Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding (Vegan and Gluten Free too!)

This alcohol free Christmas Pudding has all the sweet, spicy and fruity flavours of a traditional Christmas pud, just minus the alcohol.
Alcohol free Christmas Pudding
bokeh christmas pudding and lights
Alcohol free Christmas Pudding

This alcohol free Christmas pudding is extremely easy to make, just like the traditional one. It’s a case of stirring everything up, then steaming for a few hours. A good few hours.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What is Christmas Pudding?

Christmas pudding is a traditional British dessert served at the end of the Christmas meal. It is a rather heavy, spicy and sweet pudding made up of dried fruits and always with alcohol. It is often served with custard, brandy butter, cream or ice cream.

However, there are definitely 2 camps when it comes to this most beloved of dishes; not quite as divisive as marmite, but almost! My husband, for example, rather disliked it.

lighting up christmas pudding with brandy
Traditional Christmas Pudding

Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding

This is a bit of a last minute reader requested Christmas recipe. I received an email a couple of days ago asking (practically begging!) for an alcohol free Christmas pudding recipe.

Fortunately, unlike the traditional Christmas pudding that needs to be made a month earlier (on Stir Up Sunday), this alcohol free version is made and eaten “fresh”. So there’s still plenty of time!

You can make this “free from” Christmas pudding up to 5 days ahead and keep it in the fridge. You could also make it up to 3 months ahead and freeze it. But be sure to thaw it completely before heating and serving.

Easy Christmas Pudding Recipe

All you need to do is get your hands on the list of ingredients; all common, easy to get ones. The traditional Christmas pudding used to be made with 13 ingredients to represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles, and the ingredients are also stirred from East to West to remember the 3 Wise Men.

Our alcohol free Christmas Pudding stays very close to the traditional one on this site. But let’s take a look at the alcohol substitutions.

close up shot, mini alcohol free christmas pudding
Just waiting for some custard to be poured over!

Alcohol Substitute in Christmas Pudding

We’ll use 2 different types of liquids to replace the alcohol.

  • Apple Juice – we use an almost equivalent amount to the alcohol, half a cup. I think apple juice is best, to complement the apple in the pudding; orange juice will result in a pudding that’s too citrusy and even more sickly sweet than usual!
  • Darjeeling Tea (or Earl Grey) – for soaking the raisins and sultanas. Both have sweet, uplifting, floral notes that will add a subtle aroma. I used Darjeeling here because I always have some at home.

Now, we usually have a small amount of flour in the traditional Christmas Pudding. That is replaced by cornflour (cornstarch in the US), as both a thickener and binder, with the added advantage of what follows below.

Gluten Free Christmas Pudding

Just use gluten free bread for the breadcrumbs. That’s usually very easy to come by these days at supermarkets.

Mixed Candied Peel

This is just chopped up orange and lemon peel that’s been cooked in sugar, and so, are sweet and sticky. Like the sort added to fruitcake and panettone. You can make this yourself, but shop bought is so much easier. These are the ones I’ve been using for years. If you are making it strictly gluten free and vegan, check the ingredients to ensure that there is nothing untoward in it.

Suet in Christmas Pudding

Suet is the saturated fat that’s found around kidneys and other organs in animals, and is solid at room temperature. Traditionally, Christmas puddings were made using beef suet, which is shredded for use. I switched to vegetarian many years ago and much prefer its cleaner after taste. Perfect for today’s vegan Christmas pudding.

Suet is used in steamed puddings because it has a higher melting point than butter and the pudding has a chance to set before the fat starts to melt, unlike butter. Vegetarian suet is usually made with palm oil and is also solid at room temp, also grated for use, and that’s what we’re using.

Substitute: there is no real substitute but you could get away with using solid vegetable shortening/fat. Grate the amount you need and substitute with suet in your recipe.

Although butter isn’t recommended as a substitute for suet, I have successfully used it. The pudding was absolutely delicious. Incidentally, half the time, I use butter when making mincemeat for mince pies.

Large or small puddings?

This recipe will allow you to make 1 very large, 1 litre size (4 cups in volume) Christmas pudding, or, as I do it, a combination. I make one to fill a 1 pint (about 575 ml) basin and then have enough to make 3 mini puddings (mine have a capacity of 150 ml, to the brim), perfect to give away. Mini Christmas puddings make great gifts.

Three days to Christmas. If you fancy making this for the day, there’s still time. Don’t forget, you can even make it on the day itself. If you are going to your parents’ for Christmas lunch, make this on the eve, and take it over.

Whatever you are doing this Christmas, have a wonderful one!

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

More Christmas Dessert Ideas

Just head on over to the Christmas page, or Desserts page, for recipes like the following:

Alcohol Free Drinks

Or perhaps you are looking for some alcohol free drinks to accompany your alcohol free Christmas pudding? Just head on over to this Drinks page for recipes like:

Alcohol free Christmas Pudding

Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding (Vegan too!)

This alcohol free Christmas Pudding has all the sweet, spicy and fruity flavours of a traditional Christmas pud, just minus the alcohol.
4.95 from 38 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: christmas, eggless, puddings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Servings: 8
Calories: 407.34kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Equipment

  • 1 litre pudding basin (or as described above)
  • steamer (or a makeshift one using a large pan)
  • kitchen foil
  • kitchen string and scissors
  • large plastic or ceramic bowl for mixing

Ingredients

Soaking the raisins and sultanas

  • 1 heaped Tbsp Darjeeling tea leaves or 3 bags
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 200 g sultanas
  • 250 g raisins

Everything else

  • 200 g soft brown dark sugar
  • 100 g vegetable suet (or solid vegetable fat like Trex, grated, or 80g salted butter)
  • 100 g breadcrumbs
  • 50 g cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • tsp (a good pinch) ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 60 g chopped, candied mixed peel (shop bought, the kind used in cakes & panettone)
  • 60 g toasted almond flakes
  • 1 medium cooking apple unpeeled, chopped
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 125 ml apple juice (from a carton)

Instructions

Soak the raisins and sultanas

  • This wants to be done at least 3 hours before. Make the tea with the tea leaves and boiling water. Leave to brew for 4 minutes.
  • Place the raisins and sultanas in a bowl.
  • Strain the brewed tea over the dried fruit and mix well. Leave to soak for at least 1 hour. If you have time, do it for 3, or just leave it overnight. Be sure to stir everything a handful of times to ensure that all the fruit get soaked.
  • At the end of the soaking time, if there's any tea left, drain the fruit and leave aside.

Preparing the pudding

  • Take a large mixing bowl and put the sugar, grated vegetable fat, breadcrumbs, cornflour and spices in and mix well.
    christmas pudding
  • Add the dried fruit, peel, almonds, apple and lemon zest. Again, mix thoroughly.
    christmas pudding
  • Pour in the apple juice and give it a good stir.
  • Give it all a good mix. Get the kids to give it a stir and make a wish (silently!). It should be a fairly sloppy mixture.

Cooking the Christmas Pudding

  • Put the mixture into the greased pudding basin/s, packing it in.
    christmas pudding
  • Cover with 2 layers of foil. Tie tightly with a string, as in the picture.
    christmas pudding
  • Steam over simmering water for 6 hours for a big pudding, 2 1/2 hours for any small ones. Don’t let the water go dry, be sure to keep topping up.
  • If you don’t have a steamer, use a saucepan with an inverted saucer, place the pudding on the saucer and fill it up with boiling water halfway up the pudding basin. Cover with a lid and let the water simmer away.
  • When done, let the pudding cool down completely (usually next day) and replace the foil with fresh.
  • If not serving immediately, store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • On Christmas day, steam the bigger pudding for 2 hours and the mini ones for 1. Or just do this in the microwave (about 2 minutes for the big one, 1 for the small).
  • Serve with your favourite sauce – brandy butter, ice cream, fresh cream or my personal favourite, homemade custard!

Got Leftover Christmas Pudding?

Nutrition

Calories: 407.34kcal | Carbohydrates: 93.08g | Protein: 5.88g | Fat: 4.45g | Saturated Fat: 0.6g | Sodium: 107.14mg | Fiber: 5.38g | Sugar: 63.5g
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

31 thoughts on “Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding (Vegan and Gluten Free too!)”

  1. My mum made Xmas puddings in calico lined with plain flourand hung them out to dry made them September to November can this recipe be done the same way as I am continuing the tradition,the puddings are boiled for 1.5 hours when made and approx 1.5 hours to reheat on Xmas day, Australian weather.

    1. Hi Jim, you want the Traditional Christmas Pudding Recipe.
      Unless of course you want it alcohol free, then it’s this one. But once you take the alcohol out, it can’t be made in advance, only a few days before.

      The traditional pudding is made early, I started mine yesterday, steaming it today. We make it on the Sunday before Advent, called Stir Up Sunday (yesterday). Not sure what you mean about hanging them to dry though. After steaming it, we wrap it up in fresh foil, then store away somewhere cool and dark.
      In Australian summer, find the coolest place you can, a cupboard in the kitchen works in hot weather, I think. It wants to be dark. It just wants to be able to mature.
      I hope that helps.

    1. My pleasure Robyn. Grape juice will be a good option, as we have raisins and sultanas in there. White grape juice would be better if you can get it. If you’re using red grape juice, I’d dilute it with water. So for 250ml – half juice, half water.
      Apple juice would also work, as we’re using it already in the recipe, but I find that the final pudding is a little heavy with apple aroma when I’ve done this. Only slightly so though.

    1. Definitely freeze it, Sarah. Wrap it up in a double layer of clingfilm, removing any air pockets, then again in foil. Defrost it overnight in the fridge (remove the foil, but leave it in the clingfilm). Take it out of the fridge in the morning when you are preparing the Christmas meal, and leave it to completely defrost on the counter. Then steam before serving. 2 hours for a large and 1 for mini.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you, Azlin, turned out perfect! I needed to make some for my daughter’s school party, to be eaten on the day. They were really good, alcohol aside, I couldn’t tell any difference in the actual taste.

    1. Hi Nicola, if you’re a fan of butter, then I’d definitely go with that. I love better, and think that it lends a delicious creaminess to the pudding.

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks, much appreciated. The wife did a dry run and it went down very well, no diff. Saved our Christmas, lol!

  4. 5 stars
    I tried this out last weekend and had it with some custard, it was really good. So this is traditional in England?

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks for this, Lin. I wanted to try this to see what it would be like and it came out perfect. So for Christmas can I make them now and freeze? Thanks.

  6. 5 stars
    OMG! I want some of this Christmas Pudding and knowing my family I will be the one woman army eating it but that is fine. Booze free is what I love! Can I use butter in place of the solid vegetable fat?

  7. Jayashree T.Rao

    5 stars
    That’s a lovely Christmas pudding Azlin minus the alcohol. I hope to make it this time.

  8. 5 stars
    It has all the decadence, beauty and rich flavours that one would want in a Christmas pudding with the bonus that it’s perfect for custom eaters and doesn’t need a month long preparation. I love the idea of apple juice and Earl Grey tea as alcohol substitutes.

  9. Mayuri Patel

    5 stars
    Delicious and tempting. What a great recipe especially that its booze free. Its been ages since I’ve enjoyed a Christmas Pudding. Your recipe is tempting me to make it at home this year.

  10. Patricia Field

    I want to make the alcohol free Christmas Pudding, would it be ok if I stored it for a longer time than just 5 days as I want to make it early!
    The recipe looks great so I hope I can do so. Thankyiu

    1. Hi Patricia, the only way to make it any earlier is to freeze it. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. All you need to do is to take it out of the freezer the night before you’re planning to serve, and leave to defrost on the counter. Then warm it up as you would normally. For a few years now, I’ve just been microwaving it to heat up.
      Because it doesn’t contain any alcohol, and the fruit juice and tea, it won’t last beyond 5 days or so.

  11. Julia Manning

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve been looking for a good alcohol free christmas pudding recipe for a few weeks. I was going to use one of the 2 I found earlier but just happen to stumble on this on Pinterest. It looks much better and seems less fussy too. I like that you’ve made it very similar to your other one. That’s what I’m looking for. Thanks Lin, and I will defo share a photo on instagram! Making it tomorrow.

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