Apple Cider Indian Pudding

Work with me for just a minute, will you, please? I want you to imagine the best dessert you've probably never tasted, the best dessert you've maybe never even heard of. It's Indian pudding, an old-fashioned home-style dessert dating back to New England in the 1600s long before the American Revolution. I wish I could tell you it's a real looker, but sorry, it's not. In fact, it may be the plainest-looking dessert you've come across in a long while. So close your eyes, please, and conjure something just warm from the oven, soft and sweet, scented with apple cider, spiced with cinnamon, studded with tiny plump currants, slightly textured with cornmeal. Drizzle a little cream over top and ... prepare to swoon.

Apple Cider Indian Pudding ♥, a colonial New England dessert made with cornmeal and currants, served warm, decidedly delicious.

An Old-Time Dessert Dating Back to the American Colonies. A Homestyle Autumn Dessert Made from Scratch, Seasonal & Inventive. A Creative Choice for Thanksgiving & Fall Gatherings. Extra Welcome When "Supper's a Little Skimpy". Budget Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.

  • "It was great -- tasted wonderful." ~ Anonymous
  • "... it is tasty pudding said my friend Bob when I make this for him in Germany" ~ Anonymous

Finally, Fall.

Hunter's Moon ♥, an introduction to autumn's Apple Cider Indian Pudding.'

Long before the leaves turn, the hunter’s moon appears and the blackbirds gather. You know fall has truly arrived when you can finally turn on the oven without first turning on the air.

Before then, the days remain summer-warm with windows-open temperatures day and night.

It feels reckless, wasteful even, to simultaneously cool and heat the house, even when ever so tempted by autumn’s fat knobs of roast squash and smooth ridges of baked pumpkin.

So now that it’s cooled down a bit, roast some squash for supper’s vegetable, then turn the oven down for an unusual variation of Indian pudding.

Its history harkens to 17th-century American colonies. Traditional versions are made with cornmeal, milk and molasses but since first trying this delicious apple-cider combination a year ago, I can’t fathom anything but.

Now? The real sign of fall is the arrival of jugs of apple cider.

Apple Cider Indian Pudding ♥, a colonial New England dessert made with cornmeal and currants, served warm, decidedly delicious.

What Is Indian Pudding?

Hello, word dancers. Let's dive into this, shall we?

Indian Pudding is an old-fashioned cold-weather dessert that's barely known outside of the New England states in the U.S., that would be Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Traditional Indian puddings call for cornmeal, molasses, milk plus raisins and are baked long and slow.

The dish goes back to before the American Revolution when British colonizers missed what they called "hasty pudding," wheat flour cooked with milk to form a sort of sweet porridge. Because wheat wasn't readily available, the immigrants used ground maize known then as "Indian flour" which in today's world, we know as cornmeal.

Warm out of the oven, Indian Pudding is indeed loose and soft like a U.S.-style chocolate or vanilla or butterscotch pudding, say. But that's beside the point. Remember, to this day, Britons call the sweets that close a meal "pudding" whether it's cake or pastry or another sort of dessert.

When my dad visits, he'll ask hopefully, "Is there dessert tonight?" Some seventeen generations ago, our forebears from Braintree, England might have wondered, "Is there pudding tonight?"

Thus was "Indian pudding" born, a cornmeal dessert.

So to summarize, let's look at the two words, specifically.

Indian Indian Pudding originated with British colonizers in pre-Revolution America. It's not from the country of India nor is it sourced from Native American food traditions. Here the word refers to cornmeal, what was once called "Indian flour".

Pudding Pudding = Dessert

But what all this word talk doesn't express is exactly how special Indian pudding is, especially, to my taste, my Apple Cider Indian Pudding. It's warm, it's soft, it's sweet. It has a lovely texture, especially drizzled with a little cream in contrast. It's also very apple-y, you'll be thinking it must be filled with grated apple but no, all the apple flavor comes from the apple cider.

Indian Pudding may well be the best dessert you've never tasted and possibly never heard of.

About This Recipe: Apple Cider Indian Pudding

  • This recipe is for an old-fashioned and decidedly delicious dessert that's served warm with a little cream. It deviates from a classic Indian pudding: with apple cider instead of all milk for the cooking liquid; by omitting molasses; with a shorter baking time. It heeds a classic Indian pudding by using both cornmeal and raisins or in my case, dried currants..
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Cornmeal + Apple Cider + Dried Currants
  • Short Ingredient List = all the above + milk + 1 egg + brown sugar + cinnamon + salt + butter
  • Indian Pudding is what you might call homely, just a lot of cinnamon-brown color studded with a few currants. But what it lacks in appearance, it makes up for in warm deliciousness.
  • Cooking-wise, Indian Pudding starts off on the stove then bakes in the oven.
  • This is a time-friendly recipe. Allow about 90 minutes for Indian Pudding to reach the table, including about 20 minutes hands-on time up front, an hour in the oven and some time to rest a bit. Do time the dish to serve it warm. The timing works especially well for cooks who like to put something in the oven to bake while final dinner preparations are made and the meal is eaten.
  • The recipe uses two easy cooking techniques, scalding and tempering. Neither one is complicated, once you know what's meant by the terms. (1) Half the milk is scalded, this means bringing the milk almost to a boil in a saucepan; milk is scalded when it's heated through and tiny bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan but before bubbles begin to form all the way across. (2) To combine a hot mixture and a cold mixture, a process called "tempering" is used. It calls for some of the hot mixture to be stirred into the cold mixture, warming up the cold mixture enough so that when it's turned into the hot mixture, the egg in the cold mixture won't instantly cook in the hot mixture, creating unpleasant eggy lumps.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, especially for cooks who stock up on apple cider in the fall.
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe, no shopping for pricey ingredients, no extra stops for specialty ingredients, no waiting on online orders.
  • As written, the recipe serves about 8 but may be easily cut in half.
  • I hope you love this Indian Pudding!

  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other dessert recipes recipes and Favorite Recipes for Fall Baking.
Apple Cider Indian Pudding ♥, a colonial New England dessert made with cornmeal and currants, served warm, decidedly delicious.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Is Indian pudding similar to anything else? Well. Let's think about that. It's a little like gingerbread (except not cakey), a little like apple crisp (except without a crisp topping), a little like sweetened cream of wheat (except with less texture), a little like gingersnaps crumbled and cooked in milk (except without so much sugar), a little like a smoother and spicier rice pudding (except ... you get the idea).
  • Truthfully, none of these quite capture Indian Pudding: it's its very own thing, unlike anything else. You'll just have to try it to understand! Maybe just maybe, you'll swoon like I do, every single year.

  • Doesn't traditional Indian pudding include molasses? It does. Over the years, I tried a version or two of Indian puddings that hewed closer to the original, all with molasses. And even though I a-d-o-r-e molasses — as evidenced by all my molasses recipes — I found those Indian puddings a bit jarring. To my taste, Apple Cider Indian Pudding has similar texture but lacks the charred, parched taste of molasses. If you’ve not been happy with molasses in Indian pudding, my rendition just might make you verrrrry happy.

  • The recipe makes a lot. Can it be made smaller? I think so. I haven't actually made a half recipe but many years of cooking and baking experience plus an in-depth understanding of this recipe tells me that yes, the recipe may be cut in half. It's especially easy if you measure ingredients by weight in grams, just cut the amounts in half.
  • The one ingredient that can't be easily cut in half is the egg. Three choices. (1) Whisk the yolk and white of a single egg together and use half. (2) Use just one yolk vs one whole egg. (3) Use a whole egg even in the half batch, I think the Indian Pudding will be forgiving and won't become overly thickened.
  • And then there's the pan size to be considered. Ready for a little math? The shallow quiche pan I use for Indian Pudding is 9.5 inches in diameter with an area of 70. Working backwards, that means for an area of approximately half of 70, you'll need a round pan that's 6 to 7 inches in diameter or another pan with an area of 35. Good luck! PS Believe it or not, I never liked math in school but have thrived on it my entire career, even before writing about food!
  • I'm also willing to bet that one-cup ramekins would work fine, too. I'm just not sure how many ramekins you might fill up. FYI the mixture doesn't poof up in the oven, so there's no reason to skimp on filling ramekins.

  • Is there a gluten-free and vegan Indian pudding? I think so. Again, I haven't made this but my instincts say, yes, it will convert well. That's because all the ingredients are already naturally gluten-free and because the main ingredients (cornmeal, apple cider, currants) are also already vegan. That leaves just three ingredients to find substitutes for, the milk, the egg and the butter.
  • First, use a dairy-free milk, somehow oat milk sounds extra good to me. Second, I'd consider using a vegan egg replacer but might even just skip the egg entirely; without the egg, I might add an extra 2 or 3 tablespoons of cornmeal for additional thickening. Third, use a vegan butter, even coconut oil.
  • That's it! Definitely worth a try. If anyone has other ideas, please do chime in in the comments!

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this old-fashioned recipe for Indian Pudding inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Apple Cider Indian Pudding ♥, a colonial New England dessert made with cornmeal and currants, served warm, decidedly delicious.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 8
  • 1/2 cup (115g) milk

  • 1/3 cup (50g) yellow cornmeal (see ALANNA’s TIPS)
  • 1/3 cup (55g) stone-ground cornmeal (or more yellow cornmeal)
  • 3 cups (g) apple cider (not apple juice)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt (assumes table salt, use more for other salts)
  • 1/2 cup (70g) currants or raisins (see TIPS)

  • 4 tablespoons (56g) salted butter (cut into bits if cold)
  • Another 1/2 cup (115g) milk

  • Cream, for serving

PREP Heat the oven to 325F/160C. Butter a shallow oven-safe baking dish like a quiche pan, a pie plate or similar. Collect and measure all the ingredients in order to concentrate on whisking the mixture as it cooks. For me, this means measuring a cup of milk (knowing that only a half cup is used to start); mixing the cornmeal and apple cider. At this point, I'll scald the milk and mix in the Cornmeal-Cider mixture; then once the bowl is empty, mixing the egg, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and raisins; cutting up the butter.

SCALD 1/2 CUP MILK In a large saucepan, scald 1/2 cup of milk, that is, gently heat the milk until it's just about to boil, look for tiny bubbles at the edge of the pan. Since there's so little milk, it'll happen quick-quick.

MIX Meanwhile, mix the Cornmeal-Cider Mixture, whisking the cornmeal(s) and cider in a medium bowl, taking time to smash all the lumpy bits, the back of a spoon is useful.

COOK ON THE STOVETOP Slowly whisk the Cornmeal-Cider Mixture into the scalded milk, don't worry if it looks a bit curdled. On medium heat, cook until the Mixture thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

MIX Use the same medium bowl (no need to wash), mix the Egg Mixture, first whisking the egg (use a fork, not the whisk used for the cornmeal mixture), then the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and currants.

TEMPER THE EGG MIXTURE Reduce the heat to low. A quarter cup at a time, whisk about a cup of the hot Cornmeal-Cider Mixture into the bowl of Egg Mixture, whisking the entire time; this "tempering" process equalizes the temperatures and prevents the egg from cooking instantly once when it hits heat, turning into lumps. We don't want lumps!

FINISH ON THE STOVE TOP Pour the Egg Mixture into the saucepan, all the while whisking-whisking-whisking to combine both mixtures. Return the heat to medium high and cook (yep, whisking all the while) until it begins to bubble a bit.

Whisk in the butter until it melts, then the second 1/2 cup milk. Remove from the heat.

BAKE Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, stir gently to distribute the currants; if they're all submerged, use a fork to gently lift some currants to peek out the top. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden.

COOL & SERVE Let cool 15 minutes. (See TIPS.) To serve, scoop into bowls and drizzle with cream.

ALANNA's TIPS I use whole milk but have also used skim milk with good results. Yellow cornmeal works well but I really love the texture from half yellow cornmeal, half stone-ground cornmeal. The inspiring recipe called for unpasteurized apple cider but I've never once had an issue with jugs of plain ol' supermarket cider. Once, I used some Mulled Apple Cider leftover from a pumpkin-painting party, maybe extra good?! I also love Trader Joe's Honey Crisp Apple Cider, especially since until the container is opened, it doesn't require refrigeration; it's a seasonal product, available only for a couple of months in the fall, stock up! Compared to raisins, currants are less sweet and slightly lower in calories. More importantly, their smaller size also makes for a more satisfying "bits per bite". No currants? Not into raisins? I think dried cranberries would work beautifully in Indian Pudding. I'd cut them into smaller bits, so they'll distribute more evenly. For sophisticated presentation, bake the puddings in small ramekins. This helps control portion size, too, so long as you can eat just one! Surprisingly, the ramekins still take an hour to bake, though you might check at 45 minutes. Do time Indian Pudding to be served warm, when it's still soft and supple like a soft oatmeal. Once it cools, it thickens. It's still good, just not as remarkably delicious.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 8 servings & skim milk): 240 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 47mg Cholesterol; 332mg Sodium; 42g Carb; 2g Fiber; g Sugar; g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 4 & future WW points
Adapted and simplified from my forever-favorite Gourmet magazine (sniff, still very much missed) circa 2004.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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  1. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Looks delicious!! Apple Cider is new addition but very innovative!! Must try recipe!!Thanks!!


  2. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Looks beautiful and delicious! Hope you don't mind if I try my hand at veganizing this.


  3. Foodie ~ This was the first Indian pudding I tried but I also tried the traditional molasses versions: no comparison, at least to my own taste.

    Susan ~ Can't wait to see what you come up with! It's a definite keeper, in all forms. Addictive, however!


  4. Anonymous7/16/2007

    This looks great. I've made an Indian Corn Pudding and loved it. Can't wait to try the Apple Cider version.


  5. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Man, two "must try" recipes in a row! My eldest loves cornmeal in most any form but somehow I've never made Indian Pudding. I just made Anadama bread the other day, with cornmeal and molasses. Fall must bring molasses to the mind!


  6. Anonymous7/16/2007

    One of the first recipes I ever collected (I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade) was for Indian Pudding. This version sounds delicious.

  7. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Looks soooooo good. I love Indian Pudding.


  8. Scott ~ Ummm. Your version sounds savory? I can see this in that way too, with some adjustment.

    Ellen ~ We'll go for three, yes?!

    Kevin ~ Lucky you, knowing Indian pudding for so long!

    Peabody ~ Another fan, yay! Me too!


  9. Anonymous7/16/2007

    It was great--tasted wonderful

  10. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Kim and I are trying this one tonight! Sounds like a perfect treat on a cold, fall night!

  11. Anonymous7/16/2007

    This sounds so good! I have never heard of anything like this before, and at first I thought you meant India -Indian, not North American Native Indian.
    Can't wait to try this!


  12. Anonymous7/16/2007

    it is tasty pudding said my frend bob when i make this for him in germany


  13. Anonymous11/24/2007

    I have stoneground cornmeal in my freezer. Can I use all stoneground or is it best to combine?
    Sounds yummy.

  14. I prefer the texture of half stoneground and half regular. But you can't go wrong, this is really good!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna