Pressure Cooked Christmas Pudding

This is not a recipe passed-down through my family or by an old friend – Italians don’t have a Christmas Pudding tradition as is very common in the UK,  Australia and a few American households. I’ve had to do lots of research and testing to come up with my own pudding recipe . I’m not a big fan of raisins so I went with  tart cranberries and tangy apricots as the dried fruit for this pudding – try it, or sub with your favorite dried fruit.

To suet or not to suet, that is the question.

Most traditional and older pudding recipes include suet – the fat from a specific part of the cow- lard just won’t do. I knew right away that I would not be making these puddings as suet is  not available in Italy and I had no plans to go as far as making my own (though tutorials online abound if you’re interested).

No readily available suet is what kept t me from working on this recipe for years.  Then, an Aussie reader posted a christmas pudding recipe she’d been cooking for 40 years in the forums and  it didn’t call for suet. The clouds parted.  I stopped the hand-wringing and set out to bringing you a pudding recipe without suet.

No-pressure pre-steaming – do it!

I’m not the first to pressure cook a pudding, British and Aussie cooks have been doing this for years but I was really confused about why their recipes directed the cook to steam the pudding without pressure before pressure cooking.  On the surface it seemed like some medieval hold-over from before the dawn of baking powder – so I wasn’t convinced this was a necessary step. I put this curious bit of “cooking lore” to the test by  cooking the same pudding in two batches.  The first pudding was cooked with “no-pressure pre-steaming and pressure cooking” and the second  was only pressure cooked.  Everything looked the same – each pudding had grown to similar size – but the difference was on the inside. The pudding that was no-pressure pre-steamed had a more cake-like crumb.  Where the inside of the just pressure cooked pudding was a little uneven and even a bit  rubbery.

Yes: Pre-steam the pudding without pressure. Don’t worry, it won’t add disproportionate amounts of time to the recipe because once the steaming is up the cooker will come to pressure almost instantly.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger steamer basket, heat-proof bowl(s) 15 & 30 min. None & High(2) Natural + 10min

4.9 from 9 reviews
Pressure Cooker Christmas Pudding
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 1 Pudding
  • Serving size: 1/12th (one slice)
  • Calories: 314.3
  • TOTAL Fat: 15.7g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 38.8g
  • Sugar Carbs: 27.9g
  • Sodium: 165.8mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 1.7g
  • Protein: 3.8g
  • Cholesterol: 115.5mg
Recipe type: Dessert, pressure cooker
Cuisine: British
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe pre-steams the pudding without pressure and then cooks it with pressure. This procedure involves removing the pressure valve from the lid, and then putting it back on (carefully) when the lid is still hot. If you have a normal non-pressure cooking lid for your pressure cooker you can use that instead of fussing with the valve.
  • ⅔ cup (100g) dried cranberries, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • ⅔ cup dried (100g) apricots, chopped and soaked if they are not already soft
  • ⅛ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200g) raw (Demarara) sugar
  • 3 tsp (11g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 15 tablespoons (1¾ sticks or 200g) un-salted butter, roughly chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) maple syrup
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about 100g)
  1. Put the dried cranberries and apricots, or dry fruit of your choice, in a small deep bowl and cover with boiling water. Then, tightly seal the top with plastic wrap and set aside - I used "soft" dried apricots that did no need to pre-soak. If your dried fruit is leathery and dry, definitely soak it.
  2. Prepare a pudding mould, or 5-cup capacity heat-proof bowl by adding a drop of olive oil, and then spreading it around with a paper towel until the inside of the bowl is well covered, and set aside. If the bowl does not have handles, construct a foil sling to lower and raise the pudding out of the pressure cooker.
  3. Prepare the pressure cooker base with two cups of cold water and the steamer basket or trivet.
  4. Into a food processor bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt . Pulse a few times to mix.
  5. Then, add the chopped butter and pulse a few more times until evenly distributed.
  6. Next, add the eggs and maple syrup, and pulse the processor a few times until well blended.
  7. Strain the dried fruit, and give it a quick rinse under cold water if it's still a little bit hot. Sprinkle the dried fruit and grated carrot on top of the mixture.
  8. Use a spatula to stab, zig-zag and otherwise mix the fruit through the mixture.
  9. Coax the pudding batter into the prepared bowl using the spatula. Lower the un-covered bowl onto the steamer basket and close the pressure cooker lid.
  10. Cover the pressure cooker with a normal lid, or plate - if you don't have one that fits your pressure cooker remove the pressure valve and gasket from the pressure cooker lid; or, set the valve to "release" or "no pressure".
  11. Electric pressure cookers: turn on the Brown/Saute setting and when steam starts sneak out of the pressure cooker (in about 10 minutes), start counting down 15 minutes of steam-without-pressure pre-cooking time.
    Stove top pressure cookers: turn on the heat to the highest setting. When steam begins coming out of the valve (in about 10 minutes), lower the heat to medium and start counting down 15 minutes of steam-without-pressure pre-cooking time.
  12. When time is up remove the lid tilting it to the side to guide the condensation under the lid away from the pudding. Add the pressure cooking lid, or put the valve and gasket back one - the lid will be hot so use oven mitts or tongs to do this.
  13. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  14. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 35 minutes at high pressure.
    Stove top pressure cookers: Lock the lid, and cook for 30 minutes at high pressure.
  15. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (about 20 minutes).
  16. Leave the pressure cooker closed for an additional 10 minutes after the pressure has released - this is important as a pudding that is too hot coming out of the cooker will turn hard and dry very quickly. If you intend to cool the pudding and serve it at another time, anyway, leave the pudding in the cooker for 20 minutes more after the natural release.
  17. Remember to tilt the pressure cooking lid when you remove it to prevent the condensation from dibbling back onto the pudding.
  18. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the pudding - it should come out clean if the pudding is fully cooked.
  19. Lift the pudding out of the pressure cooker and cover tightly until ready to invert and serve.
  20. Serve with an optional dousing of fresh cream.

Pressure Cooked Christmas Pudding
Pressure Cooked Christmas Pudding

You can use any tried and true steamed pudding recipe in your pressure cooker following this technique, cooking times and opening method. If you make the puddings in ramekins, instead, steam-without-pressure for 10 minutes and pressure cook for 10 minutes, and then follow the pressure release instructions.

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  1. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I have to make it dairy free as my husband is allergic to it. So, I may try a combination of coconut butter and olive oil. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    1. I’m excited to hear how it turns out. BTW, I didn’t have enough butter for one of my test puddings so I used 150 grams of butter and 50 grams of olive oil. It turned out well, anyway!

      Substituting butter with olive oil was not one of the goals I had – I was already entering uncharted waters making puddings – so I can’t tell you how far you can go.

      It would be great to read from more experienced pudding-making readers to find out what substitutions worked for them!



  2. I have made the Aussie one four or five times now. I see I will have to try it again without the foil cover and for this shorter time. With a 96 and a 85 year old gracing the table we have to keep a lot of tradition. It is radical enough not boiling the pudding for 20 hours two months early. Getting rid of the raisins, sultanas (and brandy!) would be a bridge too far. We have tried the other pudding on the 96 year old and it meets approval.

    I will wait until after Christmas to try this one as published.

    PS good to see you are starting to use weights on your “medium carrots” Now for the eggs :)
    And those bay leaves look gorgeous. The ones off my try are pale and insipid in comparison.

    1. Hi Greg…know just what you’re talking about! My lovely (late) mother-in-law was a stickler for the ‘boiled in a cloth for 60 hours’ pudding. Of course, I never told her that mine was much the better one! So glad the 96 year old approved.

    2. You can probably sauce this pudding with limoncello (to keep with the tart theme) – but I haven’t tried it as my kids inhale these puddings right out of the pressure cooker- or after I photograph them. I don’t want to leave a liquor-soaked sitting around the house where my 6 and 9-year-olds could discover it. ; )



  3. Thank you for this posts, Laura. I wrote you a couple of years ago asking for the steamed pu-, dding method, and you replied saving me HOURS of steaming on the stove. I have my Mum-in-law’s plum pudding recipe, but I usually make Persimmon Pudding and Carrot Pudding for Christmas. I didn’t know about pre steaming, though. I will do that this year.

    Thanks for your good work with the p/c

    1. Could you bear to share these recies with us, KSyrahsyrah? They sound lovely (and we do love a good pudding, in winter especially).

    2. I remember! But… I think your pudding was more like a flan?!? Thanks for visiting and letting me know.


      L ; )

  4. @Laura, I am so making this! I might try one with butter just as you did above, and a second one with low-fat fat. ) I love the experimenting you did about steaming; I would have pondered the same thing, glad you tried it for us.

    @ Greg , I so hear you about keeping the traditions at Christmas, as Jane Grigson once said, “In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.”

    1. Thanks Randal – greatly curious minds think alike. ; )



  5. Well, sadly this post came one day late as I tried my own experimentation in pressure steaming a cranberry pudding recipe. I covered mine with foil and following Jamie Oliver’s advice steamed it until the pressure valve closed on its own and then pressure cooked for another hour, then natural release. Mine is dense and rubbery. Maybe I’ll have to make a lot of hard sauce to get the family to pre-eat mine so I can make a new one before Christmas.

    Thanks a lot Laura, as always your advice on pressure cooking is a life changer. I asked Santa for your cookbook… I thin I’ve been a good girl. ;)

    1. Pre-eat, hahaha! : )

      I didn’t want to get too long in the introduction, but during my tests I also did a covered and un-covered pudding – both of these came out under-done. Covered puddings need much more time under pressure to be fully cooked than I consider to be practical.



  6. I’m going to try your new version, too,Laura. It sounds divine!! (That will be in the new year.) For the first time in 40 years I have NOT made Christmas puddings!!! Gasp!!! We are flying off to visit our adult children interstate as our son is rostered on to work on Christmas Day, so plans had to be changed. Our daughter (same state) is hostess, therefore, and asked me to not bother carting a pudding on the plane. I’ll be taking gingerbread biscuits instead….Have to feed my kids whenever I get the chance!! I really miss baking etc for them.

    1. That’s really nice that your son is working on Christmas day. If I have to shop or get something done during the holidays I’m always profoundly thankful to those who skipped spending time with their family to be available – and I tell them so.

      Thank your wonderful son for me, too! Aren’t you proud?!?



  7. He is an Emergency Department doctor, Laura. He is just 2 months away from sitting his consultancy exams after working in hospitals for nearly 8 years….It’s been a looong time and so much extra study, and we admire his dedication so much (and of course, we adore him!!).

    1. In which case we are doubly thankful. It is a tough but sadly necessary job that day. I hope that means he gets NY off then.

      1. Thanks,Greg. EDs are tough places these days…..And ,yes, he does get NY off!

  8. Hi, just a comment on suet. Suet is beef fat, or maybe from sheep, but it’s not lard from hogs. Suet is a very hard fat because it’s highly saturated and has to be grated for this kind of cooking if you get a chunk of it. Pork fat is less saturated and is softer.

    I’m very glad you posted this. I was just wondering the other day if you could pressure cook puddings. :)

    1. Thanks for the clarification – I have made it more clear in the article that suet is from Beef – the only “animal fat” available for sale commercially (at least every place I’ve lived) is lard so I wanted to point out that it’s not a suitable substitute.



      1. Suet is the hard fat from the kidneys and loins of cattle and sheep. However, lard is a really really great. We use in the masa for tamales. It has a lot of flavor and would work well for puddings, cakes and pies. This is what many people used in earlier times when the markets did not have processed oils. They used it and suet in pies, biscuits and for all forms of cooking.
        I can’t wait to try this recipe and I may be using coconut oil but I do have some lard on hand. I just purchased several Mason & Cash pudding bowls calling me to try them out. : )

  9. Laura, I’m new to your site but am already amazed at the wealth of information you provide. This pudding recipe looked great, I just took one out of the cooker and have a second steaming right now! Will follow up with the results, we can’t wait to taste it!

    This is really cool to me because my wife and I own a home on Drummond Island, Michigan. When the British occupied the Island in the 1800’s they named it Drummond and also named a stone the “Pudding Stone” because it is basically a quartz conglomerate with colored Jasper that reminded them of their puddings. Your recipe looks like one of our pudding stones that decorate our yard!

    Thanks for all you do. I’ll post a picture with comment after we taste it.

    1. Well, at least if you do it right – the pudding won’t be hard as a rock. ; )

      The Pudding Stone in Michigan is amazingly beautiful. Thanks for teaching me something new!

      1. Yes, not hard as a rock :) Some of the stones are white to yellow to almost black background. They slice them with rock saws; we have an extra apartment with a bathroom counter of these tiles.

        This was for an office sharing day – I think most will really like it. The flavor is wonderful, consistency is good for my first try. I wanted to guinea pig it before making it for my family.

        Pretty sure I overblended the ingredients, although it’s almost there. Also I had a release issue from the mold (glass, corning ware). The sides released fine but it stuck a bit to the bottom. I set the second in a pan of warm water and it let go better, but I’m thinking of using a circle of parchment paper on the bottom for the next try?

        Again, thanks for all you do!

        1. Last pic. Our counter…

          People are loving the pudding!

  10. I found this Bread / Cake pan for a Rival Slow cooker Today at a thrift store. It seems like a great steamer for puddings it even has vents in the lid. What do you think? I think it is from the 1970’s. Would the vents do the trick to prevent condensation getting onto the puddings?

    1. Hmmm… I don’t know. It seems like this would make “too much” steam come out for the “pre-steam without pressure step) but I’m not sure. The shape is similar to a Kuhn Rikon lid (without the vents) which is designed to funnel condensation to the edges.

      Are there any instructions on how to use it? Also, what is the handle made of? I would remove it before putting it under pressure – just to be safe.

      What a neat find!



  11. Here is the interior of the pan. I would line it with parchment paper. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. If it’s not aluminum you won’t need to line the mould. A light coating of oil and all of the butter from the pudding will be all this needs to unmold.

      The pudding will shrink a little while cooling and pull away from the sides. If the bottom (top of the pudding) suctions to the base, just slide a knife into the space between the pudding and the bowl and pull it in-wards just a bit to break the seal.



  12. Hi Laura, yes the cake tin is aluminum. I did find recipes online but can’t find the link presently. They bake cakes for 4 hours on a high setting in a slow cooker! When I use it, I would definitely take the handle off. I can’t imagine waiting four hours for a cake. Pressure cooking is the way to go.

  13. Just found the link. Apparently, breads in the slow cooker are done in a dry slow cooker without using a rack under it. It becomes a bread oven. Wonder how this would work with the slow cooker setting in my Instant pot. Another avenue to explore!

  14. I made this for the very first time on Christmas day. No test run – just hope and faith in the recipes I have found here so far! I substituted part of the sugar with Splenda and made it in my Instant Pot – it turned out great! And it was so easy! Even easier than the directions given for a stovetop pressure cooker since I didn’t have to remove the valve, etc., I just had to flip mine from “venting” to “sealed” without ever even opening the lid to peek!

    It did leave a thin film of crumbs in the Corningware dish that I used, but my husband said that that is normal for steamed puddings. As you can see it came out of the dish all in one piece though! Mine was a bit paler than the one pictured here, but that may be due to having less sugar. It’s certainly tasty!

    1. Wow, your pudding looks great. Thanks for the confidence – I’m so glad to read that you enjoyed it as well!



  15. Happy New Year Laura
    For Christmas Day, we made Aless6’s Pudding but using the method here. It turned out brilliantly. I am relieved. I am not a big fan of using lots of Al-Foil as her original method required. I didn’t even make a sling. I just used some pot holders to lift it out. One of the advantages of the KR 12L is that there is plenty of room down the sides.

    Then two days ago when my senior daughter Niree came to visit, we tried this one, only subbing brown sugar for the demarara. We lost the top getting it out of the basin, but otherwise excellent. But having had them almost back to back, I have to say I prefer Aless6’s. But then I don’t have a problem with raisins. ;)

    Incidentally, she is moving to Italy in a couple of weeks. Her boyfriend is doing a study course in Turin (Torino?) and she is accompanying him. Visa issues mean she won’t be able to stay the whole time though.

  16. My Instant Pot Duo just arrived yesterday and I’ve already made a few foods with good success. Today I tried to make steamed pudding using my grandma’s recipe (sort of). She always made persimmon pudding for the holidays with persimmons from her tree. I had some sweet potatoes to use up so used those instead of persimmons. Using your method and times the sweet potato pudding came out perfect! To tell the truth, I can’t really tell any difference from the persimmon pudding. I used a 1 1/2 quart pyrex bowl. The color finish was browned and it took me a while to scour off the discoloration. Maybe I’ll need to use a glass bowl. Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

  17. Sounds so good. My pudding dish is smaller. Can this recipe be cut in half. Would I have to change how long it cooks?

    Wanting to make it for Christmas.

    1. Yes you can. And yes you will. From above:
      “If you make the puddings in ramekins, instead, steam-without-pressure for 10 minutes and pressure cook for 10 minutes, and then follow the pressure release instructions”

      Just to be sure you get the timing right, make a couple of trials before Christmas so you can be sure you get it right. the testers won’t go to waste believe me. Though they will probably go to waist. ;)

  18. Are there adjustments that would make it possible to convert a recipe for a baked fruitcake into a steamed fruitcake/pudding? The recipe I am thinking of requires a pan of water in the oven while baking, so I speculate that it should be possible to pre-steam and pressure cook it rather than bake it. Am I right or wrong? I can share the recipe if that would be helpful.

    1. Yes, just use the same recipe and follow this technique – only issue might be the quantity. So add the ingredients up in your head, and then measure the container you will cook it in to see if if they fit. If you’ve already made it and your pudding mold fits in the pressure cooker then you’re all set. Just remember NOT to cover the pudding mold. Instead of keeping the steam from escaping in a baking situation you want the steam to go IN during the steam and pressure cooking.



  19. Thank you Laura!
    How timely is this, making my pudding today! My recipe is similar using grated carrot, potato and apple as the fresh part. It traditionally is only steamed on the stovetop for 2 1/2 hours, but I wondered about using my IP to pressure steam. Glad to hear your test results, might give it a try. Not having to baby sit the water level for the whole time is definitely a bonus ;)
    My Scottish Grandmother’s pudding was a bit darker in colour and deeper flavoured, mine is a bit lighter. I still top it, warmed, with a small scoop of her Hard Sauce recipe in addition to whipped cream, it wouldn’t be the same without.
    Hard Sauce:
    1/2 cup soft butter
    2 T dark rum
    1 1/2 c icing sugar
    Cream all together and refrigerate until firm.
    It’s also traditional in our family to serve the leftovers for breakfast, fried in bacon fat on Boxing Day…weird, but delicious!

    1. Oh, I meant to add… my recipe does call for ground suet, but I substitute with butter and it works fine, maybe just a little lighter in texture and consistency.

    2. Dale, thanks for sharing your Grandmother’s hard sauce! Love the re-working of the leftovers, too!



    3. Update…I did use my normal recipe in my pudding mould topped with waxed paper and the lid clicked into place and it all worked well! My recipe is quite different and simpler, but the results were the same as steaming for a couple hours.

  20. Hi there, Thanks Laura for publishing this method for pressure cooking puddings!
    I have a question, the recipe I am making (Nigella Lawson’s) calls for a sealed pudding, boiled for a thousand hours, (which I am not prepared to do!) should I make it as you have un-sealed? My pudding mould is 1litre/quart. So I will be making the recipe in batches, and would much prefer to only cook for 30minutes at full pressure than the hour that I have seen elsewhere…
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    Cheers from Australia!

    1. Welcome, Karl. Unless the mold has holes in it to allow pressure to equalize both inside and outside the mold, I recommend NOT sealing it. The whole point is for the pudding to get steamy but not wet – and it does this just fine in the pressure cooker vs. it tumbling around in a pot of boiling water.

      Please come back to let us know how it went – post a picture!



      1. Hi Laura, despite a mad panic when it wouldn’t get to pressure (i didnt put enough water in and it boiled dry…), it turned out perfectly!
        Thanks again, for your recipe/cooking method and your quick reply to my question.
        The pudding was a hit on Christmas day.

        1. Picture!

  21. I made the pudding for Christmas Day and it was a hit! I made a second one just because and we used the rum icing or hard sauce recipe in comments and now I might have to make one a week for my husband. Thank you very much for this recipe. Gaining confidence with my Instant Pot and your book is definitely helping.

  22. I have traditional pudding molds from my family. They have lids. Would I want to use the lids or not? I do believe that when they were used in a pot of steaming water the lids were always on.

    1. When the molds are in a pot of steaming water – you want to ensure that nothing splashes onto the pudding. There is no danger of the steaming liquid splashing on pressure cooked pudding! If the lids sit on top lightly it’s not an issue. They cannot be hermetically sealed because the mold WILL build pressure when it’s in the pressure cooker, and the molds don’t have pressure signals, valves or safety mechanisms.

      Sting-tied tin-foil is your best bet. ; )



  23. I was hoping to find a recipe without an added leavening agent. Have you tried it without the baking soda? Isn’t the idea that the steam would provide leavening?

    1. No, the steam cooks the pudding – it does not leaven it. However, that’s an interesting idea- where did you read that steam can leaven sweets? I certainly test it once I understand the mechanism.

      I’ve only ever heard of unleavened bread – which is a flat crunchy kind of bread – but if it is possible to do with sweets and steam that would be interesting. Please tell me more!



  24. Thank you Laura . After 31 years I finally cooked a steam pudding. My husband went back for second and thirds. Just used store cupboard dried fruit. Prunes raisins and currents. I was suspicious of my prestige brand pressure cooker so added 3 cups of water. It went dry 4 minutes early. Extra standing time saved the day.Time to buy a recommended brand pressure cooker. And one for each of my nephews for their 21st birthdays

    1. I see you cook Down Under :D

  25. A little confused by the sugar listed. To me raw sugar is turbinado sugar which is very different than demerara. Demerara is super dark, raw sugar is extremely light. I would assume for a Christmas pudding I would want dark. Just want to make sure.

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