Stir-up Sunday recipe ideas

Prepare for Christmas in the traditional way by making your Christmas pudding, cake, or mincemeat before the start of Advent and allowing flavours to mature.

christmas pudding decorated with holly

This year, Stir-up Sunday falls on Sunday 25 November. Put on your best Christmas playlist, put some mulled wine on to simmer and get mixing with our beautiful make-ahead recipes, including the classic Christmas pudding, mince pies and our popular make & mature Christmas fruitcake

What is Stir-up Sunday?

Stir-up Sunday is a centuries-old annual tradition where home-cooks spend the last Sunday before Advent 'stirring up' their Christmas pudding. That means it's not on the same date each year, and falls somewhere at the end of November before Advent begins. The name comes from the collect or prayer said on that day in the Anglican church – the first line is, 'Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…'.

Of course, the prayer is nothing to do with cooking, but likely during the reign of Queen Victoria (Albert was a huge fan of Christmas), the words and traditions of the day have been linked. 

Which recipes are made on Stir-up Sunday?

Traditionally, the Christmas pudding is made on Stir-up Sunday, and in its modern form as a dried fruit-based dessert, it would have been wrapped in a cloth and boiled. In earlier times it would have contained meat and been eaten at the start of the meal or alongside the meat. The cloth eventually gave way to basins and moulds, and now we tend to use a basin, which is considerably easier than a cloth. 

In the years since the tradition began, keen cooks have not only used the occasion to make Christmas pudding, but other festive favourites using dried fruit too, notably Christmas cake and the mincemeat for mince pies.

How have traditions changed over the years?

Traditionally, the pudding would be stirred from east to west, echoing the direction travelled by the wise men. It would also contain 13 ingredients, one each for Jesus and his disciples. Today, the number of ingredients vary according to taste, and a thorough stir, ideally done by everyone in the household taking turns and making a wish, is sufficient to carry on the tradition.

A coin or charm (or more than one) such as a ring, would also be added to the mixture at this stage, bringing good luck to the person that got it when the pudding was served. Now the coin or charm can be inserted just before serving, and should never be added to any pudding that might see the inside of a microwave. Guests should also be warned to look out for it!

Stir-up Sunday recipe ideas

Chocolate & cherry Christmas pudding

Chocolate & cherry Christmas pudding

This is a twist on the classic Christmas pud, served with its own silky chocolate sauce. The recipe has been created using cup measurements, so it's great for beginners or young chefs. Planning on making extra as a gift? Wrap the pudding in a festive tea towel tied with string or ribbon, then write the instructions for the sauce on a pretty tag. You can make the pudding up to two months before eating.

Chocolate & cherry Christmas pudding
More Christmas pudding recipes

Make & mature Christmas cake

Looking to keep things traditional this Stir-up Sunday? Prepare this fruit cake in advance and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build up the flavour and keep the cake moist. The preparation only takes 25 minutes so you should have plenty of time for a few more Christmassy recipes too…

Make & mature Christmas cake
More Christmas cake inspiration

Golden amaretti Christmas cake

Golden Amaretti Christmas cake on plate

A good mix of trend and tradition, this is one of the easiest Christmas cakes we’ve created thanks to a virtual all-in-one method. Again, the whole thing is measured in cups, so it's a great one for the kids to get involved with making, too. The results will leave your Christmas dinner guests feeling giddy!

Golden amaretti Christmas cake

Mincemeat for mince pies

Mince pies

Mince pies are great to have in the house throughout the holiday season and they're easily whipped up if you make the mincemeat ahead of time. We have boozy mincemeat, a traditional mincemeat recipe and even tropical mincemeat. When it comes time to bake, how about a custard and crumble topping...?

Custard & crumble mince pies
Our best ever mince pie recipes

More than just puddings…

Three pots of sauce

If you want to feel super smug come the holiday season, don’t just stop at the Christmas puddings. You can make everything ahead of time from roast potatoes to Yorkshire puddings, sauces and stuffing – just pop them in the freezer until the big day. It’s quite literally Christmas on ice…

Make-ahead Christmas recipes
Freezable Christmas recipes
10 Christmas classics you can make ahead 

See our Stir-up Sunday recipe collection for more ideas.

Like this? Check out more festive tips...

Christmas projects for kids 
Christmas baking recipes
How to steam a pudding
Christmas planning tips

Do you have any tips for getting ahead of the Christmas rush? Leave a comment below...


Comments, questions and tips

Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
Nigel Thompson's picture
Nigel Thompson
3rd Dec, 2017
Shame on you for not mentioning why it is called Stir Up Sunday. The Church of England’s Collect (prayer) for the day was in the traditional version, “ Stir up Dear Lord........” or something like that
caroline thompson
19th Nov, 2016
Interesting as the recipes undoubtedly are and accepting that church attendance figures are in freefall it seems unfortunate the you don't give at least some detail concerning 'stir-up' Sunday. Its occurence is fixed, as you say, but perhaps you might go on to explain that the expression itself comes the collect for today from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer.
Be the first to ask a question about this recipe...Unsure about the cooking time or want to swap an ingredient? Ask us your questions and we’ll try and help you as soon as possible. Or if you want to offer a solution to another user’s question, feel free to get involved...
Be the first to suggest a tip for this recipe...Got your own twist on this recipe? Or do you have suggestions for possible swaps and additions? We’d love to hear your ideas.