British Christmas Pudding

Traditional Christmas Pudding

The Spruce 

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Marinating Time: 12 hrs
Total: 20 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
450 Calories
15g Fat
74g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 450
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 8g 39%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 225mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 74g 27%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 49g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 98mg 8%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 548mg 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.

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450 grams) dried fruit

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

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

  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup brandy, or more as needed

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

  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) beef or vegetarian suet, shredded

  • 4 ounces (scant 2/3 cup) dark brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 4 ounces (1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs

  • 1 ounce (1/4 cup) raw almonds, coarsely chopped

  • 2 large eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    British Christmas pudding ingredients

    The Spruce

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

    Butter a pudding basin
    The Spruce  
  3. Place the dried fruit, 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 a 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. 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
  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.

    Steam pudding in saucepan
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  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.

    Remove pudding and let cool
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  9. Cover with fresh greaseproof paper and retie with string.

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

    Traditional Christmas pudding, ready to serve
    ​The Spruce
  11. Add a festive decoration, if desired, and enjoy.

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.