Tried and Tested Recipe for the Best Christmas Pudding

Traditional Christmas Pudding

The Spruce 

  • Total: 8 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 8 hrs
  • Marinating Time: 12 hrs
  • Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
466 Calories
17g Fat
74g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 466
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 235mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 48g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 110mg 8%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 576mg 12%
*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. Christmas pudding is best made well in advance to allow it to mature. Traditionally, the dessert is made on ​"Stir it 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.

Although the number of ingredients may seem daunting, if you assemble all your ingredients in advance, the recipe will come together easily.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound/450 grams dried fruit

  • 1 ounce/25 grams candied fruit peel (mixed varieties, finely chopped)

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

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup brandy (plus a little extra for soaking at the end)

  • 2 ounces/55 grams self rising flour

  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 ounces/110 grams suet (beef or vegetarian, shredded)

  • 4 ounces/110 grams dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 4 ounces/110 grams fresh breadcrumbs

  • 1 ounce/25 grams whole almonds (roughly chopped)

  • 2 large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    British Christmas Pudding ingredients
  2. Lightly butter a 2 1/2 pint pudding basin.

    Butter a pudding basin
    The Spruce  
  3. Place the dried fruits, candied peel, apple, and orange and lemon 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.

    Add dried fruit and brandy. Cover and let sit
    The Spruce  
  4. In a very large mixing bowl, stir the flour, mixed spice, and cinnamon together. Add the suet, sugar, lemon and orange zests, breadcrumbs, and nuts and stir again until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the marinated dried fruits and stir again.

    Add dry ingredients to another bowl and add dried fruit mixture
    The Spruce
  5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly then stir quickly into the dry ingredients. The mixture should have a fairly soft consistency.

  6. Now is the time to gather the family for the Christmas pudding traditions.

  7. 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. 

    Add pudding mixture to pudding basin and cover with foil
    The Spruce
  8. Place the pudding in a steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water 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.

    Steam pudding in saucepan
    The Spruce
  9. Remove the pudding from the steamer and cool completely. Remove the paper, prick the pudding with a skewer, and pour in a little extra brandy.

    Remove pudding and let cool
    The Spruce
  10. Cover with fresh greaseproof paper and re-tie with string.

    Cover pudding with paper and string
    The Spruce
  11. Store in a cool, dry place until Christmas day.

    Traditional Christmas pudding, ready to serve
    ​The Spruce

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • The pudding cannot be eaten immediately; it does need to be stored in a cool, dry place and rested, then reheated on Christmas day. Eating the pudding immediately after cooking will cause it to collapse, and the flavors will not have had time to mature.
  • 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 through in a hot oven.