Indian Pudding

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

  • 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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  • Brian

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

  • Maureen

    My son and his best friend loved this!!!


  • 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.

  • Cyndee

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


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Cyndee, Indian pudding sort of has the consistency of hot cereal, like cream of wheat or oatmeal. It’s not supposed to set so much. The time in the oven is more to cook the various sugars to bring out more flavor.

  • LeeAnn

    I found your recipe about 7 years ago now, and I have made it many times. Every time it is consistently amazing, and perfect. I have one in the oven now with 21 minutes left to bake. So wonderful. Thank you for posting this!


  • Isabella

    This was easy to make, and delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I made it today for our second Thanksgiving Dinner. I also had my first Indian Pudding at Durgin Park!My Fannie Farmer cookbook has a similar recipe, but with ginger instead of nutmeg. I don’t know if I’ll try that, because this was pretty great.


  • KissMeKate

    It turned out well!
    Can you make this and freeze it before baking?


  • Jenn t

    I, remember as a kid growing up in Connecticut canned Indian pudding. This recipe is awesome. Also reminded me of the Indian pudding they serve at the “Student Prince” in Springfield, MA

  • Rod Cleaves

    Indian Pudding is an old tyme (sic) New England desert. I grew up with it in the 40’s. I just found this site and recipe. It’s almost exactly how we made it back then. One difference though, we served it with chilled Hard Sauce rather than ice cream or whipped cream. Hard Sauce is nothing more than: confectioners sugar, butter, and a flavor to your liking. Some people like vanilla, I like brandy or maybe a almond essence. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar until it’s almost too stiff to stir, add the flavor and refrigerate.

    A cold dollup of Hard Sauce on well warmed Indian Pudding and God can take me home.


  • David

    I’m about to make my mothers version of Indian Pudding (or as I am calling it here in Berkeley, CA, Indigenous Peoples Pudding). This is the version I’ve been eating for fifty years:
    1 Cup yellow corn meal
    1/4 Cup sugar
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 Cup butter
    1/2 Cup black molasses (not bootstrap)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 1/2 quarts hot milk (6 cups)

    Raisins in baked goods is sacrilege in my house.

    • Sue

      David, I like your ingredient list. Is your method the same as this recipe’s?


      • David

        My method is pretty simple:
        1. Warm milk on stove or in microwave until hot.
        2. Put all ingredients in a crock pot, stir well, and cook on low for 5 hours, stirring occasionally to break up lumps and crust.
        3. Eat with vanilla ice cream.

        I’ve made this with with both full-fat milk and non-fat, and while full fat milk gives it a richer taste it is not diminished with the non or low fat milk.

  • Christina

    Is it possible to use lactose feee milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc? Thanks!!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Christina, good question! I haven’t tried it with any of those substitutions but think it’s worth a try. I don’t see a reason for it not to work with lactose free milk or almond milk. Coconut milk might introduce too weird of a flavor.

      • Christina

        Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll let you know how it comes ou if I end up doing the milk substitution! Happy Holidays!

  • Nidia Moller

    I tried your recipe for Indian Pudding. The cornmeal seemed to sink to the bottom of the pan and form a thick layer, while the rest of the mixture formed a pudding. Is this normal, or am I doing something wrong?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Nidia, sounds to me like you needed to cook the mixture longer in step 3. The mixture should thicken, which would distribute the cornmeal more evenly through it.

  • Robyn Lawson

    I just love this site….you can print a recipe and not have to print all the ads and gobbly-gook. You get just the recipe and save your ink and paper for more of their recipes!!!! And they are all good.

  • Zemira

    If the consistency should be that of hot cereal (like cream of wheat), as someone noted, then it seems to me overkill to increase wet ingredients so much just to essentially “dehydrate” the pudding in the oven.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hello Zemira, the purpose of baking the pudding in the oven is not simply to dehydrate it. There are sugars and proteins in Indian Pudding that caramelize and brown in the long slow cooking in the oven, resulting in a much deeper flavor for the pudding than you would have if you skipped the baking.

      • Zemira

        Thank you for the helpful reply. I will have to whip some up soon to find out!

  • 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!

    • Elise Bauer

      Such great memories! The No Name serves the best fish chowder I have ever eaten anywhere. I took my nephew to Durgin Park a few years ago. It was so much fun to watch his eyes light up as he tried out a bite of their Indian pudding. It really is the best.

  • 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??

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Nada, usually I use unsulphured molasses which is made from cane sugar. You could try making it with date molasses. I’m sure it would be delicious.

  • 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.

    • Hugh

      Mine is very dark and does not appear to be set after 2 hrs baking. Will it set up during the cooling process? Smells heavenly coming out of the oven

      • Elise Bauer

        Hi Hugh, it doesn’t really set that well. It’s got the consistency of oatmeal. The long cook time is to develop flavor.

  • Funlayo

    This recipe was absolutely deelish! I had never tried this or made it, but I made some for Thanksgiving dinner Thursday and it was a definite hit. The kids even liked it and we know how picky they can be.

    I used canned evaporated milk (diluted) because I always find it a little sweeter and creamier than fresh milk. I could have stood for it to be just a tad thicker, I think I will try a little extra corn meal next time. And I like the idea of chopped walnuts that I’ve seen in other recipes for this so I will try that next time too — this is an instant favorite for me so there will certainly be a next time!

    I tried some of the leftover with coffee ice cream instead of vanilla and it was very tasty!


    • sheila

      Also try cutting up some canned fried apples and fold in to mixture and cook in bean pot….so tasty!

  • anna

    This is so unbelievably good! I had never tried it, made this and it’s delish! A nice break, or addition to, the pumkin pie for dessert. I make it early in the day and keep on the counter to cool. For diabetics, try using some Agave nectar, works great as a sugar substitute, low glycemic, natural and a neutral flavor.


  • hungrygrrl

    Is it me or is that an awful lot of nutmeg?


    It gets overpowered by the molasses. ~Elise

  • Lisa

    I just loved this pudding! My daughter and daugter-in-law surprised me with this at my shower. It was so good that I am planning on using this recipe to make for my family this Christmas. I first had indian pudding at a resturant here in Maine ovaer fifteen years ago and really loved it. Thanks so much Elise for sharing this. I love the idea that it is an old fashioned recipe too.


  • 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

  • Cindy

    I always wondered if Indian pudding existed outside of my family, so I did a search and found this. I find it interesting how different the Indian pudding is while the same as what I’ve known. My family’s recipe has been passed down since they first settled Eastern LI NY, I’m the 17th generation since. But, the pudding I’ve had was cooked on the stove in a steamed pudding pan. It always came out as a sweet bread. It looks as the recipe is almost the same. I’ll have to try it sometime for comparison.

  • Izzy

    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?

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

  • Susan

    When I was growing up in Keene, NH, we had a local dairy who operated a walk-up ice cream establishment in the summers. It was called “MacKenzies”, for those who might recall… They had dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream, one of which, my FAVORITE!, was Indian Pudding ice cream! YUMMMMY! They also had a Grape Nuts flavor, which was equally as good!

    I don’t know anything about making ice cream at home, but I suppose now that there’s an acceptable recipe for indian pudding, that perhaps, someone could figure it out? :)

    • Carolyn

      I am working on a cornmeal ice cream as I type!

  • Patti

    I have been looking for the Howard Johnson’s Indian Pudding recipe. I had it on a trip to Maine in the 70’s. I loved it and I would go to Howard Johnson’s after that just to have it. I have used other recipes and the results have not been the same. I am hoping this one will be the one I’ve been looking for. Like many others, if anyone knows of available cans of Howard Johnson’s Indain Pudding or the recipe, I’d love to have either. Thanks so much!

  • Carole

    Yes, the lady above is right…the name is Howards and to my knowledge was only served at Howard Johnsons resturant. I went there about 35 years ago and would always have fried clams and then Indian Pudding. The Howard Johnson closed a long time ago and I haven’t been able to get the cans of pudding since. Sure wish I could find it in cans somewhere. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks

    • Velma

      This is probably a very old post but I found Indian Pudding in a can at Market Basket in Waltham, MA The brand name is Bar Harbor. I haven’t tried it yet but i bet it’s good

  • Ellen in Conn

    My Mom always makes Indian Pudding from Haydn Pearson’s “Countryman’s Cookbook”, 1947, with half maple syrup and half molasses for sweetening. We sometimes put in a bit of chopped, crystallized ginger, but I prefer it without. My cornmeal I get from Whit Davis of Pawcatuck, Conn, who grows the ancient flint corn. Alternatively, I get it from Kenyon’s Mill of Usquepaugh, RI.

    “Mr. Pearson” is my favorite cookbook ever. I have found copies for my kids, and transcribed the family notes into theirs.

    Do you remember, was it Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Mom, Caroline, who made “Rye and Injun Bread”?

  • Bill

    The introduction is something I could have written myself, except my discovery of Indian Pudding at Durgin Park was over 40 years ago. At that time, they gave out a free pamphlet with recipes, and we’ve been making IP at holiday time here in Los Angeles ever since. The pamphlet recipe is essentially the one on the restaurant’s website, but doubled. And it calls for baking soda instead of baking powder and half the salt. (1/4 tsp for the double batch) We’ve been making it in a crockpot for the past few years and it’s the perfect way to go — the original recipe finishes with the note: “The secret of its excellence lies in its slow and careful cooking.” Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Sussn

      How long in the crockpot?

  • Astra Libris

    I’m seconding many of the comments here, writing to thank you for reviving Indian pudding! Amongst my grandmother’s treasury of handwritten recipes cards is, indeed, one marked “Indian pudding.” It’s nice to know cornmeal desserts haven’t been forgotten.

  • Sally C

    Smith College staple in the 60s. and tasty.

  • n8

    How great to find this recipe and your site. My Mom and I used to stop at a Howard Johnson’s near the southern edge of the Adirondack Park as we’d travel north for vacations. I remember the place had very cool stuffed dinosaurs and Indian pudding that I adored. I’ve always wondered about making that dish myself. Now, at least, I can try! I’m glad I clicked through the GMail banner for this post. :)

  • Janet

    mmmm, my favorite dessert! My cousin just went to Durgin Park last Monday and raved about the Indian Pudding :-) I think I’ll make this for Thanksgiving, instead of pumpkin pie.

  • Marianne

    It is so nice to see a thread about Indian Pudding! It is my absolute favorite dessert, one that I have every Thanksgiving.

    I am a true East Coast girl and I love introducing people to Indian Pudding. When I lived in California for two years after college it was my go-to potluck staple that no one had ever heard of but always ended up loving. My recipe calls for a mixture of grade B maple syrup and molasses and I don’t use any sugar.

  • Lydia Sugarman

    Is it possible to substitute something else, like maple syrup, for the molasses? I really don’t like the taste of plain molassess! Or, is like anchovies in recipes where they melt away just adding an interesting note to the dish?

    Note from Elise: The molasses is the dominant flavor of this pudding. It’s essentially a molasses corn pudding. You could try it swapping out the maple syrup, but then you would have maple syrup corn pudding, which would probably be perfectly tasty, it just wouldn’t be Indian pudding.

  • krogdirekt

    Great! Indian Pudding makes a superb breakfast!

  • lydia

    I think indian pudding is one of the things you can actually cook in a coffee can (along with anadama bread, another New England indian specialty).

  • Michael S. Steele

    You can buy Indian Pudding in many organic shops,or in the Hannaford chain stores,that is made by Echo Farms in Hinsdale,N.H. They make it right there on their farm with milk from their own cows. I highly recomend it. You may also be able to order it online.

  • marty becker

    Do you know if it is still possible to purchase Howard Johnson’s Indian Pudding? I believe it was sold in a can.

  • Joyce Orlando Fenner

    Ah, Indian Pudding, one of the great gifts from my home of New England. I’m a Virginian now and have made it from scratch- easy to do, just takes watching and stirring time. After it’s done though, spoon what’s left over from your initial pig-out into a refrigerator container, dole it out later into a custard cup and zap it in the microwave. Indian Pudding makes a superb breakfast! Just eat a small serving, a small piece of fruit and coffee and skim milk. Try Indian Pudding with yogurt for breakfast. Or do as I’ve done, add just a bit to your heart healthy oatmeal porridge. Good to go. Get to work, go out to shovel snow, or get exercising. Bless the Pilgrim ladies who concocted this wonderful sweet! WICKED GOOD, Y’ALL! Vermont Country Store sells it in the can. Go to their website.

  • pat mitchell

    My favorite dessert. I couldn’t believe there is a thread on Indian Pudding. This was a tradition in our family; served every Thanksgiving. It always came from a can (I think the brand was Howards, not Howard Johnson though) and I loved it served hot with vanilla ice cream. However, the cans disappeared (it can still be found in specialty shops but way too expensive) so I was forced to make it from scratch and I’m glad to say it tastes just like the canned pudding that I loved. I only wish my family would give it a fair chance but they won’t go near it so I have to eat it all myself.

  • Kate Gahan

    Yum. My grandmother, a Yankee from Rockport, MA used to make this when we were kids. I think she used a crockpot – and I am wondering if I should try to make in crockpot… Anyway, I did attempt to make it for some friends here in Texas and they derided it as pumpkin-friendly pumpkin pie (like I made a pumpkin pie but no pumpkins were killed in the process).

  • Bob Carlson

    I got to thinking about Indian Pudding and thought I would try to make some. I was introduced to this pudding in Boston where I was livivg in the 50’s while I served in the Coast Gaurd. I first tried it at Durgin Park and liked it. Later I found it was available from S.S. Pierce in Boston. I believe they are long out of business. The story I heard about its origin was that it was made by indian cooks on the whaling ships that sailed out of the northeastern ports. I am planning to make the pudding and introduce to my family for CHristmas dinner. We’ll see.

  • Kelly Abiodun

    You can buy cans of indian pudding at Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge Massachussets. I would imagine they have a website with a store. I do know this pudding has a slight tinny flavor, but it is still really good.

  • Kaly

    Thank you so much for this recipe!
    I worked at Durgin Park for a summer in college- those octogenarians taught me a lot about waitressing and about life. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I adored their indian pudding, and I’m looking forward to making this recipe over the holidays.

  • Don

    It is called “Indian” pudding because the early settlers referred to the main ingredient as “Indian meal” – the meal used by the American Indians. Generally, any recipe using Indian meal as the main ingredient was called Indian… . Over time, the plant became known as corn, and the meal made from it as corn meal. The old recipes kept their original names; and even now, some corn meal packaging uses the word Indian on the label.
    Look’s Gourmet out of Maine makes a canned Indian Pudding under the lable Look’s Atlantic Premium. It is carried in the Big Y/World Class supermarket chain. Years ago, Howard Johnson’s sold a canned Indian Pudding in their New England restaurants, under their own lable.

  • Cris

    Yummy! It’s called “Indian” Pudding due to the cornmeal, which the early settlers learned to grow and eat from the First Peoples. Steamed puddin was a staple for the Brits and they naturally just incorporated it as a local ingredient.

    But for fun you can believe it was named by a hungry guy who got lost, landed in Boston and thought he was in India eating Kheer with molasses :-)

  • Gail S.

    I have been seeking an old recipe from the Joslin Clinic Cookbook that was published in the 1970’s that listed an Indian or Hasty Pudding recipe calling for liquid dietetic sweetener, molasses, and powdered brown sugar. I’ve called the Joslin Clinic in Boston, asked various nutritionists and sought the old cookbook out, but can’t get a satisfactory recipe. I have attempted to get a similar flavor and have been unsuccessful. If anyone can give me the old Joslin Clinic recipe or guide me there that would be wonderful as the rest of my family is now diabetic even though I have been divorced from my Diabetic Hasty Pudding eating husband for years now. I want the recipe, not the husband.

  • Jeanne

    Has anyone ever seen cans of Indian pudding? I used to buy it about 25 years ago….and we heated it a double boiler. Does anyone know where I might find them now?