2021 Update! This homemade chocolate pudding recipe might change your life. Okay, maybe that’s an over-statement, but trust me when I tell you that it will make it a heck of a lot sweeter.  I’m talking silky, creamy, dark chocolate pudding from scratch that takes mere minutes to make and is proven to make even the worst of days better. I’ll show you all the steps, and don’t miss the video tutorial below!

Close up of a bowl of homemade chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream and chocolate.

Homemade chocolate pudding from scratch

I’ve been making this recipe for years but never thought to post it here since sharing it is kind of like showing you my favorite pajamas—it’s my crappy day cure-all and my chocolate-craving fixer-upper. In other words, it’s my ultimate comfort food. It’s also my fallback for those nights when I realize that I’ve promised the kids dessert but have forgotten to plan ahead. I always have all of the ingredients on hand, and I can quickly whisk the pudding together before dinner, meaning that it’ll be ready to eat by the time we’ve cleaned up.  

Chocolate pudding in glass serving bowls, with spoons and a bowl of whipped cream alongside.

Dark chocolate pudding

This homemade pudding gets a double dose of chocolate from both raw cacao powder (or any good quality cocoa powder) and chopped dark chocolate. 

I love cooking with raw cacao powder since it has a rich chocolate flavor and is higher in antioxidants than regular cocoa powder (I use it in healthy hot cocoa, black bean brownies, chocolate quinoa cake, zucchini brownies, and more!). However, if cocoa powder is all you’ve got, it will still taste delicious. 

Close up of a spoonful of chocolate pudding.

Healthy chocolate pudding recipe

Pudding was probably the first dessert that I ever “cooked,” which involved whisking a package of instant pudding mix into cold milk when I was a kid. While I no longer have a taste for those overly sweet (chemically flavored) mixes of my childhood, my love of pudding has stayed strong. Thankfully, this healthy chocolate pudding from scratch is practically as easy as the boxed stuff, but decades better in terms of flavor and nutrition.  It uses a minimal amount of sugar and is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar (although you can use regular sugar if that’s what you have).

Chocolate pudding ingredients:

All of the ingredients for the homemade chocolate pudding recipe arranged on a work surface.
  • Raw Cacao Powder (or cocoa powder): Raw cacao powder gives the pudding a rich chocolate flavor and is higher in antioxidants than regular cocoa powder. However, any good quality cocoa powder will work. 
  • Dark Chocolate: Chopped dark chocolate boosts the chocolate flavor and gives this pudding added richness. I prefer to use a chocolate with 70% cocoa content. 
  • Coconut Sugar (or regular sugar): Coconut sugar lends natural sweetness without being cloying (but if granulated sugar is all you’ve got, it works too!).
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch thickens the pudding, giving it a silky texture. You can swap in arrowroot powder, if you prefer.
  • Fine Sea Salt: A touch of salt balances the flavors. 
  • Milk: You can use any milk you have, but whole milk or 2% milk provides the best flavor. You can also use coconut milk (see below) for a dairy free pudding.
  • Vanilla Extract: A splash of vanilla lends sweet depth of flavor.

How to make chocolate pudding from scratch

  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together raw cacao powder, coconut sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Process shot showing a hand whisking together cacao powder, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan.
  • Add milk and whisk until mostly smooth.
Process shot showing a hand whisking milk into the cocoa powder mix in a saucepan.
  • Put the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking, until it reaches a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, whisking, 30 seconds longer. 
Process shot showing the steaming hot cooked pudding, with chopped dark chocolate and vanilla alongside.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add chopped dark chocolate and vanilla extract. Whisk until the pudding is silky smooth. 
A hand whisking dark chocolate into cooked pudding in a saucepan.
  • Transfer the pudding to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (this will prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or for up to 4 days. 
A bowl of chocolate pudding with plastic wrap pressed directly on its surface.

Can I make a dairy free vegan chocolate pudding?

Yes! For a vegan chocolate pudding, use unsweetened canned coconut milk in place of the milk. You can use light or full-fat coconut milk.

How do you serve chocolate pudding?

The pudding is absolutely delicious all on its own, but to take it over the top, serve it with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of shaved chocolate. If I’m not serving children, I’ll even add a tablespoon of bourbon or coffee liqueur to the pudding and to the whipped cream. Ahhhhhhh, it’s the perfect thing to slip into after a long day. 

Overhead shot of bowls of chocolate pudding, with a plate of chocolate shavings alongside.

FAQ

What kind of milk should I use for homemade chocolate pudding?

For the best flavor, use whole milk or 2% milk. You can also use unsweetened canned coconut milk for a dairy free pudding. I prefer not to use nut milks for this recipe, as they compete with the chocolate flavor.

How do you make chocolate pudding from scratch without cornstarch?

For a homemade chocolate pudding without cornstarch, use arrowroot powder instead.

How should I store chocolate pudding?

Cover the pudding with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate.

Glass jar of half eaten chocolate pudding with a spoon.

Tips for making this homemade chocolate pudding recipe:

  • Raw cacao powder gives the pudding a rich chocolate flavor (and is higher in antioxidants than regular cocoa powder). However, you can use any good quality cocoa powder.
  • Adding chopped dark chocolate at the end boosts the chocolate flavor and contributes to the creamy texture. I prefer to use chocolate with 70% cacao content, but you can use any dark chocolate you like (and if semisweet is more your thing, then go for it!).
  • This pudding is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar, but you can use granulated sugar if that’s what you have. 
  • For a vegan chocolate pudding, use unsweetened canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk. You can use light or full-fat coconut milk. You will need the milk from one 13.5-oz can plus 1/4 cup milk from a second can (stir the milk well before measuring, and save the rest for soups, curries or this no-churn vegan mango ice cream!).
  • You can swap out the cornstarch for arrowroot powder.
  • If you’re not serving kids, you can booze it up a bit by adding a tablespoon of bourbon or coffee liqueur to the pudding when you add the chocolate, as well as to the whipped cream before serving. Ahhhh, perfection.
  • You can transform the pudding into this Vegan Chocolate Pudding Tart (shown below)!! Use full-fat coconut milk for the pudding, and use the full 4 tablespoons of coconut sugar.
A slice of vegan chocolate pudding tart on a plate with a fork.

Other cacao powder chocolate desserts to try:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding from Scratch (Naturally Sweetened, Vegan Option)

This silky, from-scratch pudding takes minutes to make using minimal ingredients and is proven to make even the worst of days better.  Raw cacao powder gives the pudding a rich chocolate flavor (and a boost of antioxidants), but you can use any good quality cocoa powder. Adding chopped dark chocolate at the end gives the pudding a rich flavor and texture. You can use any kind of milk you like, although I think whole milk, 2% milk or canned coconut milk taste best (see the Tips below). You can adjust the amount of sugar you use to taste (start with 3 tablespoons and add another tablespoon at the end, if desired). The recipe serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are (feel free to double the recipe!). Take note that the pudding needs to chill for at least 45 minutes before serving. The pudding can be transformed into this Vegan Chocolate Pudding Tart!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Cooling time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate pudding from scratch, cornstarch chocolate pudding, homemade chocolate pudding, how to make chocolate pudding
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or granulated sugar), depending on how sweet you like it
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole, 2% or unsweetened canned coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ounces chopped dark chocolate, preferably 70% cacao content (about 1/3 cup chopped), plus more for serving
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream or coconut whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • In a medium pot (off-heat) whisk together the coconut sugar (to taste), cacao powder, cornstarch and salt. Add the milk and whisk until everything is dissolved (make sure to get into all the corners where the dry mixture likes to stick). Measure out the vanilla and chocolate to add later on.
  • Put the pot over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until it reaches a boil (about 4-6 minutes). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, whisking, 30 seconds longer—the pudding should look thick but still pourable. Remove the pot from the heat and add the vanilla extract and chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the pudding looks satiny smooth.
  • Pour the pudding into a bowl or divide it between individual cups. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the surface of the pudding (this will prevent a skin from forming). Refrigerate for 45 minutes (or for up to 4 days), to let the pudding set.
  • Serve the pudding on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream or coconut whipped cream. If you’re feeling fancy, shave some chocolate over top!

Notes

Do Ahead: The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.
Tips:
  • Raw cacao powder gives the pudding a rich chocolate flavor (and is higher in antioxidants than regular cocoa powder). However, you can use any good quality cocoa powder.
  • Adding chopped dark chocolate at the end boosts the chocolate flavor and contributes to the creamy texture. I prefer to use chocolate with 70% cacao content, but you can use any dark chocolate you like (and if semisweet is more your thing, then go for it!).
  • This pudding is naturally sweetened with coconut sugar, but you can use regular granulated sugar if that’s what you have. You can adjust the amount of sugar to your own tastes, depending on how sweet you like it.
  • For a vegan chocolate pudding, use unsweetened canned coconut milk in place of the regular milk. You can use light or full-fat coconut milk. You will need the milk from one 13.5-oz can plus 1/4 cup milk from a second can (stir the milk well before measuring, and save the rest for soups, curries or this no-churn vegan mango ice cream!). 
  • You can swap out the cornstarch for arrowroot powder.
  • If you’re not serving kids, you can booze it up a bit by adding a tablespoon of bourbon or coffee liqueur to the pudding when you add the chocolate, as well as to the whipped cream before serving. Ahhhh, perfection.
  • You can transform the pudding into this Vegan Chocolate Pudding Tart!! Use full-fat coconut milk for the pudding, and use the full 4 tablespoons of coconut sugar.

Stay Connected!

I’d love to hear what you’re cooking, and I’m happy to answer any and all questions. Be sure to tag any photos so that I can share! @FromScratchFast

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