Steak and kidney pudding
Steak and Kidney Pudding.jpg
A small steak and kidney pudding, served with mashed potatoes and other vegetables
Place of originEngland
Main ingredients

Steak and kidney pudding is a traditional British main course in which beef steak and beef, veal, pork or lamb kidney are enclosed in suet pastry and slow steamed on a stove top.

History and ingredients

Steak puddings (without kidney) were part of British cuisine by the 18th century.[1] Hannah Glasse (1751) gives a recipe for a suet pudding with beef-steak (or mutton).[2] Nearly a century later Eliza Acton (1846) specifies rump steak for her "Small beef-steak pudding" made with suet pastry, but, like her predecessor, does not include kidney.[3]

An early mention of steak and kidney pudding appears in Bell's New Weekly Messenger on 11 August 1839 when the writer says:

Hardbake, brandy-balls, and syllabubs have given way to "baked-tates" and "trotters;" and the olden piemen are set aside for the Blackfriars-bridge howl of "Hot beef-steak and kidney puddings!"[4]

According to the cookery writer Jane Grigson, the first published recipe to include kidney with the steak in a suet pudding was in 1859 in Mrs Beeton's Household Management.[5][n 1] Beeton had been sent the recipe by a correspondent in Sussex in south-east England, and Grigson speculates that it was until then a regional dish, unfamiliar to cooks in other parts of Britain.[5]

Beeton suggested that the dish could be "very much enriched" by the addition of mushrooms or oysters.[6] In those days oysters were the cheaper of the two: mushroom cultivation was still in its infancy in Europe and oysters were still commonplace.[5] In the following century Dorothy Hartley (1954) recommended the use of black-gilled mushrooms rather than oysters, because the long cooking is "apt to make [oysters] go hard".[7][n 2]

Neither Beeton nor Hartley specified the type of animal from which the kidneys were to be used in a steak and kidney recipe. Grigson (1974) calls for either veal or beef kidney,[5] as does Marcus Wareing.[8] Other cooks of modern times have variously specified lamb or sheep kidney (Marguerite Patten, Nigella Lawson and John Torode),[9] beef kidney (Mary Berry, Delia Smith and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall),[10] veal kidney (Gordon Ramsay),[11] either pork or lamb (Jamie Oliver),[12] and either beef, lamb or veal kidneys (Gary Rhodes).[13]


The traditional method, given in Beeton's recipe, calls for the meat to be put raw into a pastry-lined pudding basin, sealed with a pastry lid, covered with a cloth and steamed in a pan of simmering water for several hours. In Grigson's view "one gets a better, less sodden crust if the filling is cooked first",[5] and, after Hartley's, all the recipes from recent years mentioned above follow suit. In a 2012 article "How to cook the perfect steak and kidney pudding", Felicity Cloake identified one relatively modern recipe – by Constance Spry – that calls for the meat to go in raw, but found that it "comes out gloopy with flour, and tough as a Victorian boarding school".[14] In addition to the steak and kidney, the filling typically contains carrots and onions, and is pre-cooked in one or more of beef stock, red wine and stout.[14]


According to the Oxford Companion to Food, cockneys call steak and kidney pudding "Kate and Sydney Pud".[1] In the slang of the British Armed Forces and some parts of North West England, the puddings are called "babbies' heads".[15]

Notes, references and sources


  1. ^ The work was published in book form in 1861, but had appeared as a part-work over the previous two years.[5]
  2. ^ Hartley suggested that if seafood were wanted in a steak-and-kidney mix, cockles would be preferable to oysters.[7]


  1. ^ a b Davidson, p. 754
  2. ^ Glasse, p. 132
  3. ^ Acton, p. 369
  4. ^ "What is doing in London?". Bell’s New Weekly Messenger. England. 11 August 1839. Archived from the original on 2 May 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2018 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Grigson, p. 243
  6. ^ Beeton, pp. 281–282
  7. ^ a b Hartley, pp. 87–88
  8. ^ "Steak and Kidney Pudding by Marcus Wareing" Archived 2021-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, The Caterer, 11 September 2006
  9. ^ Patten, p. 156; Lawson, Nigella. "Steak and kidney pudding" Archived 2021-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, Nigella Recipes. Retrieved 1 May 2022; and Torode, p. 122
  10. ^ Berry, pp. 184−185; Smith, Delia. "Mum's Steak and Kidney Plate Pie" Archived 2022-03-20 at the Wayback Machine, DeliaOnline. Retrieved 1 May 2022; and Fearnley-Whittingstall, p. 53
  11. ^ Ramsay, p. 138
  12. ^ Oliver, Jamie. "Steak and kidney pudding" Archived 2022-05-02 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 1 May 2022
  13. ^ Rhodes (1994), p. 122 and (1997), p. 118
  14. ^ a b Cloake, Felicity. "How to cook the perfect steak and kidney pudding" Archived 2022-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 1 March 2012
  15. ^ Seal and Blake, p. 6


See also