How to make chocolate pudding from scratch

by Kristen on September 14, 2011 · 72 comments

in Desserts, Recipes

Though I often tout chocolate pudding as a great way to use up slightly sour milk, and though I’ve posted at length about making homemade pudding pops, I have somehow neglected to post the actual pudding recipe here.

We’re going to rectify that today.

Homemade chocolate pudding requires only a short list of ingredients, all of which are pantry staples at my house…cocoa powder, sugar, salt, vanilla, cornstarch, and milk.

And thanks to my detailed calculations last summer, we know that it’s cheaper even than the $0.50 boxes of pudding mix at Aldi.

Ok! Let’s get started. First, measure the cocoa powder into a medium saucepan and whisk in just enough water to make a smooth paste.

Stir in the sugar and a pinch of salt.

Stir in all but 1/2 cup of the milk.

Heat the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring regularly. If you are lucky, you can slough this task off onto some small people at your house.

While the milk is heating, mix the cornstarch with the remaining milk and set aside.

When the cocoa/milk mixture reaches a full boil, stir in the cornstarch/milk mixture, stirring constantly.

Bring the pudding back to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute. The pudding should be noticeably thicker at this point.

Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract. Vanilla has more flavor if it’s not cooked, so that’s why we’re adding it now instead of earlier.

Pour the pudding into a bowl or into individual serving cups. Of course, you can always dish it into individual bowls later on, but it looks neater if you do it while the pudding is warm.

Chill until completely cool. Serve plain or topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

Or, you can use your pudding to make homemade pudding pops, which, as we discovered last year, are 50% less expensive than even Aldi’s pudding pops.

I almost always double this recipe, since 2 cups of pudding doesn’t go too far around here.

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Printable Chocolate Pudding Recipe

2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Measure cocoa powder into a saucepan. Whisk in enough water to make a smooth paste. Stir in sugar and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups milk, reserving 1/2 cup.

Heat cocoa/milk mixture over medium heat, stirring regularly, to boiling. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and milk together.

When cocoa/milk mixture reaches a boil, whisk in cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Bring back to a boil and cook and stir for 1 minute.

Remove pudding from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour pudding into individual dishes or a large bowl. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Makes 2 cups.


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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley September 14, 2011 at 8:12 am

Can you use skim milk for this recipe?


2 Kristen September 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

Yep. The pudding will not be quite as thick if you use a skim or low-fat product, though.


3 WilliamB September 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

If you use skim milk and don’t like how the pudding is thinner, you can thicken the milk by adding milk powder to it.


4 Cate September 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

Oh, YUM! I think I will be making this today as a surprise for my husband. Chocolate pudding is so good!


5 Cate September 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

It was a hit! So easy to make, and super yummy. A new favorite for sure.


6 adventuresindinner September 14, 2011 at 8:30 am

There’s simply nothing better than homemade pudding. ;)


7 Katherine September 14, 2011 at 8:50 am

Thanks! I can not wait to try this!


8 Beth in Ukraine September 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

Yea! I live in Ukraine, where instant pudding isn’t available, and the pudding that is available doesn’t seem to have the right consistency to me. I am definitely excited to try this!


9 WilliamB September 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

Interesting timing: the October issue of Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for chocolate pudding.


10 Kristen September 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

Oh, interesting! I haven’t seen that yet.


11 WilliamB September 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I remember two things from the article: one, over the past 30 years receipes have added a lot more chocolate and two, cocoa butter can coagulate but cocoa powder can’t, so CI uses both.

I’ll bet you a finished version of either recipe that yours is a lot simpler.


12 Molly September 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

Wow. That is easy. Much easier than my double-boiler-requiring vanilla custard for homemade English trifle recipe.
Must try this for hubby.


13 Beth September 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

That looks yummy. I’ve always made puddings with eggs, and only recently found out about just using cornstarch. I’ll have to try your recipe!


14 Jenessa September 14, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thanks for the reminder, I have a bunch of old milk in my fridge to use up. I don’t like chocolate pudding at all, but tapioca pudding also uses milk.


15 Jackie September 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

Oh boo! I”m allergic to chocolate. Do you know of any good vanilla recipes?


16 Maggi September 14, 2011 at 11:40 am

Google ‘pastry cream’ and you will pretty much get a very rich vanilla pudding. But, you can do the same with the milk and cornstarch etc. that Kristen uses just don’t add cocoa, and add either add a split vanilla bean when warming the milk (not quite a frugal but oh so delicious) or add a good amount of vanilla extract after the pudding has thickened and taken off of the heat.


17 WilliamB September 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Try also creme anglaise (very rich) or rice pudding.


18 Aubrey @ Small Packages September 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

I kind of squealed when I read the title of this post. Thank you thank you thank you!!


19 marie September 14, 2011 at 10:52 am

My mom made us vanilla pudding from scratch when we were little. We ate it while it was still warm. Truly creamy goodness. SO MUCH BETTER than the boxed stuff anyways.

I’ve used this recipe in the past and its very good!


20 Elaine September 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

This sounds good. I don’t have any dairy milk in my house, just soy milk. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I’ve started making bread from scratch, using your recipe. It’s really good, and I do like knowing that there no unprounceable ingredients in it! (Soy milk works great in the bread, instead of dairy milk or water.)

I’m turning into my grandmother! Except she never had home-made shower cleaner, or a shower for that matter. Just a tub that she scrubbed with Bon Ami.


21 Jennifer September 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

I see the pink fish dress is still being used! ;)


22 Janelle September 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm

So excited to try this!! Thanks!!


23 Malisa September 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Do you think you could used dried milk on place of the regular milk? Or would it not work?


24 Becca S. September 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Wow, I had no idea it was this easy to make chocolate pudding! I think this just might become our go-to dessert around here. :)
Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!


25 Samantha September 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thank you for posting this! I almost bought a boxed mix today. I’m so glad I put it back on the store shelf! I’m going to make this recipe this weekend.


26 Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi September 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I do something similar but use Ener-G Egg Replacer since my little guy has a corn allergy. I think it’s made from tapioca & potato starch, so does the same job as the constarch….just a tip for those that may have a corn allergy too!


27 Adrienne September 15, 2011 at 7:47 am

Just made this last night. Had no idea you could make chocolate pudding from scratch. Super easy and yummy.


28 Katie September 15, 2011 at 7:47 am

Wow, that looks fantastic! We don’t have a lot of pudding in Australia but the ones we do have in supermarkets contain a lot of scary ingredients. I love that this this is so simple, inexpensive and free of nasty things! And it looks so yummy! Definitely giving it a try. Thank you :)


29 Erin September 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

What a great recipe! :) Thanks!


30 JoeAnn September 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

Totally inspired and made this yesterday. I had no idea it was so easy! I used soy milk and used almond extract (cause that was what I had at home). So easy and so tasty! The hubby loved it! Will be making more for sure! Thanks for the post Kristen!


31 Momofthree September 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

My daughter and I are going to make this Sunday night and put it in containers for her to take to school in her lunch. Thanks for the recipe!


32 Simply Mommy September 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I’ve made this twice since you posted it. It’s a huge hit here! My daughter loves it in her school lunches and it’s so easy to make. I think I’m going to get some dark cocoa powder to try it with too. Thanks for posting!


33 Amanda October 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

It is delicious. I just made some to make a chocolate pie. Now I can’t wait until dessert!!


34 maggie March 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

Is there anyway this can be canned? If so would you tell me how.


35 Kristen March 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

Hmm..I have NO idea! I’ve never eaten canned pudding myself.


36 Michele June 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Does anyone know how long this will last in the fridge?


37 Kristen June 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I’d say 4 days or so.


38 LAC June 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I keep coming across your web sight for whatever I am looking for to make frugal! I just Bookmarked it!!! Great Sight!!!


39 J June 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Does it make a difference if you use regular unsweetened cocoa powder vs dutch processed?



40 Kristen June 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I don’t think it’s a big deal…I use regular all the time and it’s fine. Dutch would be good too, though.


41 Sheri Johnson July 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I usually use the Jello Pudding mixes that you cook. I don’t care for the taste of the instant puddings. I was going to make a chocolate dessert that calls for pudding and didn’t have any so I Googled it and found yours. It’s absolutely wonderful! It isn’t any more trouble than the mix that you cook and I think it’s much better! Thank you for sharing:)


42 Alicia July 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Love this!! I didn’t have any vanilla so I took the inside out of 2 vanilla sandwich cookies & melted em in the pudding the last minute of boiling:) It worked perfectly! Thank-You=]


43 andrea August 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm

this is great. now i know how to make pudding.!!!!


44 Jaime August 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Oops…forgot to double the cornstarch when I tried this out last night! Couldn’t figure out why my pie wasn’t setting up! The Popsicles turned out great! We’ll see tonight what frozen pudding pie with graham crust tastes like! Ha ha ha!


45 Melisa September 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

Mine came out really thick ;( I think I added too much cornstarch. (3 big spoons of eM) I thought that that was enough. I’ll try making one another day with less cornstarch.

OR… I think it became too thick because when I added the cornstarch mixture I cooked it too much.


46 Laura September 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Loved it


47 Lorena Miller October 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

OMG! I just made this pudding to put between layers of a cake that I am making for my granddaughters 5th birthday tomorrow. It was soooo easy, and I had all the ingredients. I was trying to figure out what I was going to put in between the cake layers,and I thought, how about chocolate pudding. Went to my pantry, no boxed pudding mix, ugh. So, I searched the internet, came across this recipe, and voila! Awesome pudding, tastes really good, and its a keeper, surely to be using it in other recipes and desserts down the road. For now, I cant wait to see my granddaughters face when she sees and tastes the cake. Thank you for posting such a splendid and simple recipe Kristen!!


48 Kristen October 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm

So glad to hear it worked out for you!


49 Richard Winterrowd October 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm

This is basically the way my grandmother taught me some forty years ago. the only difference was that she used a double boiler to keep the milk from scalding. This si a very good recipe. as a professional chef, I am constantly amazed that the K.I.S.S. principal isn’t followed more often. Pudding is one of those things that should be simple and fun and shared with your kids at an early age. I constantly remind myself when coming up with new recipes to Keep it simple , stupid!…lol. For cooking it is almost always a surefire way to success in the kitchen as well as a way to keep cost under control in these trying economic times.


50 Barbara November 9, 2012 at 9:23 am

I am trying this one out today!!!
I will let you know.


51 Natalie November 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Just made this for my little sister who is getting her wisdom teeth taken out on Friday (day after thanksgiving!). Best method I’ve found, not a single clump. I used leftover espresso from my hubby’s java this morning instead of water, and subbed a 1/4 of the vanilla extract for almond extract. Now I have amaretto espresso chocolate pudding to satisfy her 19 year old pallet!


52 dilhan December 31, 2012 at 12:06 am

this very good…thanx for help!


53 Jammie March 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Yummy! I just made this super good and not that bad for you thanks for the recipe


54 Caniwi March 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Great recipe, I halved the sugar and it was still fine. Easy dessert with sliced bananas and pretty healthy too! Thanks.


55 Shawn Hugh May 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

Thankyou for the recip o you have vanilla pudding too?


56 Kristen May 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I’m sorry, I don’t! I don’t often make vanilla pudding.


57 CC June 5, 2013 at 9:36 pm

How about a recipe using powdered hot chocolate mix ?


58 CC June 5, 2013 at 9:38 pm

how about a recipe using hot chocolate mix ?


59 Matt June 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

Hot chocolate mix it roughly 2 Tbs sugar and 1 Tbs cocoa powder. Math it up correctly and you do indeed have a recipe that will work with hot cocoa mix.


60 noor June 14, 2013 at 4:49 am

hi I loved ur recipie , well can I use vanilla essence in it?


61 Kristen June 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

I’m not sure what vanilla essence is, but if it’s like vanilla extract, then yes.


62 richard dupuie July 20, 2013 at 10:39 am

i love this recipe,i have been looking for this recipe for a while,want more recipes please!


63 cleo March 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Can I double this recipe


64 Kristen March 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Yep-you’ll just need a larger pot. I double it all the time.


65 Brian March 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm

As soon as I added the cornstarch mixture the foam appeared solid and it started rising, it would not go down even by blowing on it


66 Kristen March 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Hmm…do you mean when you were cooking the pudding? If you take it off the heat for a moment and stir it, that should fix the problem.


67 Brian March 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

This sort of thing happens to me all the time, I am used to it, the foam hardened so I ate it and it was pretty good but the bottom stayed liquid so I am freezing it I guess.


68 Kristen March 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

That’s so weird…I wonder why that is! I’ve never had such a problem.


69 Matt June 20, 2014 at 11:57 am

“Sloughing” something off means to remove it, like exfoliating.

To push something off on someone means you gave them a task they might have been reluctant to perform.


70 Gina November 15, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I used 2% milk and followed the recipe exactly (or so I thought I did) and mine came out not very rich tasting mostly just sweet not very chocolatey and also with a horrible thick jello like texture, what could have gone wrong for me? I also made it with the help of my 3.5 year old….hmmm….


71 Kristen November 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Oh no! I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. I’ve used 2% milk before without a problem, so I don’t think it was that. Is your cocoa powder good?


72 Jazz November 20, 2014 at 10:12 am

when I was a kid my mom would make Chocolate pudding and homemade biscuit’s and that was are dinner love it :) :) :)


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