Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding

Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding

This creamy pudding, thickened with cornstarch and egg yolks and stirred together on the stove, is as homey as it gets. Spiking the mixture with a little bourbon or Scotch isn’t strictly traditional, but it does add a pop of flavor. Choose bourbon to underscore the caramelized notes of the brown sugar, or Scotch for a savory smokiness and a nod to the name. Here’s a tip: Make sure to bring the pudding to a full, vigorous boil to activate the cornstarch. Otherwise, it may not set. If you’ve ever ended up with thin, runny pudding, undercooking may have been the issue.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Put egg yolks, cornstarch and salt into a large heatproof bowl, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
  2. Step 2

    In a medium pot over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, whisking, until the brown sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to smell like hot caramel and darkens slightly, about 1 minute longer. (Don’t walk away, or the mixture may burn.)
  3. Step 3

    Immediately pour the milk and cream into the pot. (It will bubble fiercely and seize up.) Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the clumps melt, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Slowly whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking yolks until smooth, then whisk in the remaining hot cream mixture. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  5. Step 5

    Cook pudding, whisking constantly especially around the bottom and edges of the pot, until it comes to a full boil. (Don’t worry about the eggs curdling. You’re going to strain the mixture later.) Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the mixture constantly, until it thickens enough to mound thickly on the spoon, 4 to 7 minutes. If at any point the pudding looks curdled, whisk to help smooth it out.
  6. Step 6

    Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof container or bowl, then stir in the Scotch or bourbon, if using, and vanilla. To prevent a skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. (If you like the skin, don’t cover pudding until it cools.) Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  7. Step 7

    When serving, spoon pudding into dishes. Top with dollops of whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, and any of the optional garnishes.