Fine Desserts

Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

4.78 from 9 votes
Learn how to make Christmas Pudding at the last moment for the perfect dessert on your dinner table at Christmas time — with all the classic flavors.
Traditional Christmas Pudding by Irish chef Gemma Stafford

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding recipe beckons with quick, stress-free culinary delights.

  • With this recipe tailored for seasonal chaos, you don’t have to make it months ahead. Just prepare it at least 24 hours in advance and you’ll be enjoying a well-crafted, beloved Christmas Pudding in no time.
  • Not only does it demand minimal time, but also it relies on only common pantry ingredients. Its simplicity provides a straightforward solution for unexpected guests or a sudden shift in plans, letting the spirit of the season shine through.

Christmas Pudding is a huge part of my Christmas traditions. Growing up in Ireland my Mum would make them in October and have them all ready to give to Aunties and friends by the time the holidays came around. I remember it being a big process because even after the puddings were mixed they had to be wrapped up with string and foil and steamed. I do however have very fond memories of mixing the pudding batter in a big Mason Cash porcelain bowl and making a wish. All of us got to do it.

I am not going home to Ireland this year for Christmas like I usually do, but I will be celebrating with my husband, Kevin, Georgie, and Waffles (our dog). This Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding is unquestionably a lifesaver, enabling me to uphold my Irish spirit every Christmas.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/30/2023, to include a new step-by-step tutorial video, explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and more Pro Chef Tips.

Table of Contents

A soft, moist, and boozy fruit cake is loaded with fruit and candied peels, served on a red floral platter. christmas pudding, traditional christmas pudding, homemade christmas pudding,Gemma stafford, bigger bolder baking, baking, holiday baking, christmas baking, christmas desserts, holidays desserts, baking, bold bakers,

What is an Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding?

An Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding is a simplified, quick, yet equally delicious version of the traditional Christmas pudding, which is essentially a soft, moist, and boozy fruit cake.

  • An Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding is a convenient option designed for those with limited time during the holiday season. It does not necessitate a long waiting period, allowing for more immediate preparation and enjoyment.
  • It typically involves readily available ingredients that are easy to find and can be assembled quickly.
  • Despite the simplified process, it retains the festive and flavorful characteristics of a traditional Christmas pudding.

Tools for Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

Key Ingredients for Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

  • Raisins, currants, and sultanas

    • Raisins are from different types of grapes dried for around 3 weeks in a dark brownish color.
    • Currants are dried from a variety of small, seedless grapes called “Black Corinth” and “Carina.”
    • Sultanas/golden raisins are dried from green seedless grapes and are typically coated in an oil-based solution before drying to speed up the process to have a lighter golden color.
  • Candied mixed citrus peel

    • Candied peels add sweetness, a unique citrus flavor, and a delightful, chewy, and slightly firm texture to Christmas Pudding.
  • Cooking apples

    • Use peeled and cored Granny Smith apples for the best flavor and texture.
    • Bramley apples will be your go-to cooking apples in Ireland or the UK. They are very sour to eat raw but are one of the best apples working beautifully in baking, such as in an Apple Crumble or Apple Strudel.
  • Citrus zest and juice

    • Lemon zest and lemon juice with orange zest and orange juice, bring vibrant and refreshing elements to Christmas Pudding, enhancing both the flavor and aroma.
    • They also complement the other ingredients in this classic holiday mixture.
  • Fresh white breadcrumbs

    • Instead of all-purpose flour, this Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding Recipe uses fresh breadcrumbs.
    • Fresh breadcrumbs can absorb and retain moisture and flavor, quickly contributing to a desirable structure, consistency, and complex taste.
  • Mixed spice

    • Mixed spice adds warmth, balancing the sweetness of Christmas Pudding.
    • It also adds aromatic complexity, depth, and a traditional holiday flavor.
  • Salt

    • Salt enhances all other flavors.
  • Egg

    • The egg enriches the pudding’s flavor and binds other ingredients together for a cohesive mixture.
  • Butter

    • Butter’s savory and creamy profile complements the sweetness of sugars and dried fruit.
    • As a source of fat, butter contributes to moisture and tenderness.
    • Butter melts during baking, coating the other ingredients thus resulting in a more cohesive filling.
  • Irish Stout and brandy

    • Spirits add a boozy flavor and impart a pleasant aroma.
    • When it’s lit on fire just before serving, the alcohol content in the pudding facilitates this flame effect, making it look fantastic and taste even better.
  • Molasses (treacle)

    • Molasses adds moisture and can enhance the overall richness and complexity.
    • You can make it at home using my Homemade Molasses Substitute with dark brown sugar.
  • Whole milk

    • Whole milk provides moisture, richness, binding, flavor enhancement, and tenderization to the Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding.

How to Make an Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

The Day Before

  • In a large bowl mix all the ingredients until everything is well combined.
  • Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The Next Day

  • Prepare the basin with batter:
    • Fill a buttered pudding basin with your mixture.
    • Seamlessly cover the pudding top with grease-proof paper followed by aluminum foil and tie twine around the basin to create a handle. ( see ‘How to Steam A Christmas Pudding’)
  • Steam the pudding:
    • Fill the pot with boiling water until it just reaches the steamer. Allow to come to a steady boil. (See video above)
    • Steam for about 2 ½ – 3 hours. Every 20 minutes check the water level and add more hot if needed. The pudding is done when the top turns to a dark color all over. If it is a little pale on top give it more time.
    • Once done remove from the steamer and cool down at room temperature.
  • To serve: Pour whiskey over and light on fire. Serve with vanilla ice cream AND whipped cream!

A slice of the soft, moist, and boozy fruit cake is loaded with fruit and candied peels, served on a red floral dessert plate. It's topped with softly whipped cream. christmas pudding, traditional christmas pudding, homemade christmas pudding,Gemma stafford, bigger bolder baking, baking, holiday baking, christmas baking, christmas desserts, holidays desserts, baking, bold bakers,

How to Store Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

  • You can store Christmas Pudding in a dark cool, dry place until ready to eat. For as long as a year.
  • On the day you want to serve it, re-steam for 2 hours to get it nicely heated through.

Can I use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make a gluten-free Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding?

Yes, you can use store-bought or homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this pudding.

What nuts can you use in Christmas Pudding?

Besides almonds, you can also use walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pistachios, other nut(s) of your choice, or a mix of different types of nuts.

What can I use instead of nuts in Christmas Pudding if I have a nut allergy?

You can use seeds, shredded coconut, rolled oats, chocolate chips, graham crackers, or crushed cookies.

What egg substitute will work the best in an Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding?

Flax eggs from my Egg Substitute Chart will work the best in this recipe because they bind ingredients well and retain moisture well.

Can I replace the Stout or brandy with whiskey, rum, beer, vodka, or other alcohol?

Yes, you can use alcohol of your choice and Sherry will also give a  boozy flavor.

What can I use instead of alcohol to make an alcohol-free Christmas Pudding?

To make the Christmas Puddingalcohol-free, use an equal amount of orange juice, apple juice, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar (the one with the mother) to the pudding mix to help ferment the fruit and develop flavors.

Can you make a dairy-free Irish Christmas Pudding?

  • Use vegan-baking butter and plant-based milk of your choice for the best result.
  • You can use margarine but the result can be different in taste and texture.

Would this recipe work with any dried fruits but raisins?

Dried apricots, cranberries, dates, figs, prunes, pineapple, cherries, and mangos will work well in Christmas Pudding.

Why isn’t there raising agent baking powder or baking soda in this Christmas Pudding?

This pudding is very traditional and its nature is to be heavy and dense.

Is Christmas pudding the same as Irish Christmas Cake?

No, Christmas pudding and Irish Christmas Cake are not the same.

  • Christmas pudding:
    1) Christmas pudding also known as plum pudding, is a steamed or boiled dessert that is dense and moist, filled with dried fruits, suet, spices, and breadcrumbs.
    2) It is traditionally prepared in a spherical shape.
    3) Christmas pudding is typically served hot. It is commonly accompanied by Traditional Irish Brandy Buttercustardwhipped cream, or ice cream.
  • Irish Christmas Cake:
    1) Irish Christmas Cake, also known as Christmas fruitcake or plum cake, is a baked cake filled with dried fruits, nuts, spices, and often soaked in alcohol (typically whiskey) for weeks before baking.
    2) The cake is typically round, like a regular cake, and is often covered with a layer of marzipan and royal icing. It can be decorated with festive designs. It is usually served in thin slices, similar to a traditional cake, and is enjoyed with a cup of tea or a glass of Irish whiskey.

An overhead shot at the soft, moist, and boozy fruit cake shows that it's loaded with fruit and candied peels, served on a red floral platter. The rest of the whole pudding is on the big plater, paired with some brandy. christmas pudding, traditional christmas pudding, homemade christmas pudding,Gemma stafford, bigger bolder baking, baking, holiday baking, christmas baking, christmas desserts, holidays desserts, baking, bold bakers,

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  • Without alcohol as a preservative, especially in a very warm climate with high humidity, refrigerate Christmas Pudding leftovers.
  • Instead of lemon zest and juice, you can also use orange zest and juice.
  • I adore and always use salted butter. But unsalted butter will also work.
  • My mixed spices contain allspice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground mace, ground cloves, ground coriander, and ground ginger. Feel free to customize it to your liking.
  • To avoid the soaked fruits from sinking to the bottom:
    • Before adding the soaked fruits to the pudding mixture, make sure they are well-coated with flour. This helps to create a barrier that can slow down the sinking process.
    • Cut the soaked fruits into smaller pieces which are less likely to sink as quickly as larger ones.
    • Gently folding the fruits into the pudding mixture helps distribute the fruits more evenly, reducing the chances of them sinking.
  • If preferred, toast the nuts before adding them to the batter to enhance flavors.
  • I do not recommend cooking this recipe in the microwave as it’s too large to get cooked evenly.

More Christmas Crowd-Pleasers

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/30/2023, to include a new step-by-step tutorial video, explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and more Pro Chef Tips.

Watch The Recipe Video!

Easy Last Minute Christmas Pudding

4.78 from 9 votes
Learn how to make Christmas Pudding at the last moment for the perfect dessert on your dinner table at Christmas time — with all the classic flavors.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 10 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Learn how to make Christmas Pudding at the last moment for the perfect dessert on your dinner table at Christmas time — with all the classic flavors.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 10 people

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups (6 oz/170 g) raisins
  • 1 ¼ cups (6 oz/170 g) sultanas
  • ¾ cup (4 oz/115 g) currants
  • ½ cup (2 oz/57 g) candied peel
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
  • ½ medium lemon finely zest and juice
  • ¼ cup (1 oz/28 g) blanched almonds
  • 3 cups (7 ½ oz/213 g) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick (4oz/115 g) melted butter
  • ⅔ cup (5 fl oz/150 ml) Irish Stout
  • ⅓ cup (4 oz/115 g) molasses (treacle)
  • ⅓ cup  (2 ½ fl oz/75 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons brandy to serve

Instructions

The Day Before

  • In a large bowl combine all the ingredients listed.
  • Give a really big few mixes to bring your batter together until everything is combined well.
  • Cover and place in the fridge over night.

The Next Day

  • Butter a 2 pint pudding basin (or glass bowl) and fill with your mix. Lay a circle of grease proof directly on top of the pudding, cover tightly with foil and tie twine around the basin to create a handle. ( see 'How to Steam A Christmas Pudding')
  • Fill a kettle with water and bring to the boil.
  • Place a tall pot on the stovetop and place a steaming tray on the inside. Fill the pot with boiling water until it just reaches the steamer. Allow to come to a steady boil. (See video above)
  • Steam for about 2 ½ - 3 hours. Every 20 minutes check the levels of the water and add more hot if needed.
  • You will know when the pudding is done because the top will be dark all over. If it is a little pale on top give it more time.
  • Once done remove from the steamer and let them cool down at room temperature.
  • You can eat them straight away or store them in a dark cool place until ready to eat. For as long as a year.
  • One the day you want to serve it, re-steam for 2 hours to get it nicely heated through.
  • To serve pour whiskey over and light on fire. Serve with vanilla ice cream AND whipped cream!

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

85 Comments
most useful
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Daniele
Daniele
3 months ago

Made this pudding to take to a Christmas lunch, and it was terrific. Big thumbs up from everyone. I’d send a picture, but it’s all gone!

Debbie
Debbie
3 months ago

Hi Gemma, the pudding is steaming!! I would usually use suet and steam for 7hrs so 3hrs is making me v nervous!! Would a longer steam time darken the colour, or should I just trust the process?!? 😆

Christina
Christina
3 months ago

Hi Gemma!

I do not see brown sugar in the recipe…..is it needed or can be skipped?

Bradley Jones
Bradley Jones
6 months ago

Just a question. Being from Ireland and living in America. Which measure are you using, imperial or standard American measure, example imperial pint is 20 oz and American is 16 oz also in the directions it says to pour into a 2 pint basin and in the narrative description it says it makes 2 medium puddings so do I need to use two 2 pint basins? Next question…For the holidays for the most part it is just my wife and I so a pudding this size would take us into the following July to finish it (diet restrictions). If I… Read more »

Vicki
Vicki
1 year ago

Can you substitute the stout or guinness with regular beer or something else?

Fiona
Fiona
1 year ago

Hi Gemma, I have a steamer that sits on top of the pot of water, is this type of steamer suitable for steaming all of your Xmas puddings, thank you

IRIS HARPER
IRIS HARPER
2 years ago

Hi gemma i wonder if you can help me please . I amgoing to make your last minute christmas pudding as i am very late in making one .The quirey is when i make the first part of the pudding you say to put it in the fridge over night but unfortunatly my frige is a small one and it is full .Can i put it in a cool dark larder instead please . I would very much like your answer on this as it is so close to christmas and my family expect a pudding for the third coure… Read more »

Kee
Kee
2 years ago

I love that you have a recipe for people like me, who aren’t organized enough to prepare a Christmas dish months in advance! 😆 A few questions, though, as this is my first time: the fruit doesn’t require soaking first? And where can one typically find candied peel in North America (I’m in Canada)? I will have to blanch my own almonds but then they will still be whole – do they need dicing or anything before going in the pudding? Thank you!

Leah
Leah
2 years ago

Can you use a gluten free bread crumb in this recipe? Really looking forward to this as I completely lost track of when I needed to make the traditional style this year!

Rhonda
Rhonda
3 years ago

Hi Gemma, I made this back in November and put it in the back of my cupboard and forgot about it!!!! (I had made 2, and one was eaten right on schedule) So, I’m wondering if it is still good to eat 3 months later??

This Recipe Made By Bold Bakers

1 Images

Marina Lobo

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook

Gemma's
10th Anniversary Cookbook

FREE EMAIL BONUS

 Recipes that have been loved by millions of real bakers!