Christmas pudding reviews

When it comes to Christmas puds, it pays not to be a scrooge.
 
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01 .Introduction

xmas-puddings-lead

We've tested 14 Christmas puddings, priced from $0.71/100g to $5.50/100g.

In a blind taste test, our experts assessed the puddings for general appearance, quality of finish, moistness, texture, mixture quality, flavour, and aroma. 

The experts also looked for good shape, weight, balanced fruit, spice and alcohol flavours, even distribution of good-quality fruit ingredients and puds that held their shape when cut.

Find out how the higher-end puddings rate compared to some of the cheaper options. For more information about groceries, see Food and drink.

Ready-made puddings

If you haven’t yet started making your own pudding for Christmas Day, according to custom you’ve left it too late. “Stir-up Sunday” (the fifth Sunday before Christmas) was 25 November this year. Traditionally, this is the day when the pudding is made, allowing time for it to mature sufficiently ahead of the Christmas Day feast. 

Luckily, there’s a wealth of ready-made puddings available from supermarkets, through charities or via the websites of smaller boutique producers. But are any worthy of being the grand finale to your celebratory feast? As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so to help you avoid disappointment on the day, we put 14 puddings to the test. 

If you’ve made Christmas puddings at home, you’ll know they’re not cheap to produce. The cost of quality ingredients such as dried fruit, butter and alcohol, and the fact that they’re generally made to a labour- and time-intensive recipe, all add up. So it’s reasonable to assume you might have to fork out a little more for a top-quality pud. 

Our taste test results certainly reflect this. The four best-tasting puds are all more than $3.60 per 100g, whereas the cheaper puds generally fared worse in our test. However, our judges also recommend four that won’t break the Christmas budget.

Expert tip

Take care when following microwave heating instructions. All microwaves vary and the overall consistency and density of the pudding can also affect the final result, so it's best to err on the side of caution.

Puddings tested

  • Big Sister Christmas Traditional Plum Pudding - $1.12/100g
  • Coles Finest Luxury Christmas Pudding - $1.56/100g
  • Coles Matured Christmas Pudding - $1.29/100g
  • Crooked Creek Authentic English Christmas Pudding - $5.50/100g
  • Fowlers Luxury Plum Pudding - $1.63/100g
  • Itha's Traditional Plum Pudding - $4.20/100g
  • Lions Traditional Lions Christmas Pudding - $1.22/100g
  • Pud for All Seasons Traditional Plum Pudding - $3.62/100g
  • Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding - $4.30/100g
  • Pudding Lane Christmas Pudding - $4.20/100g
  • The Cake Stall (Aldi) Luxury Christmas Pudding - $1.00/100g
  • The Cake Stall (Aldi) Plum Pudding - $0.71/100g
  • Woolworths Gold Vintage Christmas Pudding - $1.98/100g
  • Woolworths Select Matured Christmas Pudding with Cognac - $1.13/100g

How we test

Puddings tested are those that were available in major supermarkets in October, as well as a number of smaller boutique brands that are readily available online or through distributors nationally.

When it came to the supermarket brands, we included one product each from their upper-tier ranges. For other brands, where more than one variety was available, we selected their standard/ traditional offering. 

Puddings were reheated according to manufacturer instructions before being presented. Tasting notes are collated from the judges’ tasting notes. Prices are based on the cost of each product closest in size to 1kg, although many products come in a range of sizes.

Our experts assessed the puddings for:

  • general appearance
  • quality of finish 
  • moistness
  • texture
  • mixture quality
  • flavour, and
  • aroma. 

The experts also looked for good shape, weight, balanced fruit, spice and alcohol flavours, even distribution of good-quality fruit ingredients and puds that held their shape when cut.

xmas-pudding-testersMeet the experts

Brigid Treloar (left) ran her own cake business for 10 years. Her experience as a food judge includes Royal Agricultural Show (RAS) Fine Food Show judging. She’s also a cookbook author, educator and freelance food consultant.

Alison Mutton (centre) represents the CWA. Her experience ranges from judging The Land Cookery Competitions over the past 14 years at both a local and state level, to appearing as a guest judge on MasterChef.

Jan Boon (right) is a home economist who has been involved in the food industry for more than 40 years. She is an RASrecognised judge for the Fine Food Show and has been judging for local, interstate and regional shows for over 35 years.

 
 

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They may cost a little more, but these are the four tastiest puddings on test.

 itha-traditional-plum-pudding  pud-for-all-seasons

Itha's Traditional Plum Pudding

Contact: ithaspuddings.com.au
Price: $4.20/100g

Tasting notes:
“A traditional cloth-wrapped pudding, with an appealing home-made appearance. Cuts well, with well-prepared fruit and nice consistency of cake mixture. Rich, fruity aromas and a good balance of flavours.”

Pud for All Seasons Traditional Plum Pudding

Contact: pudforallseasons.com.au
Price: $3.62/100g

Tasting notes:
“Typical pudding basin shape, a nice balance of fruit and batter, moist without being gluggy. Holds shape well and easy to serve. Tastes like a pudding should.”

 pudding-lady-traditional  crooked-creek-pudding

Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding

Contact: puddinglady.com.au
Price: $4.30/100g

Tasting notes:
“Smooth, with shiny skin, characteristic shape of a boiled cloth pudding. Strong, citrus peel flavour. Moist, dense appearance that looks heavier than it tastes.”

Crooked Creek Authentic English Christmas Pudding

Contact: crookedcreek.com.au
Price: $5.50/100g

Tasting notes:
“Nice pudding basin shape, which holds shape well when cut. Good texture, and moist. Good-quality pudding mixture with a good fruit selection and even distribution of fruit.”

These aren't quite as good as the expensive options, but they're gentler on your hip pocket.

 woolies-gold-pudding    fowlers-luxury-pudding

Woolworth's Gold Vintage Christmas Pudding

Contact: woolworths.com.au
Price: $1.98/100g

Tasting notes:
“The glacé orange slices look good, but it needs careful cutting for serving. Good texture, though nuts could be cut smaller. Very fruity and moist.”

 

Fowlers Luxury Plum Pudding

Contact: bakeandbrew.com.au
Price: $1.63/100g

Tasting notes:
“Characteristic pudding basin shape with a smooth surface. Moist, but a little doughy and sticky in texture, making it crumble during cutting. Slight bitter/burnt aftertaste.”

 lions-traditional-pudding    coles-finest-pudding

Lions Traditional Lions Christmas Pudding

Contact: lionsclub.org.au
Price: $1.22/100g

Tasting notes:
“Good appearance, pudding basin shape. Good distribution of fruit and cake, but slightly dry texture. Slightly bitter aftertaste.”

 

Coles Finest Luxury Christmas Pudding

Contact: coles.com.au
Price: $1.56/100g

Tasting notes:
“Topping of nuts and whole cherries is uneven, and the nuts are too soft. Doughy cake mixture that falls apart on cutting. Nice fruity flavour. Good if you like a really moist pudding.”

Pamela-Clark

Make your own Christmas pudding with this recipe from Pamela Clark, Director of Australian Women's Weekly (AWW) Test Kitchen.

Steamed Christmas pudding

Ingredients
  • 3 cups (450g) chopped mixed
  • dried fruit
  • ¾ cup (180ml) water
  • 1 cup (220g) firmly packed
  • brown sugar
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • ¾ cup (120g) finely chopped dried
  • seedless dates
  • ¾ cup (120g) finely chopped raisins
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • ¾ cup (110g) plain flour
  • ¾ cup (110g) self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
recipeMethod

1. Combine mixed fruit, water, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves; bring to the boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for six minutes. Stir in bicarb soda. Transfer mixture to large bowl; cool to room temperature. 

2. Stir in eggs, chopped fruit, rum and sifted dry ingredients. 

3. Grease a two-litre (eight-cup) pudding steamer; spoon mixture into steamer. Top with pleated baking paper and foil (to allow pudding to expand as it cooks); secure with kitchen string or lid. 

4. Place pudding in large pot with enough boiling water to come halfway up side of steamer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and boil for four hours, replenishing water as necessary to maintain level. Stand pudding for 10 minutes before turning out onto plate; serve with custard if desired.

Recipe provided by AWW. Photo credit: Ian Wallace; Styling: Louise Pickford.

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