butterscotch bourbon pudding
I am intimidated by things. By a lot of things. Namely, girls that are beautiful and well-spoken and seem to have it all together when I soooooo do not, guys who know their wines, and probably most kids over the age of 6. Also, things that are eggy-custard based [please note the “eggy-custard based” is now a technical term, and I might refer to it elsewhere.]

This includes but is not limited to: puddings, ice creams, and pastry creams. I have a fear of… curdling. Or clumping? Either way, I don’t want little lumps of egg in my custardy-eggy product [again, technical term.] 

So, how do we combat this? Head on! Let’s make pudding! I wanted to make this pudding because I actually have an odd love for pudding and also butterscotch–ever since I would get those little yellow cellophane wrapped candies as a kid from my parents church friends.

The church my parents went to for a time when I was 0-8 had a campground and a whole cafeteria and kitchen areas (no, it wasn’t a cult. At least I don’t think it was.) I used to count the minutes until we could go have lunch in that cafeteria. It was the usual kind; go down the line and pick up what you want, leave what you don’t. As a kid, on my tray were three puddings and a dinner roll with butter. What can I say? Not much has changed, except now I might add some sautéed spinach.

I guess there is something about eating butterscotch pudding that reminds me of those days. Unafraid of what others thought, gleeful that the sermon was over, and happy to have freedom from the hard wooden chair. Come to think of it, I feel that pudding and childhood are inexplicably linked. 

butterscotch bourbon pudding

So to get back to my fears, this pudding was far easier then I expected it to be. It just whisks together, non-fussily [theirs another technical term for you] and so quickly. Then you let it cool to room temp and refrigerate. There are no clumps, because the cornstarch is well whisked into the butter and sugar, and it all thickens up quicker then expected, so you don’t need to stand at the stove stirring for minutes that feel like eternity.

You start with the butter which is browned a bit. 

butterscotch bourbon pudding

Another thing: I like to have all my ingredients measured out when working with things that require eggs and cooking milk. Things can go more quickly then you realize and it prevents accidentally burning something. 

Using a pot that has a lighter color–white or cream–inside makes it far easier to tell if the butter is browned. I would not recommend using dark non-stick pans for pudding.

After the butter is browned, whisk in dark brown sugar (homemade if you’ve got it), cornstarch, milk, salt and egg yolks. 

butterscotch bourbon pudding

Whisk together and add the rest of the milk, then return it to the heat to continue cooking until it thickens. This pudding thickened up faster then I thought! A lot faster than ice cream, which was nice… I’m all for speedy sweets! 

When the pudding is thickened, it will give off bubbles that quickly burst at the surface, which is a little scary, but then you know it’s done. 

butterscotch bourbon pudding
Remove it from the heat and stir in a little more butter, the bourbon, and vanilla. 

butterscotch bourbon pudding

Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the pudding, and let it come to room temperature on the counter. When it has cooled, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

butterscotch bourbon puddingReady for the fridge: 

butterscotch bourbon pudding

Dish up with some whipped cream if you want, and run around, remembering with delight that you are not confined to a wooden chair. It all seems a bit less intimidating now.  

butterscotch bourbon pudding

Adapted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden

Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 3 cups
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (or Scotch)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
  • whipped cream for serving, optional
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of the butter until browned, about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 a cup of the milk, salt, and egg yolks.
  3. Whisk in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding thickens. It will probably get thick in about 3-5 minutes at medium heat, but every stove is different.
  4. When it is giving off bubbles that suddenly burst, and is thick like honey, you can remove it from the heat. Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the alcohol of choice, and the vanilla if using.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, with the wrap directly touching the surface of the pudding. Let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.
  6. I love this served with freshly whipped cream.


Pudding bowls, vintage, a few can be found here

Clear mixing bowl, Luminarc, Amazon

My favorite plastic wraps (which may be silly to post here, but I think they are worth their weight in gold): Glad Cling Wrap or Stretch-tite 

Brown sugar, homemade, recipe here

For this recipe I used our “everyday” bourbon of choice: Maker’s Mark.