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

71 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. 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

  2. Brian

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

  3. Maureen

    My son and his best friend loved this!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Shanty Irish

    I just watched a rerun of “Newhart”(Vermont) where Joanna made this yummy dish and it reminded me that I had forgotten about it ! I learned to make it on a visit to NH years ago and I’m excited to cook it up! Seems to be a New England favorite..too bad for the rest.

  5. Cyndee

    Two hours in the oven and still not set. Amount of cornmeal seems off – half cup?

    xxxxxyyyyy

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