After baking our wedding day apple crisp recipe, I started thinking about all of my favorite flavors. I love butterscotch and there’s something so nostalgic about butterscotch pudding! That made me want to make a real, from scratch bourbon butterscotch pie.
What if we took a play on Oatmeal Scotchies and made a butterscotch pie in an oatmeal pie crust?
And…what if we add bourbon?
I’d never, ever made an oatmeal crust or butterscotch before, so we made a bunch of different recipes to try them out.
I was surprised to learn that I do NOT like homemade butterscotch pudding. Anyone else grow up with the boxed stuff? Me too!
The real, from scratch butterscotch pudding was ridiculously rich. Homemade pudding often has milk, heavy cream, butter, and/or egg yolks mixed in. I kept trying to eat these pies (yes, plural; so many pies!) and was grossed out at the thought. Clearly, I am not going to give you a recipe that made me put down my fork.
So we kept testing things out to get the best flavor and richness…
Sweet, but not too sweet
Through lots of trial and error, I put together a bourbon butterscotch pie I am so proud to share with you!
There’s actually less than 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the pie mixture itself! I also found a way to help balance the sweetness using a secret ingredient. This makes the pie feel surprisingly light for a sweet, caramelly, creamy concoction.
The easiest pudding technique ever
We were inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s butterscotch pudding but like others, it was too rich to use in this pie. It’s fantastic on its own, but in this butterscotch pudding pie, I couldn’t do it.
But, she has a genius technique. Instead of creating a caramel and adding the cornstarch later in a slurry with the milk and eggs, she starts the sugar WITH the cornstarch right away.
We tried both techniques for comparison and honestly, they tasted exactly the same. Except, this one was way easier to make!
Since we keep pretty much all of these ingredients in our pantry all the time, this would be an easy dessert to make for when the family comes over!
Can I use the pudding recipe on its own?
I will say that you can totally eat this pudding as pudding, but I’d probably add a littttttle bit of heavy cream to it, if you do.
This pudding was adapted specifically to have a creamy whipped topping, so it’s free of all the cream, egg yolks, and butter.
It’s very simple and on its own, it needs that extra fat for the creaminess. Add a couple of pats of butter and/or 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and it will be more like regular homemade butterscotch pudding.
How to Make Bourbon Butterscotch Pie (100% from scratch!)
The first task thing to do is make your oatmeal cookie pie crust. I’ve written detailed instructions with pictures of each step on a separate post.
It’s pretty straight forward though: put all of the dry ingredients in the food processor. Melt the butter and stir in the molasses. Pour a little of the melted butter mixture at a time into the processor, pulsing 1-2 times after until all the butter is in the mix and the crust is starting to clump up.
Press the crust into the pie plate and bake at 325 for 15 minutes. At that point, use a fork to press down the base and sides of the crust for a nice, even texture. Bake for 3-5 more minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool.
Next, make the butterscotch pudding!
Again, this is the easiest pudding we could possibly make and it works so great!
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together lightly and let cook on the heat for 3-5 minutes. The mixture is dry at this time.
If you’re running low, make your own brown sugar with 2 simple ingredients!
This is NOT a traditional caramel where you let the sugar caramelize all the way before adding the milk! I simply wait a few minutes to let the sugar warm up, and then I add my milk. No caramelization fails here (I had a few of those when testing this…)! You can certainly let the sugar start to caramelize before adding the milk, if you’d like! You also don’t have to.
Start by adding a little bit of milk and whisking it in. The mixture will bubble quickly and steam. You can imagine all my pictures of this are just a shot of steam. 🙂
It’ll start to smooth out after you whisk it and will have a smooth, darker color like this:
Keep adding milk a little at a time. You can continue at this pace or honestly, you can just pour in the rest of the milk! Since there is corn starch in the pan, I like to add milk slowly and whisk for the first couple of additions but then after then, just add it all. Easy!
Whisk the mixture. Let it come to a simmer whisking occasionally. It will probably seem like it will never come together because it’s so wet, but just keep going.
Eventually, you’ll notice the pudding starting to thicken. It’ll thicken slightly at first, but you want it more of a creamy texture so keep going. It shouldn’t be AS thick as a set pudding, but it should be thicker than cream. You still want to be able to pour it into the pan even if it’s a little thick.
Once the mixture has thickened up, whisk in the vanilla and your favorite bourbon. Pour the butterscotch pudding into your baked pie shell and put in the fridge to chill.
Let the pie set before topping
It needs to chill for at least an hour, ideally several hours, before you add the whipped topping. You need a skin on the pudding to hold the whipped topping and I don’t recommend serving until FULLY set or you’ll be scooping big plops of pudding.
Our secret ingredient to balance the sweetness
Remember that butterscotch is a type of caramel, so it’s very sweet.
With a really heavy topping like whipped cream, you can only eat a bite or two before you feel like it’s too much.
That’s not what happens with this pie.
We’re going to cut the sweetness of the butterscotch with a whipped topping made of cream cheese and heavy cream. The slight tanginess of the cream cheese will balance out the flavors and make this pie very easy to eat!
Make the whipped topping
You need your cream cheese at room temperature. It needs to be whippable and soft!
Put it in your stand mixer and use your whisk attachment to whisk it until light, creamy, and smooth. This takes maybe 2-3 minutes. Every couple of minutes throughout this process, I stopped the mixer and used my spatula to make sure there were no clumps of cream cheese along the side of the bowl.
When your whipped cream cheese is ready, stop the mixer. Add the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Turn the mixer back on medium speed and gradually pour in the heavy cream.
Add even more bourbon (optional)
Play up the scotch in butterscotch, add a teaspoon of whiskey or bourbon! Whip until the mixture is thick enough to hold a nice point.
Check out the pictures to see the level of thickness and creaminess you want.
You know I had to run my finger through that for a sample, right? That was way too tempting!
Once the pudding is fully set, top the pie with this delicious whipped topping! I dotted the top of my pie with mini cinnamon chips for a tiny bit of crunch. You could also chop up some butterscotch chips or toasted pecans.
How to Serve Pudding Pies Neatly
Oh, man. I had some challenges with my first couple of pies! You have to have a straight-sided pie plate for pudding pies (I think I used a fluted tart pan). I also suddenly remembered that pudding pies are MESSY!
This pudding pie is probably the neatest you’ll find. The pudding sets pretty solidly since there aren’t any extra ingredients to soften it up. It’s still smooth and creamy, but it holds its shape. The whipped topping is also pretty firm thanks to the cream cheese! Again, this is still a creamy, smooth pie, but the topping and base stay put pretty well.
TIP: Put your pie in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before serving for easy slicing.
Cut with a sharp knife and be sure that you are cutting completely through the crust for easy removal. Wipe off your knife before slicing for the smoothest, cleanest cuts.
Do I have to use bourbon in this bourbon butterscotch pie?
Not even the tiniest bit! We often make it without bourbon to take to family gatherings. The heat of the bourbon pairs so very nicely with the sweetness of the butterscotch though, so it’s certainly nice to try them together!
If you don’t have bourbon, you can try scotch or whiskey. A spiced rum may work too!
Can I use a graham cracker pie crust instead?
Yes! We actually make this pie at least 2-3 times per year and we almost always make graham cracker crusts.
That’s not a criticism of our oatmeal pie crust at all; a graham cracker crust makes this recipe entirely no-bake.
When should I serve bourbon butterscotch pie?
This is a perfect recipe for Fall (although you can certainly enjoy it all year long)! We bring it to our family Thanksgiving and then typically make another one in December for a New Year’s Celebration.
Find other great recipes full of rich, fall flavor at 70 Cozy Fall Desserts to Make From Scratch!
Bourbon Butterscotch Pie with Oatmeal Crust
- 1 1/4 cup oats, quick cooking
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 6 tbs butter, melted
- 1/2 tbs molasses
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 1 tsp vanilla, add after pudding thickens
- 2 tsp bourbon, optional; add after pudding thickens
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature!
- 1 1/2 tbs powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp bourbon, scotch, or whiskey, optional
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a food processor, add all dry ingredients for the crust.
- Melt butter and stir in molasses for easier distribution.
- Gradually add butter and molasses mixture to food processor. Pulse 1-2 times between each pour. I normally make 4 small pours in total.
- Add mixture to baking dish. Spread across base and sides of pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and use a fork or spoon to press down the base and sides.
- Continue baking 3-5 minutes. Allow to cool before adding pie filling.
Make pie filling
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add brown sugar, corn starch, and salt. Whisk lightly to incorporate.
- Allow the mixture to heat on the stove for about 3 minutes just to warm up.
- Then, gradually pour in some of the milk. The mixture will bubble a lot. Whisk it smooth.
- Add a little more milk and whisk it smooth.
- When the pudding thickens, remove it from heat. Add vanilla and bourbon.
- When the pudding has thickened, add it to the pie crust.
- Refrigerate 1-3 hours before topping.
Make whipping topping
- Whip the room temperate cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes or so.
- Stop the mixer, add the powdered sugar, salt, and optional bourbon.
- Start the mixer again and on medium speed, pour the heavy cream in slowly.
- Allow the mixture to whip until it is thick, but fluffy. See the pictures for reference. It should be able to hold a peak. If you run your finger through it, you should be able to flip it over without it falling off!
- Decorate the top of the pie with your whipped topping.
- Add an optional garnish of cinnamon chips, chopped butterscotch chips, or chopped pecans!
Can you help me out? Would you make this butterscotch pudding pie for a special occasion, like a holiday? If so, which holiday does this fit with the best? Or, is this something you’d just serve for fun sometime? Let me know in the comments!
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