Butterscotch Sauce Recipe


I think it was Craig Claiborne, the iconic New York Times Food Editor, who once said that butterscotch was one of the great American contributions to world cuisine. Not that its that different from other caramels, English toffee for example, but in any event, it makes for one heck of an ice cream sauce. Actually it makes an even better pudding, which one of these days I have to find a great recipe for.

I particularly liked this version from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. Its has a very nice balance between buttery and sweet. It uses just a couple of tablespoons of light corn syrup to help it pour nicely. This is more important than you might think, as many recipes tend to glop rather than pour.

Note that the resulting sauce is more opaque than in the photo I used because of the addition of cream.

Butterscotch Sauce Recipe
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Cook time: 
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Serves: 12
Cook's Illustrated Butterscotch Sauce, Makes 1.5 cups
  • 1 cup/7 ounces light brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces.
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium sauce pan, over medium/high heat, heat the sugar and butter, stirring, until the mixture bubbles and becomes lighter in color, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream until combined. Note be careful when you start adding the cream to the hot mix it will bubble violently and may splatter.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and corn syrup until well combined.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  5. Sauce will store, refrigerated for 2 weeks.



Butterscotch sauce loves a tablespoon or two of either bourbon or fine scotch, depending on which side of that argument you live on, mixed in at the end.

Butterscotch Ice Cream

You could just incorporate the sauce directly into an ice cream base for a butterscotch ice cream. I would try 1/2 cup per 1/2 quart, though if you do make a quart there is no reason why you couldn’t use the entire cup and a half.

Mix it in right after you take the cream or custard mix of the stove. Or if using an uncooked recipe, right before you pre-chill the mix. If you add bourbon or scotch, you get the added benefit of ending up with smoother ice cream, that depending on the base you use may freeze a little softer.

Alternatively you could use a room temperature version of the sauce and just before your ice cream is finishing churning, pour (or use a spoon to drip), fine ribbons of the sauce into the churning ice cream. Of the top of my head, I would say this would taste great in vanilla ice cream of course, butter pecan, vanilla chocolate chip, maybe even chocolate, though that might be a little to much for me anyway.

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