Christmas Pudding

James Beard

Author and Educator

“Here is a Christmas pudding recipe that was my mother’s, a fruity and spirituous concoction which needn’t marinate for months, and I love it. I prefer to make it in an English pudding basin, a tapering, pottery bowl with a deep rim under which the pudding cloth is tied. Or you can use a stainless steel bowl or mold. Anything will work as long as you keep in mind the way the pudding will look when unmolded and served.”

–James Beard


  • 2 pounds raisins
  • 2 pounds sultana (golden) raisins
  • 2 pounds dried currants
  • 4 tart apples, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound mixed citron, lemon, and orange peel
  • 1/2 pound chopped blanched almonds
  • 2 pounds beef suet, chopped*
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 to 4 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 cup cognac
  • 1 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • 12 eggs, beaten


Combine raisins, sultana raisins, and currants in a large bowl. Add apples, mixed citron peel, blanched almonds, and beef suet. Combine all this with flour and bread crumbs. For spice add salt, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger, and ground allspice. Mix very thoroughly with your hands, then add the juice and grated rind from the lemons, cognac, Grand Marnier or Cointreau, and eggs. You will notice there is no sugar in this recipe—you don’t need it with the sweetness in the other ingredients.

Mix again with your hands, and if there is not enough liquid, add more cognac or Grand Marnier or even beer. It must be well bound together and thoroughly mixed, but should not be a tight dough. Cover with foil and let stand to mellow for a day or two or even three, before cooking. Then taste and see if it lacks salt, spice, or spirits.

Fill your pudding basins or molds with the mixture, leaving some room for expansion. Put on the lids if you are using covered molds, or tie around the basins or bowls cloths that have been wrung out in hot water and dusted with flour. Tie foil over the cloths. Stand molds on a rack in a deep saucepan, add water to come halfway up the molds or basins, cover the pan, bring to a boil, and boil from 6 to 8 hours, depending on size, adding more water if it boils away.

Remove from the heat and let the puddings cool in the pans. Once they are cool, remove them from the basins and wrap in cheesecloth, then in foil. Keep the puddings in a cool place for several weeks or months (not necessarily in the refrigerator, although this is a good place to store them if you have room). While they are ripening you can unwrap them periodically and add more cognac or other spirits. Piercing the puddings with a fine skewer or needle makes this process easier.


3 to 4 puddings, depending on the size of the mold