How to steam a pudding
(Image credit: Chris Alack Woman's Weekly)

Find out everything you need to know about steaming a pudding including what equipment you need, how to steam, and even the best pudding bowls for steaming too.

Always wanted to know how to steam a pudding? Our step-by-step guide takes you through each stage of steaming a pudding.

Steaming may seem like an odd way to cook a pudding but it’s the perfect way to keep what is quite a dense dish moist. Steaming a pud is often associated with sweet puddings like Christmas pudding (opens in new tab) or chocolate pudding (opens in new tab), however, you can cook savoury puddings, for example, steak and kidney pudding (opens in new tab), in this way too.

Traditionally, puddings were steamed in a large pan on a stove, but modern technology enables us to steam a pudding in an oven, slow cooker, or electric steamer.

Where steamed puddings once contained suet, which makes them distinctly non-vegetarian (suet is the fat from around the kidneys of cows and mutton), today you’ll find recipes without this ingredient or with a vegetable alternative.

You can learn how to steam a pudding by watching our video above, which shows how to prepare a pudding basin, and how to create a pleat and tie it securely before steaming it in a large pan. We’ve got the method listed below for you too.

What equipment do you need to steam a pudding? Top tips on steaming a pudding How to steam a pudding How to steam a pudding in the oven How to steam a pudding in a slow cooker How to steam a pudding in an electric steamer How to store a steamed pudding Steamed pudding recipes Best pudding bowls for steaming

What equipment do you need to steam a pudding?

You will need some specific equipment when it comes to steaming a pudding to ensure you get a perfectly steamed pudding each time. You will need:

  • A pudding basin
  • A sheet of baking paper that’s larger than the pudding basin rim
  • A sheet of foil
  • Kitchen string
  • A large pan with a lid
  • A trivet set, an upturned saucer, or a roll of scrunched foil – anything to keep the pudding basin off the base of the pan

Top tips on steaming a pudding

First and foremost, don't overfill the pudding basin. Leave a 2-3cm gap between the mixture and the rim.

When you place the pudding bowl in the saucepan it's important that the water is halfway up the side of the bowl. This will ensure your pudding cooks properly.

How to tell the pudding is cooked

To test if the pudding is cooked insert a skewer, piercing the foil and paper. Wiggle the skewer to make the foil and paper hole a bit bigger than the skewer and pull out. If the skewer comes out clean the pud is cooked; if not pop back in and carry on cooking for another 10-20 mins at a time.

You’ll be glad to know that you can’t really overcook a steamed pudding. We wouldn’t recommend steaming any longer than half-hour to an hour after the time suggested on the recipe. The pudding won’t dry out but other ingredients may spoil if overcooked.

How do you steam a Christmas pudding?

Use the same process of steaming to cook a Christmas pudding but be aware that it will take longer than a lighter sponge pudding – a Christmas pud takes around 2-5 hours to cook depending on its size, while a smaller sponge pudding is usually ready in under 2 hours.

How to steam a pudding

How to steam a pudding: Step 1

How to steam a pudding: Step 1

On a sheet of baking paper, cut a circle 5cm larger than your pudding basin. To do this, use a ruler to help you mark a circle of dots from where the center of the bowl would be then join them up with a pencil.

How to steam a pudding: Step 2

How to steam a pudding: Step 2

Cut around this shape – it doesn’t matter if it’s not a perfect circle, but the important thing is that it is larger than the pudding basin.

How to steam a pudding: Step 3

How to steam a pudding: Step 3

Grease the paper circle with a little butter, then make a pleat at the centre by folding the paper in on itself, as shown in the video.

How to steam a pudding: Step 4

How to steam a pudding: Step 4

Place the paper circle, greased side down, over your pudding to cover the basin.

How to steam a pudding: Step 5

How to steam a pudding: Step 5

Cover with foil, folding down the sides to keep it in place over the pudding basin.

How to steam a pudding: Step 6

How to steam a pudding: Step 6

Tie securely with kitchen string.

How to steam a pudding: Step 7

How to steam a pudding: Step 7

Place a trivet set in a large pan and place your pudding on top – or you could use an upturned saucer at the bottom of the pan, or even scrunched foil.

How to steam a pudding: Step 8

Step 8

Fill to half-way up the side of the basin with boiling water, then cover, and steam for 2 hours, or until cooked. Check it occasionally and top it up with more water if necessary.

How to steam a pudding in the oven

If you’d like to steam a pudding in the oven:

  1. Fill a roasting tin with hot water half-way and place a metal rack on top. Put the covered pudding on the rack.
  2. Cover the pudding in a foil ‘tent’ to capture the steam and cook for around 1hr 30 minutes to 1hr 45 minutes on medium heat (180°C/350°F/gas 4) or to the recipe's instructions.
  3. Regularly check the water while it’s cooking and top up if required.

How to steam a pudding in a slow cooker

Slow cookers are so versatile you can even use one to steam a pudding.

  1. Fill the slow cooker with enough hot water to come half-way up your covered pudding basin
  2. Steam for around 2-3 hours on high, depending on the recipe. It's important that you keep the water topped up so the cooker doesn't run dry.

How to steam a pudding in an electric steamer

Using the same process as you would a slow cooker:

  1. Fill the electric steamer with hot water – it needs to come up half-way to cover the pudding basin.
  2. Steam for around 1-2 hours, depending on the recipe. Don't forget to keep adding water so it doesn't dry out.

How to store a steamed pudding

Steamed pudding usually contains self-raising flour, which is an active ingredient, so aim to steam it as soon as you've prepared it.

If you can’t finish the whole thing, cover the leftovers in clingfilm and store them in the fridge. It should last for a couple of days but may become drier over time. You can reheat it once more – try heating it up in the microwave for 2 minutes until it’s hot.

You can usually freeze a steamed pudding in an airtight container then gently reheat when you want to eat it.

Our favourite steamed pudding recipes

Golden syrup pudding

This sweet recipe is infused with super-sweet golden syrup, which makes it popular with the kids. Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream or custard for a warming treat.

Get the recipe: Golden syrup pudding (opens in new tab)

Christmas pudding

Mary-Berry-Christmas-Pudding-recipe

A true classic and possibly the most famous of all the steamed puds, you can't go wrong with Mary Berry's take on a Christmas pudding.

Get the recipe: Mary Berry's Christmas pudding (opens in new tab)

Spotted dick

A bowl of spotted dick with custard

Spotted dick is a popular British desserts. A common sight on gastropub menus, it's surprisingly easy to recreate at home.

Get the recipe: Spotted dick (opens in new tab)

Best pudding bowls for steaming

Here's a round-up of some perfect pudding bowls – each one is ideal for steaming, whether it's ceramic, stoneware, glass, or steel.

Mason Cash bowl

Mason Cash Innovative Kitchen Stoneware Pudding Basin

This basin comes with an airtight lid and use-by date tracker. Sounds fancy – that's because it is. This generously-sized pudding basin from Mason Cash makes it easier to steam desserts in a pan or microwave. And you can't go wrong at £11.50.

VIEW AT AMAZON | £11.50 (opens in new tab)

Lakeland pudding basins

Lakeland Lidded Pudding Basins

These hardwearing pudding bowls come as a pack of four, are fridge, freezer, and microwave safe, and cost just £4.99.

VIEW AT LAKELAND | £4.99 (opens in new tab)

Mason Cash pudding bowl at John Lewis

Mason Cash Pudding Basin

This classic ceramic pudding basin from Mason Cash is included in a range exclusive to John Lewis. Inspired by English heritage, it conjures up mid-19th century sculleries and traditional baking. At £20 it's on the pricier side, but it's worth it for something so aesthetically pleasing.

VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £20 (opens in new tab)

Cornishware-pudding-basin

Cornishware Pudding Basin

This iconic design will fulfill all your steamed pud needs. It's £28 but it's a bowl you can use all year round and it's attractive enough to be on display in your kitchen.

VIEW AT THE BIG KITCHEN | £28 (opens in new tab)

Master-Class-Pudding-Steamer

Master Class Non-Stick Pudding Steamer

For less than £20 you can buy a professional standard, non-stick pudding steamer from KitchenCraft. It offers a double Quantum II non-stick coating which is silicone-based, meaning it's PFOA and PTFE free.

VIEW AT HARTS OF STUR | £18.99 (opens in new tab)

Jessica Dady
Jessica Dady

Jessica Dady is Senior Content Editor at Goodto.com and has over 10 years of experience as a digital journalist, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the best food hampers to cookbooks, from the best cake stands to baking sets, Jessica has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to must-have food products. A passionate baker, she spends much of her time creating celebration cakes for friends and family - particularly for her two lucky children.