The Royal Family Just Shared Its Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe
You probably know the holiday caroling classic "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," but you might not have actually tried your hand at making a figgy pudding. The classic English dessert is typically served up at Christmas dinner every year, but preparations start weeks in advance—making this holiday treat a perfect post-Thanksgiving project for you and your kin.
A Christmas pudding isn't like the chocolate pudding you might whip up with a packet of Jell-O mix. Instead, it's a kind of steamed cake full of dried and candied fruits and some alcohol, which allows the pudding to develop better flavor as it sits. Like old-fashioned fruitcake, this dessert benefits from weeks of rest after you first steam it. The good news is that chefs in the royal kitchen have just shared their recipe on Instagram, so you can get started on your Sandringham-ready pudding ahead of the holidays.
The recipe from the royal family makes two puddings weighing about 1 kilogram each, but you may need to make sure you have all the right equipment before you start on this treat. The puddings steam in pudding basins, which are basically oven-safe mixing bowls. You can find pudding basins that will give your pudding that iconic conical shape on Amazon, like this Muldale basin (buy it: $20) that doubles as a sturdy mixing bowl in the off season. You'll also want to make sure you have a pot large enough to hold two pudding basins, unless you want to steam them one at a time. A wide Dutch oven, like Le Creuset's 8-Quart Oval Dutch Oven (buy it: $300, was $440, Le Creuset), which is on sale for Black Friday. Or you could try using a slow cooker, like this Hamilton Beach 5-quart version (buy it: $15, was $20), which is included in Target's Black Friday sale.
And there are some ingredients that may give you pause, as well. You may have luck finding items like suet, Demerara sugar and mixed spice in a well-stocked grocery store, but you can also buy them online. Suet, which is a solid fat typically from animals, might be tough to track down at the store. But according to our sister brand, MyRecipes, you can swap in grated vegetable shortening, like Crisco, in a pinch. You could also order vegetarian suet from Amazon for $11.
If you can't find Demerara sugar at the grocery store, buy it online ($12, Amazon) or simply substitute in whatever raw sugar you find at the store. The mixed spice used in the recipe also may be a tough find—but you can get it from small spice retailers like Boston Spice (buy it: $5, Amazon) or use a pumpkin pie spice blend in its place, as Nigella Lawson suggests.
Whether you make the pudding exactly as prescribed or swap in some of your favorite dried fruits, like chopped dates, cranberries or cherries, there are some special traditions you may want to add on as well. "Everyone should have a stir for good luck," our Digital Content Director, Penelope Wall, says of the pudding-making process. (Wall grew up eating the Christmas pudding her English mother made around the holidays.) And our Deputy Digital Director, Victoria Seaver, recommends wrapping a coin in tin foil and hiding it somewhere in the pudding—whoever ends up with the slice with a coin is said to have wealth in the coming year.
How to Make the Royal Family's Christmas Pudding
250g (or about 9 ounces) raisins
250g (or about 9 ounces) currants
185g (or about 6 ½ ounces) sultanas, or golden raisins
150g (or about 5 ounces) mixed candied citrus peel
250g (or about 9 ounces) suet or vegetarian suet
250g (or about 9 ounces) breadcrumbs
90g (or about 3 ounces) flour
12g (or about ½ ounce) mixed spice
2 whole eggs
180g (or about 6 ½ ounces) demerara sugar
275ml (or about 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) beer
40ml (or about 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons) dark rum
40ml (or about 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons) brandy
- Combine the raisins, currants, sultanas, citrus peel, suet, sugar, flour, breadcrumbs and spices in a large bowl and stir until well combined.
- Then add the eggs, beer, dark rum and brandy (or your alcohol substitute of choice) and stir again.
- Grease two pudding basins—or oven-safe mixing bowls—with butter or oil.
- Divide your pudding mixture evenly between the two basins and press down with the back of a spoon to make sure it's densely packed. Cover each basin with a circle of parchment paper.
- Cover the basins with muslin, cheesecloth or foil and place them in a deep saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water up to about 3/4 of the basins' height and cover the saucepan with foil.
- Steam the puddings for six hours, refilling water if necessary.
- Allow the puddings to cool outside of the saucepan, then wrap them well and keep in a cool, dry and dark place until your holiday celebration.
When your Christmas dinner finally arrives, simply reheat the pudding in a water bath, then remove it from the pudding basin with a knife and voilà: you have a traditional Christmas pudding. You can even flambé the pudding for an especially flamboyant holiday dessert, then serve it up with cream or custard and lots of holiday cheer.