The British Christmas Pudding (also known as ‘plum pudding’ or ‘figgy pudding) is a dense and delicious dessert made with dried fruit soaked in brandy, mixed with seasonal spices and other ingredients. It is then steamed and served with brandy cream sauce, creating an utterly delectable and truly timeless dessert for Christmas dinner.

A dark brown Christmas pudding on a plate with brandy sauce

This traditional British puddings, Sweet Mince Pies and Brandy Snaps were ever present my home during Christmas time and it brings back such fond memories for me growing up during the holiday season. This is how Christmas looked, much like a postcard (referencing the picture). The highlight was a dense, fruity pudding covered with brandy, set alight, smothered with a rich brandy sauce, and adorned with a sprig of holly.

A Christmas pudding soaked in brandy and ignited

The traditional of Christmas pudding

It is believed that it started its life as ‘pottage’, which is a soupy consistency of dried fruits, wine and spices in the Victorian era (in addition, a mention in the Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol).  It is supposed to have 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and his Disciples (I couldn’t stick to this because I did not want to sacrifice flavor and texture).

You’ll notice that I referred to this as plum pudding or figgy pudding. Surprisingly, it has no plums or figs, unlike its inception when that concoction was light years away from the recipe we know and love today. This might be because it’s easier to find the usual currants and raisins compared to the former.

Another tradition was to add a sixpence (an old English silver coin worth 6 pennies) to the mix to bring luck to the person who finds it. As cool as it sounds, I will not be continuing this tradition as I don’t really feel like metal seeping into my food.

How Christmas pudding is made

Everyone has their own favorite way to make it. It is typically started at least a month before eating. This is to allow the flavors to infuse and intensify. It starts with marinating dried fruit like dark and golden raisins, apple, candied orange peel and lemon peel nuts (I like almonds) in brandy for 24 hours.

The next day, after the dry ingredients are mixed together, the wet ingredients (eggs and brown sugar) are added. At this stage, you can steam right away, or wrap up well and store in a cool dry place until ready to steam.

Preparing Christmas pudding for steaming

To achieve it’s distinct shape, a 1 quart pudding bowl (2 pint pudding basin) is used. Making sure the pudding mixture is well sealed with circle of parchment paper and aluminum foil (aluminium for my friends in the United Kingdom) tied with string around the top of the basin. They is the key to the best Christmas pudding outcome. You do not want any water to seep in while steaming.

Cutting a slice of Christmas pudding

Tips for steaming Christmas pudding

The key items that are needed for the best results are, a large pan with lid, riser of some kind (to keep the bowl off the bottom of the pan). Enough water to come halfway up the bowl and maintaining this water level throughout the 7 hours of steaming. A glass lid helps monitor this.

How to cook Christmas pudding

It is always steamed using a thick, ceramic bowl called a pudding basin, which gives it its distinctive shape. Once the dough is added to the bowl, it is tightly covered with parchment paper and foil tied with string, then steamed in a large pan for 7 hours. Yep, not a misprint… 7 hours!

Alcohol free Christmas pudding

Even though this is an alcohol-laden dessert, I grew up in the days when it was ‘OK’ to have a little sherry at Christmas as a kid, so eating this was definitely not a big deal. If you’re not a fan of serving this to young children, you can replace the brandy with orange juice or apple juice.

Best alcohol for Christmas pudding

Brandy is traditional, as is sherry, and you can also use Cognac.

Brandy sauce recipe

The additional brandy sauce is a must to accompany the pudding. It is made with just a few ingredients (butter, flour, milk, creamy, sugar and, of course, brandy) that is served by pouring over the top of the pudding.

Pouring brandy cream sauce over a slice of Christmas pudding

Make ahead Christmas pudding recipe

The pudding is best when made ahead, way ahead. You can make the mix up to a year ahead as it just gets better with age. I think it tastes just as good if made only days or weeks ahead.

I like to make and steam the pudding about a week or so before Christmas Day. When it is cooled, wrap in parchment paper and a layer of foil and refrigerate. The night before you’re serving leave on the counter at room temperature, still wrapped. Warm (while wrapped) in a 300°F/150°C oven for 30-45 minutes.

How to serve British Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce

Traditionally, a little brandy is poured over and ignited which results in a beautiful blue and orange glow (see picture). Sliced, served on on a plate with warm brandy cream sauce (or fresh cream). Come to think of it… a mug of Baileys Belgian Hot Chocolate would also complement it nicely!

Storing Christmas pudding

If you find yourself with leftovers, store well wrapped in a cool place for up to 1 week or refrigerated for a good few months.

If you’ve made this British Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce leave a comment, or question below.

Yield: 8

British Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce

A fruity Christmas pudding on a pewter plate garnished with holly

A sweet and dense pudding made with dried fruit, brandy and other ingredients that is steamed and served with brandy cream sauce.

Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 1 day 7 hours


  • For the fruit marinade:
  • 2 cups (280 grams) dark raisins
  • 1 cup (140 grams) golden raisins
  • 1¾ cups (173 grams) 1 red apple, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup (60 grams) candied orange peel
  • ½ cup (60 grams) candied lemon peel
  • ⅓ cup (48 grams) blanched/peeled almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup (236 ml) brandy
  • For the dry ingredients:
  • ¾ cup (100 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup (75 grams) breadcrumbs
  • For the wet ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons (66 grams) suet or softened butter
  • ⅓ cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large whole egg & 1 egg yolk
  • For the brandy sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons (55 grams) butter
  • ⅓ cup (55 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups ( 354 ml) milk, warm
  • 1 cup heavy/double cream
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons brandy


  1. For the fruit marinade:
    Add all ingredients to a bowl, stir to mix well, cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

  2. For the dry ingredients:
    Add the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice and breadcrumbs to a separate bowl. Mix well, set aside.
  3. For the wet ingredients:
    To a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter with the brown sugar, egg, and egg yolk together until smooth.
    Stir in the fruit marinade (and any brandy that didn’t get soaked up by the fruit) until well mixed. Add half the dry ingredients, stir to mix well. Add the remaining half and stir until there is no visible flour. You can cover it tightly at this point and keep until you want to steam (to let the flavors blend). Or, you can steam right away, then wrap and keep until Christmas.
  4. Add parchment paper to a 1 liter/1 quart (6 inches/15 cm x 4 inches/10 cm) tall basin pudding dish.
    Pack the pudding mix into the bowl so it’s dense without gaps. Cover with parchment paper and 2 layers of foil. Tie tightly with string.
  5. Place a steam riser/trivet (or jam jar lid) onto the bottom of a tall pan with a lid. Place the bowl on top of the riser/trivet and fill with water until it reaches halfway up the bowl, place the lid on the pan. Bring the water to a light simmer/bubble and simmer for 7 hours. Check the water level every couple of hours.
  6. When done, remove from the steam bath and allow to cool in the bowl until you can handle. Remove the string, foil and parchment. Place a plate on top of the bowl and flip the pudding. Allow to completely cool and eat immediately or wrap well and refrigerate.
  7. To reheat:
    The night before you’re serving leave on the counter at room temperature, still wrapped. Place (wrapped) in a 300°F/150°C oven for 30-45 minutes. Or steamed the same way it was cooked for 45 minutes.
  8. For the brandy sauce:
    Add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat. When melting and bubbling, stir in the flour. Slowly add the milk while stirring until there are no lumps, stir in the cream and sugar. Cook until thicken. Stir in the brandy, serve warm.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 656Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 80mgSodium 223mgCarbohydrates 125gFiber 5gSugar 83gProtein 10g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.