What Is Black Pudding?

A Closer Look at the Controversial British and Irish Staple

English Black Pudding

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If you want diners at the table divided, then serve black pudding. Some will shriek in horror at the thought of eating blood (one of the ingredients in a black pudding); others will be delighted to have a slice or two of the spicy sausage.

Why this dark, contentious sausage is referred to as a "pudding" is a mystery—there is nothing pudding-like about it. Black pudding pops up everywhere in both British and Irish food. It is most often, but not exclusively, as part of a ​full English breakfast and a full Irish breakfast.

How It's Made

Black pudding is not a pudding, but a sausage made from pigs' blood, onions, herbs, spices, and bound with oatmeal or barley. When well-made, the flavor will be mild and slightly sweet despite the spices; it is the combination of all the ingredients (including the blood) which creates its unique flavor. 

Serving Suggestions

Black pudding is usually sliced and fried when served at breakfast, but often the pudding is also crumbled and included in other dishes such as mashed potatoes, bubble and squeak, and gravy. Introducing the pudding to other foods enriches the dish and adds flavor.

History and Legacy

Black pudding is no new-fangled ingredient; it has been around forever. The pudding was produced as a way of using up the blood for the slaughter of the pig at a time when nothing was ever wasted. It has survived down the centuries and fell out of favor in the 1960s but black pudding is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity with chefs in Britain. It can appear on menus in both traditional and contemporary restaurants.

Black pudding is not only made in Britain and Ireland. Many European and Scandinavian countries make their own versions of the pudding. Some use different spices but essentially the method is very much the same. 

There is also a Black Pudding Society, as well as festivals and competitions held to celebrate the famous pudding, proving its popularity in the culinary world.

Other Names

Black pudding is also called a blood pudding or blood sausage, and in Ireland is known as drisheen. In France, black pudding is known as boudin noir and the Spanish word for black pudding is morcilla