By using mincemeat and the literal power of the microwave, you can have this traditional style pud ready to go in just 30 minutes. With no lengthy steaming involved, this Cheat’s Microwave Christmas Pudding can be made ahead of time and stored, or made last minute on Christmas Eve!
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Stir-Up Sunday in late November is a lovely traditional way to spend time with family making Christmas puddings. Soaking fruit, stirring the batter, making fresh breadcrumbs then wrapping and steaming it for hours on the stove.
But realistically, the vast majority of us sadly have neither the time, inclination or both. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love making festive treats rather than buying them so this slightly cheaty version made in the microwave is definitely the answer.
Cheat’s Christmas Pudding?
Mincemeat. I used store bought luxury mincemeat – that’s the main cheat. It contains fat, fruit, booze, spices and any other flavours that you might choose – cranberries, orange, nuts, etc.
The other thing that I’ve done is to keep the rest of the recipe and ingredients as simple as possible. 12 ingredients including the mincemeat is at least half as many as most traditional recipes. I did try to reduce it even more by removing the apple and extra hit of mixed spice but trust me, you need them.
Microwaving Vs Steaming Christmas Pudding
Using the microwave is not new for making quick and easy versions of traditionally steamed puddings. But it isn’t as well known as it should be. For some reason the microwave does exactly the same job that boiling or steaming for 4 or 5 hours does to a sponge, but in under 10 minutes.
My recipes for Microwave Jam Sponge Pudding, Microwave Chocolate Sponge Pudding and Microwave Syrup Sponge Pudding have been doing a roaring trade since I published them. I’ve been making them for 30 odd years so I’m pleased that more people are discovering them.
And if you weren’t told, you’d never know they weren’t steamed. That’s the beauty of it. Using the microwave isn’t an inferior method or something to apologise for or be ashamed of. Its a legitimate cooking method. And in this day and age of ever increasing energy costs, it’s absolutely the smart thing to do.
How to Serve Microwave Christmas Pudding
For starters the pudding is going to need to be reheated. It does need to be made at least 24 hours before it is going to be eaten for the flavours to mature and the texture to settle.
To reheat it, the pudding simply goes back into the microwave to be heated through. This is quite a common way to reheat and serve a traditional steamed Christmas Pudding anyway.
So once its hot, the question becomes what to serve it with. There are two main camps. The first is the brandy butter camp. It can be made well in advance and simply served.
The other camp is brandy sauce. This is essentially a thickened and sweetened white sauce with brandy (or another spirit like whisky or rum). It pours like a custard and tastes delicious. I’m a saucy kind of gal so I’m in camp sauce.
We actually don’t really have a family tradition of traditional accompaniments and so like with most of my microwave puddings, it usually comes served with Custard Powder Custard, also made in the microwave.
How to Flame a Christmas Pudding
Once reheated and before it is cut and served, many people like to flambé their pudding with more alcohol.
This does look impressive but can be quite hard to achieve. I’ve spent many a year watching a pudding be doused in booze only for fingers to be burnt on a lighter and no flambé achieved. At this point the pudding is more of a cocktail than dessert.
There is a better way. The trick is to heat the alcohol (lets just say Brandy but you can use whatever you like) in a pan. Once hot and just starting to get to the boil, take the pan off the heat and over to where you want to flame the pudding.
Carefully pour the hot brandy into a large metal serving spoon or ladle and light it using a cooks blowtorch, candle lighter or long safety match. Make sure the spoon is hovering over the pudding when you light it then tip the flaming brandy over the pudding – ta-da, flambé!
Please mind you eyebrows and have a look at my disclaimers page where you’ll find that I accept zero liability for anyone in charge of a naked flame! Oh and you only need about 2 tbsp brandy to do this, please don’t go mad and torch half a bottle.
Ingredients for Cheat’s Christmas Pudding
You can use any mincemeat you like providing it contains fat. Mincemeat traditionally contains beef suet but can be made with vegetarian suet, butter and more than likely in cheaper commercial versions, vegetable oil.
If you find a fatless version or recipe, this pudding may not work as this pudding relies on the mincemeat to provide the majority of the fat which is essential to the taste and texture.
There are tonnes of varieties available to both buy or make so use your favourite. If you are thinking of making your own, here are a few suggested recipes to try:
- Quick Mincemeat – Curly’s Cooking
- Slow Cooker Mincemeat – Farmersgirl Kitchen
- Real Victorian Mincemeat – From The Larder
I haven’t specified what dried fruit you need to use because you can mix and match what you have or your favourites.
I used 40g glace cherries (quartered), 20g candied mixed peel, 40g raisins and 50g sultanas to make up the 150g of fruit needed. This was a nice balance with the more traditional raisins and sultanas making up the bulk of the mix.
If you choose to use larger fruits like figs or apricots, you will need to cut them into pieces that are roughly the size of a regular sultana.
You can of course simply buy bags of mixed fruit nowadays – these often contain candied peel and are ideal to use.
Treacle is a really common traditional baking product in the UK. It is dark, bitter and sticky and mostly bought in red and gold cans made by Tate and Lyle. For a slightly lighter cake you can use half golden syrup and half black treacle. Only using golden syrup will give you a much lighter cake overall.
If you are somewhere like the US where treacle is only really available online or in specialist shops, you can use blackstrap molasses which is very similar.
I went super traditional making this pudding and used brandy as the main alcohol element. You can use an alternative – whisky, rum (especially spiced rum), bourbon and sherry are all great contenders.
I wouldn’t recommend using lighter spirits like gin or vodka as they don’t have the depth of flavour you’re looking for.
To make a Microwave Christmas Pudding without alcohol, you can replace the brandy with strong brewed tea, more orange juice or even just water. Please note that I don’t think that puddings without the preservation qualities of alcohol keep so well so I wouldn’t make this more than a week in advance.
The orange juice provides a good citrus back note as well as providing moisture in the pudding. I do prefer to use my lemon reamer and get the juice from fresh oranges. This way you get a lot of the orange flesh/pulp too which all adds to the pudding.
If you can’t or don’t want to squeeze your own, you can use shop bought – try to pick one that is not made from concentrate (look in the fridges) and one with bits/pulp.
If you want an extra orangey hit to your pudding, zest the oranges before juicing and add the zest along with the juice.
I’ve specified margarine rather than butter in the recipe for a couple of reasons. Firstly its is easy to use straight out the fridge. Secondly I like the lightness that margarine gives a sponge over using butter.
Saying that, if you want to use softened salted butter, please do. There is so little of it in the recipe that it won’t make a great deal of difference.
I tried to make this recipe without adding grated apple and it just wasn’t right. The extra sweetness and moisture that it provides really is essential.
I use regular eating apples but cooking apples would work just fine too. Use whatever variety you like. You do not need to peel them, just grate away.
When grating lots of juice will be released – this should be included in the weight of the apple and added to the pudding.
Dark muscovado sugar adds to the richness of the sponge. A slightly lighter version is usually labelled as “dark brown soft sugar” and this is also fine to use. If you are not in the UK, it may be called molasses sugar.
I wouldn’t recommend using light brown or white sugar as you will lose some of the richness of the pudding.
Varying the fruit and alcohol used in the recipe allows you vary it quite a lot already. Using mostly dried apricots and amaretto will give you quite a difference finish to one using spiced rum and dates.
You can also add some additional ingredients within reason. many people love to have nuts in their pudding. Hazelnuts, almonds, pecans would all be great options. Make sure to chop them first and go easy – I wouldn’t add more than 100g or you could end up affecting the recipe.
For a Chocolate Christmas Pudding twist you could replace 25g of the flour with dark cocoa powder and add 100 chocolate chips.
You can make smaller individual puddings with this recipe. It will depend on how many you make and therefore their size for how long you cook them for. I would recommend starting with 4 minutes and then cooking in 1 minute bursts until cooked through.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This recipe is suitable for vegetarians providing the mincemeat you choose is not made with beef suet.
The balance of this recipe is quite fine, like I’ve mentioned I’ve tested it many times to perfect it. In theory you can easily replace the margarine with a plant-based spread and use a vegan mincemeat (by its nature most veggie ones are vegan too) to make a vegan version.
But you also need to replace the egg. If you have a liquid vegan egg substitute available then that should work well. But I am more cautious than normal to encourage you to replace the egg with oil or another fake egg option. Feel free to try, I just can’t promise results.
Make it Allergy Friendly
Gluten Free Microwave Christmas Pudding: In theory the only gluten containing ingredient in this recipe is the flour. This can easily be replaced with a gluten-free flour blend.
However you should also be cautious and ensure that the alcohol you choose does not contain gluten (more do than you would think) and that the mincemeat doesn’t have any hidden gluten too.
Nut Free Microwave Christmas Pudding: This recipe doesn’t contain any nuts. But you must ensure that the mincemeat you use also doesn’t contain nuts either.
Dairy Free Microwave Christmas Pudding: The only dairy in the recipe is the margarine. This is easy to replace with a dairy-free spread which are really common and easy to buy nowadays.
Egg Free Microwave Christmas Pudding: The egg poses more of a problem to change, If you are able to get hold of a liquid egg replacer, that will be fine to use. I wouldn’t reccomend using other common egg replacement options (like apple sauce) as I don’t think this will work well.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Microwave Christmas Pudding
The main thing you are going to need for this recipe is a microwave! You must pay attention to what wattage your particular microwave is. A 10 minute cook time in a 700w and a 900w can produce drastically different results. I know this because I just replaced my 700w microwave with a larger 900w one!
What you cook the pudding in is also worth paying attention to. I often use a thin plastic mixing bowl to make my microwave puddings but for this heartier xmas pud, I prefer to use a pyrex bowl due to the longer cook time. This recipe is written to perfectly fit a 2 litre bowl.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
You can make this pudding around 4 to 6 weeks in advance. This gives it a chance to mature and for you to feed it each week with a little extra alcohol. Getting ahead is actually seriously advisable here.
I’ve included instructions for how to store and how to feed the pudding in the recipe below.
If you forgot to get ahead or just didn’t want to, you can make this just 24 hours in advance. In theory you could just make and eat it fresh but you’re not going to get the best version of it that you could.
Leftover Christmas Pudding in the Microwave
You can simply reheat the pudding in individual portions in the microwave and serve just as you normally would with a brandy butter or brandy sauce. It will keep well wrapped for a couple of weeks.
Here are some other ideas of ways to use it –
- Brioche & Christmas Pudding Bread & Butter Pudding – Curly’s Cooking
- Leftover Christmas Pudding Ice Cream – Sew White
Microwave Christmas Pudding Tips
You do need to cover the bowl while the pudding is cooking in the microwave. I recommend using clingfilm and making sure there is a hefty pleat in it. The sponge will rise up past the rim of the bowl so putting a plate on it could just result in an explosion.
Because of this, on occasion the pudding might overspill a little bit, don’t panic. You can place it on a plate if you are fussed but I just wash my microwave turntable when this happens.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Cheat’s Microwave Christmas Pudding
- Pudding Basin 2 litre
- 75 ml Orange Juice - fresh squeezed if possible
- 150 g Dried Fruit - see notes for more information
- 4 tbsp Brandy - or other spirit like rum, whisky or sherry
- 50 g Margarine - plus extra for greasing
- 75 g Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 50 g Black Treacle - or black strap molasses
- 1 tbsp Mixed Spice - or pumpkin pie spice
- 75 g Self Raising Flour (Self-Rising)
- ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
- 150 g Mincemeat - homemade or store bought
- 150 g Apple
To Feed (Optional)
- 4 tbsp Brandy - or other spirit like rum, whisky or sherry
- Juice enough oranges to get 75ml Orange Juice. I use a lemon reamer – include any pulp from the oranges in the 75ml.
- Add the orange juice to a microwave safe bowl along with 150g Dried Fruit and 4 tbsp Brandy.
- Microwave for 3 minutes on full power. The negates the need to leave the fruit to soak overnight.
- Once finished, take the fruit out the microwave and leave aside to cool. If you need to put it in a cold shallower bowl, do this!
- Meanwhile use margarine to fully grease a pyrex or plastic pudding basin. Set aside.
- Weigh the ingredients for the batter directly into a mixing bowl. Add 50g Margarine, 75g Muscovado Sugar, 1 Egg, 50g Black Treacle and 1 tbsp Mixed Spice.
- Use an electric whisk to combine everything together or mix by hand if you prefer. Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula before finishing the mixing.
- Fold in 75g Self-Raising Flour and ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda then set the batter aside for a moment.
- Grate roughly 150g Apple. You need to obtain around 75g of flesh and juice so you may need a little more or less depending on your apples. There is no need to peel them.
- Add the grated apple and 150g Mincemeat to the now slightly cooled fruit mixture. Give it a good stir.
- Tip the fruit into the cake batter mix and stir thoroughly. You don’t need to beat it, just mix everything evenly.
- Pour the mixture into the greased pudding bowl.
- Cover lightly with clingfilm and microwave on full power for 13 minutes. This is based on a 700w microwave using a pyrex bowl. You will need to adjust the cooking times slightly for a higher or lower wattage microwave. For example a 900w microwave only requires 11 minutes cooking.
- Check that the pudding is cooked through by inserting a skewer or small sharp knife into the centre. If it comes out wet, return it to the microwave for 1 minute at a time until ready. NOTE – the pudding will still be moist, and the skewer won’t come out clean – you just don’t want it to be actively wet.
To Store and Feed
- Allow the pudding to cool thoroughly before storing in the fridge.You can either leave it in the pudding bowl and cover it well. Or turn it out from the bowl once it is 100% cool and wrap in clingfilm then store in an airtight container.
- You can reheat the pudding after 24 hours and eat or store it for up to 6 weeks.
- If storing it for more than a week, you may want to “feed” the pudding with more alcohol. To do this, unwrap it then make small holes all over the underside of the pudding using a skewer.
- Brush or dribble 1 tbsp Brandy over the pudding, allow it to sit for 5 minutes then rewrap and put back into storage. You can do this up to 4 times – try to leave at least a week between each feed.
To Reheat and Serve
- Ideally return the pudding to its original pudding basin without any of its wrapping. Or place it right side up on a microwave safe serving plate and loosely cover entirely with cling film.
- Microwave on full power for 6 minutes until piping hot all the way through. Again you may need to adjust the time depending on the wattage of your microwave.
- Carefully turn the pudding on onto your serving plate or remove the clingfilm and serve!
I’d never made a Christmas pudding because of all the faff. This version is incredible! Simple and takes a fraction of the time. A winner in my books.
Mincemeat is such wonderful stuff. It makes a great cheat’s Christmas cake, so can quite see it would work as a Christmas pudding too.
this is such an amazing dessert recipe. i can’t believe you can make it in the microwave! I saves so much time and effort! thanks!
Kate - Gluten Free Alchemist says
Ha! Total genius! And perfect with the ridiculous fuel costs we are facing right now xx
This is awesome! We have 12 people coming for lunch this weekend and I was wondering what to make for dessert… TA DA! Can’t wait to eat it with loads of brandy cream. Yum.
Jo Keohane says
The literal power of the microwave is literally amazing. I love Xmas pud and making it easier can only be good for humanity. Great recipe.
I love how quick and easy this recipe is and yet the pudding is full of flavour, rich and delicious.
Sisley White - Sew White says
I love Christmas pudding but I am way to impatient for steaming (not to mention to cost). This recipe was so quick and tasted grand. Plus it smelled amazing as it was cooking.