This cranberry pudding is a moist molasses cake covered in a rich butter sauce. It’s everything a traditional Christmas pudding should be!

Christmas pudding | Cranberry pudding with butter sauce

My family has many Christmas traditions, one of my favorite of which is this Christmas cranberry pudding. My grandma makes this dessert every year on Christmas Day. As a child, I was pretty wary of it (a dessert without chocolate?!). However, when I finally reached the age to be adventurous enough to try it, I realized what all the adults had been talking about. This stuff was amazing! It’s basically the Christmas pudding that’s referenced in carols and Christmas stories, and a total treat. Keep reading for one of our very favorite Christmas recipes.

How to make Christmas cranberry pudding

This Christmas cranberry pudding is a steamed pudding, like the traditional English puddings. To make this Christmas cranberry pudding, you’ll need a steamer with 9-inch round pan or large stock pot and 9-inch round cake pan to create your own steamer. The Christmas pudding steams for about 2 ½ hours, so it’s easiest to make the morning or day before eating it. You can steam the pudding and then store it refrigerated until ready to enjoy.

How to make Christmas pudding butter sauce

The secret to this pudding is the magical butter sauce. My entire family goes crazy over it. Now, this website is devoted to healthy eating and butter sauce is definitely not on the top of the health food list. But, we also believe in indulging the occasional splurge, especially when it is a tradition!  The interesting thing about this Christmas cranberry pudding is that it contains no sugar, so it tastes pretty unsatisfying on its own. However, add the butter sauce and you have deliciousness incarnate.  I honestly think this Christmas cranberry pudding may be one of my favorite desserts ever – and it’s so rich that I’m happy to enjoy it to the fullest just once a year. (Well, twice this year, since I wanted to share it with you!)

The Christmas cranberry pudding does take a bit of time to make, but most of the time is hands-off while you wait for the pudding to steam. And it’s very worth the wait. If you are feeling adventurous, give this recipe a try for a special holiday meal – I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as our family does!

Looking for Christmas desserts?

Aside from this classic Christmas pudding, here are a few of our favorite easy Christmas desserts:

This Christmas cranberry pudding recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Christmas Cranberry Pudding with Butter Sauce


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 1x

Description

This cranberry pudding is a moist molasses cake covered in a rich butter sauce. It’s everything a traditional Christmas pudding should be!


Ingredients

Scale

For the Christmas cranberry pudding

  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • 2 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Special equipment: Steamer with 9-inch round pan OR large stock pot and 9-inch round cake pan

For the butter sauce

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Slice the cranberries in half. Place them in a colander and rinse out the seeds.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Gradually mix in the dark molasses and warm water. Fold in the cranberries.
  3. Grease the round pan and pour the cranberry mixture into the pan.
  4. Fill the steamer with water and place the pan in the steamer and cover with the lid. (If you don’t have a steamer, take a large stock pot and place an item in the bottom to elevate the cake pan, like a trivet, cookie cutter, empty tuna can, or folded dish towel. Then place the pan on top and fill the pot with water about half-way up the side of the pan.)
  5. Bring the water to a boil, and steam for about 2 ½ hours, checking the water level periodically, every 30 minutes or so, and refilling as needed. The pudding is done when you can insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out clean. Allow the pudding to cool. The pudding can also be made in advance and kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve, make the butter sauce: in a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, stirring often. Stir in the half and half and the sugar, then add the vanilla. To serve, cut the pudding into pieces and drizzle with butter sauce.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: British

Keywords: Cranberry Pudding, Christmas Pudding, Dessert, Holiday, Christmas, Cranberries, Butter, Molasses

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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43 Comments

  1. Ooooh, it has molasses in it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a steamed pudding but I sure do love just about anything that has molasses in it. I need to give this a try!

  2. Cranberry pudding with a hard sauce has been an 80 year tradition in my family. After some research, I believe the pudding to be US in origin, most likely the Northeast. The first published recipe was in Boston in the 1890’s.

  3. This recipe (almost exactly) has been in my husband’s family for at least 60 years, and I have been making it for 35 years at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I make it in an old fashioned pudding tin (like a tall skinny bundt pan) with a lid that it fits in perfectly. I steam it in a big stock pot sitting on a vegetable steamer (to keep it off the bottom) for about 2 hours. My husband makes the sauce and has been adding about 2-3 tbsp dark rum at the end. I grew up having plum pudding at Christmas that a family friend sent to my grandmother, and I always felt that the two desserts were very similar.

    1. What a small world! This is a tradition that is dear to my heart, growing up with it all these years. I love the idea of adding dark rum to the sauce! Thanks for writing, and hope you enjoy it this Christmas :)

  4. Wonderful to find this recipie and without the sugar in the cake. I remember it from my childhood – my mother and I think my paternal grandmother would make it – definitely with the butter sauce and I think also with some hard sauce as I remember the delicious contrast. And I recall that there might have been some flambe in the event as well. Seemed like a very old tradition. So nice to be able to access this again.
    Now, does anyone still eat port salut?!

    1. We love this Christmas pudding too! It is so fun to hear of others sharing the same tradition :) I don’t know that we’ve ever eaten port salut, though. Was that a tradition of yours as well?

      We’re off to go eat some pudding this evening. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  5. My brother made this recipe for our Xmas dessert (Thank you Tom!) The whole family was in absolute HEAVEN eating this! We used to have something similar when I was a kid…mom would steam it in a coffee can, and she told us it was an old family recipe. Wow, I’m so glad I have it, and you can bet it won’t be eaten just once per year!

    1. Thank you so much for letting us know, Sue! This is a very special tradition for our family and it means so much to us that you made the recipe AND loved it! It’s truly one of my favorite desserts ever — and even more special since I only eat it once a year. We love how the pudding is pretty tasteless on its own, but adding the butter sauce makes it a truly amazing treat! Thanks for writing, and I hope that this can become a new tradition for your family too :)

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