Thanksgiving Recipe: Traditional New England Indian Pudding

Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)

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While the majority of my vintage Indian pudding recipes are made without eggs, many dating as early as the 1920s are. Oftentimes that was due to economical reasons as opposed to the best option. Indian pudding made with eggs has more of a custard consistency and needs far less time in the oven which is why I prefer to add them.


6 cups of whole milk or substitute

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 large eggs

3/4 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt


Pour four cups of milk into an enamel-coated dutch oven (mine is 5 1/2 quarts). Add the cornmeal, sugar, salt, molasses, salt and spices.

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With a wooden spoon blend together and then set the heat to medium.

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Stir constantly (and mash any lumps against the sides with your spoon) until near boiling. Add the butter, turn off heat and remove the dutch oven from the heat source.

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Blend in the butter until melted and let cool. In a separate bowl whisk the two eggs, add the remaining two cups of milk to the eggs and whisk vigorously before pouring it into the dutch oven.

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Mix well and immediately place in a preheated 300 degree oven. Bake covered for one hour, then remove cover, place back in the oven until the middle is set (will jiggle) and the color is a golden brown, about fifteen minutes. Makes eight servings. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream or heavy whipped cream. You can store the pudding in the refrigerator for a few days and reheat in the oven. When I warm ours up I place each serving in a single serve baking dish.

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While Indian pudding doesn’t have a glamorous presentation it’s a delicious dish that warms you from within and will make your kitchen smell like November in New England.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Recipe: Traditional New England Indian Pudding

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