How to make chocolate pudding from scratch

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.


Today’s 365 post:B is for Betsy

Joshua’s 365 post: Colors


  1. Beth in Ukraine says

    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!

      • WilliamB says

        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.

  2. Molly says

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

  3. says

    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!

  4. Jenessa says

    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.

    • Maggi says

      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.

  5. Elaine says

    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.

  6. says

    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!

  7. Samantha says

    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.

  8. says

    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!

  9. says

    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 :)

  10. JoeAnn says

    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!

  11. Momofthree says

    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!

  12. Simply Mommy says

    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!

  13. LAC says

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

    • Kristen says

      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.

  14. Sheri Johnson says

    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:)

  15. Alicia says

    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=]

  16. Jaime says

    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!

  17. Melisa says

    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.

  18. Lorena Miller says

    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!!

  19. Richard Winterrowd says

    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.

  20. Natalie says

    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!

    • Caniwi says

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

    • Matt says

      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.

  21. Brian says

    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

    • Kristen says

      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.

      • Brian says

        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.

  22. Matt says

    “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.

  23. Gina says

    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….

    • Kristen says

      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?

  24. says

    I just whipped up a double batch (and I’m going to eat the whole thing!) and it looks delicious! I am tired of paying grocery store prices, and nothing can beat home made! Thanks for the great recipe!!!!!

  25. Maggie says

    Mine tasted fine, but then as I was waiting for the rest of it to cool so I could refrigerate it, it started to get all globby. I thought maybe if I just whisked it it would get smooth again but it didn’t really help. Did I do something wrong?

    • Kristen says

      Hmm. Normally I let my pudding sit in a container as it cools so that it’s a smooth, solidified pudding. If you stir it as it cools, the texture would possibly appear odd, but upon refrigeration, I would think it would be smooth and fairly solid.

  26. Matt Brandabur says

    Best recipe ever. Adding the cornstarch milk later seems to have made for NO scorching. WOW. (I do add 1 tbsp butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp powered expresso…)
    Thanks for posting!

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