English Christmas Pudding

December 4, 2014Sew White

Enjoy my recipe for an English Traditional Christmas Pudding. It’s rich, alcoholic and fruity too. It lasts for ages and makes a great gift to give at Christmas too. This is the best recipe for Stir it up Sunday – the traditional Christmas pudding recipe is simple and easy to make at home. You won’t ever want to buy Christmas puddings again when you’ve made this recipe.

So here it is my traditional Christmas pudding ready to be tested by my family for Christmas. We had it with a lot of homemade custard. Delicious!

A homemade Traditional Christmas Pudding on fire with blue flame and about to be served.

Once finished and steamed and ready to serve I wanted to make it look very traditional so I had to put a sprig of holly on top. Please remember that holly is so much sharper than you think it will be! I learned the hard way.

I love Christmas pudding. It’s a super special dessert which I would love to enjoy more often than just at Christmas. However this festive dessert makes it very special. It’s definitely easier to buy but making it at home is something  really special. I love the mix of fruits mixed in and of course them being in soaked in delicious spirits really boosts that flavour.

There is still time to make this before Christmas. I used a bag of mixed dried fruit which had all these in instead of adding them separately as the supermarket had the mixed bags on offer.

An English traditional Christmas pudding decorated with a sprig of holly.

English Traditional Christmas Pudding

Click for a great BBC Good Food video on how to wrap and steam your pudding

I loved soaking all the fruit in stout and brandy. It smelled amazing before I started with anything else.

How to make Christmas Pudding

Making Christmas pudding is a really special treat to make and it’s really easy I promise. It involves a long soak of the dried fruit with the brandy or stout as the first step. From there is a good deal of mixing together more ingredients like spices and bread crumbs.

The shortest part is the mixing together.

The longest part of making a British Christmas pudding is the steaming. The first steam is about 4 hours. Then you leave it to cool and leave until you are ready to have it. Doing the first steam on stir it up Sunday is my favourite time to do it. Then I keep it in an air tight container somewhere cold until Christmas. Then each week I feed the mix a tablespoon or two of brandy. It will be absorbed into the mix and make the finished Christmas pudding even more moist and boozy too. The flavour will be great.

mixed dried fruit in a large mixing bowl

I was sceptical about adding a bramley apple but it looked lovely and really buffed it out a lot. Something in the stout stopped it going brown from the air but instead it went brown from the mix.

mixed fruit with glace cherries and nuts ready to made in to a crhsitmas pudding.

The pudding was dark brown and glossy. It smelled amazing and tasted fabulous too. I love it and loved making it far more than I thought I would. Steaming takes a while but it’s so easy. I’m so glad I made 2 little puddings so I have one for Christmas day in the pantry which will hopefully have richer, more developed and fuller flavours by the big day.

The small Christmas pudding served 6 of us easily. After all the Christmas food you don’t need a huge amount on Christmas day. I first knew I wanted to make Christmas pudding when I found the Christmas pudding recipe by Mary Berry. My recipe is now a mix of recipes and trials from starting off with a Delia Christmas pudding recipe, mixing it with tips of Jamie Oliver and exploring new ways of adding flavours and more of the iconic Christmas flavours.

What is a traditional English pudding?

A traditional English pudding is a steamed dessert made with dried fruit. It uses brandy and is often set alight before being served. Or is served with a sprig of holly.

It also served with a range of creamy options including brandy cream or brandy butter, ice cream, single cream, double cream. Pretty much if you have cream you are sorted for your traditional Christmas pudding.

What is traditionally found in a Christmas pudding?

A mix of dried fruit, apple and with orange zest.

The traditional ingredients in an old fashioned Christmas pudding include a mix of dried fruit including sultanas, raisins and currents. Along with mixed peel, suet, sugar, bread crumbs, Christmas rich spices and then it is steamed for a long time. The house will smell amazing.

It is a wonderful way to bring the smell of Christmas directly into your kitchen.

Why do we set fire to a Christmas pudding?

The traditional reason why we set fire to a Christmas pudding is that it is said that the flaming brandy represents the Passion of Christ. Plus in a traditional Christmas puddings there were about 13 ingredients said to represent Christ and his 12 disciples.

Now it adds a beautiful spectacle to the Christmas table and I believe the burning brandy adds a hot slightly burn sugary sweetness to the outside of the Christmas pudding. It’s a lovely thing to do but be careful as fire and alcohol can be a dangerous mix.

Why do we eat Christmas pudding? What should you serve with a Christmas pudding?

Mostly because it’s delicious! Serve it with custard is my top tip. I love Christmas pudding with custard. Especially vanilla custard! (Sometimes homemade but mostly store bought). It also works well with thick cream or even ice cream. My family have all the different creams we can over Christmas. Baileys cream, brandy cream and so many more. I swear the supermarkets keep bringing out new versions.

English Traditional Christmas pudding on a white plate with a sprig of holly on top.

Old fashioned Christmas pudding

Although this is my take on a Christmas pudding it does bring out the old fashioned Christmas pudding flavours that are so well known in a pudding. Adding a few little extra flavours like the dried cranberries (my favourite) updates a classic but doesn’t stray too far from the original.

Christmas pudding recipe slow cooker

If you want you can steam the Christmas pudding and cook it in a slow cooker. Add a plate or saucer to the bottom of the slow cooker. Then add enough water to cover the base – about 4cm and turn on to high. Add a bit of boiling water to heat it up. Once the water is simmering add the pudding into the water. Make sure that the water only comes half way up. Pop the lid on and let it steam away for 9 hours on high. Top the water if needed.

On Christmas day repeat the steaming in the slow cooker but leave it for an hour or two to heat up out.

Quick Christmas pudding recipe made with packet mix dried fruit

When I make this English Christmas pudding I use packet mix dried fruit. It’s often cheaper than buying each ingredient separately. It tastes the same and when you add the brandy and other spices. Sadly Christmas puddings aren’t the quick to make but the time you spend mixing it and assembling it is very quick.

Although not quick, making a traditional British Christmas pudding is so simple and can be made so far in advance of the big day.

Making the Traditional British Christmas pudding

I used my recipe from last year which was such a success I’ve had orders for it this year! It’s filled with cranberries, cherries and all the other good things that go into Christmas puddings including a lot of brandy and Stout. If you want to make the Christmas pudding there is still time.

While making the British Christmas pudding this year I had three new products to try. The gorgeous OXO Good Grips mixing bowl and citrus juicer and the Napoleon Brandy from Aldi.

The Napoleon Brandy has a brilliantly strong taste which has worked with the fruit beautifully. It’s full bodied and isn’t too sweet which compliments the sugar of the fruit perfectly. It has the delicious Brandy smell which mixed with the spices really brings home the festive cheer in my house. The smell while it was steaming was amazing. The house smelled like Christmas!

Brandy soaked fruit for a traditional Christmas pudding

Napoleon brand ready to soak the fruit

After soaking the fruit over night I mixed the last ingredients in, placed in the pudding basins and steamed for 4 hours on a low/medium rolling heat in a saucepan. Of you can also cook your Christmas pudding on high in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours. If you have two in the slow cooker you will need to cook it for 5 hours.  It was brilliant fun and the house smelled gloriously of Christmas. 

English Christmas pudding ingredients of dried fruits, fresh apple and peel

OXO mixing bowl

The mixing bowl was so smooth and shiny (I think I must be part magpie) The base of the bowl had a silicone edge which helped the bowl to not slip or move when stirring. Such a little addition and made such a difference. The bowl is rather large and held all the fruit while it soaked in alcohol. I did have to upgrade to my massive mixing bowl for the big mix as there is so many extra ingredients but this bowl is a great normal day to day mixing bowl size. It’s also very light and easy to clean.

The juicer is brilliant and easily my favourite kitchen gadget in ages! The juicer part has two ends, one large and small which I love for using on different fruit. The smaller side for the lemon and the large one for the Orange. The gaps in the metal work catch the pips and allow a lot of the pulp through which I love. Underneath the juicer is a little pot which catches the juice and it also has a measure so you juice to the exact level and amount you need. The non slip handle too is so useful. Even with slippery hands covered in lemon juice I was able to keep hold. 

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Traditional Christmas Pudding

Sisley White
Enjoy my recipe for an English Traditional Christmas Pudding. It's rich, alcoholic and fruity too. It lasts for ages and makes a great gift to give at Christmas too. This is the best recipe for Stir it up Sunday – the traditional Christmas pudding recipe is simple and easy to make at home. You won't ever want to buy Christmas puddings again when you've made this recipe.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Steaming 6 hrs
Total Time 18 hrs 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine British, English
Servings 2 puddings
Calories 290 kcal


  • 150 g raisins
  • 150 g sultanas
  • 150 g currants
  • 50 g mixed peel
  • 100 g dried cranberries
  • 50 g glace cherries
  • 1 large Bramley apple peeled and chopped
  • 250 ml stout
  • 100 ml brandy
  • zest 1 orange
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 75 g unsalted butter plus extra for the basin
  • 50 g suet
  • 120 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 100 chopped almonds
  • 150 g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 2 eggs beaten


  • In a large bowl mix the dried fruit and apple, then add the stout, brandy, orange and lemon zests and stir. Cover and leave overnight to soak.
  • Butter two small pudding basins, place a circle of greaseproof paper into the bottom so it’s a bit easier to get the pudding out later. Sprinkle the buttered bowl with a light covering of muscovado sugar.
  • Mix the remaining dry ingredients in the large bowl. Grate the butter and add to the bowl along with the eggs and stir well.
  • Spoon into the basins and level the mix.
  • Take a large sheet of foil and greaseproof paper and butter the greaseproof paper. Make a pleat in the two together and wrap over the bowl securing with string.
  • Put the pudding on a heatproof saucer in a saucepan and pour in just-boiled water to come halfway up basin. Cover and steam for 6 hrs, topping up water occasionally so it doesn’t boil dry. I set the timer for 45 minutes so I could check the water level regularly.
  • When it’s cold re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool place ready to reheat on Christmas day.
  • If you want to feed it each week before Christmas add a tablespoon of brandy, sherry or whiskey. I used a skewer to make a few holes to help the brandy soak into the middle.
  • To reheat, steam for 1 hr like before or microwave, without the foil but with the greaseproof paper, for 10 minutes. 2 minutes on and rest for a minute repeat.
  • You can feed your pudding with a tablespoon or two of extra brandy each week to boost the flavour.


•You can make this ahead of time of only a few days before.
•Store in a cool place until you need it in an air tight container.


Calories: 290kcal

Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

Keyword British Christmas pudding, Christmas pudding, English Christmas Pudding, English Traditional Christmas Pudding, Traditional Christmas pudding
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