Is there butterscotch syrup?

Butterscotch syrup is a sweet condiment made from brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and other flavorings. It has a rich, buttery, caramel-like flavor that makes it popular for topping things like ice cream sundaes, pancakes, waffles, and other desserts. There has been some debate over whether authentic butterscotch syrup contains real butter or is just imitation flavoring. Let’s take a closer look at the history, ingredients, and availability of butterscotch syrup to find out if there really is butter in butterscotch.

What is Butterscotch?

Butterscotch is a type of candy or syrup that gets its signature flavor from brown sugar and butter. Traditionally, butterscotch candies were made by boiling brown sugar and butter together until thick and sticky. The name likely comes from the brindled or “scotched” appearance of the melted butter and sugar mixture. Other theories suggest it came from the scores or cuts made in the boiled sugar mixture before shaping into candies. Either way, the use of real butter is central to creating authentic butterscotch flavor.

History of Butterscotch

Butterscotch has long been a favorite candy and sauce flavoring in both America and Britain. The origins are uncertain, but recipes for “Butter Scotch” confectionery date back to the 18th century in English and Scottish cookbooks. Early versions were made by boiling vinegar and brown sugar, sometimes with butter added. Butter became a more prominent ingredient by the 1800s, with recipes using equal parts butter and brown sugar boiled together. Industrial candy production in the late 1800s led to wide distribution and popularity of butterscotch candies. Penuche, or brown sugar fudge, is thought to have evolved from early butterscotch confections.

How Did Butterscotch Syrup Originate?

Pouring butterscotch sauce over ice cream likely has origins in 19th century soda fountain shops in America. With the availability of ice cream and ability to keep carbonated beverages cold, soda fountains proliferated in the late 1800s. These shops often served ice cream topped with flavored syrups, including chocolate, caramel, strawberry, and butterscotch. Making the switch from hard candies to syrups allowed the signature butterscotch flavor to be drizzled over icy cold desserts and beverages. Bottled versions expanded the accessibility and shelf life of butterscotch sauce.

Ingredients in Butterscotch Syrup

To get that buttery, caramel-like flavor, traditional butterscotch contains just a few simple ingredients:

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar adds sweetness and its characteristic molasses notes. Dark brown sugar has more intense caramel and toffee flavors compared to light brown sugar. Brown sugar gives butterscotch its signature tan color.


Real butter provides rich, fatty flavor in traditional butterscotch. It also influences texture and mouthfeel. Shortening or oils can substitute for butter, but may reduce some butterscotch complexity.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup helps achieve the thick, glossy syrup texture and controls crystallization. Light or dark corn syrup can be used.


Water dissolves the sugar and butter into syrup form when boiled together. The amount of water impacts the final sugar concentration and viscosity.


A small pinch of salt balances out sweetness and enhances other flavors.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla brings its warm, aromatic flavor to round out the buttery, caramel notes. Vanilla accentuates the sweetness perception too.

Other Flavorings

Some butterscotch syrups add complementary flavors like rum, maple, coconut, or brown sugar. Caramel candies or powder may boost caramel flavor.

Does Butterscotch Syrup Contain Real Butter?

Authentic butterscotch syrup is made with real butter, but some mass-produced and imitation varieties use vegetable oils or hydrogenated shortening instead. Here are some clues to look for real butter in butterscotch syrup:

Ingredients List

Check that the ingredients specifically list “butter” rather than generic “vegetable oil”. Names like “buttery flavor” suggest artificial flavor rather than real butter.


The richness of butter contributes viscosity, smoothness, and coating texture. Imitations tend to feel thinner on the tongue.


Real butterscotch will be a darker tan, while oil-based versions are lighter. The real deal also coats surfaces better with a glossy sheen.


Butter provides a layered, brown butter taste. Fake butter tends to have sharper, one-dimensional flavor.


Using real dairy butter costs more, so genuine butterscotch syrups will usually be priced higher than artificial substitutes.

Brand Reputation

Research brands using real, quality ingredients. Small batch producers focused on authentic butterscotch likely use the real deal.

Availability of Butterscotch Syrup

Butterscotch syrup can be purchased from grocery stores, online retailers, specialty shops, and dessert suppliers. Here’s where to find it:

Grocery Store Baking Aisles

Popular brands like Smucker’s and Hershey’s sell butterscotch syrup in the baking aisle near ice cream toppings and chocolate syrup. Selection is often limited though.


Online stores like Amazon, speciality food sites and independent syrup producers offer wider varieties of butterscotch syrup to buy. This allows access to small-batch, niche brands.

Specialty Dessert Shops

Candy stores, ice cream parlors, and bakeries may sell bottled butterscotch sauce or offer it on desserts. These are good spots to try artisan, gourmet butterscotch syrups.

Restaurant Supply Stores

Commercial kitchen supply shops provide butterscotch syrup in large containers for restaurants, cafes, and food businesses.

International Food Markets

British section of international grocers may carry imported butterscotch sauce, as it’s popular in British cuisine.

Make Your Own

Homemade butterscotch sauce lets you control ingredients. Simple recipes only require brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla.

Butterscotch Syrup Brands

There are many brands producing butterscotch syrups with their own variations. Here are some top options:


Popular grocery store brand sold in the US. Uses butter and brown sugar for classic flavor. Affordable price point.


Italy-based brand with butterscotch sauce using real dairy ingredients. Has intense butterscotch flavor.

Daemon’s Butterscotch Syrup

Artisan Canadian brand focusing just on butterscotch. Uses only brown sugar and real butter. Thick, smooth texture.

Squirrel Brand

Family-run Vermont company handcrafting sauces since 1927. Their butterscotch contains butter, cream, and brown sugar.

Bakehouse Butterscotch Sauce

Sweet bakery shop in Australia selling butter-rich, premium butterscotch syrup.

Queen Fine Foods

British brand exported to the US known for quality condiments. Butterscotch sauce made in England with dark brown sugar.

Maple Grove Farms

Specialty producer of gourmet syrups. Offers butterscotch alone or blended with maple and brown sugars.

Melissa’s Butter Scotch Syrup

California company focused on specialty food ingredients. Butterscotch made with natural sugar and dairy butter.

Brand Base Ingredients Flavor Notes
Smucker’s Sugar, corn syrup, butter Classic, buttery
Torani Sugar, butter, cream Rich, intense butterscotch
Daemon’s Brown sugar, butter Pure, simple butterscotch flavor

Butterscotch Syrup Uses

Butterscotch sauce livens up so many sweet treats! Here are some of the tastiest ways to use it:

Ice Cream Topping

The classic use! Drizzle over vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan or other ice cream flavors. Butterscotch hardens into a delicious shell when frozen.

Cakes and Cupcakes

Frost cakes, fill cupcakes, or swirl butterscotch into cake batter for moisture and flavor. Works great with chocolate, caramel, banana, or spice cakes.

Pancakes and Waffles

Take breakfast to the next level by pouring butterscotch over pancakes, waffles, French toast or breakfast pastries.

Fruit Desserts

Complement fresh fruit like pineapple, strawberries, peach, or banana by topping with butterscotch.


Blend butterscotch into milkshakes for a sweet hit of flavor. Vanilla, caramel, coffee, and peanut butter shakes pair nicely.

Hot Drinks

Stir a spoonful into coffee, tea, warm milk, or hot chocolate for an indulgent flavor boost.

Dessert Sauces

Swirl butterscotch into caramel or chocolate sauce for layered flavor. Or heat and serve standalone over desserts.

Oatmeal and Porridge

Wake up taste buds by drizzling butterscotch over a warm bowl of oats or porridge.

Dip for Fruit or Pretzels

Use as a sweet dip for sliced apples, pears, banana, or even salty pretzels for contrast.

Baked Goods

Incorporate into cookie dough, bread, muffins, scones or hand pies. Butterscotch chips work too.

Nuts and Popcorn

Toss popcorn, peanuts, pecans or almonds with melted butterscotch for candied snack mix.

Yogurt Parfaits

Layer butterscotch sauce between yogurt and granola or fruit for a quick, healthy-ish treat.

Milk Drinks

Drizzle or swirl into glasses of cold or warm milk for cozy flavor.

Candy Making

Use as the base for brittles, barks, fudge, caramels, butterscotch chips, etc.

Meat Glazes

Brush onto poultry, pork, or salmon before cooking for sweet counterpoint to savory meat.

Making Butterscotch Syrup at Home

Whip up small batch butterscotch sauce at home with these easy steps:


– 1 cup (215g) brown sugar
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
– 1/4 cup corn syrup
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– Pinch of salt


1. Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan.

2. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.

3. Once boiling, let bubble for 3 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain a boil.

4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

5. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving or storing.

6. Sauce will thicken to pourable syrup consistency as it cools.

7. Pour into an airtight container or jar. Keeps 2-3 weeks refrigerated.


– Use dark brown sugar for deeper color and flavor
– Add a few tablespoons rum, whiskey, or maple syrup
– Top with toasted pecans, coconut flakes, or butterscotch candies


Butterscotch syrup holds a special place in the ice cream sundae pantheon with its sweet, buttery, caramel-brown sugar flavor. Traditional recipes call for a simple blend of brown sugar, real butter, corn syrup, and vanilla that delivers authentic taste. Some modern versions may substitute oils and artificial flavors, so check ingredients lists for the real thing. Small batch brands using quality ingredients promise an indulgent butterscotch experience. Beyond ice cream, butterscotch sauce can elevate everything from pancakes to fruit desserts when you want to add a hit of flavor. With so many brands and homemade options, quality butterscotch syrup is easy to get your hands on. A drizzle of this classic topping will bring back that nostalgic sweet shop feeling.

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