might be my favorite (and if there is malt in it, then all the better) butterscotch—an unsung and underrated flavor—is a close second. Here’s the thing though: Despite the love I feel for this underappreciated pudding flavor, I don’t find myself making it all that regularly, and that is something I am ready to change.

Butterscotch and caramel pudding hold big similarities, but the main difference between the two is that caramel is made with granulated sugar and butterscotch with brown sugar. To make this butterscotch pudding, you’ll begin by cooking brown sugar and butter together until bubbling. Warmed heavy cream is then added, essentially creating a sticky caramel.

Yolks, an egg, some cornstarch, and milk are whisked together and used to temper the butterscotch sauce, and then the whole mixture is cooked until bubbling (bubbles are essential to properly activate the cornstarch, which in turn thickens the pudding). A generous glug of vanilla, as well as a hefty sprinkle of kosher salt, are added (as the vanilla helps round out the burnt sugar flavors of the pudding, and the salt makes all the flavors pop) and voila: the dreamiest of butterscotch puddings. The whole shebang takes very little time, is assembled with nothing but pantry ingredients, and is a perfect dessert for fulfilling that, “Hey, I’m craving something sweet right now” mentality (which, for me, is basically all of the time). 

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Yes, it requires some time in the fridge to firm up, but I should point out that warm pudding from the stovetop, eaten out of the pot with a spoon, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. So go at it: Either warm or cold (with a dollop of softly whipped cream and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt), you cannot go wrong.

Butterscotch Pudding Recipe

Butterscotch Pudding

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  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, warmed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Softly whipped cream for serving
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Combine the sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and carefully cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the butter melts, the mixture boils, and it begins smelling caramel-like. Continue stirring for 3 minutes, lowering the heat to avoid burning, until the mixture is foamy and thickens.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the cream, and stir to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, milk, yolks, and egg. Return the butter/sugar mixture to medium heat. Temper the egg mixture by adding spoonfuls of the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Once warmed, add all of the egg mixture to the butter/sugar, increase the heat to medium-high and stir constantly until large bubbles begin popping on the surface.
  4. Continue to whisk for 45 to 60 seconds. Remove pot from heat and strain if lumpy. Add the vanilla and salt and pour pudding into six 6-ounce ramekins. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the individual puddings to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. Serve with softly whipped cream and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

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Header image by Jessie Sheehan.

Jessie Sheehan is a cookbook author, food writer, recipe developer, and baker. She is the author of "The Vintage Baker" (one of the Washington Post’s best cookbooks of 2018 and beloved by Oprah and Nigella) and the co-author of "Icebox Cakes" (both published by Chronicle Books). She has developed recipes for many cookbooks, besides her own, and has contributed recipes, written and/or created video content for Better Homes & Garden, Rachael Ray Everyday, the Washington Post, Fine Cooking, Yankee Magazine (October 2020) Epicurious, Food52, The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, The Feed Feed, The Kitchn, TASTE, Chowhound, Yummly, Spruce Eats and Little Sous, among others. Jessie blogs at jessiesheehanbakes.com and can be found on Instagram at @jessiesheehanbakes.
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