Our 2016 Christmas pudding test reveals three Best Buy puddings to impress your guests, plus we’ve found that spending more won’t guarantee you pudding perfection.
Our top-scoring pudding was praised by our panel of experts for being ‘loaded with fruit and nuts’, with a ‘soft and light texture’ and ‘balanced spice’. And it wasn’t one of the priciest puddings on test.
The second of our three Best Buy Christmas puddings has a flavour that develops ‘like a vintage wine or fine-aged cheese’. Our experts even questioned whether this pudding was home-made.
One of the priciest puddings on test scored second from bottom in our comparison of 11 traditional-style Christmas puddings from leading retailers, including Asda, Harrods, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
See how your supermarket’s pudding compares and get full tasting notes in our guide to the best Christmas puddings.
Finding Christmas pudding perfection
The best Christmas puddings balance ‘booze, sweetness, richness and bitterness’, according to our expert panel. And the texture shouldn’t be ‘too cakey’. Our experts were on the look-out for these attributes when they blind-tasted the puddings, along with a texture ‘firm enough to cut’ but which ‘gives way when you eat it’.
Our panel has decades of experience between them and comprises Dan Lepard – food writer and award-winning baker, Charlotte Marrifield – owner of Harrogate Cake Company, Patrick Moore – the founder of Cumbrian More? The Artisan Bakery and Café , and chef proprietor of Orwells restaurant Ryan Simpson.
Brandy butter or rum sauce?
Simple and traditional Christmas pudding accompaniments are still the most popular, followed by alcoholic sauces. That’s what we found when we asked Which? members to tell us their favourite accompaniments.
More unusual serving suggestions included evaporated milk, fried with cream, Greek yoghurt, orange or lemon sauce and neat rum.
Gluten-free Christmas treats
Gluten-free shouldn’t mean free from taste or traditional Christmas flavours. But our pudding experts said that gluten-free Christmas puddings they’ve tried often don’t have the wow factor.
So we put this to the test with 42 Christmas pudding fans. We asked them to sample a traditional Christmas pudding alongside a gluten-free equivalent without knowing which was which.
If you don’t eat gluten, or are catering for friends or family who don’t, find out how our gluten-free pudding fared and check our round-up of gluten-free Christmas treats at the major supermarkets before you go shopping. We’ve also listed whether they’re wheat-free or dairy-free.
For something a little different that’s home-made and gluten free, our experts suggested a twist on Christmas pudding using vine fruits soaked in brandy and served with cinnamon crème brulée.