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!

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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.

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81 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Dom

    I remember Durgin Park restaurant as a child back in the 1960’s when it was still the real thing, prior to Faneuil Hall Market place renovation into a mall, was never the same after that. Try the recipe without eggs, it’s still my favorite, and when baking allow for a total of 3 1/2 – 4 hours at a 250 deg oven. Use only half the milk at first and then divide the remaining in two parts and pour over the baking pudding in intervals of one hour. This allows for deeper flavor, a smoother texture and a wonderful caramel topping. The use of eggs, higher temp and shorter baking time is used for a faster pudding at the expense of something more special.

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  2. SUE RAMAGE

    In the early 80’s, I took my first trip to New England and happened to purchase the cookbook at the Concord Museum. I made the Indian Pudding many times, but alas, after a move, I misplaced my book. So glad to find the recipe and thank you for sharing. The pudding is in the oven awaiting the arrival of some friends.

  3. Shay

    Add fresh ginger to this recipe

    Show Replies (1)
  4. unicorn vibes

    I love mine it was delish but it had a much darker crust type thing on top. is normal or did I over cook it?

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. 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.

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