What is butterscotch? What to know about this sweet treat

Many people mix up caramel and butterscotch. Both are good, but there's just something about butterscotch, originally a hard candy but now more commonly seen as a sauce, that can make you want to eat it by the spoonful. Many people often confuse the two, but they're actually two very distinct sweets. What is butterscotch? Read on to find out all about this sweet confection.

History of Butterscotch

what is butterscotch butter pumpkin

Butterscotch is traced back to Doncaster, a town in Yorkshire, England, where the word was first recorded. It is often credited to Samuel Parkinson, a confectioner who began making it as a hard candy in 1817. Tins of the treat even had the royal seal of approval!

There's no clear origin to the confection's name. Although the logic behind the 'butter' part of the name is obvious, the 'scotch'part is more mysterious. Some say it comes from the word scorched, since the sugar is heated to an extremely high temperature. Another theory links 'scotch' to its Scottish origins. Whatever the origin, there's no mystery behind the deliciousness of this sweet!

How Butterscotch Is Made

what is butterscotch

The answer is quite simple: butterscotch is mainly made from butter and brown sugar, which is why it's so amazingly tasty. Heavy cream, vanilla, and salt can also be added. The brown sugar lends a more complex flavor due to the molasses it contains, as compared to granulated sugar, which is what caramel uses. If you'd like to make your own butterscotch, I suggest trying out this butterscotch recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

Ways to Enjoy Butterscotch 

what is butterscotch bacon cookie

Butterscotch takes on many forms, but one of the most popular ways to eat it is in hard candy. It's not hard to see why; popping a butterscotch candy into your mouth and enjoying the buttery, sweet flavor really does make it a classic.

Butterscotch pudding is vastly superior to vanilla and chocolate. It was always fun to find this in your lunch box as a kid. Butterscotch pudding is great on its own, but it can also be used in trifles other no-bake desserts. Dry pudding mix is good for cookies and cakes as well.

Warm butterscotch sauce is heavenly when used to top off ice cream and cheesecake, along with other desserts. Butterscotch chips can be melted down for some amazing fudge, or thrown into cookie dough. 

Dry pudding mix makes a great cookie base, and butterscotch chips can seriously amp up a cookie, as seen in compost cookies and oatmeal scotchies. Try mixing some butterscotch chips into your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe—you can thank me later.

Now that you know all about butterscotch and how it's made, you can try whipping up a batch of it yourself! You can also enjoy all the other forms you can find it in. The possibilities are endless. No matter what you choose, you're bound to go head over heels for this sweet treat. If you weren't craving butterscotch before reading this, I'm sure you are now.

RELATED: Here are some dessert recommendations for Thanksgiving: 

Thanksgiving desserts
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Thanksgiving desserts

Adorable No-Bake Turkey Cookies

Get the recipe here

Maple Pumpkin Pie bars 

Get the recipe here

Apple Cider Cake 

Get the recipe here

Photo: Tasting Table

5-Ingredient Cranberry Cherry Pie

Get the recipe here

Turkey Roll Cake 


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 box (15.25 oz) Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ Cake Mix Milk Chocolate 
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Dusting Sugar

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Marshmallow Filling
  • 1 tub (16 oz) Betty Crocker™ Hershey's™ Frosting Cookies and Crème
  • 1 tub (7 oz) marshmallow fluff 
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


  • 1 tub (16 oz) Betty Crocker™ Hershey's™ Frosting Milk Chocolate
  • ½ to 3/4 cup chocolate jimmie sprinkles
  • 10oz light cocoa candy melts, melted
  • 30 marshmallows 
  • ½ cup yellow sugar
  • ½ cup orange sugar
  • ½ cup red sugar
  • 9 lollipop sticks
  • Black food coloring marker


  1. Preheat oven to 375º F and line two 10 x 15-inch baking pans with non-stick tin foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 6 minutes. Add cake mix, milk, sour cream, and oil. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 1 minute.
  3. Spread half of the batter into each of the two pans.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. To tell if the cake is done, press a finger on top of the cake, and the cake should spring back.
  5. While the cakes are baking, sprinkle cocoa powder over two clean kitchen towels. Remove cakes from oven and immediately flip one onto each kitchen towel. Peel away tin foil or parchment paper.
  6. While cake is still hot, carefully roll up cake and towel from narrow end, and allow cakes to cool for 30 minutes.
  7. Beat Betty Crocker™ Hershey's™ Cookies ‘n’ Cream Frosting with marshmallow cream. Add whipped topping, and unroll cakes and spread half of the filling over each cake.
  8. Roll cakes up into logs.
  9. Spread chocolate frosting over the outside of each cake roll. Sprinkle chocolate jimmies over cakes.
  10. Dip 9 marshmallows in water, dab dry with paper towels, roll in yellow sugar. Repeat by dipping 9 marshmallows in orange sugar.
  11. Cut one marshmallow in half, and another into thirds. Dip these pieces and 9 other marshmallows in red sugar. Skewer 1 red, 1 orange, and one yellow marshmallow onto 5 lollipop sticks.
  12. Create two skewers with a 1/3 red marshmallow and a red, orange, and yellow marshmallow. Then create two skewers with 1/2 red marshmallow and a red, orange, and yellow marshmallow.
  13. Set cake rolls on serving dishes. Arrange 9 marshmallow pops into a half circle around the top part of the cake rolls using the larger pops at the base of the half circle.
  14. Pipe candy melts into two 4-inch circles and 4 wings onto parchment paper. Freeze for 5 minutes until set.
  15. Pipe 4 feet and sprinkle while wet with orange sugar. Pipe 2 wattles and immediately sprinkle with red sugar.
  16. Cut a marshmallow into two triangle beaks. Roll in water, dab in paper towels, and roll in orange sugar. Cut the final marshmallow in half, and draw pupils onto each marshmallow using a black food coloring marker.
  17. Attach 2 eyes, 1 beak and 1 wattle to each chocolate head using any remaining candy melts or frosting. Then attach the head, two wings and two feet to each turkey.
  18. Cut cakes into slices to serve.

Courtesy of General Mills / Tablespoon.com

Pumpkin Cakes with Maple Vanilla Buttercream

Get the Woks of Life recipe here

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Crescents

Get the recipe here

Salted Caramel Apple Crisp

Find the recipe here

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Get the recipe here

Pumpkin Pie Skillet Brownie

Get the recipe here

Pumpkin Tres Leches Cake with Spiced Cream

Get the Woks of Life recipe here

It's Turkey Time Cookies


  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix 
  • 2 tablespoons Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted 
  • 1 egg
  • Betty Crocker™ green, red, orange and yellow sugars
  • ¾ cup Betty Crocker™ Whipped fluffy white frosting (from 12-oz container)
  • M&M's™ minis chocolate candies
  • Betty Crocker™ red or orange decorator icing (from 4.25-oz tube) or gel (from 0.68-oz tube)


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, stir cookie mix, flour, butter and egg until soft dough forms.
  2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 3- to 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to make 18 rounds. Place 9 rounds 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Cool 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, to make “turkey feathers,” cut each of remaining rounds into 6 equal wedges. Place 9 wedges 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle remaining 45 wedges with colored sugars as desired. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake wedges 7 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Cool 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  6. Spread frosting on round cookies. Place undecorated and decorated wedges on cookies as shown in photo. Add candy-coated candies for eyes; draw feet with icing as shown in photo.

Courtesy of General Mills / BettyCrocker.com

Sweet Potato Crumbles with Torched Marshmallows

Get the recipe here

Vegan Mini Peanut Butter Pies with Oreo Cookie (from Healthy Helper)

For Filling:

  • 12 ounces House Foods Premium Soft Tofu
  • 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter (warm in the microwave to get it extra smooth and drippy)
  • 3/4 cup date sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder

For Crust:

  • 10 oz chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Oreo’s)
  • ½ cup vegan butter, melted


  1. Pulse chocolate cookies in a food processor until they form fine crumbs.
  2. Pour in melted vegan butter and pulse until fully combined.
  3. Press crust into 3 mini pie tins and freeze for 10 minutes while making the filling.
  4. Combine the tofu, peanut butter, date sugar, soy milk, and vanilla in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Spoon into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  6. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and extra peanuts, if desired.

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