Assorted Desserts © Alpha
Assorted Desserts: - Vanilla Creme Brulee - Green Tea Rolled Cake - Belgian Chocolate Mousse - Wine Jelly with diced fruits

Think of thick, rich, sweet and gelatinous desserts, and it’s likely an image of a bowl of pudding that comes to you. Or is it a mousse? Now there’s a tricky question. While the similarity of pudding and mousse stems from the ingredient used to cook them, so does their primary difference.


First things first, it’s important to note that pudding was not originally a dessert. The term pudding originally referred to a kind of processed meat, having been mixed with a binder agent—grain products, eggs, or butter—and steamed, baked, or boiled to solidify the mixture.

Atmore's mince meat and genuine English plum pudding, image courtesy of Boston Public Library
Atmore’s mince meat and genuine English plum pudding, image courtesy of Boston Public Library

In modern times, the term pudding still carries the dessert connotation, but puddings featuring meat, fish, liver or the like, still represent the savory side of the creamy dish.


Essentially, the calling card of a pudding is its semisolid texture. This has been achieved in a variety of ways throughout history, utilizing an ingredient (such as butter, eggs or grains) which acts as a binder for the other ingredients. This binder ingredient, when heated, is responsible for the dish “setting” or become semisolid.

Other ingredients are usually meats in savory or dairy in dessert recipes, but can also include grains, fruit or even chunks of bread. These ingredients are mixed and heated so that the ingredients bond together, carefully stirred to prevent lumps and maintain that even, creamy texture. A pudding can made via baking, steaming or boiling.

A more modern rendition of the ole pudding is a sweet and simple dessert made with more modern binders, such as cornstarch or gelatin, as well as eggs, tapioca, rice or tofu. Even more modern are instant packs of pudding which require no baking, only refrigeration to set.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse © Alpha
Tofu Chocolate Mousse © Alpha (CC BY-SA 2.0.

Mousse is basically, a fluffier version of pudding. It is lighter than a pudding since it is generally whipped—incorporating air in the mixture. In addition to any ingredients that might be in a pudding, mousse is characterized by including beaten egg whites or whipped cream. These are responsible for making the mousse especially creamy and thick.

Mousse, just like pudding, can be served warm or chilled. Savory mousse, which uses pureed fish, seafood, meats, vegetables, and cheese as main ingredient, is served warm. Sweet mousse (usually chocolate or coffee flavored) are served chilled.


Would you like to try your hand at the art of making pudding or mousse?  Joy of Baking’s YouTube Channel gives an excellent range of helpful videos to guide you on your venture into making your very own pudding and mousse.

Image credits: (Featured Image) © Alpha (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Article Name
What's the difference between pudding and mousse?
Who doesn't love these two desserts? Pudding and mousse are two delicious, creamy, and smooth desserts. These two desserts have a lot of similarities, but there are certain differences, too. So how can you tell if it's a pudding or a mousse?
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