A light Christmas pudding with no-weighing out

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Whenever I have served this to people who claim they do not like Christmas pudding, they have eaten their words – and the pud!

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I adore the traditional rich, sticky Christmas pudding but I know it is not to everyone’s taste. This, though, is a much lighter version of Christmas pudding that I have been making for decades, but it has enough richness and festive flavour that makes it an ideal celebration at Christmas.

To be honest, I have served this pudding at other times of the year and it has gone down well: certainly far better than the traditional pudding would at other times of the year!

This is also easier: not that a  Christmas pudding is tricky to make, but I appreciate a lot of people find it a bit of a chore with preparing all the ingredients and the like.

Great quality mincemeat is the key

Using a jar of mincemeat as the main fruit component perhaps makes this a cheat’s version (and there is no shame in that!). A great quality mincemeat (or a homemade one) makes all the difference.

The alcohol is entirely up to you: I love whisky in this pudding but rum or brandy are excellent.

I occasionally add extras such as chopped apple, mixed peel and chopped cherries, but often these are in a good mincemeat and the pudding still tastes great without these.

No weighing!

One of the joys of this pudding is there is no need to weigh anything: you just use the empty jar of mincemeat for the other ingredients –  going for about half a jar for some ingredients, sometimes about a quarter for others.

This is perhaps not too dissimilar to using “cups” as a measurement, but I can think of many UK people I have shared this recipe with previously who have felt somewhat liberated with using the jar and not weighing. And why not!

And if you are a little out with the ingredients, it really doesn’t matter with this pudding as it all cooks together beautifully!

A great last-minute pudding!

This pudding does not need to mature: it can be made a few days before you want to eat it or even on the day – and as it steams, you can simply get on with other things.

Steam or slow-cook

I vary between steaming (about 5 hours) or slow cooking (on HIGH for about 8 hours) when making this pudding. Both give outstanding results: a pudding that is suitably moist and delicate without being dry or rubbery (which can often happen if using a microwave for Christmas puddings).


If making this pudding ahead, when it comes to re-heating I go for about 2 hours if steaming and 4 hours in the slow cooker (on HIGH).

A simple sauce

To be honest, I often serve this with single cream into which I have mixed a generous splash of alcohol and enough sugar (any type) to give a light sweetness. You can heat the alcohol and dissolve the sugar in it if you prefer.

But a quick sauce made by heating this boozy cream until simmering, and adding just enough cornflour to thicken lightly before simmering gently for a minute or so, is fabulous: quicker and easier than a custard. And it works perfectly as an accompaniment to the pudding!

Recipe: lighter Christmas pudding – serves 6-8

  • 1 jar of good quality mincemeat (about 450g jar give or take 50g or so)
  • 1/2 jar of self-raising flour (no need to sift!)
  • 1/2 jar breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 jar black treacle
  • 1/4 jar dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 jar suet (or go to about half full with pieces of butter)
  • 4-5 tablespoons chopped nuts (any variety: but walnuts, almonds are wonderful)
  • 2 medium eggs (no need to beat them)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 jar rum, brandy or whisky
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

You will also need a 1.5 litre pudding basin, well buttered

(1) Take 2 tablespoons of the black treacle and mix with the orange juice and about 2-3 tablespoons of the alcohol. Pour into the pudding basin.

NB: as well as adding flavour, this will give a lovely glaze to the finished pudding

(2) Put all the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat until just combined. Spoon into the pudding basin and level off.

(3) Cover with lightly buttered foil (with a pleat around the centre to allow for expansion of the pudding) and steam over a medium heat for 5 hours – checking the water under the steamer every hour or so. Turn out and serve.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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