Salted Caramel Pudding from scratch is sinfully delicious yet surprisingly easy to make. Homemade salted caramel is combined with fresh milk, cream, and eggs for a heavenly dessert.
Salted caramel is one of my all-time favorite flavors. I’m a fan of any salty-sweet combination, and this recipe absolutely hits the spot. Homemade pudding is a lot easier to make than you might imagine. Compared to the instant variety, homemade pudding has a rich, velvety texture and much more intense flavor.
There are so few ingredients required to make Salted Caramel Pudding that you may even have them all in your house right now. To make the recipe, you’ll need:
- Whole milk
- Egg yolks
If you have not made pudding or custard from scratch, don’t be intimidated by some of the techniques in the recipe that may be new to you. For example, tempering the egg yolks sounds fancy but it just means gradually adding hot liquid to room-temperature yolks while whisking. Sound doable? Of course, it is!
The steps to make Salted Caramel Pudding are as follows.
- Heat the milk and cream in the microwave or on the stovetop. Do not let it come to a boil.
- Add the sugar and water to a large pot.
- Over low heat and without stirring, allow the sugar to caramelize.
- Add the warm milk and cream carefully.
- Place the egg yolks into a large bowl. Temper the yolks by slowly adding the warm milk while whisking constantly.
- Add the mixture back to the pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture has thickened to the desired consistency.
- Strain and pour into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the pudding.
- Cool for 8+ hours and serve with whipped cream and a crunchy topping.
For caramel pudding, variety comes into play with your topping choices. I wouldn’t change up the recipe much, but there are endless ways to top your pudding. Some of my favorites are mini pretzels, chopped chocolate-covered toffee, or caramel popcorn. Salted Caramel Pudding can be topped with whipped cream and:
- Chips or pretzels
- Cookie crumbs
- Chocolate chips
There are some key details to pay attention to when preparing homemade caramel pudding.
Making the caramel
The first is to avoid stirring the water and sugar (or caramel as it cooks). You don’t want to stir it AT ALL. If you do, you risk crystalizing your caramel which will leave you with a grainy texture in the caramel and pudding.
If you’re having a hard time making caramel, check out this article which shows some helpful hints for avoiding crystallization. Adding corn syrup or honey to the recipe in small quantities would be totally fine.
Second, make sure to let your caramel get a deep golden brown color before adding the milk. The bitter notes from a nice dark caramel help balance all of the sweetness. You don’t want burnt caramel so keep a close eye on it.
Also, be sure to use a big pot to make the caramel. You want several inches of space above the caramel because when you add the milk to the hot caramel, it violently boils before coming back to a simmer. If you don’t use a big pot, you will have milk all over your stove.
Making the pudding
Next, make sure your egg yolks are at room temperature before tempering. If they are cold, you have a greater chance of having bits of scrambled eggs in your pudding. If that happens, you can strain most of them out but best to avoid that outcome, if possible.
Last, you need to put the plastic wrap directly in contact with the pudding before chilling. If you don’t, the pudding will develop a skin on top that will need to be scraped off before serving.
Homemade Salted Caramel Pudding is heavenly all by itself, but it’s fun to dress it up with whipped cream and a little something crunchy. I have included an optional recipe for malted whipped cream. It’s outstanding but any whipped cream – even the kind from a can – works just fine.
This recipe is a surefire hit with kids and adults alike. If you know someone with a sweet tooth, show them some love with Salted Caramel Pudding. Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments section below.
Salted Caramel Pudding
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks room temperature
Optional: Malted Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tb powdered sugar
- 1 tsp malted milk powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Optional Topping Ideas
- caramel popcorn
- mini pretzels
- chopped toffee
- Pour the milk and cream into a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl and heat in one-minute increments until hot. Alternatively, you can heat in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat. You don't want the milk to boil.
- Add the water and sugar to a large pot. Your pot should have several inches of height. Do not stir the sugar now or anytime while it is cooking. Stirring is the main reason caramel crystallizes.
- Put the pot over low heat and without stirring, let the sugar dissolve and caramelize until it reaches a deep golden brown. You want a dark color but not burnt caramel so watch it closely.
- Pour the warm milk and cream into the caramel and stand back because it will violently boil for a brief moment before returning to a simmer. This is why you need a large pot or you will have a large mess.
- Place the egg yolks, salt, and vanilla in a large heat-safe bowl and have a whisk ready.
- Once the caramel, milk and cream are well combined, very slowly pour the hot liquid into the egg yolks while rapidly whisking. Don't rush and dump the liquid in too fast or you will have scrambled eggs.
- Once the egg yolks and caramel mixture are completely combined, pour it all back into the same pot. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes.
- Turn the heat off. Place a strainer over a large bowl and pour the hot custard through the strainer to remove any small egg pieces.
- Once strained, place a piece of plastic wrap directly in contact with the pudding and cover completely. This will prevent a skin from forming on top of the pudding. Place in the fridge for at least eight hours or until cold.
- Optional: If you're making the Malted Whipped Cream, use a hand mixer to whisk the ingredients together until it forms soft peaks.
- Optional: Top with whipped cream and something crunchy like caramel popcorn or toffee bits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, where is the fun in that?! I cannot vouch for how the recipe will turn out without homemade caramel.
This happens when you crystallize your caramel. You can't fix it once it's happened. The most common cause is stirring the caramel. If even a single grain of sugar hits the caramel once it's boiling, the caramel will crystallize. Check out my other tips above.
The egg yolks weren't tempered properly. Be sure your egg yolks are at room temperature and when adding the hot mixture to the eggs, do so very slowly while whisking quickly and constantly the entire time. If you have a few tiny pieces of egg, don't fret- that's why the pudding is strained before chilling.