caramel-pudding Recipes

caramel pudding

This all started simply: It’s January. I don’t believe in giving up anything one enjoys but I know, I know, that only minutes past Resolution Day isn’t the best time to bring up gloppy sticky buns, 7-layer cakes, gluttonous rubber band wrists and other thoughts that have been plaguing me nonstop. I’m not trying to spread the distraction, you know? So I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to show you how easy it is to make really good vanilla pudding at home.

caramel pudding

Pudding is one of those things that if you like to eat it, you should know how to make it. The home-cooked stuff couldn’t have less in common flavor-wise with that plastic-cupped horror show they brought me in the hospital post-baby. Real pudding takes only a little time to make, and if you do it my way (the old-school way, I like to think) there are no egg yolks or creams or custards or pats of butter. It practically runs on the treadmill for you, don’t you think?

caramel pudding

So I made Batch 1: Vanilla Pudding. And it was tasty. But it didn’t hold my interest because I had already moved on, figuring that if you’re going to add sugar to something, why not caramelize it first? Why not get all of the flavor you can from a few simple ingredients?

[Sidebar: Caramel is dangerous in exactly this way; once you realize how easy it is to melted and toast regular old sugar in a saucepan and how much more transcendent it is than the granulated stuff from whence it came, you’ll constantly question why you should ever use straight sugar in a recipe again. It’s a similarly slippery slope learning about browned butter; you may go on a butter melt-and-toast bender. In other words: SEND HELP.]

caramel pudding, thought bubble

So I caramelized the sugar and whoa, suddenly I had made caramel pudding. Intriguing! But Batch 2 was too sweet and Batch 3 wasn’t sweet enough and Batch 2 had been too stiff but Batch 3 was too thin and Batch 4 was the right amount of sweet but the sugar hadn’t caramelized enough and Batch 5, the one I was going to tell you about, flopped, likely because I was pudding-kaput. I was tired of pudding, out of milk and it was 21 blustery, brutal degrees out yesterday so just no, no way.

caramel pudding, mine

Batch 6 however, fulfilled its caramel pudding destiny, and thank goodness because I was this close to sending my flat whisk flying down the avenue below. This pudding isn’t so much sweet as well-rounded, with faint burnt sugar notes and toffee undertones while still maintaining its — and your — integrity: five kitchen staples, none particularly sinful. Go. Get on this. You are welcome.

caramel pudding after deb got to it

Pudding, previously: Best Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Pudding Pie and Almond-Vanilla Rice Pudding

One year ago: Potato and Artichoke Tortilla
Two years ago: Viennese Cucumber Salad
Three years ago: Really Simple Homemade Pizza

Caramel Pudding
Adapted heavily from Food & Wine

4 cups milk, whole or 2% (no, I haven’t tried skim, if you do, let us know how it goes)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with 6 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 8 minutes. Be patient but watch the stove like a hawk as caramel changes color quickly, and only burns when you think you are safe leave the room for a second. Remove from the heat. Very gradually whisk in the remaining 3 1/2 cups of milk. (This is another great place for your whisk for the corners.) As you begin whisking it in, the caramel will get very dark, and likely make you nervous that you’ve burnt it. Fear not; that there is your flavor base.

Return the pot to the stove and whisk over moderate heat until the caramel has dissolved again. Once again, watch this closely as the milk will foam up quickly as it comes to a simmer. Simmer over moderately low heat until the mixture thickens slightly and deepens in color, about 10 minutes.

Gradually whisk the cornstarch mixture into the caramel. Cook again over moderate heat, stirring, until the pudding thickens, about one minute. If you’re not lazy like me, strain the pudding fine strainer set over a large measuring cup; if you are, you can skip this and nothing terrible will happen. Scrape the pudding into eight 1/2-cup ramekins and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours.

To avoid a pudding skin if you, like everyone in the world but me, are pudding skin-averse: Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding dish as it chills.

See more: Photo, Pudding

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380 comments on caramel pudding

  1. Ivana

    I just wanted to say hi- and this is my first post. I really enjoy your site, and have made several of your recipes over the last year. I love to cook, always have friends over to be my ‘guinea pigs’, and no one has complained yet! And your munchkin is the sweetest! Congratulations!

  2. Susan

    Oh, pudding skin..mmmm, my favorite part. I kills me to make pastry cream when I have to lay that plastic wrap on it. What a waste of an opportunity! As many times as I’ve made your caramel sauce perfectly, this should be a snap. Thanks, Deb.

  3. Dijana

    Your small pudding portions are so cute. I would just help myself to the big bowl, thank you very much. And yes, here is a pudding skin lover cubed! Actually, my loved ones know how much I adore pudding skin they actually give me a go at their home made puddings first so I can skin them.

  4. I just told my roommate that tomorrow, while I’m at work and she gets to stay home, she must make caramel pudding. No questions asked, she replied with an eager “Okay!” It’s good to live with someone who enjoys food as much as I. Thanks for sticking with it, I think I would have given up after batch 2.

  5. Emily from Northern California

    Hello, I have a few questions about this technique for making caramel versus the one from the cranberry, caramel and almond tart you posted back in 2007. Since Thanksgiving, I have tried to make the caramel from that recipe, but it never, not once, worked out. The pan was dry, spotless, an All Clad. I could not imagine why the sugar would not become a luscious caramel, but time and time again, it clumped together and became hard as could be, completely unworkable. But here, you suggest making caramel with an addition of water. Could you maybe explain the difference, or possibly guide me in the right direction? Not only am I delighted by this pudding recipe (new flat whisk for Hanukkah!), I am still haunted by that tart. I need to make it before cranberries are out of season! Thank you so much for your help, and your amazing blog. Your delightful writing and professional quality pictures (and oh my god that beautiful baby) attract me to your site far more than any other on the web. Thanks again!

  6. Susan

    One more thing; Why not butter? Part of what was so mouth watering about the caramel popcorn was the buttery, salty, creamy and vanilla-y flavor combo.

    1. deb

      Susan — I added a pat of butter to one or two of the batches but (the vanilla pudding recipe I had started with finished with a pat) but did not feel that it had added any discernable richness/yumminess. So I wouldn’t bother. I was, however, very very tempted to brown that said pat of butter (see Sidebar above) so should you add it, I’d go that route.

      Vanilla bean — Nobody asked but I made a few batches of this pudding with a couple inches of scraped vanilla bean. Shockingly, it didn’t make a huge difference in the end flavor. And I love my beans. I just might love my Mexican vanilla extract even more. In the end, it didn’t seem worth adding the richness as the difference wasn’t particularly loud.

      The white blobs on top — Softly whipped cream, that’s all. If you do it by hand, which I am now a convert of, you can really control the thickness better than with electric beaters and get it suspended in these luscious in-between states. Also a good arm-toner! Or so I tell myself, with a lack of any empirical evidence.

      The dishes — They’re from Crate and Barrel, I believe they were called “Riviera” but they’re gone now. And despite them being around for YEARS after I bought these, I never bought more as I’d meant to.

      Emily — If it clumped, it needed to be melted again. Adding water at the start of making a caramel can make it easier for beginners than the “dry” caramel method: the result in the same thing in the end, as the water boils off. The main difference is that you cannot stir/swirl around water caramels as it will promote crystallization; I don’t believe there is the same risk in a dry caramel which is why you often roll them about in the pan to ensure even coloring.

  7. I’m not with you about the pudding skin. *shudder* For me, that is the stuff of nightmares. But the pudding looks fabulous. And the wrists are adorable. Thanks for sharing both!

  8. Genius! And gorgeous.

    PS–I am pro-pudding skin. Does anyone remember Pudding Roll-Ups from the late 80s-ish? Like Fruit Roll-Ups in texture, except in chocolate and vanilla flavors, like basically big sheets of pudding skin? Because they were awesome. And now everyone is afraid of–and maybe grossed out by–me.

  9. Kristine

    Two things:

    1) Every recipe I make of yours rocks! This blog is at the very top of the list that I check.
    2) Very picky–sorry. “Whence” means “from what place” so “from whence” means “from from what place.” I used to perform melodramas in my other life so “whence” was commonly used, with a very specific meaning.

    Thank you!

  10. Andee

    re: Kristine

    In reference to your #2: I am a linguist and study language trends and usage changes. As it happens,, which tracks language usage from 1990 to the present, has recorded 160 occurrences of the phrase “from whence” in various academic writings, magazine and newspaper articles, etc. Language is not what fat, old, white men claim that it is. Language is whatever the people decide it is. Clearly, “from whence” is used a significant amount of the time, and therefore is a valid usage. The total count of the term “whence” is only about 470, which means that fully one third of the time, it is paired with “from.”
    Please don’t correct people’s stylistic choices in a public forum. It’s rather in bad taste.

  11. *stepho*

    wow, deb! this looks amazing. pudding is not a favorite of mine, but i’m a sucker for anything caramel! many kudos for making no less than 5 batches of pudding in order to share with us this caramel perfection. and i never thought pudding could look so glamorous! those serving bowls are beautiful!

  12. KG

    Pro-Skin here. In fact, I use the shallowest bowl in order to get more skin.

    I have made pudding with both skim and soy milk, so I don’t see why either would not work with your recipe.

  13. I *will* make this! Maybe not right now though, as it’s getting too close to midnight, and I’d have to wait til morning to eat it anyhow. But I’m definitely making it, and I’m not going to share it, and I’m going to put it in lots of dishes so that there’ll be lots of skin. It’s killing me, how many people actually do like pudding skin! When I was growing up, we had to fight my daddy off to get it. It was his special treat, and if we managed to get the skin before he did, it was a red-letter day!!!

  14. samarahuel

    1. The cornstarch method! That is how I make pudding too. High five.
    2. Pudding Skin-averse? But that is the best part!
    3. That little boy of yours is so cute. I even have one of my own almost exactly the same age, but mine’s the nearly-bald edition with visible wrists. As a random lady told me last weekend, “Everyone always says all babies are cute, but they’re not. But that one is.”

  15. Denise Rivers

    Tooth extraction today. Soft foods for a week to 10 days to avoid the whole dry socket nightmare. Was really grumbling about the whole soft foods diet. Pudding…caramel pudding. SOFT FOOD! I might kiss my oral surgeon (after you of course!) for this!

  16. Christine

    This recipe sounds so good I almost (repeat — almost) got to the end of it without realizing there were no baby photos to look forward to.

  17. stephanie

    This looks good, am blown away by your dedication to perfecting the pud for us – thank you! And it is making me think that if you give vanilla pudding an edge with caramel you could give vanilla rice pudding an edge with caramel. That will be next on my list of winter warm-up comfort desserts.

  18. Anne in NC

    Ok, how is it possible that at 5:55am, not even two hours after you posted it (at least to me) that it has 32 comments! Don’t you people sleep? Insomniac cooks you are!

    Goes without saying this looks amazing, love pudding, love caramel will try once my diet has proved mildly successful. I think it would be a good reward. Love the site and enjoying the recipes as I have also resolved to cook more this year! Thanks!

  19. Pudding skin junkie

    Thanks for sharing the fruit of your scientific endeavours:)
    I just might pour it onto pizza plates – to get more skin!

  20. I’ll bet this would be even MORE amazing with raw sugar (and I’m wondering if you could use brown). Wow. Love anything caramel (if you’ve not made homemade caramels, they are well worth the effort). THANKS!

  21. Patricia

    Just weighing in as another pudding skin lover! And caramel lover! And lover of your blog and your baby! Thanks for brightening my day on a regular basis. Also, would love to know where you got the wonderful glass bowls. My husband prefers glass to ceramics so I am always looking for fun glass serving pieces.

  22. We do caramel in class a lot… it fascinates people so this recipe will go into my “to be incorporated into a class” file. Thanks.

    Emily: Don’t stir the sugar at all. Just let it do its thing and you will eventually get caramel. You can, however, add water to most caramel recipes. It just speeds up the cooking process a bit although it is kind of odd to be adding water to something that you are cooking the water out of. Note: Caramel is sugar with the water cooked out of it but it does seem to be a bit easier for beginners to add water. And cranberries can be frozen for months so stock up now or check your local warehouse type store and buy them already frozen. We use them year round in our store.

  23. Erin from Long Island

    Five tries? You are a rock star! I have yet to try my own as well, but I think I need to get on the party bus and take advantage of the recipe you worked so hard to create. I *almost* feel guilty for using it, not having done all the testing myself!

  24. Frogs and Men@ Paris Food Blog

    ah i am so glad you like pudding skin. i felt it reflected poorly on my taste, but now feel justified in my skin appreciation.

  25. OK, now that the cold weather is about to descend upon us Southeast Texans (think halfway between Houston & Louisiana) I will make this pudding. I do love the skin, but I also love pudding warm. Cooled on the counter just a bit is my favorite.

  26. Elizabeth

    It’s good to know there are a substantial number of pudding skin lovers out there. I too love the skin and will make this and eat the skin off mine and my husband’s servings. Thanks for the great recipe – I love everything you’ve been posting lately! I love caramel, adding sea salt to sweets, browing butter and you hit all of that squarely! And yes, I’m a late night/morning cook but only because of feeding the baby… I’m going to pull your strata out of the fridge now. Yum.

  27. Rachael

    Yum I just made this pudding for New Years dinner! Tasted delicious but I made this before I read through the directions, realized I did not have a fine mesh sieve and figured it would be fine without it. Mine got a really grainy consistency…tasted fine but it looked a little funny

  28. Hmm…this seems way healthier than the PW cinnamon buns that I made last weekend (I guess we are on the same wave length!) Perhaps I should make this for a post playoff dessert this weekend, because everyone is going to want sweet after the stress of playoff football, but they’re also trying to diet!

  29. Cornstarch? Mmm, I’m not sure I like it. You see, I come from a country (France) where using cornstarch is generally synonymous with “cheating” : you want your sauce to thicken faster or better, you use cornstarch. I think it’s because corn was above and foremost fed to cattle not to people. Even our baby powder is not made out of corn but talc! That said, because I’m curious and always looking for new healthy recipes for my family, I’ll give it a try.
    And please, there is never enough of baby wrists… one day, you realize that they lost their baby fat and with that, indeed, they are not babies anymore!

  30. So simple and so good… I need to tell you a couple of things: I love your writing, your photos are gourgeous and your baby are the cutest ever! Happy New Year!

  31. Tori

    Long-time reader. First-time comment poster. Just wanted to let you know I had a coincidentally karmic experience on your site this morning. I woke up craving rice pudding and was about to go dig out an old Tyler Florence recipe, then I saw the rice pudding recipe in today’s “previouslies.” You’re satisfying cravings before they even happen! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  32. Looks super-yummy. But ever on the quest for non-dairy desserts, I must ask – do you think this could be made with soy milk, or would that completely ruin the flavor? Either way, I’ll have to try this one of these days. I’m generally caramel-phobic but I’m determined to conquer my fears!

  33. Tara

    Is there any way you could also post your vanilla pudding recipe (or explain the variation) for those of us who have men in our lives who just like plain vanilla? Thanks for all the incredible recipes!!!

  34. EG

    I don’t even like pudding really, but “isn’t so much sweet as well-rounded, with faint burnt sugar notes and toffee undertones”? I’ll be trying it. Just as soon as our kitchen remodel is over. Maybe for Valentine’s Day. Maybe.

  35. Deb, I thank you for all of your hard work, so that we may have caramel pudding. I am in love. Oh – and I’ve seen these bowls more than once in your photos and I absolutely love them. They’re gorgeous!

  36. Laurel

    You are my new hero. I’ve wanted pudding so long but couldn’t have it due to dairy and egg intolerances. This, though, with a couple of cans of full-fat coconut milk? Just imagine the goodness!

    to Gaelle: Substitute tapioca or arrowroot. It tastes better anyway.

  37. The stuff in the plastic containers is flavored glop, not pudding. This is pudding. I’m intrigued with Laurel’s idea of coconut milk. I’m not lactose intolerant, but, I am horribly shredded coconut intolerant (it’s a texture thing), but still love the flavor of coconut, so I look for creative ways to incorporate it….

  38. Liz

    I had no idea you could make homemade pudding…I know, dumb and kind of sad. There is something wrong with the fact I assumed it was only made in factories, BUT even more excited to make this now! It looks so good and easy!!

    Uh, and pudding skin?!

  39. Tamsin

    Oh yum! I’m definitely making this, maybe with sliced banana underneath (sorry, I’m sure that will offend a least some people!), a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top and in the shallowest dish possible to maximise the skin-pudding ratio. Thank you for all your hard work refining the recipe.

    I made your cheesecake brownies and parmesan-pepper biscotti at New Year’s and they went down a treat (the words baking and goddess may have been used but I put that down to good recipes).

  40. Allison Rosen

    Thanks Deb…I’ll have to make this and then morph it into Caramel Cream Pie, which to me, is the best of all pudding applications. This is almost healthy!!

  41. I may be alone, but I actually really love plain vanilla pudding. Sometimes, though, to spice it up, I’ve put a layer of chocolate ganache at the bottom of each bowl (I call it “two tone pudding” then). Anyway, I’m thinking that a layer of caramel and a layer of vanilla would be a) really good and b) kind of reminiscent of those layered jello puddings, only better. Also, I love your glass bowls!

  42. marie

    Well, I must make this right away ! If this pudding is as delicious as your butterscotch sauce, my family is in trouble ! Have you heard of sucre à la crème ? It’s a french-canadian bite, with butter, heavy cream, brown sugar and confectionner’s sugar. It’s delicious !

  43. Lindsay

    Ooh, I love caramel. If something has caramel in it then I know I will love it. Thanks for sticking with it, this looks like a fantastic and inexpensive dessert. Can’t wait to get home to give it a shot.

  44. I’m grateful for your dedication to caramel. Six tries goes above and beyond!! I made caramel chocolate truffles sprinkled with fleur de sel for the holidays and I thought I went through 4 batches of caramel before I got the deep caramel flavour I was hoping for. You have to take a leap of faith and keep on cooking that sugar even though it looks very dark. I did burn it, twice!! The third time I took it off too soon, bleh, not enough caramel flavour, but the fourth time, I got it just right. It just takes nerves of steel and eyes like a hawk!! (And who said baking isn’t an olympic sport?)
    I’m tempted to make that caramel pudding right now. I’m just letting my Portugeese Sweet bread rise and I think I have just enough time to try it, but my sweat pants are feeling kind of tight so I think maybe next week.
    Your baby’s wrists (and all parts actually) are adorable.

  45. I was about to hate you because pudding is one of those things I could eat the entire pot of, but then I looked at the recipe and realized it does not require a pound of butter or pint of heavy whipping cream. So now I say thank you.

  46. JeannaMO

    Hi Deb! I love your recipes and your absolute enthusiasm for food! I printed off your caramel pudding recipe as well as the chocolate pudding recipe (I also like that they use no egg yolks – all my other recipes for scratch pudding call for eggs) and can’t wait to try them! You mentioned that you made basic vanilla pudding as well. Could you just post the recipe for it as well? Or can I just use the chocolate pudding recipe and omit the chocolate.

    I like to make southern banana pudding with the vanilla wafers and all that and would love to make it with scratch pudding instead. My granny’s sister use to make hers with coconut macaroons and drained crushed pineapple, complete with a meringue on top and it was TO DIE FOR!

    Anyway, I would love to add the basic vanilla pudding recipe (no eggs) to my collection.


  47. B

    Was eating Belgian choclate pudding from Traders joes yesterday and thinking, this shouldnt be hard to make . I should make this and voila u have put up a pudding recipe. Will try it. Thanks a bunch

  48. Christy

    When I make pastry cream, I let it set and then eat the pudding skin off. Voilà! Pastry cream underneath.

    Plastic wrap never touches my pudding.

  49. JC

    I only counted ONE vote for using skim milk. It’s cold, cold, COLD out and I don’t want to make a special trip for 2% milk. Alas, no Fresh Direct at the Jersey Shore. Anyone else have luck with skim? Thank you!

  50. marykate

    ah. after first using brown butter in the context of your hazelnut brown butter cake, i had EXACTLY the experience you mention. brown butter everything, evermore. good to know i’m not the only one. love your site!

  51. Sue

    Sounds much easier than the egg custard method. How about adding good Scotch (2 tablespoons) and make a grown-up butterscotch pudding. Just read a post by David Leibowitz about the merits of pudding skin and that you should never put plastic wrap on your pudding. We used to sneak into the refrigerator when Mom wasn’t looking and pull the skin off chocolate pudding whenever we could.

  52. Sally

    How funny — I’m sitting here eating a bowl of homemade chocolate pudding while reading this. Butterscotch is a favorite, too, so I’m going to have to try this.

  53. I’ve never made homemade pudding before but this post is a true inspiration! I’m putting it down on my weekend to do list. I think I will try skim milk so I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for putting so much effort into crafting a perfect recipe!

  54. Carol

    I’ll try this next weekend! And I won’t put a plastic wrap in the surface, because I love the tasty and sweeter than the pudding itself skin!


  55. annie

    This is a perfect antidote for the winter blahs. If I make this pudding and don’t leave a skin, my husband won’t touch it…he eats only the skin on pudding! I eat the rest!

  56. Nicole

    Bah! Pudding made with egg yolks is the way to go, particularly if you’re talking about vanilla pudding. Otherwise, it’s pallid and screams out for some yellow food coloring! I went on a pudding bender over Thanksgiving – four batches in two weeks. I didn’t try caramel pudding, though – I’ll have to give this a whirl. Thanks for the recipe!

  57. Erin

    I just finished making this! I should have let it darken just a little more. I have it cooling, but I just licked the spoon and it is amazing. I’ve never made pudding from scratch before. This tastes so much better than the store bought stuff. I can’t wait for my family to try it! Thanks, again, for a great recipe!

  58. Katie

    Wow. This looks amazing. I think I need to make some for my mother. She LOVES pudding skin. I on the other hand loath the skin. Blech. Off to the kitchen!

  59. Tama

    Caramel pudding/Butterscotch pudding rule! To me better than chocolate.
    One question…did you eat up batches 1-5? I know I would have because even your so called flubs have to be way better than the hospital pudding.
    Btw, everything I have made from your site has been a winner, keep up the good work.

    1. deb

      Tama and others that asked about test batches — The first four were one-quarter recipes, so just two bowls each. We had a spoonful or two but I was so so so so SO sick of caramel pudding by the end of the day. (We actually ate the most of Batch 2, which although chewy, had the best caramel color/flavor until this final batch.) The fifth batch was a full four-cup amount and it’s sitting unloved in the fridge. It’s beige. It will probably be chucked when I have to make room for the much healthier dish coming next! At last.

  60. Miriam

    At the risk of sounding totally weird, I love pudding skin too. I remember as a kid my mom and grandmother often made pudding. I would carefully push the skin to one side, stick my spoon underneath to eat up all the smooth deliciousness, then finish with the best part that I had saved for last, the skin! Now I’ll have to go make some pudding, but for me it has to be chocolate, or vanilla with chocolate chips as my grandmother used to make. Though this looks beautiful and greatly tempting…

  61. Robin

    SO many great recipes for the first few days of January, 2010 looks to be a great cooking year! And don’t discard the pudding skin–isn’t that where all the nutrients are?

  62. Karen

    Hah! My mind has been along a similiar path as yours of late. Perhaps because I’m so quite smitten with um, yeah, your blog. Last night I finally perfected the vanilla pudding my Grandmother used to make me as a child. Why is it so difficult to find a standard pudding recipe with no eggs? Anyway, I was thinking about that pudding when I cruised over to your site and voila! Your caramel pudding sounds delightful! I can’t wait to try this version. :)

  63. Yum. I love making pudding as a “must have dessert but have so few ingredients” kind of treat. Last year I was on a quest for the best butterscotch pudding; this may be close enough that I will make this and just add a teaspoon of each butter and whiskey at the end.

  64. Robyn

    There are people out there that don’t like pudding skin?! This is my first comment but I have to follow that up by saying thankyouverymuch for an excellent and inspiring website. I live in London and I am always sending recipe ideas from your website to my mum in Bermuda. Thanks again! And long live pudding skin lovers!

  65. rainy_day

    How did you read my mind? I finished lunch (actually, you’re pasta, asparagus & goat cheese meal!) and thought, damn, I wish I had something sweet, but there is barely anything in the fridge. Lo and behold!

    *scurries off to make carmel pudding*

  66. Grace

    I know what you mean about caramel! I made my first brittle this year and I can’t stop making it. I am totally going to try this (because I have made the butterscotch pudding pie in The Craft of Baking). Thanks for your persistence on getting it right!

    Oh, btw, I like pudding skin, too!

  67. Carolina

    OoOo finally! I’ve been wanting so badly to make pudding! & since I don’t follow too many places recipes(your and like 2 others are my go-to’s), I’ve been hoping you would ever so kind to make one for me=0). I love your website, and this pudding looks deeelicious!

  68. Cheri

    I don’t want to quibble (yes, I do—I am a quibbler by nature, and that was just a pro forma disclaimer), but ½ c. portions? Really? I’m so impressed with what I assume is a Manhattanite’s restraint. Are you like those Frenchwomen who can linger over an ounce of salad for an hour, forever on le regime and svelte? More to the point, is this recipe simple to double? Or octuple?
    Okay, and back to quibbling—I thought that Kristine made her vocabulary note in a very respectful manner, and that the next commenter’s reply was rather in a snarky tone (or even in a rather snarky tone, to be more populist in stye). Aren’t we all hopeful of improving our writing skills? Don’t we want to know if a usage, even if technically correct, is going to offend some ears? Surely our egos can take a respectful editing suggestion. People care about writing, and I say yay to that. The surge in public writing (i.e.blogs) has resulted in lots of interesting new directions in style and usage, and that should provoke discussion. And, for the record, I don’t think just because 99.9% of a population does or says something, that it’s necessarily correct. Surely we’ve all heard, “And if everyone else were jumping off a cliff, would you do it too?” (Yes, I know, it’s a little disingenuous to compare literary style with life and death, or even with making wise choices in childhood.) However, to make my point, I will cite the specific example (and my own personal bête noir) of the pronunciation of the word “dissect”, which consists of the prefix “dis-“ and the root “-sect”, but which everyone in the US pronounces “die-sect”. Yes, Andee, I know it’s in the dictionaries now. That doesn’t make it right. You don’t say die-sappoint, or die-sjointed. I don’t mean to be die-sagreeable, but it die-stresses me whenever I hear it.
    Ooh, and let me say one last thing. I’m really tired of the currently popular writing tic of inserting verbal hesitations into written material to make it sound more conversational. Like, well, like this. And, um, this. I liked it at first, now I’m tired of it. That’s just my personal opinion, but as an editor, I’d advise against it.
    Now, bring it on.

  69. Melissa

    @Emily in Northern California

    That tart, while delicious, has caused many burned fingers/cursing in my house. Two things: 1 – the cranberries are frozen in the recipe so buy now, freeze and use whenever 2 – I had the same clumping problem all six (SIX!!!) times I have made it. You just have to whisk and whisk and the clumped carmel will eventually reabsorb, leaving you with just a few stubborn clumps. What small pieces don’t reabsorb can be taken care of with a fine mesh sieve.

  70. My husband just sent me an email saying he had dessert and I sent him the link. New dessert will be made!

    I love everything I’ve made from here, which unsurprisingly has been mostly sweets. Yum!

  71. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago, and thank you ever so much for renewing my creative interest in cooking with your narrative, photos, and recipes.

    I have questions about this lovely pudding I just made! OK, just ate. I let it sit for 2 hours on the dot. I have never made pudding before.

    First, I found I couldn’t discern “deep amber color.” My end product was a light caramel beige, nothing like the gorgeous deep caramel color of your photos. I did want to avoid burning, so I assume I didn’t wait long enough. Any other words that could be added for the color description? I should say, though, that the taste was terrific.

    Second, the consistency of my pudding after sitting in the refrigerator was kind of rubbery. I expect pudding to be creamy and smooth. I would call mine smooth but not creamy. I got there this way: when I added the milk to the caramel, the caramel immediately became one big piece of solid candy in which my whisk was embedded. I kept whisking over heat (as you direct) and after fierce whisking it dissolved. I kept whisking a bit – maybe too much? – and it took much longer for the milk to come to a simmer. (Stupid electric weird stove. After eight years, I still never know what it’s going to do.) After letting it simmer for the ten minutes, I stirred in the cornstarch mixture, which I had been whisking every once in a while during the cooking process. After adding that, the pudding thickened IMMEDIATELY. I cooked it for a minute anyway because I am a good Presbyterian and follow directions. Did it get rubbery because I whisked the cornstarch mixture too much? because I kept cooking it even though it thickened? Or because I added a bit of heavy cream to the 2% milk? (I’m not a perfect Presbyterian.)

    Still delicious, and won’t be wasted.

    Thanks for any tips!


    Parmesan cream crackers, by the way, are heavenly. I’ve made them several times already.

  72. I love pudding skin. When I was growing up I always asked for Chocolate Pudding instead of Birthday Cake….I made your chocolate pudding recipe for Xmas…I doubled the recipe but it never “puddingedded”??? The flavor however was divine. I froze them and it was like eating chocolate sorbet.

  73. misswendy

    deb, you had BETTER be glad i am running tons of miles this week (marathon training) because i will be eating this NON-FREAKIN-STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  74. I do love your blog. It is written well. Your photos are fantastic, but best of all I like that you are a great cook. You will make a recipe until you get it correct and if you make a mistake you say so. There are some really popular blogs out there that are making some bad errors is cooking and will not talk to their readers about them. I will keep reading yours!!!

  75. rainy_day

    Okay, I’m back, rather sheepishly.

    I completely burnt my caramel (and slightly my pan!) within minutes. Can you direct me to some more specifics on not doing this?

    I’m a newbie at this sort of thing, clearly.

    1. deb

      rainy_day — We’re you using a heavy pan? Only moderate heat? It shouldn’t have burned quickly (and your pot never should!) if so. Otherwise, try a lower temperature next time, watch it carefully.

      Bria — I did not use a candy thermometer. You can go by color alone on this because it’s not a specific temperature you need, as you would in candy-making when it needs to be able to hold or not hold a specific shape.

      Michelle — The heavy cream might have affected it. The only batch I had that got too thick, I had done the same. I also wonder if different cornstarches have different thickening abilities. Curiously, the pudding worked best of all with lowfat milk! It conspires to make us believe we’re dieting.

      Grammar comments — This site is a one-woman-juggling-a-tiny-tot show I am not a grammarian; I figured that is glaringly obvious. I make mistakes, I fix them when I see them or if people alert me, I’ll make more soon, promise. I hope you understand: I’d much rather discuss pudding.

      Teacher Cooks — I had mentioned on Twitter that I’d received a sweet email from someone who said that she loves my grammar. I had joked that I wanted to introduce her to the rest of my inbox which, emphatically, does not. It was a joke, that’s all. [For whatever reason, every single time I make a joke on Twitter, 90% of the responses seem to miss that I am joking, leading me to conclude that I must be very bad at making jokes.]

  76. Sally

    Eight half-cup ramekins! Are you freakin’ kidding? Who in their right mind would be satisfied with a half-cup serving of yummy pudding? I’m guessing that this recipes ACTUALLY makes four servings for people who ACTUALLY love pudding.

  77. From whence was good enough for Shakespeare and Dickens; it’s good enough for me.

    Deb – did you use a candy thermometer in any of the caramel batches? I’m curious about what temp we’re aiming for with the caramelized sugar. Any insight?

  78. Deb you are like a mind reader. Everyone else is dieting/making steamed vegetables and salads and all I want to do is keep eating the ridiculously indulgent foods I’ve been eating since Thanksgiving! Thank you for this post!

    ps: To EMILY from Northern Cali: Different sugars react differently when trying to caramelize. This isn’t a law, but in general, beet sugar does not behave the way cane sugar does when trying to caramelize. It tends to clump around and do nothing no matter how long you leave it. I use cane sugar exclusively for caramel. Check the ingredient label on your sugar, and when you make a caramel again do it with cane sugal, don’t stir it. Just leave it until it melts. I hope this helps you and anyone else having a clumpy sugar crisis.

  79. Sam

    Ok, seriously, YUM. I want some. Now.

    We are a family who eats dessert after dinner more often than we probably should, and this sounds divine. My kids are always after me to make pudding, but the stuff from a box tastes so chemically, I can’t stand it. After trying your butterscotch sauce and becoming addicted I have a feeling this will take over from when we ran out.

  80. Sara

    For those wanting butterscotch pudding, both Deb and Dave Leibovitz have recipes. Butterscotch means brown sugar and butter. Caramel is a different animal. Both are delicious!

  81. Really? First the butterscotch sauce and now this… Wow. The butterscotch sauce helped make my salted brown butter pecan chocolate chip cookies cooking competition winners. (No, really!) The power of caramelized sugar is scary… and delicious.

  82. Jaime K

    This is the sort of perfect/dangerous recipe I can’t resist – it’s something my husband would probably NEVER eat (more for me!) and I don’t have to go to the store for any of the ingredients because I already have them! So much for trying to eat healthier.

  83. This recipe wind for least amount of time between me reading it and me making it, possibly because it doesn’t require a special trip to the grocery store. I think I went “Oh I could do that! Like, I could do that RIGHT NOW!” Preliminary spoon-licking results are positive! Now the hard part if waiting for it to chill. Oooh, anticipation…

  84. Dawn

    I’m vegan and I just made a half batch with soy milk and it is yummy. Pudding has always seemed out of my cooking reach with my dietary limitations. Not any more!
    Thanks, Deb!

  85. sarie

    ohmigosh. so i decide to check the site after checking my email, to see if there was a new post. to my delight, the page pops on, and i see “caramel pudding.” i audibly went, “aaaaahhhhhwwww” (think of angels singing over the baby Jesus.) i wanted to put track lighting on my monitor. caramel is my chocolate, and i’m so excited to make this. tonight.

  86. Diane Osti

    Your baby is just adorable. Just found you, the first thing I made was the gingerbread, that is as my one friend said a cake that can cause serious trouble, it was to die for.

  87. Randi

    Deb. Seriously. I love you.
    I just made caramel and pudding for the first time. Thank-you for giving me the confidence to cook outside my comfort level.
    Although… since finding your blog I may have gained a few happy pounds :)

  88. Sally

    Hmmm… Deb, I made sure to let my caramel get as amber as your photo, but perhaps I burned it, because my pudding is darker than yours and looks a little grainy? Any tips? Thanks –

  89. Missy


    I saw this post this afternoon and knew that we had to have it. My eleven year old took it upon herself to make this for our dessert tonight, and it was divine. I would have liked a little deeper caramel flavor – but she’s 11 and it was her first attempt at caramelizing sugar, so I most certainly will not complain. All three of my formerly-rubber-band-wristed babies devoured theirs, and the cat didn’t complain about a drop or two on the floor.

  90. Deb- your blog is so wonderful. It is one of the first places I look to when I need some kitchen inspiration. Thanks for doing such a wonderful job and sharing your adventures (and your super cute child) with us.

  91. I made the caramel pudding, but didn’t follow the directions as carefully as I should have, and added the cornstarch and milk mixture too early. I ended up with a gelatinous vanilla pudding, which actually tasted quite good. I think I’ll have to give it another go.

  92. Kate

    Thank you for taking time and effort to get this recipe perfected. I have added this one to my collection. Perfect, still warm, with skin and a cool soft spoonful of whipped cream on top. I may try tossing a few pieces of bittersweet chocolate in the next batch.

    Yes any milk will make pudding, and the skim or low fat does seem to work better for puddings. I have also made excellent dairy free pudding using rice milk, almond milk or hazelnut milk. (Hmmm, hazelnut and caramel…) Although the rice milk version does benefit by the addition of a bit of butter or vegan butter substitute, 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of rice milk. Makes the texture less gummy and more puddingy.

  93. DD

    Lighten up, Andee – Kristen’s suggestion about “whence” seemed light-hearted enough – plus, to us “word nerds”, it was fun to read. Great pudding – wonderful to find one made without eggs. I’ve prepared many of your recipes, and have loved them all.

  94. Nicole

    Another pudding skin lover here, and I actually count Mollie Katzen’s very similar chocolate pudding recipe (with cornstarch and chocolate chips) as a comfort food and…I eat it warm! My husband waits, but not me. Nothing better, IMO. This caramel one looks mighty divine, and it will likely be added to the comfort foods list chez nous.
    Thanks for the ever-wonderful blog (and the ever-delightful babe! I have me one of those, now 23 months. Expecting number 2 in June. Yay, more chubby wrists and disappearing knuckles to come.)

  95. Mary

    I made this today and am eating it right now. I made it with fat-free milk–only type left in the house right now, and I didn’t want to go to the store–it’s definitely good but would be better with whole milk.

  96. I made this tonight with skim milk and it was okay, but I burnt it. It definitely had burnt undertones instead of caramel. I was watching it turn brown and suddenly it started smoking. So I turned off the heat and dumped in a cup of cold milk. Whoops. Not so much. My husband is eating it anyway though! He happens to like burnt cooked pudding. I put some kosher salt on top because mine was both burnt and too sweet. It helped.

  97. heather em

    i love the pudding-skin, and i love the thought of standing over the stove and stirring, stirring, stirring. Meditational and sweet; i love it! Thanks for a twist on my usual boring-old spiced chocolate puddin’.

  98. Since I figured out how easy caramel is, after you get over the possibility of burning the sugar, I’m always looking for reasons to make it. I’ll be making this soon! (And I have to admit I’m one of the pudding-skin-dislikers – but I figure that’s what they made saran wrap for !)

  99. I’m dying here. I have to sit and work, but I really want to be standing over a bowl of this. I’m making it as soon as I climb out of this mountain of paper and files and invoices. Freelancing is just lovely some days.

  100. Jendorf

    I have never, ever made pudding that wasn’t from a box. I’m not sure I’ve ever even eaten pudding that wasn’t from a box! I cannot wait to make this tomorrow and serve it after dinner.
    My tiny Wisconsin kitchen seems to be becoming an extension of yours!

  101. sarie

    deb–this being a public forum, everyone’s entitled to voice their opinion, so i won’t specifically say how i feel about any particular opinion. but please know that for every person who’s displeased with grammar, writing style, etc., that there are 50 who would love to spend an hour with you in your kitchen. i love your writing style because it’s so conversational–like i actually am there in your city kitchen. and at the end of the day, every deb recipe i’ve ever tried has been a joy to prepare and loved by all. thanks for all you do. it almost seems as if the frequency of your posting has actually increased since your bracelet-wearing bundle arrived. bravo.

  102. Lauri

    Home sick today, saw this post and immediately pulled out my saucepan. It was great! i do think i over-caramelized a bit because my 4-yo daughter said (after a few bites), “does this have coffee in it?” Then I gave her another dollop of whipped cream to balance the flavor and she ate her whole bowl. As did I. And then I ate the rest of her little brother’s. I guess caramel pudding is for the girls in our house.

    One caramel tip I learned somewhere is to put a lid on the pot during the first couple minutes as the sugar is dissolving so that you get steam on the sides of the pan to dissolve any sugar crystals there. That avoid the tedious step of brushing the sides of the pan with a wet brush that most recipes tell you to do (although yours didn’t). I dont know if there is any science to that but I always do it and it seems to turn out fine.

  103. Anna

    Made this tonight and it was wonderful! Thank you, Deb. As promised, there were no less than two times that I seriously considered chucking the whole thing because I thought the caramel had burned, but it had not! Huzzah.

    I halved the recipe to try it out (by myself, shh), and it’s not quite as sweet as I thought it’d be. I’m assuming I messed up my halving somewhere here, but it’s delicious regardless!

  104. Amber

    Pudding with no eggs? I’ll have to try this tomorrow.

    The hospital food really is horrible, isn’t it? I’m not quite sure how they expect anyone to heal eating it – especially when everything’s out of a can or prepackaged. Blech. Even if I didn’t already have the inclination, the food alone after my daughter’s birth would have been enough to convince me to have a home birth next time around.

  105. Francheska

    My mom is BEGGING ME to stop making so many desserts from your site, She doesn’t want to get fat again, I HAVE to make this i just need the cornstarch , Anyway

    Am i the only one who likes hospital food? Its bland, terrible and I like it, I have the reputation of being the one who dares to eat it when we visit

  106. Stoich91

    Thanks for the simple and yummy recipe! I am not a pudding fan, but I’m sure it is delish! :) Jacob is adorable, as always. Also, RE: your twitter post (I know, just get an account, already, lady! :)), UGG sweater boots are (ok) odd, but their sheepskin ones look SUPER COOL and come with waterproofing spray! :)

  107. jwg

    The best thing about cooked pudding i the skin, particularly if it’s chocolate. I’ve been meaning to ask- Do you take pictures of your actual dishes or use the equivalent of clip art? The ones with this recipe are beautiful.

  108. CookBot

    re: Shauna, comment #16 — Am I the only one who read Shauna’s comment?

    PUDDING ROLLUPS? Are you kidding me? An entire sheet of nothing but pudding skin? A sort of Pudding Jerky?

    I do not remember this product from the ’80s, but I think we need to start a write-in campaign IMMEDIATELY to bring it back to the store shelves.

    Or maybe just get Deb to devote a week of her life to creating a homemade version.

  109. emily d

    I made this pudding last night and it was fantastic! I felt super gourmet as I watched the sugar turn amber. And my guests loved it. We dipped some belgian waffle cookies into the pudding which made it especially divine. Thanks a lot!

  110. I made this last night and had problems. I’ve made caramel before without any issues (using a non-coated pan.) Last night I used a non-stick pot since it’s my biggest, and the caramel didn’t even start to darken until it had been cooking about 25 minutes. It never got very dark, and I ended up with a beige pudding. It tastes okay, but nothing like it should, I think.

    So the lesson learned is: Don’t use a non-stick pan when making caramel!

    I’ll try it again sometime cutting the recipe in half to fit into my smaller not-non-stick pot.

  111. Stefanie

    Yum, pudding. Eww, pudding skin. I made this and it is chilling in the fridge now, topped with plastic wrap of course. I happened to taste the pudding before I chilled it and I’m not sure I made it correctly. I can really taste the alcohol taste from the pure vanilla extract, and it tastes somewhat chalky, it’s almost like I’m tasting the corn starch. I halved the recipe, could that be why it tastes funny? Maybe I should buy a new box of corn starch and start using my new bottle of vanilla? Not sure.

    I hate to do this, but as a Classicist and Latinist I can’t help myself. Cheri, the stem of dissect is not dis-. It comes from the past participle of the Latin word dissecare. Dissect is not a combination of a prefix (dis-) with the stem -sect, which comes from the Latin secta, rather it is taken directly from the Latin dissecare.

  112. Lauren

    After my pudding cooled, the texture became strange – almost as if there were small clumps of corn starch throughout the pudding. I could also taste corn starch, faintly. Did I not mix it enough before dividing it between the ramekins? Does corn starch have a shelf life which might affect the pudding? (I used somebody else’s kitchen and can’t vouch for the freshness of their baking ingredients.)

    Delicious nonetheless! I am super disaster-prone in the kitchen, so carmelizing sugar was nerve-wracking…I felt like a mad scientist. Thanks for inspiring confidence!

  113. Kate

    Hi Deb,

    I love your grammar and so does Oprah on-line. Congratulations for being mentioned as one of the”Food Blogs We Love” in their email blast today!

    Also, I am a caramel addict so thanks for the pudding recipe.

  114. Oh wow! “Pudding” is just custard with extra cornstarch! Who knew? Amazing that it’s so simple! I’m in the UK, and I’ve been wondering what “pudding” actually consisted of for years, thanks for clearing it up.

  115. Abra Cat

    I’m eating this right now, and it’s sooo good! My kids had a snow day today, so I made this as something special for snack. Great timing!

  116. Deb, just wanted to stop by and say thank you for teaching me about a crumb coat. I blogged about it – after I scoured the house looking for a 100 watt light bulb for my daughter’s easy bake oven and failing, I calmed her broken heart by making a cake with her the old fashioned way. As we were applying the crumb coat, I thought of you. :)

  117. Theresa

    I must be one of the few people who is neutral about pudding skin. I don’t seek it out, but it doesn’t bother me if it’s there. But my real comment is to say “thank you!” for telling us you made six batches before you got it right – that makes me feel so much better!! I almost never get a recipe right the first 1 or 2 times I make it, and I always feel like a complete failure when that happens! Now I feel much more human! I love your blog, and your baby is the cutest!!

  118. Jendorf

    Just made this, and it’s delicious! I, too, had the problem of it not browning and taking forever–but I think I used too small a saucepan (read the “large” saucepan instruction after I’d already started. . .and also used a nonstick pan (read the comment about this after I was done and wondered what happened!)
    However, it’s still very yummy and I learned a couple things along the way. . .not too shabby for a day’s work =)

    1. deb

      It is not ideal, but I have successfully made caramel in a nonstick pan before. It does take more time and it is harder to see the color change on a dark background but eventually, the sugar will brown. Persevere! You will be rewarded.

  119. I’ve already tried this with non fat milk. It is so tasty and smells soooo good. And I decided to use one batch of the pudding to make a “Twix” dessert (with lady fingers, the caramel pudding and a chocolate ganache).
    Thanx a lot.

  120. Jendorf

    I am wondering if I would have better results using an enamel-coated cast iron saucepan (LeCreuset). . .anyone know if that’s successful in making caramel brown better?

  121. StaceyF

    When you say “it was 21 blustery, brutal degrees out yesterday,” do you mean below zero? Because 21 degrees sounds downright balmy to us Minnesotans right now!

  122. I just eat the pudding skin and thow out the pudding. No – not really. In any case, I would love to try the pudding skin from caramel pudding and I will for sure. I have found that 1% and even skim milk make fine pudding, and the caramel in this would have to give enough richness to compensate for any feeling of low fat deprivation.

  123. Circle F

    OH Deb – in your #153 comment … you said exactly what I was thinking…. you have a WONDERFUL Food blog … I think it’s called a blog but anyway it just kills me when people want to correct someone on a misssspelled :-) word or a phrase used incorrectly etc etc etc ….. I always like to read other folks comments because sometimes you can find out other useful information (food related) … extra tip or new recipe …. and THAT is what we should be talking about… Good Eats. Thank you for your wonderful site .. I am really enjoying it SO much …. and… I ain’t got no problem with anything you write!! :o)

  124. Sarah

    Funny sidenote- I am reading a clockwork orange right now and “horrorshow” means something akin to “excellent”, so your reference to pudding cups confused me for a very quick second.
    In other news, this looks awesome :D

  125. Mike B

    Ok, so I’m a dude and my wife is laying on the couch sleeping and her friend emails this SmittenKitchen website to check out.

    I go on here, see this Caramel Pudding recipe and it sounds awesome. Especially at 10 p.m. I completely destroy the kitchen in my attempt to make it. Adding the milk to the caramel I saw my life flash before my eyes.

    But I recovered. Then I added the constarch mixture… That was the beginning of the end. My pudding instantly turned lumpy like my grandma’s mashed potatoes. Whisked hard over low heat – no success. It’s out in the snowbank right now chilling in the -5 winter wonderland. I’m not waiting 2 hours for it to cool.

    However, I tried a sample spoonful from the pan and was a lumpy, non-caramel tasting over sugared nastiness. Maybe the rest will taste better when cooled, but I am skeptical.

    Any ladies with the insight and kindess to help a guy out? Where did I go wrong?

    Now I have potentially no pudding, a messy kitchen to clean, and it’s 11 p.m. I wonder if there is a Denny’s nearby…

  126. Mike B

    *** Pudding Update ***

    Okay, I checked and my pudding was cool in only 20 minutes. If I could post a picture, you may lose your appetite for the next day or so. YUCK. Not sure what happened but it is lumpy and gooey like glue. It would be perfect for gluing a shingle down on your roof.

    Texture: Nasty lumpy sticky gooey mess, can barely stir it with a spoon.
    Taste: T-R-B-L terrible! Sugary but not really caramel.
    Color: Nice caramel brown
    Presentation: It’s not coming of the bowl except to go in the trash
    Overall Score: 0 out of 10

    Please help!

  127. Mike,

    I thing you would have poured the milk slowly (I mean REALLY slowly, first half a cup, because caramel occurs to bubble and steam furiously when you add something to it).
    Low heat is other important step.
    And caramel… oh caramel… the line between a good one and a burnt one is very thin.
    I wish you all the luck in your next attempt.

    (sorry for the mistakes, but I`m not too skilled to wright in English)


  128. smittensisters

    We love your blog. It is the only thing we agree on in the kitchen besides, well … our love for pudding! Alas we never make it because we are cream avoiders. Your pudding was fantastically easy, and we would love to try different flavours. Any hints for chocolate and butterscotch?

  129. Laura

    Tried making this tonight, my first attempt at anything like this. It smells good so far, and it was a little torturous to not stir it for 8 minutes, but I managed to have the willpower…I don’t know what went wrong! I waited for the right color, but its the consistency thats the problem. Mine is not smooth, but a lumpy, grainy, chunky sort. I don’t know what step I did wrong :(. It got all grainy after gradually adding the milk, then it thickened almost instantly when I added the cornstarch, I used 2% milk. Its cooling now and I added a little chocolate to some of the dishes to see if that makes the difference between edible and inedible. Perhaps I need to start with an easier recipe with caramel, like the sauce , sad face :(

  130. jude

    Deb, even you warned me. batch 1 i didnt read i should cook the sugar undisturbed so it just turned back into sugar. batch 2 i had to use cane sugar so the color change wasnt as apparent as white sugar although i did watch it and watch it burn quickly. batch 3 still cane sugar, and it did brown but i could have been braver and let it go a minute more… its an easy one but tricky at the same time. anyway batch 3 , my boyfriend taster still thought it tasted good. really though it needed more caramelising.

    1. deb

      Dora — I actually don’t recommend you make this too far in advance; 2 days or less.

      Those of you reporting that your pudding got too thick — Mind telling me what type of milk you used? I made earlier batches with whole, but tested the final recipe with 2%. Just want to make sure those in the ew-too-thick camp aren’t exclusively in the whole milk category. I will feel riddled with guilt.

      Too sweet/not caramelized enough — This is actually the same issue. The first vanilla pudding I made used the same sugar: milk ration as this recipe (1:4) and I found it exceedingly too sweet. However, once sugar is caramelized to that dark amber it gets quite a bitter edge and this amount is no longer too sweet, or even close. So, if your caramel didn’t get dark enough to yield a butterscotch/coffee-colored pudding like in my photos, it does not surprise me that you’d find it a little sweet. Not to blame user error, however! Caramel is tricky. Largely because the line between “not amber enough” and “yikes, burning!” is so thin (usually just a minute), and first tries usually end up on one or the other side of the line.

      If you are nervous about trying again — Try a 1/4 batch. Your cooking times will probably be less, but you’ll get an idea of how the sugar will melt down without wasting too many ingredients. Like you-know-who did.

  131. Jendorf

    Success!! I tried again (I could not let it best me!), and this time it worked like a charm. I do have to admit I’m going to get a bit braver and let it brown just a bit more the next time b/c it’s still only medium beige. But, this time the flavor was so much more developed and it set up just right!! I did use my stainless steel stock pot, which was deeper than I thought would have worked, but sure helped when the steam rose as the milk was added. . .

    Thanks for this delicious recipe–I conquered two fears I’ve had: making pudding from scratch and caramelizing sugar, all in one fell swoop. I will make one more batch next week for a brunch I’ve been invited to. . .can’t wait!

  132. Those bowls are so lovely! Oh, and the pudding looks yummy too. I am not much of a pudding person, but if i had to pick a pudding, this one would be it :)

    This is my first time to your blog (can you believe that? I cant, I hear about it ALL THE TIME haha) I really like it!

    have a great day!

  133. Sara

    I find David Leibovitz’s caramel tutorial a good resource if you’re new to making caramel. Most people don’t brown caramel enough and that’s why it tastes too sweet.

  134. callas

    Heavenly! Too bad I haven’t got any milk in the fridge and getting some would require me to go out into the snowy streets. Maybe tomorrow…
    But I adore the idea of making caramel pudding myself and I have to try it our as soon as possible! Thanks for the recipe!
    …btw. I love the pudding skin. I’ve always been strange that way… ^^

  135. Jess-Dublin

    Wow. This totally sent me into an hours-long search into the modern and historic usages of ‘whence’ and ‘from whence’. Also on the etymology of dissect. Boy, do I have answers! I will not, however, be making this pudding until I get some non-nonstick pans. Happy New Year, Deb. I’m always showing my fiance pictures of your baby, and he’s always asking, “Who’s that?” Ummm…I’ve never met them actually, but isn’t he the cutest baby in the world?

  136. Dawn Magagnotti

    Deb, ( and Jacob)
    We are snowed in today in Indiana and this pudding looks amazing. I have tried many of your recipes and they are WINNERS! My daughter and I love the pics of your bambino which we affectionately call “the blog baby” :) Keep posting and we’ll keep oohing and awwing…
    Dawn & daughter(Julia)

  137. AndiM

    Ok, I made this and think I did everything right. Instructions were great as always. All the steps along the way looked great. I thought it was going to be perfect….except I only had arrowroot and not corn starch. I’ve interchanged them with no problems in the past. Yeah. Not so much this time. Little did I know that arrowroot turns “slimy” when mixed with dairy.

    I have some very lovely bowls of caramel flavored glue for anyone interested.


  138. Stefanie- not sure if someone answered you, but it sounds like you may not have cooked the pudding long enough after you added the cornstarch milk mixture to the pudding. That could account for both the chalky taste and the slight alcoholic taste as you add the extract in at the same time. It might also be the type of extract you use.

    Also, I made this pudding last night, and mixed some bittersweet baking chocolate into about a 3rd of the batch while it was still hot. Then layered it on top of some of the cups of caramel pudding. I’ve been eating it with a sprinkle of coarse salt and chocolate grated over it… HEAVEN. Such a great recipe.

  139. Paige

    “Caramel is dangerous in exactly this way; once you realize how easy it is to melt and toast regular old sugar in a saucepan and how much more transcendent it is than the granulated stuff from whence it came, you’ll constantly question why you should ever use straight sugar in a recipe again.”

    How right you are! I make a gigantic batch of granola every month or so and I’ve got the recipe down pat: oats, honey, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, etc. with handfuls of chocolate chips dropped on top of the hot stuff as it comes out of the oven, giving the granola streaks of chocolate throughout.

    But then I thought, “honey?” Why honey? Sure, it’s a natural sweetener, and I’m tempted to believe some of the health claims, especially about local honey. But the stuff I’m using and heating to death is from Safeway, the cheapest I can get, and besides, that’s just a sweetener. The nutrition in this breakfast comes from the nuts and the oats and the homemade yogurt stirred in, right?

    So yes, I’m going there. Not sure how just yet. The caramel will need something stirred in like cream or butter, to ensure it doesn’t clump up immediately upon hitting the cooler oats. But I’ll figure it out. And, to add insult to injury, or, er, a cherry to the sundae, I just found David Leibovitz’s granola recipe in which he insists that you immediately substitute apple sauce for oil in your existing recipe, because it lets everything clump better. Here I come, Caramel Apple Chocolate Almond Coconut Granola. Here I come.

  140. Made this yesterday, was fantastic! I didn’t cook my caramel until it was as quite as dark, so mine surely had a more subtle flavor but was just perfect for my tastes. It was a little bit on the thicker side, I might use a touch less corn starch next time. I used 2%, since I saw you ask another commenter.

  141. J.

    “[Sidebar: Caramel is dangerous in exactly this way; once you realize how easy it is to melted and toast regular old sugar in a saucepan and how much more transcendent it is than the granulated stuff from whence it came, you’ll constantly question why you should ever use straight sugar in a recipe again. It’s a similarly slippery slope learning about browned butter; you may go on a butter melt-and-toast bender. In other words: SEND HELP.] ”

    That’s a very valueable tip. awesome recipe

  142. Karen

    Okay, i tried this today. I did the caramel perfectly, if i do say so myself, and it didn’t burn, but smelled awesome. Warming the milk before you whisk it into the caramel helps keep the caramel from turning into a hard blob.

    I had to use Coconut milk due to dairy allergies, but i had high hopes. The pudding got darker, and thickened wonderfully, and even tasted pretty good–if not exactly caramel-like–in the pan.

    Then I chilled it, and it turned into…well, nothing. A pale, vaguely sweet, vaguely vanilla-ish blob that kept its shape when i turned it out of the ramekin. So…not caramel pudding. My son was bummed, because he saw the recipe and said, “Ooh, caramel pudding, that sounds interesting!” Sorry, son.

  143. Denise

    Ok, so I made this last night, didn’t cook the caramel long enough, turned out a medium beige. But it was delicious while still warm (couldn’t resist a cupful). However after dreaming all night of a caramely pudding breakfast, I discovered ramekins full of rubber.

    Not sure what I did wrong… I used 2% milk, and seriously it was the most wonderful texture while warm — thick, but not too thick, and very smooth. However chilled = rubber. Any help to prevent this next time?

    1. deb

      Yikes! Hey all — I’m reading along but it’s so hard for me to figure out why some people are getting a too-thick pudding and others (and myself, of course, many times over) find the recipe just right. (Actually, the version I photographed from this version of the recipe was on the thin side, though not in a bad way.) Could different brand cornstarches have different thickening powers? (I mentioned this in an earlier comment as well.) Could a thicker “milk” such as coconut milk be the dealbreaker in one of these cases? I’d love to figure it out.

      Curiously, the most common complaint I’ve gotten about pudding recipes in the past is that they did not thicken at all — but in those recipes as well, it was only an issue for a minority of commenters. (In this comment, I quote what Joy of Cooking has to say about cornstarch puddings’ notorious trickery.)

  144. Jen

    I was so excited by this recipe. Caramel? Count me in!! But, alas, I had problems as well. I don’t believe I over-carmelized (er burnt) the sugar, yet my pudding was not nearly sweet enough, even when topped with whipped cream. I also had the jiggly jell-o gelatin consistency instead of a creamy pudding. I used whole milk and I used Kingsford 100% constarch. Down, but not out I will be trying it again with lower-fat milk and maybe a touch less cornstarch.

  145. I made this the instant I saw the recipe, and also ended up with a too-thick end product. I used 2% milk… though I cooked it for kind of a while before it started simmering once I added the milk (almost the exact same thing that Michelle described). I’ll try it again in a smaller batch and let my sugar get a little darker and cook the milk less I think.

  146. Love your site. Love caramel. Love the yummy creamy side dishes and could often scrap the meat part. Going to cook both immediately. Where did you get those delicate perfectly scaled pudding dishes? Happy New Year!

  147. I whipped this up last night as dinner was coming together. My mother, a caramel/burnt sugar fiend from way back, is going to die when I make some for her! We enjoyed. Thank you.

  148. staceys

    I made this last night. turned out beautifully- I was so proud I wanted to cry. (although it could have gotten a little more dark in color the flavor was ALL there!) Delicious recipe and I look forward to making it many more times. Thank you so much for sharing.

  149. Eileen

    Made this on Tuesday, wonderful recipe. I conquered the caramel!! Thanks so much for all the pointers. Although, mine was also too thick once chilled. My theory is that I had very fresh corn starch, and also that a weight measurement here might do better than Tbsp. But it was delicious nonetheless, and I should definitely make another batch to really dial it in… :)

  150. I was so disappointed. This is the first thing I have ever made from your site that was a complete disaster…
    It was all going so well, the caramel the perfect color. This is the first time I have not smoked out my kitchen trying to make caramel. It seemed like everything went right, I even strained the final mixture. I poured mine into 8 oz. cups, sealed them up tight (I do not like pudding skin) and put them in the fridge. There was still about 4 oz. left in the bottom of the bowl, which I ate on the spot warm and it was delicious, smooth, creamy, yummmmm….
    I was planning on taking one of the containers to work with me as a treat, but forgot it. I dreamed about that pudding all day. Nearly tore the refrigerator door off when I got home.
    The sadness, my horror when I opened the container and inserted my spoon to find a big clumpy mess. It was like pudding curds. What did I do wrong? It seemed so perfect the night before. The milk was fresh, I just bought it before heading home that night. Just bought the corn starch too. What a bummer, if only I had known, I would have eaten it all warm!!

  151. BHT

    I’m another in the too-congealed category. Maybe it’s a difference in taste? I want pudding that’s almost pourable — it’s not liquid, but if you dump it out of the bowl, it doesn’t totally hold it’s shape, but flattens out. This holds its shape, more like jello. I used 2% milk, but may try it again with skim (which is what I usually have in the house). The caramel flavor was good, but probably would have been better with another 20 seconds of cooking before I added the milk.

  152. I tried skim and it wasn’t good. I think it tends to curdle-up with the cornstarch…either that or it was my mistake and I got the temp too high in the pot, and that is what caused the horrible consistency. My fiance said it was like eating cottage cheese…we were laughing.

  153. p.s. I’m thinking that half the amount of cornstarch would get a much more desireable result. And I lied (by accident!) – I thought I used skim but it was 1%.

    1. deb

      I had wondered that too, after my second batch as well was too thick (“chewy” I described it) but when I dialed back the cornstarch a lot, my pudding was a thick slosh. (Mm, tasty description, eh?) In the last 2 batches, I ended up using one tablespoon less (6 instead of 7) the original recipe suggested and that worked. And of course has worked for many others. But many are having trouble still suggesting to me that not all cornstarches are created equally. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Or, until a better theory occurs to me.

  154. Jackie

    Oh my goodness – my pudding came out tasting like a rich caramel candy- very nice. I used nonfat milk because that is my staple – your comments helped me not to worry when it clumped a bit after adding the milk. I stayed right there with my whisk tho’ and I think that helped – didn’t have the need to even think about straining the final mixture. The first step [when the sugar turns a deep amber] did not take 8 minutes – only a tad over 4 minutes before I realized it was quite ready. Made only 1/2 recipe since I am a household of 1 now – it is divided into lovely antique stemmed glasses – ready to enjoy with a friend who might brave the cold here in Tennessee.

  155. well, you are my long lost soul sister…
    every recipe you create and share with us is absolutely everything that I want to eat! Only trouble is I am absolutely NO cook. But, you have managed to inspire my plain pasta with butter routine into getting a major makeover. First things first, your caramel pudding….wow. I made it for a dinner party the other night and it turned out beautifully! and they were licking their spoons! Victorious!

    Tonight I will tackle the mushroom marsala with (my absolute favorite) artichokes!

    Thanks you for awaking my inner cook.
    all my best,

  156. Anonymous

    Not that you need anyone else to tell you these things, but dude, I just made this pudding (I love pudding) and it is by far the best pudding I have ever made. I Loved it with a capital “L”. Plus, I’ve never had pudding skin before today, I actually had never considered it. I thought to myself, “If Deb likes pudding skin and I like the foods that Deb likes then why wouldn’t I like pudding skin.” As it turns out, I like pudding skin also! Hey! We’re like twins! Though, as I can see, you’ve heard enough about pudding skin, though you did bring it up…

  157. Sarah

    Hey Deb! Since I’m not sure I’ve commented before I want to say that I absolutely love your blog. I’ve tried tons of recipes and they’ve all been wonderful. And the rate at which you post is . . . incredible.

    Unfortunately this dish is different. I used skim milk but otherwise followed the recipe as best as possible. My result is the lumpy, chalky version that other people have seen. First, as soon as I added the cornstarch mixture the entire thing became very thick. I tried to strain it, but this wasn’t possible because it was so thick. So I just spooned it into dishes and chilled but it has very little flavor other than the cornstarch. My cornstarch is pretty old, but I recently used it to make vanilla pudding (Mark Bittman’s recipe) which turned out lovely. I know that there isn’t a consensus as to why some people are having problems, but I just thought I’d share my results.

  158. Deb,

    I tried this and was also in the too-thick-camp with 2% milk (my pudding is the equivalent of jello jigglers…if you wanted, you could actually slice it into squares and pick them up!).

    I let mine cook a bit too long at the end, I’m thinking? How do you know when it’s ‘thick enough’ (or is this an experience thing?).

    Thanks for the great recipes!

  159. Kate

    Made half of a batch in a non-stick pot with skim milk and it turned out great! Serving it with diced mango on top tonight, immediately after the brisket recipe from last week. I just pulled it out of the crockpot to chill the liquid before dinner, and it tastes fantastic!

  160. Boo. I think in my attempt to avoid ending up with beige, bland pudding I ended up with burnt sugar and scalded milk. I’m praying to the pudding gods to salvage it in the fridge. I hope once they come out, the whipped cream tempers the burnt flavor and the chill masks it. Help me pudding gods!

  161. Sally

    Deb – would you mind posting the vanilla pudding recipe? Also – when are you going to post your gingerbread cookie recipe? It looks SO good!

    Callie B – I did the same thing – it was salvaged with whipped cream, and if you’ve ever been to Boston, it tastes like Toscannini’s Burnt Caramel Ice Cream…

  162. Mitch

    my sugar also became a lump of hard glass when the milk was added. at first i thought i’d have to toss it, but i returned it to the heat and whisked away, hoping to save it. voila, it worked!

    it also thickened very quickly after adding the cornstarch mix, but i’m looking forward to tasting the final product after dinner tonight, regardless of texture!

  163. Mitch

    OK, I’m back! The flavor was fine, but the texture was odd, and not at all pudding-like. My son called it caramel jello, and he was right. I wonder if disturbing the sugar as it melted mucked up the final texture?

  164. OH MY GOD!!! this sounds incredible. thank you so much. what a chic, homey way to do dessert. I love the way this looks and I’m sure it tastes insane!

  165. Catherine

    I recently got a copy of a cake recipe that calls for vanilla custard as a filling between layers (instead of frosting). I immediately thought about this recipe and decided it would have to be caramel custard–but is the pudding as you made it, Deb, thick enough not to leak out of a cake? Or should I intentionally try to make it thicker, as the commenters above have found, maybe by using cream instead of 2% milk?

  166. Joy

    I made this a couple of nights ago and had a fairly good outcome. The pudding itself tasted like the brulee on a creme brulee–almost burnt but not quite. I’m not sure if that’s what the final caramel flavor is supposed to be like but it’s definitely still good. The final pudding, once cooled, had the consistency of a custard more so than a pudding. The thing that I liked best about this pudding tho’ was that it did not have the slightly starchy taste of cornstarch–when I made the chocolate pudding I found that the amount of cornstarch left an almost chalky taste to the pudding. I believe this recipe called for a bit less cornstarch and I will probably use this amount in the chocolate pudding for the future. Thanks!!!

  167. Nell

    I made this and enjoyed it (1/2 batch, 2% milk, a little less cornstarch than called for because I ran out, and a little extra salt.) I found it quite good with a big spoonful of Greek yogurt on top- it added creaminess and a little balance to the dish o’ sweet. I think it was better slightly warm than all the way chilled.
    This also reminded me a lot of a flan recipe that I love, which calls for a glass dish coated w/ caramelized sugar- like a creme caramel, only in one huge serving instead of ramekins. The slight bite of the caramel is a great counterpoint to the sweet custard.

  168. Birdie

    I made this a few nights ago. It was tasty but a little thick – kind of a cross between jello and pudding. It thickened immediately after I added the cornstarch – and almost became chunky (I had to whisk like crazy off the heat before putting it into bowls). I used whole milk and Clabber Girl cornstarch.

  169. Joy

    I made this last night! It took 2 tries- I burnt the sugar the first try. The next was perfect! You definitely have to wait until it’s about 15-20 secs away from burning and then remove it from the heat. I halved the recipe, used a non-stick pan, 1% milk, and strained the whole thing after adding the cornstarch mixture. The best part was adding the cornstarch mixture and watching it turn into pudding. Halving the recipe was a perfect amount for me and the hubby.Soooo smooth and yummy. I will definitely be pulling this out for the company we are having in two weeks! Thanks Deb :)

  170. Colleen

    I was one of the whole milk- much too thick camp. I was wondering how you measure your cornstarch. I do not use mine much, so it gets kind of clumpy. Could you weigh yours?

  171. amanda

    Made this with 1% milk this a.m.–delish and very creamy. I didn’t cook my sugar/water long enough so it’s more like really good vanilla pudding. will try again! Thank you–love your site and the cute pics of your baby!

  172. Amber

    I just had to try this last night but found that I only had 1% milk and only 5 T. cornstarch and I live an hour away from a grocery. yikes! So I boiled it a minute longer with the cornstarch.It set up well, but was not very creamy. The flavor? Amazing!! Thanks!

  173. wow. proofreading. i need to do that. what i meant to say is (revisions are in caps):


    i made 3 different iterations of this, all vegan.

    – one with soymilk, which set up well and had a great consistency

    – one with soy and ALMOND milk, which was the same as the above

    – and one with almond AND hemp milk, which just never set up right. it’s got that familiar, super-soft consistency common when you’re making vegan pudding.

    so vegans, if you’re able to do soy AND/OR almond milk, it’s amazing! maybe skip over the hemp milk iteration, if you can help it. ;-)

  174. Katie W

    I thought I’d throw my experiences into the mix, too. The making of the pudding went just according to plan, but I too experienced total gloopiness the next morning. I could tell when it was too warm that it had too much cornstarch in it — you could almost taste it! And when I added the cornstarch mixture, it thickened instantly, which usually isn’t my experience. I was using 1% milk, so it wasn’t the milkfat that caused the congealing. The flavor was good, but I think I’ll stick with egg based puds.

  175. It was way too much corn starch for my taste. When I make pudding I usually use 50% less, so next time I make it I will try it with 4 T instead of your 6.

  176. Hooray! I thought mine was way too burnt but once it was icy cold and had a healthy dollop of whipped cream, it was devine! I also added a tiny sprinkle of maldon sea salt to the top before plopping on the whipped cream. Lesson learned: don’t chuck it until you get all the way to the end, it might turn around.

  177. Brilliant to do quarter batches… why didn’t I think of this? I was also inspired by this recipe when I read it in Food & Wine and made it for my family for Christmas (blogged it too)… it was a huge hit, though I have to agree with a lot of the posters that it was a bit too thick. If I’d had your foresight I would have done a couple smaller test batches…. lesson learned!

  178. Jen McLeod

    pudding skin is the best!! I have had to be on a liquid diet for 2 days now – doctors orders otherwise it would never happen. As soon as I can walk around again I am sooo making this! it looks so simple and easy!! so excited to make that and your chocolate pudding!

  179. I tried to make this last night and I’m wondering what I did wrong. It wasn’t nearly as dark in color as yours, although I did take the sugar to an amber color color…maybe not deep enough? It was also pretty slimy in consistency. Did I not cook it long enough? I’ve made pudding with the same sort of method for haupia pies, and that turned out creamier. Should I have just cooked it longer? (note: I was being rushed by a hovering boyfriend, so I can’t really say for sure that I cooked it as long as it needed to be cooked.) The flavor was really nice though. I think I might start burning sugar for everything!

  180. Robin Packer

    I just finished this pudding for friends we are having over tonight and my son who has a sore throat and wouldn’t be able to eat something crunchy… I added a stick of butter to my double batch (and told the kids I was making butterscotch pudding for dessert). That’s just the kind of girl I am – I can never leave well enough alone. The dregs in the pot are YUMMY!! Several of my kids are ‘fighting’ over them. Thanks again, Deb. I don’t post often, but I lurk ALL the time!! Enjoy that precious little one, I can remember my 15 year old at that age like it was yesterday, but it was a whole lot of yesterdays ago. – sniff, sniff.

  181. Stephen C Ellen

    I love caramel pudding and this was an amazing recipe! I crave the skin so much I cool the pudding on a plate to spread out the final product and increase the surface area for skin formation (sometimes easier than the cookie sheet method in post #94 and you still get some depth and pudding body under the skin in the middle of the plate). Most people love the skin on other foods (pork, chicken), why not pudding? The caramelization process (oxidation) is the same though I get it that folks sometimes like creamy all the way through with pudding. I just discovered smitten kitchen today via the Saveur weekly menu posting. How cool is that!

  182. Jeanne

    It MUST be the cornstarch. I was glad to see that others had the same problem as me. I could live with the pale color and mild caramel flavor. That seems an easy fix, but the thick flan-like consistency was not what I was looking. I used a mix of 1% and skim. My cornstarch was ARGO. I knew I had a problem the minute I added the cornstarch and saw how quickly it thicken, but now I’m wondering if heat was the problem? I wish this recipe was idiot proof because I really want a nice creamy bowl of caramel pudding :^(

  183. Danielle

    I absolutely love your blog! I’m sad to report that my pudding was also a disaster. My caramel was very amber in the pan, but I still got a very light beige pudding. The consistency is also very thick and jello-like, as other posters have mentioned. I used whole milk and followed proportions exactly. I’m super bummed. :-(

  184. Emily Smith

    I’ve never liked pudding but your pictures were so darn nice and the recipe so simple that I thought ’tis time to love the pudding’. Eh. I wish I could say I was converted but pudding still doesn’t turn me on…even if it is a whole bowl of cold caramel-y goodness. The recipe was great fun though and super simple. I’ll be passing it on to the pudding lovers of this world

  185. I really enjoyed this recipe. I used low fat vanilla soy milk and it worked out very well. I think I took the caramel off the burner a little too soon because I was nervous I would burn it. The pudding was thick, almost the consistency of flan, but delicious nonetheless. I would make it the same way again because I enjoyed the thickness, but I would be careful not to jump the gun with the caramel. Both my husband and friend thought it was good too.

  186. Jen

    I was out of vanilla, so I substituted maple syrup. And while mine is more of a dark beige, it’s still delicious. By the way, my caramel solidified when I poured in the milk and I nearly gave up, but was able to dissolve everything – so don’t give up!

  187. I have made this twice now, following the directions exactly. Both times it has turned out perfectly. Any excuse to use my flat whisk and caramelize sugar is fine by me. Thank you for putting in the 6 batches of experimenting so I didn’t have to.

  188. Rachel

    I bet you’re right about the milk playing a part in thickening. I had only 1% and cream, so I made a mix of the two and used it for the pudding. Then it ended up pretty darn thick, so you could basically cut a “slice” and serve it. (Fixed by my boyfriend’s vigorous stirring, though, along with some whipped cream which fixes all problems.) I got nervous about overcooking so I don’t think I let it get dark enough – thanks for the tips about making it seem coffee colored, almost. I’ll try that next time. Made the apple pancake recipe from your site this weekend too – so far I’m your biggest (newest) fan!

  189. Lindsay

    I used 2% milk and using the recipe as written, it was WAY too thick. As soon as I added the cornstarch mixture to the pan the pudding thickened to the final consistency I wanted. After chilling it was as firm as hardboiled eggs. I’m cutting the cornstarch to 3 T. next time, maybe 4 T.

    Great concept with the caramel, though. Thanks!

  190. Connie

    Dumb question, but is it obvious when caramel has burned? I made this last night and enjoyed it. It did have a touch of a bitter, almost coffee-like taste, which I enjoyed. It tasted almost like the creme brulee top. My husband found it too bitter and thought maybe I burned the caramel. How do you know whether you have burned caramel (so that I can not add expensive organic milk to it in the future and be stuck with a large vat to eat all on my own, not that I’m really complaining, it still is good).

  191. Calisson

    Hmmm, this didn’t work for me. It was neither sweet enough nor caramel enough.

    I have made many caramel based desserts before, and I thought I caught the caramel when it was a deep amber but just before it burned. But the color of the pudding was medium tan at best–not at all deep and gorgeous like yours, even after cooking it with the 2% milk for quite a while before adding the cornstarch (which made it almost gummy).

    I’ll take your advice and try it with a quarter recipe next time (but maybe with only 1 Tb of cornstarch) and see if I do better.

  192. Tove

    I tried this last week, and I too ended up with very thick and gluey pudding. My first mistake was not letting the caramel cook quite enough, because once I added all the milk, it was kind of a light tan colour which never went a shade deeper. And I’m confused about the final consistency, because I have made other puddings (Joy of Cooking chocolate pudding) which called for the exact same amount of cornstarch but had a regular pudding consistency. Ah well, I’ll try again.

  193. Susan

    Just made this pudding. Tastes good, labor intensive to make. Was afraid I burnt it, but as you said, it is an edgy thing to make sure it is not burnt. It wasn’t burnt. I was taken aback when first adding the milk and the combination of the cold milk with the hot caramel frothed up quickly. The pudding all turned out well, and tonight the family has it for dessert and their feedback!

  194. Karissa

    Deb – I made this pudding with non fat milk and it was so delicious! Thank you for this recipe! It was great to be able to whip up dessert in such a short period of time. I actually put my pudding in the freezer so it would chill sooner… worked like a charm! As always, you rock!

  195. jenny

    Finally – pudding success! This is my fourth or fifth time trying to make homemade pudding and I could never get it quite right. And this is my first caramel making experience too! Unfortunately, i let it go just a little too long and there is a slight lingering burnt taste but it’s pretty mellow. Yum, I’ll have to try this again. Thanks!

  196. Katie


    Clearly I don’t know how to cook caramel! I have no idea what I did wrong, but I began cooking the sugar/water combination until it got to a deepish amber color, took it off of the heat, and everything seemed to be going well until the addition of the milk. I gradually added some milk to my caramel and it pretty much exploded! My mixture almost overflowed the pot and as much as I tried to whisk I was left with a little rock of caramel at the bottom impossible to mix in with my milk. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? Thanks!

  197. deb

    It is normal for the caramel to foam up — the sugar is very very hot and the milk is cold — that is why you add it very gradually. The next step is to whisk and heat the mixture again until the caramel melts again; the cold milk causes the caramel to seize.

  198. Robyn

    I just made this today and it is wonderful. I think my caramel went a few seconds over ‘amber’ and into ‘burnt’ but it’s actually kind of addictive because of that.

    As for the cornstarch question, I used Argo, and it worked out fine with no clumping, if only a few bits here and there because I’m too lazy to strain.

    I too freaked out when the caramel seized when I added the milk, but I was relieved at the ‘stir until it is dissolved again’ direction in the recipe, and I soldiered on and I’m glad I did. I’ll totally make this again.

  199. I’m in both the could NOT get my sugar to turn dark camp (left it without stirring for over 15 minutes) and the got thick REALLY quickly with the cornstarch camp. Used 2% milk from the farmers market and am now worried that the end result won’t even be a decent vanilla pudding.

    Was hoping to take to work tomorrow to make a bad week better but now don’t know if I can bear the letdown if it didn’t cool well.

  200. I madde this over the week end and it was delicious! I used skim milk, and I substituted vanilla bean paste for vanilla. Everyone loved it. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

  201. Sarah

    I made this tonight with 2%. It turned out pretty well and tastes AMAZING. I also freaked out when the caramel “freaked out” while adding the milk. The milk seemed a bit curdle-esque when I added it, and didn’t return until an ok non-gross state until I added the cornstarch/milk mixture. In the end I loved it..

  202. Katie

    I tried this again last night after your helpful tips, Deb, and it turned out beautifully! Thanks for the help, this pudding is fantastic!

  203. Karen

    Wow, pudding is complicated. I had a go and I think I burned the sugar. Other comments here make me hope that once it’s refrigerated (and doctored up with some cream?) it’ll be all right. Texture TBD. Thanks for the recipe!

  204. Joey

    My favorite dessert is a caramel pudding from Epicurious. While the title is “old fashioned butterscotch pudding,” it’s always tasted like a caramel creme brule to me (without the brule’ed top). But it’s fussy — caramelize sugar, temper eggs, make custard, strain, bake… This one looks like it will taste much the same, but it’s so simple — I can’t wait to try it!!

  205. Donna

    Question: I’m sort of in the middle of that brown butter bender right now, ever since I made that glorious recipe of yours for brown butter brown sugar shorties. Since then I’ve made normal chocolate chip cookies, pie crusts, and various other things by browning the butter first and then letting it solidify in the fridge. Do I need an intervention, or is this a habit that I don’t need to kick?

  206. Sara

    Made this over the weekend & boy am I sorry that I now know how easy it is…….and all ingredients that I normally have just lying around the house waiting to be used! Truly evil, but oh so good. I hid the ramekins in our garage fridge to prevent my husband from eating it all at once, which just meant that he asked me every night for 4 days “Is there any more of that pudding left?” in a very wistful tone of voice. Worth every minute of standing over the pot waiting for the dark amber color to appear!

    1. deb

      anushruti — Try to cook the caramel a few seconds less next time. A very slightly blonder color will be less bitter. I actually like that bitter edge to my caramel and tend to cook mine darker.

  207. Jen

    Deb-I am a long-time fan, first-time commenter! I made the pudding 2 nights ago with 1% milk and as I was stirring in the milk and reading the comments (I know, I should have read them first) became worried about the “tan” shade of my pudding. Never fear! It turned out well, great flavor and I am excited to make it again. Thanks for introducing me to my first caramel!

  208. Laura in Antigua

    Deb – I find it difficult to caramelize sugar when it’s mixed with water. Do you know why it is often recommended to make caramel this way? I always just pour the sugar straight into a heavy bottomed pan and voila – 5 mintues later I have beautiful caramel.

    Also, I did get the same “rock” of caramel other readers mentioned when I added the cold milk, but it dissolved fine over the heat. Thank you for another fantastic recipe.

    1. deb

      It’s called a “wet” versus a “dry” caramel. Wet is supposed (for me, it makes no difference) to be easier for beginners, so a lot of recipes are written that way.

  209. YUM! I shall have to try this with full fat soymilk tomorrow. I have been wanting some pudding other than the stuff made with tofu & mix. Oh how I hope it works!

  210. Lara

    One of the only desserts my mom (an otherwise excellent cook) made when I was a child was Jell-O pudding from the box. I adored it, but haven’t eaten pudding since adolescence, mostly due to my fear of packaged pudding cups. This may transport me back to my childhood enjoyment, only better, since grownups are allowed to doctor up things like wholesome caramel pudding with a glug of spiced rum and a pinch of cinnamon.

    ps- Deb, I adore your recipes. Your approach to making food that inspires, comforts, and truly nourishes is spot-on.

  211. Hi Deb. I came back to this recipe after a craving for it (I’ve made it at least three times before to rave reviews!) and I looked for it under the recipe index. I couldn’t find it using the find function. I browsed through and never saw it. Just thought I’d let you know.

    Eventually I’ll try the chocolate too though I’m somehow more nervous about that. Odd, I know.

    1. deb

      Emily — Caramel, when cooked longer, teeters at the edge of that flavor; if it is not to your taste (I kinda like it) just cook it to a shade lighter next time. Good luck!

  212. Carly

    MMM. I made this the other night and made the mistake you’ve warned us about and only made half a batch. The “other half” is straining at the moment and I’m really wondering why I only made half again. Someday I’ll learn. Oh, I used 1% and it worked just fine.

  213. Andrik

    Good day everyone! I hope you’re having a pleasant time. I ran into a problem while buying the ingredients for this amazing pudding, my supermarket ran out of corn starch. Is it possible to use corn flour? Many thanks in advance for your help :)

  214. Jennifer

    This is the very first recipe from your blog I have tried even though I’ve had your blog bookmarked ages ago! :) It was delicious.I didn’t let my caramel get as dark as yours for fear of burning but it came out the most beautiful caramel color still. If I would have let it on for a few seconds longer it probably would have been too bitter/burnt tasting. So I think it was perfect. It reminds me of Dairy Queen’s caramel sauce on their sundaes–just in pudding form. My parents liked it as well. You got the sugar amount just right I believe. I added a dash more just because I was afraid it wouldn’t be sweet enough, since you said it was “not so much sweet as…” and I like things moderately sweet. Turns out that the first bite hardly tasted sweet at all (and I cursed to myself at that point for not adding more sugar) but after a minute it tasted much sweeter. Perhaps it needed a second before the sweetness could hit my tongue after the caramel notes. So next time I’ll go with your recommended amount of 1 cup, and not 1 cup + a dash more sugar. Ha! This recipe is perfect. Note to self: follow recipes to the “T” next time–Smitten knows what she’s doing! I’ve only ever made homemade Vanilla and Chocolate pudding before, I’m glad I tried this. I’ll make it again, for sure. Thanks for testing, testing and re-testing to give us this great recipe.

  215. Ariel

    OK, so I’m a little late to the pudding party, but everyone, PLEASE try this recipe with 1 teaspoon (or more) of flaky sea salt whisked into the cornstarch mixture. It’s divine. And the only thing better than caramel pudding skin? Caramel pudding skin with Maldon sprinkled on top! Ah-mazing.

  216. Tried the extra sea salt version and LOVED it. Excellent. (In case anhyone’s wondering, I made the recipe cutting everything in half, about three servings, but the rest of the instructions were followed to a “t” and it was perfect.) This is becoming part of the repertoire =D

  217. Tarheel Kate

    Deb – help me figure out what I did wrong! I followed the recipe to the letter except for cutting it in half. The cooking times remained the same in order to get the deep caramel color(and still, mine never did get the dark color of yours) My pudding is too thick and kinda of gloopy….suggestions on what I could do to improve?

  218. Julie

    It seized on me! Did I let it get too hot? It was fine until cooking it with the cornstarch mixture inside….it went from not thick to SEIZED in a matter of seconds….moderate heat. What did I do wrong?!?!

  219. Katie

    Another B-movie Blob result; 1% milk. I should’ve known better; I make chocolate cornstarch puddings all the time and usually pour the slurry in in stages. You can always add more, so long as you keep it from overheating; you can’t add less. Next time… :)

  220. Lindsay

    I’ve never posted before, but I’m sitting here eating a just made bowl full of still hot pudding, so I figured I say hey, Deb. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and made many of your recipes (including this one!) Your mushroom bourgignon became a Sunday staple in my house. Food blogs like yours basically taught me how to cook all through college, to the point where I’m really considering doing something with food now that I’ve graduated. Let me tell you, if my test and papers had been on Smitten Kitchen instead of Art History in colonial Mexico, I would have done much better in school. So thanks! I love the blog, and love this pudding in front of me, though I should probably go put in the fridge.

  221. Jeanne

    This is a delicious and simple recipe, something to make at the last minute for unexpected guests or when the sweet-tooth calls. I added some grains of sel de Guerande at the last minute and then added a few more grains to the top of each individual dish to give it that salted-caramel flavor. You could do the same with some lightly crushed kosher salt. Thank you!

  222. Kym

    I thought it was good, tho it seems I prefer my puddings a bit sweeter. I might try caramelizing a bit less next time to avoid that burnt overtone. Also WAY WAY WAY too thick. Like way. Like I might use half the cornstarch next time. I could have carved out an igloo out of it :( I prefer creamier. I used 1% organic milk and Kingsford’s corn starch, if anyone is tracking the different brands of corn starch and types of milk.

  223. I had some trouble at first with the caramel… Didn’t see the note about not stirring it so I ended up with just sugar at the end. Since I was using some home made vanilla sugar i really didn’t want to waste it.. so I added 6 tbs of water to the hardened sugar again, blended it in my magic bullet and started the process again. Wasn’t sure if it would work with my pre-heated sugar but it DID.

    I have to say, this is a great recipe. So, so good. Finding out that I much prefer thicker pudding to the runny stuff. I made mine with vanilla sugar, and a mexican vanilla bean instead of the extract. I also served some of it with nutmeg and walnut over top. SO GOOD. If I could substitute this for all the ice cream in my life I’d be happy.

  224. I just made this while waiting for my rice to cook – had a sweet craving but nothing in the house. I was done before the rice was finished, and it tastes absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  225. hi deb, tried this with almost too much caution as i have burned caramel before… and as a result pulled the caramel away from the heat a bit too early, before it had a chance to turn to that amber color because it was starting to smell as if it was burning. the color of my pudding is lighter than your beautiful ones, but the taste is excellent (although it could be a bit more caramel-ier, of course, totally my bad)… i will try to be patient with the caramel next time. great recipe as always. thank you for sharing!!

  226. AmyK

    Ok. I completely botched this. It never set up. It was still the consistency of milk when all was said and done (when life gives you screwed-up pudding, make caramel milkshakes…). I know it was totally my fault; I’m wondering if I didn’t let the sugar cook long enough…would that have done it? I’ve never made caramel OR pudding, so I was in very uncharted waters. I see that another reader also undercooked the sugar, but her results don’t seem as drastically terrible. Any advice? Thanks!

  227. phishstick

    I tried this last night… with horrible results, haha.

    #1 Bad Thing was I burnt the caramel.

    #2 Bad Thing: while cooking the caramel with the milk for the 10 minutes, I could see that, what looked like to me, the caramel had separated from the milk. This was AFTER the I added the milk, the caramel foamed, then melted again; after the mixture had come to a simmer it began to separate.

    #3 Bad Thing: as soon as I started whisking in the last bit of milk/cornstarch, it became lumpy (and too thick, though that’s not a huge deal). I cooked it over the heat for about another minute, whisking furiously, and continued whisking off the heat for another minute or two, in hopes that it might smooth out. It did not. Final product after chilling was, as best as I can describe it, like jello, but almost gritty. I couldn’t taste the cornstarch, though that flavor may have been there but overshadowed by the burnt caramel taste.

    That being said: did burning the caramel cause the lumpiness or separation? Oh, and I didn’t realize I couldn’t even swirl the sugar/water while it was caramelizing; mine was not caramelizing evenly, so I thought that might help. Did I cook the milk/caramel too long, causing it to separate? Should I try it with a little less cornstarch? I used 2% milk and argo cornstarch.

    Sorry for the long-winded post, just thought more info might help. Any advice is appreciated!
    ps, love your blog!

  228. LTPP

    After reading this post, I had to jump off the couch an hour past my bedtime and make some pudding. Delish! Thanks, Deb!

  229. Ana

    just made this with 1%. I’m making this for some kids and was worried about making the caramel too bitter so I think I took it off the stove too soon and the color is not that appealing but its nothing banana slices and some almond cookies can’t cover. And the taste is delicious if a tad sweet. Will let it get darker next time, might lessen the sugar. I had no trouble at all with the corn starch or the texture.

  230. Kathy

    I cannot wait to try this, and the best chocolate pudding recipe. I LOVE to have a thick thick layer of pudding skin. It’s the best part! Thanks for all your hard work.

  231. Peggy Krauser

    I made the caramel pudding last winter (or the previous winter?) and it came out great. Now it’s autumn and I want to give a seasonal dinner party for family and friends. I’m dusting off the caramel pudding recipe and have decided to use goat milk! According to local chef Christopher McLean (Santa Fe/Bishops Lodge executive chef) cooking with goat milk will make caramelly things more caramel. So, wish me luck and I’ll follow up with a post mortem if you’re interested.

  232. Jessica Bennett

    I love pudding skin! My mother has a fantastic hot chocolate recipe (which is special enough to only have after being outside in the cold for a long period of time), and the best part is the skin. Now I’m nostalgic for my childhood :)

  233. Eliza

    My caramel was looking so beautiful, but then I turned the heat up a bit more and it crystallized (I guess). I added the milk anyway and it made a regular ho-hum vanilla pudding. I’ll try again though! My kids favorite is a chocolate tofu pudding and I am determined to get them to like something else (why, I dont know!).

  234. Cathie

    Whoa, has it really been two years? I finally found myself remembering to make this when I had a lot of milk BEFORE it went bad. But it’s too thick! Not that I mind an almost-flan, but I wanted pudding. :( Did we ever figure out what we’re doing wrong? Too much cornstarch? Over simmered? I’m…not great about timing stuff.

  235. niki

    HELP! It looked so simple but I tried TWICE to make the caramel-sugar and when I added the milk (VERY slowly) both times it just turned completely hard. What am I doing wrong?

  236. Vicki

    Just made these, they havent set yet but Im really excited cause they look great in the silver patty cases i poured mix into. if the hot pan dregs are anythng to go by these will be a hit!

  237. Vicki

    PS I used raw sugar so had no idea when it turned caramel as it already was that colour. so result was a pale dessert but live and learn

  238. Julie

    There are so many posts about this fabulous recipe that this question may have been answered… Can you use brown sugar? Or raw sugar? Brown sugar is what I use to make my Grandmother’s caramel icing so I was just wondering. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Brown sugar would make it a butterscotch, would be delicious, but the technique would be a little different. If you can eyeball a good brown sugar caramel, it’s definitely worth trying. I find caramel is easiest to make with white sugar, but ditto with the raw. If you’ve done it and feel you can pull it off again, no reason not to use it instead.

  239. I tried making using fresh cow’s milk.
    Unfortunately the milk did not froth up after I whisked it into the caramel. I just kept stirring anyway, but it didn’t visibly thicken or get much darker even after 15 minutes. I kept going until over 20 minutes had passed, and suddenly it got much darker and thicker. At that point though, it was much too thick, so by the time I had stirred in the corn starch mixture, it didn’t even take 1 minute to thicken to a (not smooth at all) paste-like texture. It looked nothing like your beautiful photos.
    I will definitely try this again though, to see if I can fix the error I made on my first try today.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  240. caramelphobe

    Not that I read this blog obsessively enough to quote (loosely) from memory or anything, but my caramel experience reminds me of your gnocchi pre-grater experience. Even though everyone on the internet seems to talk about how surprisingly easy caramel is, it makes me feel like a kitchen incompetent. I have never, ever made it right. I thought this recipe might be different, but, after long and patient caramel cook-time, my caramel base grew dry and cakey and huge flakes of sugar formed in the pan.
    I’ve read several posts on other sites about how to make caramel properly. Still a failure every time.
    Does anyone have a foolproof caramel recipe or some breakthrough that can lift me out of this sticky, soul-crushing caramel failure slump?

  241. caramelphobe

    Not one to be bested by foods, I just tried again with much more success. Last time, the sugar…mysteriously just…formed a dessicated sugar lump in the pan and then refused to do anything else.
    This time, I used a different pan, and things remained liquid before easing on into caramel territory. The caramel still cooked unevenly (it’s a cheap pan–what up, young adult life), but the end result was much, much nicer.
    Thanks for responding! And I DO read and make things from your blog obsessively. NOT FOOLING ANYONE.

  242. Kim

    I just made this recipe. I haven’t got it cooled yet, but the warm stuff out of the pan was delicious! I also used skim milk without issue (all I had on hand). It was not overly flavorful, so I think next time I would put in double the vanilla extract. I also had some specks (caramel possibly?) that showed up after I poured in the first helping of milk. It doesn’t affect the texture and it doesn’t look like curdled milk either, so I’m just going to ignore it for now. :)

  243. Kim

    Oh, I also wanted to mention for those who it might help: When I poured in the milk, my caramel totally turned to hard candy. Like, stringy stick in your teeth hard candy. I decided to see it out and after a few minutes it disappeared and combined into the milk.

  244. Molly

    My husband recently told me how much he loves pudding. We’ve been on an extreme budget (oatmeal every morning, rice and beans every night) but have been indulging in pudding every Tuesday. This recipe was last Tuesday’s pudding choice. It was delicious! I made it with Nido brand powdered milk and it turned out fine. Thanks, Deb! Really really yum!

  245. Noemi

    Mmmm! My pudding also clumped up a lot to more of a glue consistency, but since it’s just me eating it, I don’t mind! I did use soy milk and a bit extra cornstarch because I was nervous about how the soy milk would work, so I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I also poured out half into one bowl, then added chocolate chips and cocoa powder to the other half to make chocolate caramel… Soooo good, I am eating it warm. Thank you!

  246. nph

    not bad for a low fat pudding. I made a chocolate cookie crust and created a parfait with this recipe. I used 1% milk..maybe that’s why it lacks the body of a full fat pudding made with heavy cream and eggs. I might add a few egg yolks next time to see if it adds a little bit of umph that this recipe is missing. Will also stir in a little bit of sea salt crystals into the cooled pudding for a little salty bite.

  247. Elnora

    Hi, I wasn’t able to find a comment above, might have missed one, but has anyone who cannot have dairy tried this with almond or coconut milk as a substitute? I cannot have soy either, so I would need to use a nut milk or coconut milk, but wondering if it would work before I try it, as I hate wasting ingredients on a fail. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi Elnora — See Comments #24, 107, 149, 275, 290, 369 and 372 for responses from people that have made it with soy milk (I think all successfully).

  248. I made this last night and didn’t have any problems. We’ll eat it tonight for my dad’sbirthday dinner, so we’ll see how the final texture is. I think next time I’ll substitute some lemon juice for the water because although I browned the caramel deeply, my husband didn’t think it was as flavorful as possible. I was pleased with the pot scrapings I sampled, as well as with the simplicity of the recipe.

    1. deb

      Janet — Yes, you can. Warm milk should be fine. That said, I didn’t have seizing issues in any of my four test batches. Just add it slow, slow, slow and don’t add the next splash until the first has fully dissolved.

  249. Ms Wingo from Tennessee

    (with a literate southern accent) : This is my very first post. After reading many of your reviews, I really can’t wait to give this caramel pudding recipe a try !! (tomorrow, if not tonight) Thank you dear for the recipe- and for your blog. Very nice read.

  250. Liz

    Deb, I’ve tried your vanilla and butterscotch puddings and been really pleased. This one, though, was way too sweet even with very dark amber caramel and a generous dose of salt. It does have a terrific brulee flavor but after tasting, I had to put it back on the stove, dumping in more milk and an egg, and it’s still a bit too sweet even diluted. (Haven’t tried it cold yet though.) Next time I’d cut 1/3 of the sugar I think. Maybe your taste has gotten subtler over the years since this entry…