Easy Chocolate Pudding

$2.44 recipe / $0.61 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 5 votes
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One of the first recipes that I posted to Budget Bytes back in 2010 was a really simple microwave chocolate pudding that we used to make for dessert when we were growing up (read: it’s so easy even kids can make it). But that recipe was from the 90’s when only drank skim milk and made everything possible in the microwave. 😅 Today my cooking style is little different, so here’s my new and (very much) improved chocolate pudding recipe that is rich, creamy, chocolatey, and so fast you’ll wonder why anyone would need a box of “instant” pudding mix.

Overhead view of a bowl of chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top and a spoon stirring.

When I tell you this chocolate pudding recipe is fast, I mean it. The recipe comes together in the amount of time that it takes to measure the five simple ingredients and for it to come to a simmer on the stovetop. It’s ridiculously easy, so much so that it might just be dangerous. 😏

Ingredients for Chocolate Pudding

You probably have everything you need to make this chocolate pudding already in your kitchen. Here are the five simple ingredients you’ll need:

  • Sugar: Simple white sugar gives the pudding sweetness without muddying up the chocolate flavor. You can adjust the sugar up or down according to your taste buds.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Simple, inexpensive chocolate flavor at your finger tips!
  • Cornstarch: This is what thickens the pudding into that classic pudding texture. No egg yolks or complicated tempering techniques needed! The cornstarch thickens the milk as soon as it comes to a simmer.
  • Half and Half: This is the base of the pudding that provides the rich creamy flavor. You can do this with whole milk, if you prefer, but I love the richness of half and half. You can also make your own half and half by using half whole milk and half heavy cream.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla and chocolate are made for each other! Vanilla extract gives the pudding a little extra richness.

Make it Dairy-Free

This chocolate pudding can easily be made dairy-free by substituting the half and half with your favorite dairy-free milk. Keep in mind that the richness of the milk substitute will determine the richness of the pudding, so I would suggest using something like coconut milk, which has a rich flavor. Light canned coconut milk would probably be perfect.

How to Serve Chocolate Pudding

This incredible chocolate pudding is great served either hot or cold. Personally, I get a little too impatient to wait for it to chill in the refrigerator, especially after smelling that chocolate goodness as it comes up to a simmer, so I dig in when it’s still warm!

Try topping the chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh berries, or even some shaved chocolate to make it extra fancy!

How to Store Homemade Chocolate Pudding

If you prefer to eat your pudding chilled, just make sure to place a layer of plastic wrap or parchment onto the surface of the pudding before chilling to prevent it from forming a skin on top. I still suggest chilling it in an air-tight container, in addition to placing the plastic film on top. The chocolate pudding will stay good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, making it great to pack for lunches. I do not suggest freezing this homemade chocolate pudding because it will separate upon thawing.

Close up side view of small dishes of chocolate pudding with whipped cream.
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Easy Chocolate Pudding

5 from 5 votes
This easy chocolate pudding combines simple pantry ingredients to make a rich and sweet chocolate pudding in under 10 minutes.
Overhead view of whipped cream being stirred into a cup of pudding.
Servings 4 (about ½ cup each)
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Optional Chilling Time 2 hours
Total 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions 

  • Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch to a small sauce pot and stir to combine.
  • Add the half and half and vanilla extract to the sauce pot. Place the pot over medium heat and begin to whisk everything together. The cocoa will repel the liquid at first, but as the half and half begins to warm, they will come together.
  • Continue to heat the mixture while whisking until it comes to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken into a pudding. Remove the pudding from the heat.
  • Serve the chocolate pudding warm, or refrigerate until cool. To refrigerate, place a layer or plastic wrap or parchment on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming on top.

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Notes

* You can use any dairy or non-dairy milk in place of the half and half, but keep in mind that the richness of the “milk” determines the richness of the pudding. Half and half is my favorite.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 297kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSodium: 76mgFiber: 3g
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Side view of a spoon dipping into a bowl of chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top.

How to Make Chocolate Pudding

Sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch in a sauce pot.

Add ½ cup sugar, ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 3 Tbsp cornstarch to a small sauce pot. Stir to combine.

Milk pouring into the sauce pot with a whisk.

Add 2 cups half & half (or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream) and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the sauce pot. Place the pot over medium heat and begin to whisk the milk into the cocoa mixture. The cocoa will repel the liquid at first, but as it warms it will begin to whisk in.

Thickened pudding being whisked.

Continue to cook and whisk as the half and half warms. Allow it to come to a simmer, at which point the cornstarch will thicken the mixture into a pudding. Remove the pudding from the heat.

Overhead view of whipped cream being stirred into a cup of pudding.

Serve the pudding warm, or chill for two hours (place plastic or parchment on the surface of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin). Serve as-is, or top with whipped cream, fresh berries, or shaved chocolate.

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  1. I used xylitol and stevia along with a heaping table spoon of brown sugar. I added 1/2 Chunk of chocolate bark along wit cocoa powder and it is so good. We had some hot on a cold January day.

  2. Woke up from a nap craving chocolate pudding, nope not pregnant. LOL!
    I looked in the pantry and didn’t have the standard pudding mix. Came across this recipe and thought to give it a try, simple ingredients without a lot of fuss.

    I used evaporated milk instead of half and half. I didn’t re-in-constitute the milk as per the instructions on the can (1 cup milk to 1 cup water). I used the whole 14 ounce can and just added 2 ounces of water to get the 2 cups necessary for the recipe.
    Cooked this up as I was making dinner and had it plated and chilled, not too much, ready for dessert. Simple ingredients, simple process for a perfect pudding.

    This will make into my Big Red Recipe book.

  3. I took inspiration from your spicy hot cocoa recipe to riff on this by adding 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp cinnamon and using stevia in place of sugar. I was a little dubious about leaving out the sugar because chemistry, but it’s perfect! Feliz Navidad!

  4. So I totally didn’t follow the recipe, so ignore my star rating. But wanted to comment in case others were wondering about a similar substitution.

    I never have milk in the house, so I always sub yogurt for dairy (you can see where this is going…!). So that’s what I did. As it was warming, I tasted it and it wasn’t very sweet (the sourness of the yogurt definitely playing a role here). I added more sugar…and more sugar. Then later I added some maple syrup…! And I added some real chocolate in an attempt to make it more chocolatey.

    It produced a creamy, glossy pudding, but it does have kind of an off taste.

    I may try coconut milk next time. Or just buy half and half. If I really want chocolate pudding, its better have the real deal!

    1. Probably! It’s the cornstarch that is doing all of the thickening, so I don’t think it will change much to use a different type of sweetener.

  5. This looks so good! Could you pour this into a pie crust and chill for a chocolate cream pie?

    1. I don’t think it will be thick enough for that, unfortunately! You could probably experiment with using more cornstarch to make it thicker for a pie filling, though.

  6. This is the 1st pudding recipe I’ve seen with no egg yolks….
    How does that change things?
    Your pix still look creamy & thick!
    This is so much easier than tempering eggs!!! Thanks!

  7. Amazing! I made this with oat milk and it came out fantastic. Will definitely be making again.

  8. Looks yummy!
    I noticed that you didn’t include the vanilla in the step-by-step photos section. Is that an oversight or a way to check who’s paying attention?

    1. Haha, I’m just testing you! J/k. Thanks for catching that. I’ll fix it now. ;)

  9. This looks great and I can’t wait to try it with my 6 year old!

    Would it be possible to use this same basic recipe and convert it to vanilla pudding? Or would omitting the cocoa powder throw the proportions off?

    1. Yes, you can make a basic cornstarch pudding with just milk (or cream), sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla! :)

  10. Could you make this with cream? I often have non fat milk and cream on hand, but not half in half.
    Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can do a mix of non-fat and cream to still get a nice creamy finish, or just do cream for an ultra rich pudding.