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What Is a Pudding Steamer?

Cynde Gregory
Cynde Gregory

A few fortunate cooks may have a fluted pudding steamer with a built-in lid that clamps on. Most cooks, though, will have to improvise. Steamed pudding, which is more popular across the pond than in the United States, is a cakey, sweet treat that quickly becomes addictive. The creamy batter is cooked in a pudding steamer mold, often for several hours, over a simmering pot of water.

Many Americans have never tasted plum pudding, but most are familiar with it from holiday songs and nursery rhymes. The name suggests the dessert itself will be a creamy concoction, but that’s not exactly so. Plum pudding’s dense cake is typically served with a lemony sauce that, in combination with the pudding itself, creams it up.

Figgy pudding made in a pudding steamer.
Figgy pudding made in a pudding steamer.

If the cook doesn’t have a ready-made pudding steamer at hand, anything from a glass bowl to a tin can will do. Whatever the mold, though, it’s important to make sure it can stand the heat so it doesn’t crack or explode. The steamer mold must be well buttered so that the finished product will slide out in all its perfection. To make the cake extra pretty, many cooks choose a mold with flutes and swirls.

Once the pudding steamer has been filled with batter, a tinfoil lid must be fashioned and firmly attached unless the steamer comes equipped with a clamp-on lid. The mold is set on a trivet or rack in a pot of boiling water. The water should come up approximately to the halfway point on the steamer. It’s important for the pot to get checked once in a while to make sure there’s sufficient water. This is especially important for steamed puddings that require two or more hours to cook.

Steamed puddings will expand as they cook. The wise cook will allow a little space for ballooning puddings in the foil top. It’s a good idea to butter them well so the batter doesn’t stick.

The choice of material for the pudding steamer will contribute to the length of cooking time. Some pudding steamers are stainless steel, aluminum, or other metals. These will cook the pudding considerably faster than those that are constructed of ceramic.

The art of using a steamer is indeed an art. As the length of cooking time depends upon the steamer’s construction material and shape, the intensity with which the water is creating steam, and the density of the batter, it takes culinary sensitivity to determine when the pudding is done. Inserting a knife in a few spots is the old-school method that works best. If the knife comes out clean, the pudding is ready to pull, briefly cool, and take out of the mold.

Discussion Comments


I have had a Queen steamer since the mid eighties and I love it. I can put a Christmas pudding on the stove in a covered basin in this steamer, turn the heat down as low as possible once the water comes to the boil and leave it all day without having to top it up. The secret is a good tight-fitting lid. You want it to cook without escaping steam causing the lid to rattle.


As well as plum pudding. Treacle my favourite, jam (jelly), cherry and chocolate can all be on top of a suet sponge. Terrible for arteries but delicious!


@fBoyle-- Across the pond means United Kingdom or Britain. It's an old idiom. "Pond" refers to the Atlantic Ocean. Steamed pudding is popular in Britain, especially during the holiday season.

Most pudding steamers out there work very well. I have a two liter one and it has always been enough. I do recommend getting a non-stick one though. Mine is non-stick and I don't even have to use butter or oil. The pudding slides out very easily.

The only thing I don't like about my steamer is that it doesn't have different molds with shapes and designs. Sometimes I want my pudding to have a more fancy look. You might want to keep that in mind when shopping for one.


What does "across the pond" mean?

I want to buy a pudding steamer pot, what type should I get? And how big should it be?


I use a saucer with a stainless steel bowl on top as a food steamer and I have made steamed pudding in it before. It works well. The trick to making good steamed pudding is to make sure that the bowl fits perfectly well over the saucer. There shouldn't be any room for the steam to escape. Otherwise, the steam will accumulate water on the pudding and the water inside the saucer will eventually run out.

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    • Figgy pudding made in a pudding steamer.
      By: Springfield Gallery
      Figgy pudding made in a pudding steamer.