Does Butterscotch Have Dairy? [With Ways To Make It Vegan]

Finding the perfect recipe can sometimes be more challenging than you'd think. For example, do you want to make butterscotch from scratch but don't know if you need dairy? Does butterscotch typically have dairy in its recipe, or is this a vegan dessert?

Although not all butterscotch contains dairy, a traditional recipe usually calls for it. For regular butterscotch, you'll need butter that contains cow's milk.

However, if you want to keep it vegan, you can switch the dairy-made butter for vegan margarine, so there is a way around that. This shouldn't negatively affect the taste of your sweets, so either butter is fine.

As we start this article, we will cover all things making butterscotch and discuss whether it contains dairy. If you're new to sweet treat-making, have a butterscotch recipe on hand, or need extra help, you've come to the right post. With that said, let's dive right into this topic below!

Does Butterscotch Contain Dairy?

four whole hard caramel cream candy butterscotch variety

In general, you can expect butterscotch to have dairy in it. That's because most butterscotch recipes require you to use butter, which comes from cow's milk.

With that said, this won't be much butter, so it shouldn't upset you if you are sensitive to dairy. Additionally, if you prefer to keep your butterscotch vegan, we recommend swapping out the cow-made butter for a tub of vegan margarine.

Even vegan and kosher butterscotch recipes are available so everyone can enjoy this sweet treat regardless of dietary restrictions.

The main thing you want to focus on here is mixing your other ingredients well and ensuring your butterscotch keeps its shape. Don't let dairy stop you!

Can You Make Butterscotch Without Traditional Butter?

Yes! If you want to steer clear of dairy, there are endless recipes for vegan butterscotch. Generally, you want to find a thick vegan alternative, like margarine, for making your butterscotch.

With that said, some butterscotch recipes will also call for heavy cream. If you can't eat dairy, that can become an issue for your sweet treat-making.

In this situation, you want to use thicker non-dairy milk instead. Luckily, there are many dairy-free products that mimic the texture of the real thing.

This has revolutionized baking and candy-making, as well as coming in handy for those wanting to cook up some butterscotch. Again, you will likely need to find butter of some sort for butterscotch, so don't get too far off the recipe.

What Is The Main Ingredient In Butterscotch?

Salted caramel pieces and sea salt. Golden Butterscotch toffee caramels, Does Butterscotch Have Dairy? [With Ways To Make It Vegan]

When it comes to the main ingredients in butterscotch, this would be brown sugar and butter. As you can guess by the name, you can't make butterscotch without butter!

Although there are endless recipes and ways to prepare butterscotch, you'll always need to start with butter (or an alternative dairy-free version) and brown sugar.

Since you make butterscotch by slowly heating the brown sugar and butter, these two ingredients are the main flavorings for your candy.

According to Webstaurant, as the brown sugar molecules break down, your butterscotch takes on its vibrant taste. With the butter slowly melting, you can expect this treat to become a richer, deeper flavor than classic caramel.

Therefore, you need to include brown sugar and butter of some kind to make this dessert successfully.

Can I Use White Sugar For Butterscotch?

Although you would start with white sugar as a base for caramel, that's not the case for butterscotch. As we said above, brown sugar is one of the reasons your butterscotch gets its color and flavor.

Without it, you could have a lackluster dessert that won't be nearly as sweet. However, white sugar will do if you are low on brown sugar or can't get to the store.

In this situation, you want to add more salt as per your taste or just quit adding salt altogether. Butterscotch typically has an almost sweet and salty flavoring, which can taste a bit off if you use white sugar versus brown.

So, if you want to mix things up, this could take trial and error before you make the perfect white sugar batch. If possible, we recommend using brown sugar always and potentially mixing in white if you see fit.

What's The Difference Between Brown And White Sugar?

The main difference between brown and white sugar is the presence of molasses. Brown sugar has molasses present in it, which contributes to the ever-loved taste and cooking quality.

According to experts, the molasses in brown sugar also helps with its moisture levels, far greater than that in traditional white sugar.

Brown sugar also tastes thicker and sweeter than white sugar, so we recommend it always for making butterscotch. Even though white sugar is great for many recipes, it doesn't quite hit the mark when preparing butterscotch.

How Do You Make Butterscotch From Scratch?

A ladle in a pot with a boiling mix of sugar, suryp, butter and cream in making of butterscotch

This should be pretty simple for those wanting to try making butterscotch from scratch. First, you'll need to gather your required ingredients. These typically include:

  • Brown sugar
  • Light corn syrup
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Salt

Once you have everything for your butterscotch, you want to heat your cream in a microwave-safe bowl. From there, you will need to grab a heavy-bottom deep saucepan and add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt into it on their own.

Some chefs prefer using lighter-colored pans and bowls for butterscotch, as they help you to see your desserts' color better while mixing.

Next, cook your mixture over medium heat until the butter melts and the brown sugar dissolves. You want to do this on your stovetop.

Once the ingredients begin to break down, you can let them sit in the pan over medium heat for an additional 4-5 minutes. Try and boil, not burn your butterscotch.

When your butterscotch is pale, add the warm cream to the pan and mix thoroughly.

Cook this mixture for one minute, allow it to cool before serving and store the butterscotch in a mason jar or other container.

What Can I Use Instead Of Cream For This Butterscotch Recipe?

butterscotch in liquid form not yet solid

If you want to follow the above recipe but can't use cream, don't fret! Luckily, like butter, you can also find dairy-free alternatives to heavy cream.

Specifically, we recommend using 1/2 cup of plant-based milk like soy milk or soy creamer for coffee. Generally, soy milk has a thicker consistency than coconut, almond, or oat, so try and go for the thickest non-dairy creamer you see.

Doing this will impact your butterscotch, so if the milk is too thin, don't expect creamy butterscotch. This also applies to your dairy-free butter, so try and go for thicker alternatives if possible.

Again, the brown sugar should dissolve, and the molasses will help make your dessert thicker and creamier, but you don't want to depend on it solely.

Silk Soy Creamer

This creamer doesn't contain dairy, has a vanilla flavoring, is gluten-free, non-GMO certified, contains cane sugar, is 25 calories per serving, and comes in a 32-fluid-ounce carton.

Follow this link to view it on Amazon.

Does Butterscotch Contain Scotch Alcohol?

Lot of whole caramel brown candy isolated on black glass

Although this can be confusing, there is no Scotch or alcohol in general in butterscotch. Contrary to the name of this sweet treat, butterscotch often contains vanilla for flavoring.

The New York Times claims that butterscotch may have gotten its name from a corruption of the word "scorch” to the possibility that the candy came from Scotland (again, this isn't proven).

Oddly enough, this Scottish delicacy has never been explained in detail regarding the origins of its name. Therefore, it's expected for some bakers to mistake the scotch name for the alcoholic ingredient, which isn't usually called for.

As we said before, the butter and brown sugar will give your butterscotch its rich flavor, so don't think you need to add scotch for any reason. We're sure that would be an interesting spin on this dessert: but it may not taste too good.

What Is The Difference Between Butterscotch And Caramel?

Caramel candies as background. Golden Butterscotch toffee caramels

Moving to another misconception of butterscotch and caramel: the two are not the same. Even though you may use similar ingredients and cooking tactics for them, butterscotch and caramel are a bit different.

The main difference between the two is caramel is made with granulated sugar, while butterscotch is made with brown sugar.

Furthermore, caramel is sugar that's heated and melted until it's brown but not burned. Butterscotch also tends to be more of a sauce for other sweet treats, while the caramel is typically made into hard candy.

Again, both are fun treats to make from scratch at home: but at the end of the day, they are not the same.

Does Dairy-Free Butterscotch Taste Good?

Yes! Like many dairy-free desserts and recipes, you can still expect butterscotch to taste good without traditional butter or cream. As we said, you can swap the butter for vegan margarine and opt for a soy creamer if the recipe calls for it.

In general, butterscotch gets most of its flavor from butter and brown sugar. Therefore, if the alternative you find is thick and creamy, it should mix perfectly with brown sugar.

And, of course, don't be afraid to add vanilla to your recipe if sweetness becomes a problem!

To Wrap Things Up

Salted caramel pieces and sea salt. Golden Butterscotch toffee caramels

Whether you want to make butterscotch at home or are curious about its recipe, you want to figure out whether it needs dairy. From what we found, butterscotch typically calls for butter, although vegan alternatives are readily available.

For example, using a thick dairy-free margarine for butterscotch will work fine. Moreover, if your recipe requires cream, try and swap it out for a soy creamer instead.

Luckily, any diet has an option, so have fun making your butterscotch!

While we have your attention, check out these helpful related kitchen posts below:

How To Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream?

Which KitchenAid Attachment For Creaming Butter And Sugar?

What’s The Difference Between Peanut Butter & Peanut Butter Spread?

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