British Christmas Pudding

British Christmas Pudding on a plate

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 7 hrs
Marinate and Store: 852 hrs
Total: 859 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8 to 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
309 Calories
11g Fat
49g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 309
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 146mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 384mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

No British Christmas is complete without a Christmas pudding. Unlike American puddings, a Christmas pudding is a dark, sticky, and dense sponge, more like a fruitcake, made of mixed dried fruit, candied fruit peel, apple, and citrus zests. Brandy and spices provide a deep, complex flavor and signature dark color.

Although the number of ingredients may seem daunting, if you prep everything ahead of time, the recipe will come together easily. Christmas pudding is best made well in advance; eating the pudding immediately after cooking will cause it to collapse, and the flavors will not have had time to mature. Traditionally, the dessert is made on ​"Stir-up Sunday," the Sunday before Advent around the end of November, where families gather to stir the mixture, make a wish, and add a few coins to the batter.

“I have to be honest, I was not happy about waiting four weeks to try this Christmas Pudding. Putting in all that work (okay, most of it was passive) only to wrap it up and let it sit was tough. Was it worth it? Absolutely. The brandy mellows, the flavors mingle and develop and, after all, it is tradition.” —Carrie Parente

British Christmas Pudding / Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 pound/450 grams (3 to 3 1/2 cups) mixed dried fruit

  • 25 grams (scant 1/2 cup) mixed candied fruit peel, finely chopped

  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup brandy, more as needed

  • 55 grams (1/2 cup) self-rising flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 110 grams (about 1 cup) beef or vegetarian suet, shredded

  • 110 grams (scant 2/3 cup) dark brown sugar, packed

  • 110 grams (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs

  • 25 grams (1/4 cup) whole almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 2 large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    British Christmas pudding ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Place the dried fruit, candied peel, apple, and orange and lemon zests and juices into a large mixing bowl. Add the brandy and stir well. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to marinate for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.

    Dried fruit, candied peel, apple, and orange and lemon zests and juices in a large mixing bowl covered with a towel, next to a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Lightly butter a 2 1/2 pint pudding basin.

    Greased bowl next to a block of butter

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. In a very large mixing bowl, stir the flour, mixed spice, and cinnamon together. Add the suet, sugar, breadcrumbs, and almonds, and stir again until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the marinated dried fruits and stir again.

    Flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, suet, sugar, breadcrumbs, and almonds in a bowl with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then stir quickly into the dry ingredients. The mixture should have a fairly soft consistency.

    Pudding ingredients with eggs in a bowl with wooden spoons

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Spoon the mixture into the greased pudding basin, gently pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, then a layer of aluminum foil. Tie securely with string, wrapping the string around the basin, then loop over the top and then around the bowl again. This will form a handle, which will be useful when removing the pudding from the steamer. 

    Pudding ingredients in a bowl covered with aluminum foil, with a string on top

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Set a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water, place the pudding in the steamer, and steam the pudding for 7 hours. Make sure you check the water level frequently, so it never boils dry. The pudding should be a dark brown color when cooked.

    Pudding mixture in a covered bowl, inside a pot with water on a burner

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Remove the pudding from the steamer and cool completely. Remove the paper, prick the pudding with a skewer in a few places, and pour in a little extra brandy.

    Pudding in a bowl on a cooling rack, next to a metal skewer and a glass brandy

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Cover with fresh greaseproof paper and retie with string.

    Pudding in a bowl, covered with greaseproof paper

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Store for at least 4 to 5 weeks in a cool, dry place until Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, reheat the pudding by steaming again for about an hour. Enjoy!

    British Christmas Pudding on a plate

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Be sure to zest your oranges and lemons first before juicing them, not the other way around.
  • It goes without saying that you need to plan ahead for this traditional pudding recipe, which requires at least 4 to 5 weeks to mature and mellow.

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • A Christmas pudding needs to be stored in a cool, dry place and rested, then reheated on Christmas Day.
  • On Christmas Day, reheat the pudding by steaming again for about an hour. Serve with brandy sauce, brandy butter, or custard.
  • Leftover Christmas pudding can be refrigerated or frozen (well wrapped) and then reheated by wrapping tightly in aluminum foil and heating it through in a hot oven.