It’s just not a proper Sunday roast without Yorkshire puddings on the side. But there’s more to getting them right than you think.
Yorkshire pudding recipes are akin to those for pumpkin pie – handed down across generations, never to be meddled with. And for a very simple dish, the recipes are full of more “must-dos” and “never-evers” than anything I’ve explored so far. And many of them are different or even conflicting rules.
A big part of the reason for this variation is that, like anything, the “perfect” Yorkshire pudding is subjective. It’s “perfect” for the author, but different people like their Yorkies different ways. Some like them very fluffy, while others like them a bit stodgier. Many like them as open cups, with a hole to catch gravy, while others prefer a towering, crispy-topped pudding.
As an example, Chloe from Feast Glorious Feast has a clear view of what she prefers a Yorkshire pud to be like:
“There has been a trend in recent years, especially in pubs and restaurants to start making Yorkies with so many eggs that they puff up four or five times larger than their tin…..I don’t want a Yorkshire that cuts the inside of my mouth, doesn’t taste of anything and that I can’t fill with a little meat and gravy. Yorkshires should be soft with a little bit of crispy and golden brown with a hole in the middle. And thats that!”
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Table of Contents
Making sense of it all
So there are lots of different views of a perfect Yorkshire pudding, and lots of different recipes to suit. But this makes it hard to decide which is the best approach, or recipe, to go with. So to help make sense of it all, I’ve compared twenty recipes for this famous British side dish and figured out what’s consistent, and what’s unique.
Before we dig into that though, you may be wondering – what is a Yorkshire pudding?
What is a Yorkshire pudding?
If you haven’t come across them before, Yorkshire puddings are a baked savoury pudding eaten as a side dish with roast meats, particularly beef, and gravy.
The earliest records of Yorkshire puddings date to the eighteenth century. They were called dripping puddings, and came about to catch the rich drippings from spit-roasted meat. With meat being so expensive at the time, people could not afford to waste the energy-dense drippings. It’s believed that they were also used as a starter when having guests or workers over so they’d fill up on the inexpensive puddings, and therefore eat less of the pricey meat!
Is it the same as a popover?
American popovers are remarkably similar to Yorkshire puddings. Their ingredients and their cooking methods are almost identical.
The biggest difference is a result of how they’re eaten. Yorkshire puddings are traditionally eaten as a side dish with an intensely savoury meal, usually roast beef. Popovers are mainly eaten as a sweet treat, with honey, maple syrup or jam/jelly. Because of this, you’d never make popovers with beef drippings. They’re typically made with melted butter or sometimes vegetable oil.
Yorkshire pudding batter
The batter is remarkably simple in terms of its ingredients – eggs, milk, flour and a little bit of salt.
Milk gives the batter moisture and flavour, but also adds to the structure thanks to its proteins.
While the authors overwhelmingly prefer whole/full-cream milk, several recommend skim or light milk (or replacing a small amount of the whole milk with water to achieve the same effect). The belief behind this is that lowering the fat content of the batter not only helps the puddings rise higher and crispier, it also gives them a softer texture. That said, only five authors take this approach.
One author, Michele from West via Midwest, goes in the opposite direction and uses half-and-half instead of milk. If you haven’t come across it before, half-and-half is a premade blend of milk and heavy cream, giving it about 12% milk fat (compared with about 3% for whole milk). It’s uncommon outside the US, but can be made at home by mixing equal parts milk and heavy cream.
It wouldn’t be a pudding without eggs. Most of the authors specify large eggs, but several don’t specify a size at all.
Flour is the foundation of the pudding, giving it structure and texture.
Given how dramatically Yorkshire puddings rise, it’s understandable to think they’d be better made with self-raising/self-rising flour, or by adding some baking powder to plain/all-purpose flour. But this is not the case. Every recipe here uses plain/all-purpose flour, and no baking powder or baking soda. This is because the leavening agent in Yorkshire puddings is steam.
If you’re still tempted, a couple of authors comment on how they’ve tried self-rising flour, hoping for even taller puddings, and ended up with the opposite – flatter puddings. I did a bit of research on this and found many people sharing the same experience. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why, but it seems clear – skip the SR flour.
How much batter?
The recipes vary, but on average they come in just shy of three cups of batter in total. And for reference, most of the recipes are for use in a twelve-hole muffin pan.
How much of each ingredient?
You’ll often hear it said that baking is a science, full of precise measurements and exact temperatures. I’m going to dig into that just a little now, but feel free to jump down to the next section if you just want to know how to mix your batter.
Two of the most important aspects of a Yorkshire pudding batter are:
- the ratio, by volume, of wet ingredients (milk and eggs) to dry (flour).
- the proportion of the batter that is egg.
These ratios impact the texture of the pudding, how much it rises, and more.
There’s a lot of variation in the ratio of wet-to-dry across these recipes. Using rough averages, they range from equal parts liquid and flour, to 2.3 times as much liquid as flour. Similarly, the “egginess”, measured by how much of the total batter is egg, varies from eggs only being 16% of the batter, to as much as 38%.
The interesting part about this is that although a number of authors, and their readers, insist there is science in the measurements and ratios behind a perfect Yorkshire pudding, these figures again prove one important fact. Everyone’s ideal Yorkshire pudding is different to everyone else’s.
This doesn’t help us decide how to choose a recipe though! On average, the most popular ratio of liquids to flour is 1.75 times as much liquid as flour. And just over half of the batters are about one-third egg.
This is all a bit confusing though. Fortunately there is a simpler approach you can try.
Equal parts batter for Yorkshire puddings
One approach that’s sometimes touted is the use of equal quantities (by volume) of milk, flour and beaten egg. It’s known as the equal parts method, and sometimes as the one cup method.
The wonderful thing about the equal parts approach is that you can scale your batter very easily. This is particularly useful if you want to make a smaller batch (Yorkshire pud for one?), or if you’ve only got one or two eggs. It also makes it easier to allow for really large or really small eggs.
On average, one large egg equates to roughly a quarter of a cup in volume. So using the equal parts method, you can scale your batter to match how many eggs you have:
- For one egg, you’ll need about a quarter-cup each of milk and flour.
- For two eggs, you’ll need about half a cup of each. This will make roughly a half-batch (compared with a typical recipe).
- For three eggs…you get the idea.
As I mentioned above, this approach is sometimes known as the one cup method. This is because a very common use of the equal parts batter is one cup of flour, one cup of milk and one cup of beaten eggs (about four eggs). This produces a full batch, suited to a 12-hole muffin pan as per a number of the recipes here.
And several of the recipes are very close to the equal parts formula. This will give you a liquid to flour ratio of 2:1, which is a bit higher than the average here, but interestingly Kenji recommends it as a bare minimum in his Yorkshire pudding analysis on Serious Eats.
If you’re looking to go without a recipe, the equal parts approach is a helpful guide. I’ve used this approach for toad-in-the-hole (sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter) a number of times and had great results.
So, what does it all mean?
The best advice I can offer from all of these ratios and numbers is this. All of these authors find success with their particular approach, but there are a few recipes that are “outliers” in the sense that their ratios are significantly higher or lower than the average. If you’re looking for the most popular approach, these outliers probably aren’t the ones to try. But if you’ve done Yorkshire puddings before and you’re looking to change it up, the outliers may offer exactly what you’re after.
Mixing the batter
The authors are split on whether you should hand whisk the batter, or use an electric mixer. Some are adamant you need to use an electric whisk or mixer until you have bubbles bursting on the surface of your batter. Others simply fully mix the ingredients by hand.
Either way, the target consistency of the batter is to be easily pourable. Some authors describe the consistency as that of heavy/double cream. Others say it will be thin and barely coat the back of a spoon.
Resting your batter
Almost three-quarters of the recipes recommend resting your batter before using it. This is to allow the starch to absorb as much liquid as it can, which will result in a lighter texture. It also, as Kenji discovered, leads to significantly better rising.
The recommended times vary widely, from as little as ten minutes to as much as three days! Thirty minutes minimum is the most commonly suggested time, although more than a few recommend overnight resting.
In spite of this, several authors believe it’s not necessary, even famous chefs like Jamie Oliver. Again, this is probably related to differing preferences for texture, height, etc.
Baking your puddings
Which pan to use?
Almost every recipe here is for individual puddings, baked in a 12-hole muffin pan or a four-hole Yorkshire pudding pan. A number of authors also offer advice for making larger puddings with the same recipe. As an example, Chloe’s recipe on Feast Glorious Feast uses a 12-hole muffin tray, but she also advises the same recipe can be used to make two large puddings in 8 inch/20cm cake tins, or one very large Yorkshire in a large roasting tin/pan.
Whatever pan you use, there’s a fair chance that either the fat, your puddings or both will overflow the pan. A number of authors recommend sitting your muffin tin on a baking tray to catch any spillage.
A lot of authors don’t comment at all on this. Of those that do, some recommend your batter be at room temperature for better rising, and some recommend it be chilled for a more traditionally cup-shaped pudding. Your call.
Steps to bake a Yorkshire Pudding
The process of baking Yorkshire puddings is a little more involved than something like a cake:
- Preheat your oven to a high temperature, drop a little fat into the bottom of each hole in the muffin tray, and put it in the oven to get the fat nice and hot.
- Pull the tray out of the oven and, working quickly, pour in the batter.
- Put the tray straight back in the oven and bake until done.
Much like making your batter, there’re differences amongst the recipes in almost every one of these steps!
Heating the fat
One of the hallmarks of a Yorkshire pudding is the fact that the batter is poured into hot fat before being put in the oven. And every one of these recipes directs you to do exactly that. This ensures the bottom crisps up almost immediately, preventing it from becoming soggy or undercooked.
What type of fat?
The traditional approach is very clear – it must be drippings from a beef roast. This is where Yorkshire pudding originated and it is still favoured this way today. That said, only half of the recipes recommend you use drippings, and most of these offer alternatives.
In choosing an alternative, you need to consider the smoke point of the fat. Because you’re going to be heating it to a very high temperature, a number of authors recommend you only use fats with a high smoke point.
This generally rules out olive oil, and also whole butter. If you have clarified butter, it will work with it’s higher smoke point, but whole butter may end up burning if you’re not careful. The reason this isn’t an issue with popovers is because many recipes use melted butter mixed into the batter rather than preheating it in the muffin pan.
And as I mentioned earlier, if you’re making popovers, you’re probably going to want to avoid the savoury fats like beef drippings.
How much fat?
The amount of fat in each muffin hole varies quite considerably from recipe to recipe. Some authors recommend as little as half a teaspoon, others just enough to cover the bottom of the hole, and a couple as much as a tablespoon.
In case you’re worried, because the fat is so hot, it’s not going to soak right into the batter, giving you a greasy pudding. The hot fat sears the outside almost immediately, so while the fat will flavour the batter, you don’t need to automatically shy away from the recipes that put more fat in the pan.
Across the twenty recipes the average is a little over a teaspoon per muffin hole. A dessertspoon would probably be about the right measure.
How hot should the fat be?
Like everything else, there’s quite a bit of variation in the oven temperature used to heat the fat:
- Seven authors recommend 425°F/220°C.
- Six go a bit hotter, to 450°F/230°C.
- Four are a bit cooler, at 400°F/200°C.
- The last three like it really hot – 465°F/240°C.
There’s variation in how long to leave the pan in the oven to heat the oil as well, but the most common suggestion by far is five to ten minutes. A few recommend a bit longer, but unless you’re using a very heavy-based pan I’m guessing this won’t be necessary.
If you’re not sure it’s been long enough, some authors suggest it’s ready when the fat’s just starting to smoke.
Filling the pan
Most of the authors highlight the need to work quickly once you’ve pulled the pan with hot fat or oil out of the oven. If it’s allowed to cool too much your puddings won’t turn out as well. The goal is to fill the pan and get it back into the oven as quickly as possible, all while being careful not to burn yourself with the spitting-hot fat!
Recommendations for how full your muffin cups should be vary from a third to three-quarters full. Any more and you’ll definitely have spillage of fat, batter or both. Based on the averages, halfway-full is about right.
Baking your puddings
Eighteen recipes leave the oven temperature unchanged from that used to heat the fat, so you can bake your Yorkshires at the same temperature. A couple of authors lower the temperature for the puddings and theirs bake a little longer than the others.
There’s quite a bit of variation in suggested baking times, but this is to be expected. The authors’ ovens, their chosen oven temperature, their batters and their finished texture preferences will all be different. And like most things you cook, the best recommendation is “until they’re done”.
The most consistent guide is that your puddings will take somewhere between fifteen and twenty-five minutes. If you’re using one of the higher oven temperatures the time will tend towards the lower end of this range.
And you may want to decide that they’re cooked visually based on the next piece of advice.
Many authors strongly advise not opening the oven door while your Yorkshires are cooking, at least for the first fifteen to twenty minutes. They all swear you’ll be dooming your puddings to a failure to rise well.
While it’s understandable, being a well-regarded rule of baking in general, not everyone agrees. In Kenji’s road-test he found this one to be a myth. Still, so long as your oven light works and the glass is clean enough, it can’t hurt to watch without opening the door, can it?
How to know when they’re done
Across the recipes that give some guidance, the key things to look for are:
- They’ve risen well and puffed up.
- They’re golden brown.
Many also advise when they’re crisp, but this is tough to judge without touching them.
Yorkshire puddings tend to cool quickly, and lose some of their crispiness and texture as they do so. As a result, the overwhelming recommendation is to serve them up immediately.
Venting the steam
A few authors recommend using the point of a sharp knife to open a small hole near the top of each pudding once it comes out of the oven. The goal of this is to allow the steam to escape. Depending on how crispy you’ve baked them, doing this can cause the pudding to collapse into a cup shape. It’ll be up to you whether this is a complete disaster, or the perfect pudding for trapping gravy.
Help! My puddings won’t rise
A number of readers comment on these recipe pages looking for help with puddings that didn’t rise as much as they’d hoped, or much at all.
If you’ve baked before you may be wondering what makes a Yorkshire pudding rise. There’s no typical leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. So what lifts the top?
The magic ingredient is steam. When the moisture in the batter hits the hot pan some of it turns to steam. As the batter heats up, more of the moisture turns to steam. The steam rises up through the batter, lifting it as it goes. This is why it’s so important that the fat in the pan is hot.
If you’re worried about your puddings not rising the authors suggest a few different things to pay attention to:
- As discussed earlier, rest your batter for at least half an hour.
- Only pour the batter once – no topping up.
- Give it time (in the oven).
- Ensure consistent heat.
- No peeking!
We’ve already talked about the first tip. Read on for more detail on the others.
The first thing to be aware of is that your puddings won’t start rising straight away. It takes a while for enough steam to build to lift the heavy batter. So you may just need to give them a little more time.
Christine from Sunday Supper Movement says the bulk of the height happens in the last ten minutes. Keep in mind that her recipe is cooked at a lower temperature for half an hour. If you’re using one of the hotter, faster recipes your puddings will obviously need to start rising a lot earlier.
Oven temperature is really important too. If your oven is not holding a consistent temperature the steam temperature will fluctuate inside your puddings. This will cause variability in how they rise.
Nicky from Kitchen Sanctuary shares her experience with an old oven that didn’t hold a consistent temperature, and gave her inconsistent results. When she installed a new oven, her puddings started turning out beautifully.
Because I come across this issue so often when I’m reading all the recipes for my reviews, I decided to check my own oven. I bought this inexpensive oven thermometer to try. Apart from realising that I really badly needed to clean my oven door glass, I learned that my oven is regularly 5-10°C cooler than it should be after up to an hour of heating time. At the time of writing this my oven was less than a year old, and it’s a highly reputable and well-regarded brand.
Don’t get me wrong, my oven actually bakes and roasts really well, but I often find I need just a little longer than a recipe recommends, and now I know why (and can plan accordingly). It’s worth trying with your own oven, especially if it’s an older model.
The other potential issue with oven temperature is recovery time. Some ovens, especially older ones, don’t reheat to full temperature quickly after the door’s been opened. If you suspect yours is like this it may be worth heating the oven a little hotter than required and then turning it down to the right temperature after the puddings are in and the door is closed.
Don’t peek! As I’ve mentioned above, quite a few authors swear that opening the oven door will cause your puddings to collapse, or at least not rise. Whether it’s about air pressure in the oven impacting the steam pressure in your puddings, or the drop in temperature mentioned above, try to avoid it just in case.
Emma from Me and B Make Tea advises not to top up any of your muffin holes with batter once you’ve already filled them. Based on her experience she believes the cold batter on top of the hot batter (that’s already sitting in the hot fat) stunts the rising process. It’s not hard to imagine that it could cause some of the moisture to cool down, delaying the formation of steam. Certainly something to keep in mind.
Unfortunately, if your puddings are in the oven as you read this, it’s probably only the timing tip that’s going to be any help to you. Bake them a little longer and they may yet rise. Most of the other tips will have to wait until next time, because once your puddings are in the oven, their course is largely set.
How to make perfect Yorkshire puddings
If you’re looking for the sure-fire approach to the perfect Yorkshire pudding, sadly you’re out of luck. Not because it doesn’t exist, but because only you know what you consider perfect!
If you’re looking for a popular approach to a really good pudding, then your best approach should consist of something like this:
- At least half-an-hour before you’re planning to bake, make a batter of flour, milk and eggs. If you’re looking for a rule of thumb, work with equal parts of each, and for a 12-hole muffin tin you want just under three cups of batter.
- When you’re ready to go, preheat your oven to 425-450°F (220-230°C).
- Put a dessertspoon of fat into the bottom of each muffin hole. The best choice here is beef drippings, but any other high smoke point fat will work, like vegetable oil.
- Place the muffin pan into the oven for five to ten minutes to get the fat smoking hot.
- Remove the pan from the oven and quickly (but carefully!) fill each hole about half-way with batter, then put it straight back in the oven.
- Bake your puddings for fifteen to twenty-five minutes, without opening the oven if you can.
- Serve immediately.
If you’re making popovers the ingredients are very similar, except the fat is usually melted butter, and it’s typically mixed into the batter rather than preheated separately in the tin. So you’d skip steps three and four.
So there you have it – the essence of Yorkshire puddings. Hopefully this has helped you understand some of the key aspects of a great pudding, and gives you a lead on the best approach, or recipe, for your perfect Yorkie.
Frequently asked questions
What oven temperature should I use for Yorkshire puddings?
What is an equal parts Yorkshire pudding batter?
Many authors recommend a batter consisting of equal parts (by volume) egg, flour and milk. For example, if two eggs fill half-a-cup, then they should be mixed with half-a-cup each of flour and milk.
How do Yorkshire puddings rise without baking powder?
The rising agent in a Yorkshire pudding is steam. This is why it’s important the fat in the pan is heated first – it helps create steam inside the pudding.
Why do I need to rest my batter?
Resting allows the starch in the flour to absorb as much liquid as possible, giving a lighter texture and better rising.
How long should I rest the batter?
A minimum of 30 minutes, up to overnight.
Recipes included in this review
- Yorkshire Pudding (Soft, Eggy and Fluffy Recipe) – Rasa Malaysia
- Foolproof Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – The New Canadians
- Proper Yorkshire Puddings – Feast Glorious Feast
- Mary Berry’s recipe for quick and easy Yorkshire puddings – HELLO!
- Best Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – Sunday Supper Movement
- Super Cheap 8p Yorkshire Puddings – Skint Chef
- Traditional Yorkshire Pudding – Allrecipes
- How to Make Perfect Yorkshire Puddings That Rise! – Me And B Make Tea
- Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – West Via Midwest
- Pub-style Yorkshire Puddings Recipe – Tesco Real Food
- Ultimate Yorkshire pudding recipe – Sainsbury’s Magazine
- Yorkshire Pudding Perfect With Prime Rib – Just A Pinch Recipes
- Traditional Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – The Kitchen Magpie
- Easy Yorkshire pudding recipe – Jamie Oliver recipes
- PERFECT Yorkshire Pudding – The Daring Gourmet
- The Best Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary
- The Best Yorkshire Pudding Recipe – Serious Eats
- How To Make The Best Yorkshire Puddings – Easy Yorkshire Pudding Recipe
- Flawless Yorkshire Puddings – Flawless Food
- How to Make Easy, Classic Yorkshire Pudding – Kitchn