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Best Christmas pudding 2023: Mouthwatering options from £13

Make it a feast to remember with the best Christmas puddings for every budget

No Christmas table is complete without a sumptuous Christmas pudding. Trimmed with a sprig of holly and set festively ablaze, this classic pud is the traditional ending to a Christmas dinner – if you can squeeze it in after all that turkey.

Traditionally made using a variety of dried fruit, breadcrumbs, suet and plenty of festive cheer, then left to mature for months. Christmas pudding is a rich and decadent-tasting dessert that’s usually steamed for hours to achieve a perfectly moist texture while retaining its signature domed shape. Eat with custard, pouring cream, ice cream or ramp up the festivity with a boozy brandy sauce before promptly falling asleep on the sofa.

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How to choose the best Christmas pudding for you

What types of Christmas pudding are there?

Christmas puddings – the traditional-style ones – are fairly similar in that they feature a variety of vine fruits, a heady whack of citrus and spice, and an alcohol such as brandy, whisky or rum.

Having slightly fallen out of favour in recent years in place of things such as Italian panettone (the bestselling Christmas cake item every year) and other innovative Christmas-themed desserts, there has been an influx of creative flavours as retailers try to tempt us back to tradition.

This year we’ve spotted a Black Forest-flavour Christmas pudding, chocolatey versions and lots of spherical alternatives such as sticky toffee pudding, molten bombes and the like. For this test, though, we’ve kept things pretty classic for those wanting a real dose of festive nostalgia.

How much should you spend?

Making, feeding and maturing Christmas puddings can be quite time and labour-intensive, and anyone who has ever made one from scratch will know that the ingredients can be quite costly, so it’s no surprise that they don’t come cheap.

Premium ingredients such as plump dried fruits, fine Cognac, pecans, walnuts and whole cherries mean that Christmas puddings can cost from anywhere between £8 and £40; the more luxurious it is, the more it costs. To feed around four people, you probably want to spend about £15, but there are fantastic puddings on the shelves this year for less as retailers try to help us cut the cost of Christmas.

How we test Christmas pudding

Christmas comes early at Expert Reviews as we dedicate ourselves to trialling the best of the festive season’s fare well ahead of time. To test our top Christmas puddings, we get hands-on and cook each one according to the manufacturer’s instructions, paying attention to whether they’re best steamed or microwaved, then tuck in – notebooks at the ready.

We consider fruit content, how boozy the pudding is, how luxurious the ingredients are, the lightness of the crumb, maturity and add extra points for uber-traditionalism or inventiveness where relevant.

Christmas puddings can be divisive, so in the interest of fairness we enlist a few helpers to aid us in eating our way through the groaning table, taking into account personal preferences and dietary requirements. As well as the taste, we also look at pudding presentation, price positioning, size and cooking requirements in order to give a full and comprehensive overview of all the prize puddings in this list.

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The best Christmas puddings you can buy in 2023

1. Figgy’s Christmas Pudding: Best all-round Christmas Pudding

Price when reviewed: From £13 | Check price at Piper’s Farm

This was our favourite pudding. Handmade to an old family recipe at a bakery in Devon, this award-winning Christmas pudding is both traditional and stand-out. Containing California raisins, sultanas, cherries, Bramley apples, ground and chopped almonds, as well as orange and lemon zest, it’s full to the brim with Christmas cheer. We were blown away by the delicate yet decadent texture, the juicy, moist crumb and temptingly sticky coating. It’s been soaked in a heady combination of stout and Somerset brandy, which gives a sweet, full-bodied flavour. Though it’s a pricey pudding, we thought this represented really good value and would love to tuck into this on Christmas Day with a boozy cream.

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 350g, 750g

Check price at Piper’s Farm

2. Paxton and Whitfield Handmade Christmas Pudding: Best fruity Christmas pudding

Price when reviewed: £14 | Check price at Paxton and Whitfield

This is a very traditional pudding handmade using traditional methods in an artisanal Devon bakery by specialist pudding chefs. It has the highest fruit content we tested (a whopping 46.5%) and is simply crammed with tart currants, juicy sultanas and raisins, which gives a densely dark, luxurious texture and feel.

Made with vegetarian suet for that signature close-textured crumb, this pudding is suitable for vegetarians, while many others may not be.

We loved the carefully balanced spicing in this recipe and the gentle hint of brandy and rum infusing the whole pudding. This size will serve three to four people, and we would recommend serving with a hot brandy sauce for best effect.

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 454g

Check price at Paxton and Whitfield

3. Tiptree Gluten-Free Christmas Pudding: Best gluten-free Christmas pudding

Price when reviewed: £8.99 | Check price at Tiptree

We enjoyed this Christmas pudding from expert preserve-makers Tiptree – it’s sticky and delightfully fruity, with a good proportion of vine fruits (34%) along with chopped dried apricots and tangy mixed peel. This is a really citrus-heavy pudding, which smells and feels very Christmassy. Orange peel, Tiptree orange marmalade and fresh orange juice all combine to make a juicy pudding that Paddington would approve of.

Balancing the orange flavour, there’s a healthy splash of cider, brandy and a sprinkling of mixed spice. Nut-free, suet-free and gluten-free, this tasty pudding should tick many dietary requirement boxes, too. (There’s no palm oil either.) Enjoy with extra thick cream.

Key details – Gluten-free: Yes; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 454g

Check price at Tiptree

4. Cartwright and Butler Traditional Christmas Pudding: Best luxury Christmas pudding

Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Cartwright and Butler

If you’re looking for a traditional Christmas pudding, they don’t come much more traditional than this beauty. Cartwright & Butler’s pudding is based on Victorian Christmas puddings and is even made in a traditional spherical shape, which has since been mostly abandoned due to the difficulty and skill required to make it.

This pudding has every ingredient you could hope for – sultanas, currants, raisins, candied peel, apricots, prunes, walnuts and more – which goes some way to accounting for the high price. Add to this a healthy dash of brandy and port, and you have a beautifully matured, exceptionally moist and deluxe Christmas pudding that makes a luxurious, attention-grabbing centrepiece.

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: Yes; Size: 908g

Check price at Cartwright and Butler

5. Asda Extra Special Jewel Topped Christmas Pudding: Best Christmas pudding centrepiece

Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at Asdabest Christmas pudding ASDA Extra Special 6-Month Matured Christmas Pudding

Feeding a crowd? This large pudding from Asda’s Extra Special range is just the ticket and won’t break the bank. A classic recipe with plenty of raisins, walnuts, sultanas and mixed peel encased in a fine crumb, we love that this pudding has a good whack of spice. The crowning glory is that it’s topped with fat red glacé cherries and whole almonds surrounded by slices of candied orange making for a very tempting Christmas centrepiece that looks far more premium than its modest price tag. Serve with good vanilla ice cream.

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 800g

Check price at Asda

6. LillyPuds Christmas Pudding: Best light Christmas pudding

Price when reviewed: From £13 | Check price at LillyPudsbest Christmas pudding LillyPuds

If you or yours are not into dark, rich Christmas pudding then this is the pud for you. Great Taste Award-winning LillyPuds Christmas Pudding is altogether lighter and fruitier than most puddings and is free from the menace of mixed peel too. There’s a whopping 50% of fruit – chunks of apple, juicy apricots, vine fruits and cherries – along with plenty of citrus flavour and a lovely light crumb thanks to the heavy-handed use of ground almond.

Brentwood Brewery Gluten Free Chockwork Orange Beer gives a subtly sweet character and a touch of brandy finishes things off. There’s just 4% of added sugar in here; Lilly’s are clearly sweet enough as they are. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also available in both gluten-free and vegan and gluten-free varieties. Why not try their vegetarian Figgy Pudding, new for this year?

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 454g, 908g

7. Meg Rivers Traditional Christmas Pudding: Best luxury Christmas pudding

Price when reviewed: £14 | Check price at The Luxury Food Collectivebest Christmas pudding Meg Rivers

We’re long-term fans of anything that comes out of the Meg Rivers bakery and this artisanal handmade Christmas pudding is no different. Vine fruits, apple, orange and lemons are baked slowly overnight with a good whack of spice and a tot of French brandy for a pudding that tastes like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen – but better. It’s a kind of medium-bodied pudding, so not cakey like the lighter versions and not densely crumbed either.

There’s a lovely caramel, sweetly toasty flavour and the whole effect is very luxurious – especially if you add another swig or two of brandy to light at the table. Delivered prettily tied in calico with green ribbon, this pudding is also perfectly giftable.

Key details – Gluten-free: No; Vegetarian: Yes; Vegan: No; Size: 400g

Check price at The Luxury Food Collective

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