Indian Pudding

DessertNew EnglandPudding

Traditional American Indian Pudding, a baked custard pudding made with cornmeal, milk, eggs, and sweetened with molasses. Perfect for Thanksgiving!

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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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Links:

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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

74 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Miriam

    There are varieties of this recipe… a little more of this, less of that but it is something once you’ve had it, becomes a fall classic. Be sure to check the date on the box of corn meal you are using if you only use corn meal once in a while. Make it late @ the night before Thanksgiving and you’ll wake up a few hours later to the smell of molasses. If you are driving on Thursday turkey day, it will stay hot in its casserole dish when you take it out of the oven 5-6 hours later.

  2. Cale

    I first made this recipe about ten years ago, after seeing the dish on a Thanksgiving edition of Iron Chef. I’ve made it virtually every year since. It’s definitely a book not to be judged by its cover and has become one of my all-time favorites. To serve, I microwave it while toasting some crushed pecans or walnuts, and I top it with whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a drizzle of molasses and some vanilla ice cream.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Gerald (Gerry)

    I haven’t made it yet, but before I do, I would like to know what type of molasses do you use?
    Thanks
    Gerry

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Brian

    My grandmother from outside of Boston would make this for me in the early ‘60s. Still remains one of my favorite desserts.

  5. Maureen

    My son and his best friend loved this!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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