A pudding basin is an essential bit of kit if you’re planning to make your own Christmas pudding, but there are plenty of other steamed puddings worth trying too to make the most of this handy bowl. Steamed treacle sponge puddings might bring back memories of school dinners for some, but this delicious treat is the perfect winter dessert for a cold grey day. Savoury suet puddings aren’t as commonplace on our dinner tables as they once were, but they make a great alternative to the traditional shortcrust or puff pastry pie.
Classic pudding basins are made from stoneware, which retains heat during the cooking process. There are also metal pudding basins which allow the heat to penetrate quickly and have no risk of breakage, so they should last a lifetime. Plastic pudding basins are an ideal option if you’re making puddings for others: they usually come with lids making them easy to transport, plus they’re inexpensive so you won’t need to worry too much about retrieving them.
Pudding basins are available in a wide range of sizes and materials and when you’re not using it for a steamed pudding you can put it to work as a spare mixing bowl. We tested a broad range of pudding basins with a traditional treacle sponge recipe against a standardised set of criteria, designed to assess their ability to cook evenly, release the pudding when turned out and also its ease of cleaning. Price and quality of materials were assessed, along with their potential versatility beyond steamed puddings.
Read on to discover our tried-and-tested picks of the best pudding basins or for recipe inspiration, our full collection of steamed pudding recipes including modern takes such as chocolate-orange steamed pudding and classics like the clootie dumpling.
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How to choose the best pudding basin
On the face of it, pudding basins are little more than a simple bowl, but there are a few things to consider before you buy one.
Aside from the traditional method in a saucepan, there are lots of ways to steam a pudding. You can use a pressure cooker, microwave or bake in the oven in a water bath. But not all pudding basins are suitable for all methods of cooking, so it’s worth having a think about which methods you’re likely to use before choosing your basin.
Pudding basins are available in lots of sizes. A one-litre pudding basin is the average size, but they come in anything from small individual portions up to much larger 1.5-2-litre basins for several portions, so consider the size of puddings you’re likely to make.
Other factors to think about are whether you want a basin with handles or a lid and when it’s not being used for steaming, if it can double as a mixing bowl or be used to heat things in the microwave.
Best pudding basins at a glance
- Best classic pudding basin: Mason Cash Heritage Pudding Basin, £8
- Best metal pudding basin: Mermaid Silver Anodised 6”/2 Pint Pudding Basin, £16
- Best multipurpose set: Falcon Enamelware Bowls, £44
- Best for large puddings: KitchenCraft Home Made Ceramic 1.5 litre Pudding Basin, £14.58
- Best traditional pudding basin with lid: Mason Cash Innovative Kitchen Pudding Basin with Lid, £12
- Best for individual puddings: Tala Set of 4 Pudding Moulds, £13.50
- Best with handles: Master Class Pudding Steamer, £20.69
- Best plastic pudding basin set: Lakeland 3 Plastic Lidded Pudding Basins, £7.99
Best pudding basins to buy in 2021
Mason Cash Heritage Pudding Basin
Best classic pudding basin
The Mason Cash brand is synonymous with pudding basins: they’ve been manufacturing them since the early 1800s so they know a thing or two about what makes a good one. This 900ml pudding basin is part of their Heritage range with a simple text design on the front. It’s big enough to make a pudding for four and has a pronounced rim which makes it easy to seal your pudding with string. We made a lovely light and springy syrup sponge in this basin and the pudding released without sticking. The vented base ensures bubbles don’t get trapped beneath it when steaming. It is microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe too.
Mermaid Silver Anodised 6”/2 Pint Pudding Basin
Best metal pudding basin
Star rating: 4/5
This sturdy metal pudding basin is big enough to make a large six-portion pudding. It has a generous rim which makes it easy to secure string in place when tying foil and baking paper on top. Our syrup sponge was well risen with a light fluffy texture, but the syrup had bubbled up the sides during cooking instead of staying in the bottom of the bowl. The pudding turned out easily, although some of the sticky syrupy sponge was left in the basin and had to be scooped out with a spoon. It’s not dishwasher or microwave safe, but it is oven safe up to 240C.
Falcon Enamelware Bowls
Best multipurpose set
Star rating: 4/5
There’s no denying this is an expensive set, but if you’re looking for bowls that you can use for more than to steam a pudding, this set offers that versatility. They make great cereal bowls, soup bowls and small serving dishes or you could make individual portions of crumble in them – you could even take them camping! Each bowl is about the right size for a two-person serving of steamed syrup pudding or an individual savoury pudding.
Our syrup pudding cooked well, it was light and fluffy, but did require a bit of shake to release from the bowl. They’re oven, dishwasher and freezer safe and can even be used on the hob.
KitchenCraft Home Made Ceramic 1.5 litre Pudding Basin
Best for extra-large puddings
Star rating: 3.5/5
If you’re looking for a very large stoneware pudding bowl, this will fit the bill. Despite the name stating that this is a 1.5 litre basin, it’s really big and is actually closer to two litres in volume, so for most standard pudding recipes you’ll need to increase the quantities and the cook times too. But it’s a sturdy stoneware bowl with a thick rim that makes it easy to seal with string.
If you’re planning on steaming in a saucepan, keep in mind it’ll need to be large to accommodate the 20cm diameter and 12cm height of this basin. We made a fluffy steamed syrup sponge that released easily from the basin and the large size means it’ll come in handy as an extra mixing bowl. It’s also dishwasher, microwave, oven and freezer safe.
Mason Cash Innovative Kitchen Pudding Basin with Lid
Best traditional pudding basin with lid
Star rating: 4.5/5
This 900ml stoneware basin comes with a useful lid: you can’t steam a pudding with the plastic lid on but once you’ve made your pudding, the airtight lid pops on top for easy storage or transporting. This lid even features a date dial to help you keep track of when you made the pudding, or when you’re not using it for puddings, it can be used to store leftovers.
Our steamed syrup pudding cooked well and was light and fluffy. There was some minor sticking of the syrupy cake on the base but on the whole it was a great result. The rim isn’t as pronounced as on some other basins, but we didn’t struggle to tie string around it securely. The vented base helps bubbles to escape from underneath during steaming and it’s freezer safe.
Tala Set of 4 Pudding Moulds
Best for individual puddings
Star rating: 4.5/5
This set of four metal moulds make individual puddings, which is the perfect way to serve puddings if you’re trying to impress. Tying string around these small moulds wasn’t as fiddly as we expected, and the string sits neatly just below the rim at the top. Our syrup sponge cooked beautifully and turned out of the mould with minimal sticking. They’re dishwasher safe and can be used for plenty of other culinary creations, including moulding a serving of rice, making single-serve summer puddings or baking decadent chocolate fondants.
Master Class Non Stick Pudding Steamer
Best with handles
Star rating: 3/5
This sturdy non-stick pudding basin stands out for having two handles which are helpful when removing it from a steamer or pan. However, the protruding handles combined with the large two-litre basin size mean you’ll need a very large saucepan – at least 26cm wide and 16cm deep to accommodate it.
The lid can be used during steaming and locks into place, however we achieved a better result using an old fashioned baking paper and foil lid because the metal lid doesn’t form a very tight seal. If you opt for this basin, the large size means you’ll have to increase the quantities in most standard recipes and cook times will be longer too. But the non-stick surface works well and it comes with a 10-year guarantee as well as being dishwasher safe.
- Available from: Amazon £20.69
Lakeland 3 Lidded Pudding Basins 1.3L
Best plastic pudding basin set
Star rating: 3/5
This set of three plastic pudding bowls with lids is a good option if you’re planning on gifting puddings. The bowls are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe so are perfect to use if you want to make puddings in advance and freeze them before reheating in the microwave. We didn’t use the supplied lid when steaming: we’d recommend you use the lid just for storage and steam with foil and baking paper tied on top as a lid.
Our syrup sponge took longer than the ones cooked in stoneware or metal basins. The texture of the sponge was denser and chewier than others, and the syrup bubbled up the sides of the pudding. However, the bowl shape doesn’t distort during steaming and the pudding turns out easily. For perfect results we’d suggest steaming your pudding in a stoneware basin and transferring to one of these plastic ones to transport, freeze or give away.
How we tested pudding basins
To try out this selection of pudding basins, we opted for a British classic and family favourite, steamed treacle sponge. We looked at how well the pudding cooked and if it stuck to the basin or turned out nicely. We took price into account as well as the material, size and ease of cleaning. We also considered whether the basins had other uses aside from making steamed puddings.
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