Which Christmas puddings taste best?

Our panel found a $10 traditional pud took the cake.

Christmas pudding topped with cherries and cream.

Our staff sampled 10 Christmas puds – from traditional plum to contemporary chocolate desserts.

An impressive 25% of Consumer NZ members (of the nearly 270 who answered our survey at least) planned to make their own Christmas pudding this year.

But if the thought of all the chopping and steaming required for a homemade pud leaves you feeling exhausted, there are numerous heat-and-eat products you can buy, from a $6 budget brand to a $45 gourmet import.

Our blind taste test found a $10 supermarket staple held its own against the priciest pudding.

Taste test results

A panel of 10 Consumer staffers – from dessert fans to sceptics – blindly tasted seven traditional and three contemporary chocolate puddings.

Of the classic fruit puds, two were frontrunners in pleasing our panellists: Aunt Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding (between $8.89 and $9.89) and Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding ($44.95). Without knowing the price, four staffers selected the Pudding Lady sample as their favourite, compared to three who picked the Aunt Betty’s portion.

Aunt Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding and Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding.
Our panel's two favourite traditional puddings: Aunt Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding (between $8.89 and $9.89) and Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding ($44.95).

The panellists thought fans of Christmas pudding would prefer Pudding Lady’s “dense”, “boozy” and even “a little bitter” taste. In contrast, those who weren’t big on the dessert were pleasantly won over by Aunt Betty’s “moist”, “fruity” and “crumbly” recipe.

Once we revealed the prices, five of the 10 panellists said Aunt Betty’s would be their first-choice buy. Only two stuck with the gourmet Pudding Lady. That’s not surprising – in our survey, only 4% of Consumer members said they’d pay more than $40 for a Christmas pud.

For the remainder, Aunt Betty’s dessert is likely to tickle your guests’ taste buds.

Chocolate twist

Most of our panellists were less than impressed after tasting the three chocolatey Christmas puddings.

David Jones Christmas Pudding With Cherry And Chocolate.
The panel's favourite of the contemporary puddings: David Jones Christmas Pudding With Cherry And Chocolate ($34.95).

A few wondered why the Aunt Betty’s Christmas Chocolate Fudge Pudding and Ernest Adams Red Velvet and Chocolate Self-Saucing Christmas Pudding were marketed as Christmas puds, considering the desserts had little connection to traditional recipes.

In the blind comparison, five panellists picked David Jones Christmas Pudding With Cherry and Chocolate ($34.95) as their favourite of the three. However, once we revealed its price, just four said they’d buy it. Five staffers said they wouldn’t buy any of the chocolate desserts they’d sampled.

On the label

We examined the packs to see where the puddings were made and what they contained – from fruit and nut content to animal fats and palm oil. Both the Ernest Adams fruit and chocolate puddings were unsuitable for vegetarians as they contained beef tallow or animal-derived colouring.

Seven of the 10 puddings noted the type of oil or fat used, if you’re wanting to avoid something specific such as palm oil. The exceptions were Countdown Christmas Traditional Fruit Pudding and Ernest Adams Rich Fruit Christmas Pudding. In response to our query, David Jones specified its Christmas Pudding With Cherry and Chocolate contained sunflower or canola oil.

The Essentials Plum Pudding listed palm oil in the ingredients.

Traditional puddings

Aunt Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding – panel’s pick

$8.89 - $9.89 for 700g

Panel comments

“Well-balanced flavour”
“Very fruity – though quite boozy and rich”

The details

Aunt Betty’s Christmas Plum Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $1.34
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: 38%. Contains sultanas, raisins, lemon peel, plum puree, glacé cherries
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: rice bran oil spread
  • Alcohol: brandy (5%)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg and milk)

Countdown Christmas Traditional Fruit Pudding

$6.50 for 600g

Panel comments

“Not very spiced, and lovely texture – not too dense”
“Found it to be quite bland”

The details

Countdown Christmas Traditional Fruit Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $1.08
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: 30%. Contains sultanas, currants
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: vegetable oil (not specified)
  • Alcohol: na
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Information not provided

Ernest Adams Rich Fruit Christmas Pudding

$8.49 - $8.69 for 700g

Panel comments

“Not much variation in fruit”
“Too much cinnamon”

The details

Ernest Adams Rich Fruit Christmas Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $1.22
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: 36%. Contains sultanas, currants, citrus peel
  • Nuts: almonds
  • Fats/oil: animal and vegetable fats and oil (not specified), butter
  • Alcohol: brandy
  • Suitable for vegetarians: No

Essentials Plum Pudding

$6.00 for 700g

Panel comments

“The sweetest of all the fruit puddings”
“Fruity – flavours aren’t too strong”

The details

Essentials Plum Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $0.86
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: 40%. Contains sultanas, raisins, lemon peel, plum puree
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: rice bran oil, palm oil
  • Alcohol: cider (12%), alcohol (unspecified)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes

Kitchen Six Traditional Christmas Pudding

$16.00 for 440g

Panel comments

“Alcoholic, with a strong smell and taste”
“Overspiced – I struggled to eat it”

The details

Kitchen Six Traditional Christmas Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $3.64
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: 44%. Contains currants, sultanas, raisins, apples, citrus peel
  • Nuts: almonds
  • Fats/oil: butter
  • Alcohol: stout (3%), brandy (1%)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg and butter)

Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding

$44.95 for 1kg

Panel comments

“Boozy! Lots of fruit flavours”
“A bit of citrus bitterness but still very good”

The details

Pudding Lady Traditional Christmas Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $4.50
  • Made in: Australia
  • Fruit: 45%. Contains sultanas, currants, raisins, dates, orange peel
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: butter
  • Alcohol: brandy (6%)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg and milk)

Wilkin and Sons Tiptree Christmas Pudding

$39.90 for 454g

Panel comments

“Nice fruit flavour but wasn’t a fan of the aftertaste.”
“Not rich enough – very fruity”

The details

Wilkin and Sons Tiptree Christmas Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $8.79
  • Made in: UK
  • Fruit: 28%. Contains sultanas, currants, raisins, orange peel, lemon peel
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: rapeseed oil
  • Alcohol: cider (15.25%), brandy (2.86%)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg)

Contemporary puddings

Aunt Betty's Christmas Chocolate Fudge Pudding

$6.89 - $8.69 for 650g

Panel comments

“More of a chocolate cake than a Christmas pudding”
“Too sweet. Sauce tastes thin”

The details

Aunt Betty's Christmas Chocolate Fudge Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $1.18
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: na
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: rice bran oil spread
  • Alcohol: Yes (unspecified)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg and milk)

David Jones Christmas Pudding With Cherry And Chocolate – panel’s pick

$34.95 for 800g

Panel comments

“Very rich taste. Would only be able to eat a small serving”
“It’s odd with the chocolate. Rich and boozy!”

The details

David Jones Christmas Pudding With Cherry And Chocolate.
  • Price per 100g: $4.37
  • Made in: Australia
  • Fruit: Glacé cherries (20%), currants, raisins, sultanas, dates, orange peel
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: butter, vegetable oil (sunflower or canola)
  • Alcohol: brandy (4%)
  • Suitable for vegetarians: Yes (contains egg and butter)

Ernest Adams Red Velvet And Chocolate Self-Saucing Christmas Pudding

$8.49 - $11.89 for 550g

Panel comments

“No flavour. Like a cupcake”
“A bit boring. Not Christmassy”

The details

Ernest Adams Red Velvet And Chocolate Self-Saucing Christmas Pudding.
  • Price per 100g: $1.85
  • Made in: New Zealand
  • Fruit: na
  • Nuts: na
  • Fats/oil: canola oil
  • Alcohol: brandy
  • Suitable for vegetarians: No


GUIDE Price range based on store surveys in November 2019 and excludes delivery. PRICE PER 100G based on the averaged price across all supermarkets and food retailers. Ingredients from on-pack nutritional information. SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS information provided by the company. NA = not applicable. Puddings without nuts listed in ingredients may contain trace amounts of nuts.

What to serve on the side

In our questionnaire, we asked respondents what they liked to serve with their Christmas pudding:

Christmas pudding with custard.
  • 52% opted for cream
  • 51% chose hot custard
  • 38% selected ice cream
  • 23% liked to drench it in brandy and light it on fire
  • 16% picked cold custard.

Brandy butter, brandy sauce (or hard sauce) and rum sauce were also popular.

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