Lydia Shire’s Indian Pudding Recipe

Portrait by Sam Kerr

When she bought the late, great Locke-Ober in 2001, Lydia Shire inherited one of the city’s most legendary restaurants—and a subpar recipe for Indian pudding. So she set out to upgrade the classic cornmeal dessert, transforming it into a lighter, custardlike treat. Follow her tips:

  • Indian puddings have a tendency to come out heavy and thick. “Most recipes you will find are of the gluey, gloppy mess type,” Shire says. She changes the consistency by folding in beaten egg whites and baking the mixture in a water bath.
  • Go ahead and skip the raisins and spices: “I simply like the flavor of molasses, maple sugar, and plenty of pure vanilla extract with whole milk, cream, and eggs.”
  • Don’t go too crazy with the cornmeal. To keep the texture airy, Shire’s version, which serves 12, uses a mere 4 ounces.


Makes 12 servings

3 c. whole milk
6 c. light cream
4 oz. cornmeal
6 oz. unsalted Irish butter, room temperature
1 + ¼ c. molasses
1 + ¼ c. pure maple syrup
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites (with no trace of any yolk in them )
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven, with racks arranged close to the center, to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter 12 8-ounce oven-proof bowls. Place the bowls in 2-inch deep hotel pans or other pans that can be used for a water bath.

In a soup pot, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the cornmeal and remove from heat. Continue to whisk every so often.

Let stand for 30 min. Whisk in the butter first, then add the molasses and maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and egg yolks. Strain the mixture to remove any lumps of cornmeal.

In a clean bowl, whip the whites until quite foamy and fold into your mixture. Gently ladle into bowls evenly assuring each bowl has some foamy top.

Place into pans and fill the pans halfway with warm water. Bake with a single layer of foil resting gently on top for 40 min. Remove foil and cook until a knife placed in center comes out clean. Roughly 50 minutes total.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


See more from our summer dining guide:

How to Eat Like a New Englander