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This golden bourbon sauce recipe for bread pudding also works for apple crisps, sundaes and more! It’s irresistibly luscious and creamy.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Here’s a golden sauce that’s luscious, heavenly, and takes any dessert from delicious to outrageously good. Meet this Bourbon Sauce! Dip your spoon in this elixir and it tastes like candy: buttery and vanilla scented, with just a hint of bourbon on the finish. Use it on bread pudding, or any dessert that needs some extra flair, from apple crisp to plain vanilla ice cream. Here’s how to make it!

Ingredients for bourbon sauce

This bourbon sauce is very simple to make using a handful of ingredients. It’s modeled after my family’s traditional butter sauce for Christmas pudding, with the addition of bourbon. Our family gathers round the stove when the butter sauce is being made! Here’s what you’ll need to add to the pan:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Whole milk
  • Salted butter
  • Bourbon
  • Vanilla extract
Bourbon Sauce

Making bourbon sauce: a few tips!

Some bourbon sauce recipes call for bringing the sauce to a boil, but this is tricky because it’s easy to overcook and burn it. All you’ll need to do is maintain a steady simmer for 3 minutes. Here are a few tips on making the sauce:

  • Keep it at a steady simmer. Make sure it doesn’t boil too heavily.
  • Taste test. It’s done when it’s slightly thickened, golden in color and the bourbon flavor has mellowed. Take a spoonful and taste test (make sure to blow on it!).
  • Strain (optional). Straining removes the whey protein. Keep reading for why!

Why to strain a butter sauce

You can make this bourbon sauce without straining: but we prefer straining it before serving. Why? Here’s what to know:

  • Butter sauces have a light layer of white foam on top. This is the whey proteins. They don’t affect flavor at all, so you can skip the straining portion.
  • For the smoothest looking sauce, strain it before serving. It’s for appearance only! But it’s an easy step that makes a nice impact.
  • Skip this step if you like. Your guests may not know the difference.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Make ahead instructions for bourbon sauce

Want to make this sauce ahead for entertaining? You can make bourbon sauce up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate until serving: you’ll find it solidifies in the fridge (just like butter!). Prior to serving, reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until it’s creamy and pourable again.

Ways to use bourbon sauce

Got this bourbon sauce in hand? There are lots of ways to use it: our favorite is bread pudding. Here are a few more ideas:

How are you planning to use your bourbon sauce? Let us know in the comments below!

Bourbon Sauce

More recipes with bourbon

There are lots of recipes to use bourbon in your cooking: both food and drinks! Here are some favorite ideas:

This bourbon sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For a vegan variation, try vegan butter and coconut milk.

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Bourbon Sauce

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: ¾ cup 1x


This golden bourbon sauce recipe for bread pudding also works for apple crisps, sundaes and more! It’s irresistibly luscious and creamy.


  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk*
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Prior to serving, in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the granulated sugar, whole milk, salted butter, bourbon, and vanilla. When it starts to simmer, simmer lightly bubbling for 3 minutes, maintaining the heat at medium to medium low so that it doesn’t bubble heavily.
  2. Once it turns golden brown at about 3 minutes, taste and make sure the flavor is caramelly with a hint of bourbon (the bite of the bourbon should be cooked out). Remove from the heat and strain it into a pitcher. Make ahead instructions: Make up to 2 days in advance, then refrigerate until serving. Rewarm on the stovetop over medium heat.


*For a vegan variation, try vegan butter and coconut milk.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Bourbon sauce, bourbon sauce recipe, bread pudding with bourbon sauce

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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