Wheat berry Christmas Pudding - A classic Ukrainian Kutia (Kutya) from @natashaskitchen

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Kutia (Kutya) is a traditional Christmas wheat berry pudding. It is popular in Ukraine and various other parts of Eastern Europe. It’s a very special dish that is served on Christmas eve. We couldn’t post it in time for December 24th, but at least it will be in time for the European Christmas on January 7th :). Don’t forget to pin this for next year!

My husband has been on a mission to make the perfect Kutia recipe. He’s tested several versions over the past few years trying to re-create what he enjoyed in his childhood and we fell in love with this one. It’s sweetened with milk and honey and has a perfect balance of fruit, nuts, and poppyseeds. This recipe requires some overnight prep so you definitely want to read through it before you begin.

Ingredients for Kutia:

1 1/2  cups wheat berries (we used Hard White Winter Wheat Berries)
4 1/2 cups of milk (or water, but milk tastes better)
3/4 cups poppy seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup dry apricots, chopped
2/3 cup slivered almonds (or chopped walnuts)
1/8 tsp salt

Wheat berry Christmas Pudding - A classic Ukrainian Kutia (Kutya) from @natashaskitchen

How to Make Wheat Berry Pudding (Kutia):

1. Rinse wheat berries in cold water until water runs clear, then transfer to a bowl and soak overnight in lukewarm water, adding enough water to cover 2-inches above the wheat berries.

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-3

2. The following day, drain wheat berries, place them in a medium-sized heavy pot, cover with 4 1/2 cups of milk and bring everything  to a boil over high heat. When milk starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer until wheat berries are very tender, 3 1/2 – 4 hours, depending on the quality of the wheat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more milk if needed to keep the wheat berries fully submerged (If you simmer over low heat, you won’t have to add anymore milk).

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-2

3. While the wheat berries are on the stove, rinse 3/4 cups of poppy seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve, drain well, and transfer to a medium sauce pan and add 3 cups water. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer (Don’t boil). Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 30 min. Return to a simmer (don’t boil). Turn off. Cover and let it sit for another 30 minutes. Drain poppy seeds well through a colander or by keeping lid on and placing several layers of cheese cloth over lid to catch stray poppy seeds. Push the poppy seeds through a food grinder, using the fine grinding plate.

(You can also mill the poppy seeds in batches in a clean coffee grinder). Click HERE for the detail pictures of the poppy-seed making process.

Poppy Seeds-2

4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread 2/3 cups of slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 minutes. Set them aside and reduce temperature to 325˚F.

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-7

5. When wheat berries get very tender, drain off the milk in a glass measuring cup. Keep 1/2 cup of the cooked milk and discard the rest. Combine 1/2 cup of honey with 1/2 cup of saved milk and stir until combined.

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-6

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-4

6. Place cooked wheat berries in a mixing bowl, add ground poppy seeds, 1/2 cup raisins, 2/3 cup dry chopped apricots, 2/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, honey-milk mixture and 1/8 tsp salt. Mix everything together and place in an casserole or pie dish, than bake your kutia for 20 minutes uncovered at 325˚F.

Wheat Pudding Recipe - Kutia-5

7. Remove kutia from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest 15 min. Serve warm or cold. The longer it sits, the more flavor it will have. Kutia will last in the fridge for a good 2 weeks.

Wheat berry Christmas Pudding - A classic Ukrainian Kutia (Kutya) from @natashaskitchen

Wheat berry Christmas Pudding - A classic Ukrainian Kutia (Kutya) from @natashaskitchen

Credits: Poppyseed mixture instructions from our Poppyseed filling recipe. Recipe also adapted from Grandma Galina in church and the Cookbook, Please to the Table by Anya Von Bremzen & John Welchman. 

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Kutia Recipe (Sweet Wheat Berry Pudding)

4.94 from 47 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 6 -8
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat berries, we used Hard White Winter Wheat Berries
  • 4 1/2 cups of milk, or water, but milk tastes better
  • 3/4 cups poppy seed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup dry apricots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds, or chopped walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  • Rinse wheat berries in cold water until water runs clear, then transfer to a bowl and soak overnight in lukewarm water, adding enough water to cover 2-inches above the wheat berries.
  • The following day, drain wheat berries, place them in a medium-sized heavy pot, cover with 4 1/2 cups of milk and bring everything to a boil over high heat. When milk starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer until wheat berries are very tender, 3 1/2 - 4 hours, depending on the quality of the wheat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more milk if needed to keep the wheat berries fully submerged (If you simmer over low heat, you won't have to add anymore milk).
  • While the wheat berries are on the stove, rinse 3/4 cups of poppy seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve, drain well, and transfer to a medium sauce pan and add 3 cups water. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer (Don’t boil). Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 30 min. Return to a simmer (don’t boil). Turn off. Cover and let it sit for another 30 minutes. Drain poppy seeds well through a colander or by keeping lid on and placing several layers of cheese cloth over lid to catch stray poppy seeds. Push the poppy seeds through a food grinder, using the fine grinding plate (You can also mill the poppy seeds in batches in a clean coffee grinder).
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread 2/3 cups of slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 minutes. Set them aside and reduce temperature to 325˚F.
  • When wheat berries get very tender, drain off the milk in a glass measuring cup. Keep 1/2 cup of the cooked milk and discard the rest. Combine 1/2 cup of honey with 1/2 cup of saved milk and stir until combined.
  • Place cooked wheat berries in a mixing bowl, add ground poppy seeds, 1/2 cup raisins, 2/3 cup dry chopped apricots, 2/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, honey-milk mixture and 1/8 tsp salt. Mix everything together and place in an casserole or pie dish, than bake your kutia for 20 min uncovered at 325˚F.
  • Remove kutia from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest 15 min. Serve warm or cold. The longer it sits, the more flavor it will have. Kutia will last in the fridge for a good 2 weeks.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: Kutia, Sweet Wheat Berry Pudding
Skill Level: Advanced
Cost to Make: $$

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Wheat berry Christmas Pudding - A classic Ukrainian Kutia (Kutya) from @natashaskitchen

♥ FAVORITE THINGS ♥
Shown in this post: (nope, no one paid us to write this; just stuff we love):
* These pyrex glass bowls are perfect for mixing and serving.
* Having a variety of glass measuring cups is essential.
* The OXO strainers are wonderful for sifting, straining, rinsing, etc.
* This utensil set sits right next to my stove. It gets used – alot!

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Gary
    January 5, 2019

    My goodness – the result is 9″ x 9″ of pure deliciousness! The Kutya I grew up with was more like a wheat and poppy seed cold “soup”. We are having a Ukrainian Christmas dinner tomorrow and I am certain my mom will love this as well. Thanks for the recipe.
    GK

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 6, 2019

      You’re so welcome! I’m happy you enjoyed that, Gary!

      Reply

  • Yana Tobelmann
    January 4, 2019

    Natasha, something to consider is that since kutya is for Christmas Eve, traditionally all the food is free of animal products, so making it with milk breaks that tradition. The wheat berries can instead be cooked with water. For Christmas day, totally OK!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 5, 2019

      Thank you for sharing that with us!

      Reply

  • Gretta
    January 4, 2019

    I could only find soft white wheat berries. I have soaked them overnight. What would you suggest for the cooking time?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      January 4, 2019

      Hi Gretta, I honestly haven’t tried with soft white wheat berries – you might google the cooking time for those to see if you need to modify the recipe at all.

      Reply

  • Anke Turco
    December 25, 2018

    I’m in the middle of making this dish for tonight and heating the poppy seed they started to boil 🙁 What will happen to them if they are boiled? Can I still use them? Ugh….

    Reply

    • Natasha
      December 26, 2018

      Hi Anke, It’s ok if they accidentally boil, you just don’t want them boiling for a long time, just proceed with the recipe 🙂

      Reply

  • Lazarus4200
    December 18, 2018

    This recipe took a healthy portion of my day and, through most of it, I wondered if this was going to be anything. But when it was done–wow. The flavors are really complex and worth the long, slow cook of the (cashew) milk. I switched out Lyle’s syrup for honey to keep vegan. I also halved since this was just for me and my wife. All-in-all, this is a special holiday treat that I think we’ll look forward to each season.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 18, 2018

      Awww that’s the best! Thank you so much for sharing that with me :). I’m all smiles!

      Reply

  • George Wise
    October 11, 2018

    You seem to be a Martha Stewart know-it-all. My mother and now my sister makes kutia , but totally different way.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      October 11, 2018

      Hi George. I don’t know about that, but thank you! There are several different versions out there I’m sure.

      Reply

  • Lesia
    November 27, 2017

    Natasha-

    Hosting traditional Ukrainian Svyat Vechir this year for the first time and have been using your recipes slowly throughout the year to practice. Thanks for the great varenyky and borscht recipes, followed them step by step and they both turned out very well and my family loved it!

    I am attempting to cook this kutia recipe for the first time and have two questions:

    1. what is the purpose of baking the kutia at the end (do I have to do this step?)
    2. If I bake it, what sized baking dish would you recommend (should I use a larger dish to spread it out and bake more of it?)

    Thanks!
    -Lesia

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 27, 2017

      Hi Lesia, I’m so glad you are enjoying our recipes. The baking at the end helps the flavors meld and the kutia absorbs some of the milk mixture making it really flavorful. I used a deep 9″ pie pan. I wouldn’t use a large pan since it will dry out faster in the oven if it is spread too thin. You still want it to be moist when it is finished. I hope you love it!

      Reply

      • Lesia
        November 27, 2017

        Thank you very much! Can’t wait to try the recipe!

        Reply

  • Emily
    March 11, 2017

    Hi Natasha:) I know this is a meant to be a Christmas dish, but I’m too impatient to wait until December! Can I cook and grind the poppy seeds a day ahead of time?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 11, 2017

      Hi Emily, yes pre-cooking the poppy seeds would work fine 🙂

      Reply

  • Christine
    January 5, 2017

    I’m currently baking your Kutia recipe. I only found the darker wheat berries so I hope everyone still enjoys. What are your thoughts on using barley instead of wheat berries?

    Also, I’m not sure if I cooked the wheat long enough. It was about 3 hrs 45 min and I could chew them pretty easily. Can I bake longer?

    I did try a taste before baking and wow! Tastes like the traditional for sure!

    I used golden raisins and chopped walnuts.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 5, 2017

      Hi Christine! The wheat berries should still have a little texture/bite to them so you’re probably ok 🙂 I wouldn’t bake too much longer than recommended so you don’t risk drying it out.

      Reply

  • anya
    December 27, 2016

    omg ! this is funny, we were just talking about kutia with my husband, and he said look up the recipe at Natasha’s , and I told him you probably didn’t have the kutia recipe . I was wrong ! I opened facebook today and sure it is – kutia recipe !!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 27, 2016

      That’s awesome! Glad you found it!! Let me know how you two liked the recipe!

      Reply

  • Leigh Ann
    December 23, 2016

    I’m making this tonight but only found “hard red springs” wheat berries. Our daughter, adopted and home a year, loved your Paska bread and has asked for this. Hoping the different berries don’t make too much of a taste difference. Thank you for sharing your heritage, culture and love for food!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 23, 2016

      I love hearing reviews like this! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply

  • Anna
    December 16, 2016

    Hi Natasha, I’m in the process of making this right now and didn’t know I need a coffee grinder Or a food grinder for the poppy seeds. I don’t have either… is this step really necessary ? What should I do?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 16, 2016

      Anna, those are the only two tools I’ve found to work great for grinding poppy seeds. The consistency won’t be the same without grinding them. I wish I knew any other way.

      Reply

      • Sharon
        January 5, 2017

        My friend said in the old days, her mother used to roll the poppy seeds with a rolling pin. Tedious but thought I’d share that idea. Do you have a food processor?

        Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          January 5, 2017

          I’ve also heard of it being done with a mortar and pestle but wow that does sound time consuming! 🙂

          Reply

      • emily
        January 4, 2018

        Hi Natasha, when I didn’t have a food processor, I used a blender in small batches.

        Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          January 4, 2018

          Thank you for sharing!

          Reply

  • Debra
    December 1, 2016

    I look forward to trying your recipie ,
    I was wondering if you could substitute other kinds of fruit like blueberries, etc or would that make it to sweet .

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 1, 2016

      Hi Debra, I do think other dried fruits like blueberries would work fine 🙂

      Reply

  • Beth Yodis
    October 12, 2016

    Since I live in Ukraine and there are so many “kashas” to choose from, I’m not sure what “Wheat Berries” are in Ukrainian language. Could you write it out here, so I can buy the right ones! 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 12, 2016

      pshenichnoe zerno (пшеничное зерно) is my best guess at the translation.

      Reply

      • Beth Yodis
        December 27, 2017

        Hi Natasha! I was just looking at this recipe and scanned the reviews and saw that I wrote you a year ago asking what to look for here in Ukraine! Ukraine has really learned to sell their products for the Christmas market and I found a box of wheat berries called, “Kutia Ingredients for Christmas” It has everything I need except honey to make the recipe you listed above! They call the wheat berry “пшениця oзима”. Your recipe is the best! Thanks!

        Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          December 27, 2017

          That is awesome and so convenient!! Thank you for sharing this Beth and I’m so glad you love our recipe 🙂

          Reply

  • Iryna
    January 6, 2016

    Dear Natasha and family, smachnoyi kuti! Greetings from a fellow Ukrainian, far away from home, who loves kutya and all Ukrainian Christmas foods. Your recipe turned out great, I just made it, and am waiting for the first star today to serve it to my family – we celebrate the Orthodox Christmas Eve tonight.
    by any chance, do you have a separate tag for christmas dishes? That would come handy to cooks like me! Loved your syrnyky and sauercraut recipes. Previously, also made solodka kovbaska I yizhachky -hedgehog cookies. fantastic, like my favourite aunt Natasha’s from far childhood.
    Love your recipes!! happy new year to you and smachnoyi kuti,
    Iryna

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 6, 2016

      I want to know more about your hedgehog cookies! Do you have a picture of them posted somewhere? I’m so happy you’re enjoying the recipe and have a merry Christmas! 🙂 If you go to recipes at the top and click “Holiday” then Christmas, you will get to this page: https://natashaskitchen.com/category/holiday/

      Reply

  • Luna Dargent
    January 5, 2016

    Thank you very much for this recipe. I had Kutia abt 2 years ago for the first time as my Baba never made it. That one was very bland and not that tasty. Your recipe however is absolutely delicious and even though it took most of the day to cook those darn wheatberries it was definitely worth it. If anybody else is looking for a Kutia recipe I highly recommend this one, I followed your instructions exactly and it turned out exactly like your picture. Thank you again

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 5, 2016

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it! I agree; I wish those wheat berries cooked faster. Maybe that’s why this was deemed a Christmas recipe; it takes too long for every day! 😉

      Reply

  • Tanya
    December 22, 2015

    Natasha,
    Thank you for providing a wonderful recipe for kutia. It tastes wonderful and is very good! It’s like a good and healthy kasha! 🙂 My Polish neighbor, who is 76, tried and asked me for a recipe because she does hers differently and liked mine better! From now on, this will be a regular routine in my family. I cooked mine in milk and omitted poppy seeds.
    Thank you to you and your husband for all of your hard work!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 22, 2015

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful review! 🙂

      Reply

  • Natasha
    natashaskitchen
    December 20, 2015

    I’ve never heard of this recipe being used that way but I guess different places might have different traditions for it? The only way we serve it is at Christmas time. That’s so interesting! I pulled out Russia from my description just in case someone gets confused. 😉

    Reply

  • Joanna
    December 17, 2015

    So I will attempt this recipe for Christmas Eve this year. Probably will make it Sunday so it has time to sit. Would I also add the condensed milk to this like in your poppy seed recipe or just the milk and honey here and the sweet milk for the pastry feeling?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 18, 2015

      Joanna,adding condensed milk to this will make kutya too sweet, it has enough sweetness already.

      Reply

  • Christina
    December 16, 2015

    Have you ever tried Bob’s Red Mill brand poppy seeds? I’m trying to decide if these are good quality or if I should make a trip to a whole foods store. I am very excited to try this recipe.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 16, 2015

      We have and they were good. Not quite as good as the ones at whole foods but Bob’s Mill would work well for this recipe.

      Reply

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