Enjoy a taste of nostalgia with my Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding recipe. This vintage dessert is easy to create with simple, everyday ingredients. Its combination of light brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter is a familiar, classic flavor. The whipped cream and sugar topping puts it over the top!
I’ve had this recipe in my old recipe box for so many years that I’ve lost track of the number. And I have no idea where it originated. It’s from that time when people freely shared recipes written on cards or copied from the newspaper or a magazine instead of digital technology that we all use today.
Some of you remember recipe cards and, for others, it will seem a quaint old-fashioned notion. Handwritten, treasured recipes carefully filed away in a little box. Yes, I have digital copies of recipes. I have recipes on my computer, on a tablet, on my phone, and in hundreds of cookbooks. But my most favorite, most treasured recipes are still filed away in that little wooden box. And I wouldn’t trade it for all the digital recipe apps in the world.
If I was looking for the right category in which to file this Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding recipe, I’d choose “happy.” Not desserts, not sweets, but “happy.”
This recipe simply makes me happy. With its rich evaporated milk base and its luscious brown sugar right through to its whipped cream topping. It’s an indulgent recipe not to be served too frequently – just when you need some “happy” in your day.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It contains classic, familiar flavors – Butterscotch evokes comforting childhood memories for many people.
- Easy to make! The instructions are easy to follow and there are no hard-to-find ingredients needed.
- Pretty presentation – serving the pudding in individual dessert cups makes for a lovely presentation when topped with whipped cream and a sprinkle of crunchy turbinado sugar.
🍳 Tools You’ll Use
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🛒 Ingredient Notes
- Light brown sugar – Provides the rich, caramel-like flavor essential to butterscotch. I typically use Domino brand light brown sugar.
- Cornstarch – The thickening agent for the pudding. Argo always works for me.
- Evaporated milk – Used for its concentrated, creamy consistency which creates a rich pudding texture. Both Carnation and Pet brands are widely available and equally good.
- Butter – Make sure the butter is room temperature butter so that it incorporates easily into the pudding.
- Vanilla Extract – Enhances the buttery, sweet flavors of the pudding.
- Whipped cream – Adds a light, airy contrast to the pudding. Use either purchased whipped cream or homemade.
- Turbinado sugar – This is a coarse, unrefined sugar with a pleasant crunch and sparkle.
🥄 How to Make Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding
- Start by combining the sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan. Add the evaporated milk and water, stirring until everything is combined.
- Place the mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just barely comes to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. To the egg, add a small amount of the hot milk mixture, stirring rapidly to combine it with the beaten egg.
- Quickly add the egg and milk mixture back to the milk mixture in the saucepan.
- Put the saucepan back on the heat and cook, stirring constantly and rapidly, for about 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter one piece at a time allowing each to melt completely before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour into dessert dishes. Refrigerate for at least one hour or until firm (best if refrigerated 8 hours or overnight).
- Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
🍚 Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
Butterscotch pudding may be made up to 3 days in advance. Pour into individual dessert dishes and cover each with plastic wrap making sure the wrap is in contact with the surface of the finished pudding to prevent a skin from forming.
Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, top each dish with the garnishes.
Store any leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
❓ Questions About Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding
You can make homemade butterscotch pudding with whole milk, but be aware that the flavor will be far less rich and the texture won’t be as creamy.
To prevent lumps in the pudding, be sure to stir constantly while cooking and especially during the step where the egg-milk mixture is added back to the pan. Also, make sure each piece of the butter is fully incorporated before adding the next.
There are several possibilities as to why homemade pudding may not set correctly. (1) Inaccurately measuring ingredients, (2) not cooking long enough, and (3) not allowing adequate time to chill in the refrigerator. Be sure to follow the recipe carefully for the best results.
More Questions? I’m happy to help!
If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 24 ounces evaporated milk
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons butter room temperature, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Whipped cream for serving
- Turbinado sugar for garnish
- Combine light brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk and water.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.
- Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and stir in a small amount of the hot milk mixture.
- Add the egg and milk mixture back to the saucepan.
- Put the saucepan back on the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter one piece at a time allowing each to melt before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour into dessert dishes. Refrigerate for at least one hour or until firm.
- Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- May be made up to 3 days in advance. Pour into individual dessert dishes and cover each with plastic wrap making sure the wrap is in contact with the surface of the pudding.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, top each dish with the garnishes.
- Store any leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on March 20, 2012. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.