Chocolate pudding in small cups topped with whipped cream.

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.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. 😏

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.Close up side view of small dishes of chocolate pudding with whipped cream.
Chocolate pudding in small cups topped with whipped cream.


Easy Chocolate Pudding

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.

  • 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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* 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.

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.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.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.Milk pouring into the sauce pot with a whisk.

Add 2 cups half & half (or 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream) 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.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.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.