Indian Pudding

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My first encounter with Indian Pudding was over 30 years ago at Durgin Park, a landmark restaurant in Faneuil Hall, Boston, famous for its home-style Yankee cooking and, at the time, its cranky, octogenarian waitresses.

Few desserts look so completely unappetizing yet taste so incredibly good. One bite of this lumpy, brown mush, with a dab of vanilla ice cream, and I was sold. Scraped every last bit from the bowl.

Indian Pudding

Why indian pudding isn’t more widely known I have no idea; it’s one of my favorite desserts of all time, and a traditional New England Thanksgiving classic. Indian pudding is a baked custard with milk, butter, molasses, eggs, spices, and cornmeal.

The name is likely derived from the cornmeal, which was known as indian meal way back when. Here is a tried-and-true recipe for indian pudding adapted from An Olde Concord Christmas, a long out-of-print book from the Concord Museum.

Indian Pudding Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10


  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 cup golden raisins (optional)
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream


1 Scald the milk and butter: Scald the milk and butter in a large double boiler. Or heat the milk and butter for 5 or 6 minutes on high heat in the microwave, until it is boiling, then transfer it to a pot on the stove. Keep hot on medium heat.

2 Preheat oven to 250°F.

3 Make cornmeal milk base: In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, and salt; stir in molasses. Thin the mixture with about 1/2 cup of scalded milk, a few tablespoons at a time, then gradually add the mixture back to the large pot of scalded milk. Cook, stirring until thickened.

4 Temper the eggs, combine with milk cornmeal mixture: Temper the eggs by slowly adding a half cup of the hot milk cornmeal mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture back in with the hot milk cornmeal mixture, stir to combine.

5 Add sugar, spices, raisins if using: Stir in the sugar and spices, until smooth. At this point, if the mixture is clumpy, you can run it through a blender to smooth it out. Stir in the raisins (optional).

6 Bake: Pour into a 2 1/2 quart shallow casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours at 250°F.

7 Cool for an hour: Allow the pudding to cool about an hour to be at its best. It should be reheated to warm temperature if it has been chilled.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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It's National Indian Pudding Day! Here's Why You Should Celebrate - fun article on NPR including another recipe for indian pudding

Showing 4 of 41 Comments

  • Ellen Donahue

    I first read your recipe for ‘chowdah’ and like you, my first experience with it was in Boston as a transplant. I feel like we must have crossed paths because I also worked at a financial co on State Street and all I wanted to do was EAT! Durgin Park turned me on to the fabulous Indian Pudding, a little hole in the wall diner down in Halifax got me hooked on a dish of succotash that I’ve not managed to skillfully re-create, but of course, nothing said comfort like a heaping bowl of fish or clam chowder from Union Oyster House or The No Name. MMM I can still smell it…now I’m in CA trying to draw on those 30+ yr memories! Thank you for the recipes!

  • sheila

    My family has always cooked Indian Puddin in the oven for 2-3 hrs in a “bean pot”covered n then uncovered with a little tilt to lid ….u get a brown top never made in casserole dish.

  • Nada

    What molasses should I use?? I have date molasses, should I use it??

  • Meredith

    Is the cook time really 2 hours? How shallow is the pan?
    I’m coming up on 1 hour cooking in a 2.5 qt cake type rectangular glass pan and it’s quite brown on top.

  • Oxenhandler

    On October 8th, 2011, Izzy wrote: “How do you know when it’s done? Mine’s been in for 2 hours but still looks pretty wet/soft. What does it look like when done?

    Elise replied: “It sort of has the consistency of hot cereal, like cream of wheat or oatmeal, so yes, it is somewhat soft.”

    Like Izzy, I followed the recipe and cooked for two hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit as directed but the pudding in the picture posted with the recipe is firm and holds its shape… that’s what I want mine to do, so, I’ve put it back in the oven, turned up the heat to 425 F. and set the timer for three more hours.

    The pudding in the picture is not firm. It looks that way because it is thick, not runny. It really does have the consistency of thick, hot oatmeal. It should be soft, not firm. ~Elise

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