Enjoy this traditional Christmas pudding served with our homemade brandy butter, or check out our gluten-free Christmas pudding if you are following a special diet. For more Christmas baking recipes, check out our classic mince pies, Christmas cake and stollen .

Recipe tip: Make your Christmas pudding up to 2 months in advance and keep it wrapped in the basin in a dark cupboard until the big day

What is Stir-up Sunday?

Stir-up Sunday falls on the last Sunday before advent. The opening words to be read from the Book of Common Prayer on this particular Sunday start, ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O lord’ and this apparently reminded families from Victorian times onwards that they had to head home and make the Christmas pudding.

Traditionally the pudding contained 13 ingredients, one for Jesus and each aspostle, and was stirred by every member of the family from East to West while they made a wish. The holly on top is supposed to represent the crown of thorns, but these days it's often made from plastic (holly berries are toxic so shouldn’t be anywhere near a pudding).

How to make Christmas pudding

  1. Buy some new spices. That jar which has been languishing at the back of the cupboard since last Christmas won’t have as much flavour this year. Spices lose their potency once they're ground.
  2. Choose good quality dried fruit, and again don’t be tempted to use the scrag end of a bag from last year. You want fat, squashy dried fruit, not shrivelled up little bullets.
  3. Recipes vary in their use of beef suet, veggie suet or grated butter. You can use whichever you like despite what the recipe says. Make sure you use the same amount as is specified, though.
  4. Make sure your pudding basin is the right size and choose a shape you like. If you look into the bowl you’ll be able to see whether your pudding will end up with a rounded top or flat top. If you want a round ball you’ll have to buy a mould like this.
  5. Plastic pudding basins with fitted lids work very well if you're steaming your pudding on the stove or in a pressure cooker – plus it means you won’t have to faff around with foil and baking paper. Stick to ceramic or metal if you're oven steaming.
  6. Soak your fruit overnight to plump it up, either in tea, orange juice or alcohol.
  7. Choose the fruit you like the most, provided you end up with the same weight as the recipe. If you prefer dried pineapple to glacé cherries, go ahead! It’s your pudding.
  8. You can make a darker, richer pudding, if everyone will prefer it.
  9. If you’re not ready to make a pudding yet then make a batch of mincemeat instead; you can easily turn it into a pudding nearer Christmas.
  10. Don’t overheat your pudding. If you reheat it in a microwave, the fruit will caramelise when it gets too hot and you won’t improve the flavour.
  11. Finally, if you plan to flambé your pudding, do it safely. Heat only the amount of alcohol you need in a pan to just below boiling (keep a lid nearby in case you need to put out a flame), pour the alcohol onto the pudding and light it straight away with a long match. Don’t lean over the pudding until the flame has died out and don’t carry it around.

Christmas pudding recipe


  • 100g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 175g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • (veg version is fine) 175g shredded suet
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 220g currants
  • 220g sultanas
  • 1.25kg raisins
  • 25g chopped almonds
  • 200g cooking apple, grated
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ large orange, zested and juiced
  • 75ml stout


  • STEP 1

    Sift the flour with the spices then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the apple and mix well. Beat the eggs until frothy, stir in the orange juice, zest and stout. Add to the mixture and mix to combine thoroughly.

  • STEP 2

    Spoon into buttered basins (i use the plastic ones with snap on lids). This amount is enough to fill an 850ml basin and 3 × 425ml ones. Cover with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper before putting on the lid. Put into a saucepan on a trivet or upturned saucer and add boiling water to come a quarter of the way up the bowl and steam for six hours. Top up the water as you need to. Pour yourself a large glass of red wine and wait for the waft of cooking christmas pudding to emanate from the kitchen.

  • STEP 3

    Reheat by steaming again for an hour.

Try these four twists on a classic Christmas pudding:

Gluten-free Christmas pudding

This gluten-free take on a classic Christmas pudding has three types of ginger in the batter along with whiskey to give an extra kick to your dessert.

A whole Christmas pudding on serving plate

Easy Christmas pudding

Need an easy Christmas pudding for a no-stress dessert? Steamed in the microwave, this Christmas dessert is a simple freeze-ahead festive pudding that takes only 40 minutes to make.

Easy Christmas Pudding Recipe

Chocolate pudding

Check out our epic chocolate alternative to a Christmas pudding. Lindt balls buried in the centre of this deeply chocolatey pud give little melted caramel hits, perfect for a festive dessert that's easy but really impressive.

Gingerbread pudding

Check out our Christmas gingerbread pudding with sticky toffee sauce - an easy twist on a classic British dessert. Ginger is a traditional Christmas flavour and this recipe uses preserved and ground. You can use fresh grated ginger instead of the ground in the sponge, if you like.

Gingerbread Pudding Recipe with Sticky Toffee Sauce


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