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Old-Fashioned Steamed Pudding

In this article: This old-fashioned steamed pudding recipe has been passed down from generation to generation as a Christmas family traditional.

This old fashioned steamed pudding recipe was the finishing touch to every Christmas dinner when I was growing up. Served with a  rich vanilla butter sauce, it’s a decadent dessert.

Rather than being baked in the oven, this cake-like dessert is steamed in a can. “Steaming the pudding” was a method taught to me by my mom, so I’ll teach you how she taught me!

Related Christmas Recipe Posts: Overnight Buns, Bacon Wrapped Stuffing; Swedish Tea Rings

Old Fashioned Steamed Pudding Recipe| This Christmas recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. Served with a rich vanilla sauce, it is a decadent dessert for Christmas dinner. #christmas #christmasrecipes #recipes

How to Make Old Fashioned Steamed Pudding

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. baking soda beaten in 1 cup molasses {If you use a dark molasses, it will make the pudding a darker color…which is also nice.}
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups raisins
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • flour for stiff batter (about 3 1/2 cups)

Mix the batter

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. The batter should be thick and stiff.

thick pudding

Gather and prepare the supplies needed for steaming

  • 2 coffee cans
  • non-stick cooking spray oil
  • wax paper
  • aluminum foil
  • rubber bands
  • wide tape


Butter or spray {with a Pam-like product} the insides of the cans.  DO NOT use margarine.  Divide batter into cans so that they are 1/2 to 2/3 full.

{***Note…That can with a little lip on it was a bad idea! It was a nightmare to remove the cake with that in the way. We now cut it off with our can opener for next time…}

pudding in cans

Fold a length of wax paper into fourths (you want a thick layer) and lay over the top of one of the cans.  Put a rubber band around it to hold it tight while you tape around the bottom.  Do the same with the other can.

wax paper and tape

Top with aluminum foil.

aluminum foil

Place cans into a large pot with enough water to go about 1/2 way up on cans.

cans in water

Place the lid tightly on to the pot.

Steam the pudding until cooked through

Steam for 3 hours or until a long cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  {Check the pot from time to time to make sure the water hasn’t boiled dry.  Add more water if needed.}

baked steam pudding

Run a knife around the edges of the pudding and removed pudding immediately from the cans. Cool on a wire rack.


Make the Vanilla Sauce:

Place in a double boiler the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cream,
  • 2 cups sugar,
  • 3/4 cup butter,
  • 2 egg yolks, and
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

sauce ingredients

Cook together until butter is melted and the sauce is hot.


Additional Tips:

  • Old Fashioned Steamed Pudding can be made up to 1 month ahead of time, wrapped in saran wrap, and frozen.
  • I let it thaw out by sitting it out on the counter.
  • During Christmas dinner, wrap the pudding in aluminum foil and put it in a warm oven. Slice it while it is warm and serve with warm vanilla sauce.
  • The sauce can also be made a few days ahead of time, stored in the fridge covered, and then microwaved right before it’s needed.
  • If preferred some people like to serve this with fresh whipped cream.

Here is a Facebook live video showing how to prepare the pudding for steaming:

ready to eat

Linking To:  Funky Junk

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  1. LOVE this family favorite. I have altered the recipe to "bake-cook" it in the crock pot. Line the coffee can with waxed paper. Place paper towel on the top, folded to be fairly thick. Put in crock pot, the lid should actually touch the paper towels, and cook on high for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or so. The smell will tell you when it is done, and overdone. Much simpler than the "old" way!
    Rita's cousin Elaine

  2. This sounds like a dessert that was consumed on a frighteningly regular basis while I was in Ireland! Always served slathered in custard sauce….yummmmm….PERFECT for cold nights 🙂

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