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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Comments

  • Jake
    December 12, 2022

    Какой European Christmas? Almost all Europeans,
    Catholic, Protestant and orthodox, celebrate 25th!!

    Reply

  • Irene (Irka)
    December 3, 2022

    Found your recipe for kutya and I’m very excited to try it. Where can I find the wheat berries and poppy seeds?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 3, 2022

      Hi Irene! I am not sure where you live, we find these in our local grocery stores and markets but they can be ordered on Amazon. I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • Jill R
    April 17, 2022

    It was very easy to make using pre-steamed quick cooking wheat. It only takes about twenty minutes to get a nice texture. I found Earthly Choice brand red winter wheat berries and used those. Not sure if the poppy seeds really need to be ground. We left them and It was fine. This will make nice breakfasts this week!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 18, 2022

      Sounds great, Jill. Thanks a lot for your good comments and feedback!

      Reply

  • Joanne Patrick
    April 7, 2022

    Hi Natasha! Thanks for the detailed instructions for Kutia. I tasted a chocolate Kutia and I have been trying to find a recipe for it. My guess would be using coco powder in the recipe. Can you add any comments how to make it? Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 7, 2022

      Hi Joanne, while I haven’t tried it with chocolate/ cocoa, one of my readers mentioned the following: “My aunt even adds tiny pieces of dark chocolate”, I hope that gives you a few ideas on what to try 🙂

      Reply

  • Jen
    January 15, 2022

    Despite making it in stages, and messing up a few steps, my kutia turned out great! I let the milk boil dry, leaving me with milk solids on the wheat. I rinsed it off, then added fresh cream to the honey, which solved the problem. A Vitamix made quick work of the poppy seed paste (I accidentally let them boil for a second: still ok.)
    Currants, apricots, and walnuts were very good. I will make again!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 15, 2022

      I’m so glad it all worked out for you, Jen! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Andy
    December 24, 2021

    My recollection is that it was very sweet and laced with a lot of brandy and my Polish grandparents served it up to us lucky kids at the end of the Christmas Eve meal . We were told only once that if it was flicked with a spoon to the ceiling and stuck there we would have good luck all year, Grandfather regretted this and never mentioned that idea again !

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 24, 2021

      I love hearing all these traditions about Kutia! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Natalka
    January 9, 2021

    Any tips how this recipe can be made in a crockpot?

    Many thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 10, 2021

      Hi Natalka, I haven’t tried this in a crockpot but I imagine that would work. I just would not be able to advise of the cooking time etc, since I have not experimented on it yet.

      Reply

  • Anthony Hachkowski
    January 9, 2021

    Our traditional kurtis growing up was a simple wheat, poppy seed and honey. The wheat was cooked for hours until it popped open, the poppy seed was cooked and then mashed with a wooden mallet in the cooking pot (I use a blender). Then when cold you mixed those 2 together with creamed honey and just enough hot water to dissolve the honey. I made some (1 lb of wheat and about 2oz off poppy seed). Then I mix a little each day for our meals around Chtistmas. I wanted to send you a picture but I don’t see a way. This was always the first thing we ate at Chritmas eve dinner when I was growing up.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 9, 2021

      Aww, that’s the best! Thank you so much for sharing that with me. We loved tradition and traditional Christmas recipes!

      Reply

    • Jan
      December 31, 2022

      This is the way my late mother-in-law made kutia, just the three ingredients and we eat it before everything else, too.

      Reply

  • SK
    January 5, 2021

    Maybe milk tastes better however it doesn’t belong in Kutia since it is a Lenten dish….

    Reply

  • Mark Palahniuk
    December 24, 2020

    Didn’t work. Wheat berry was hard even after 4 hours on low with milk, too watery at end, and total throw away after 2 days of making abs $30 spent. Really disappointed, ruined my Christmas meal since I really wanted to have kutya just like grandma made before

    Reply

    • Natasha
      December 24, 2020

      Hi Mark, I’m sorry to hear that. I haven’t had that experience, but I wonder if maybe the heat was too low or maybe a different variety of wheat berries?

      Reply

    • Eric
      December 26, 2020

      I had the same experience. Used hard white berries, cooked with milk for 4 hours. The berries were still too firm at the end of the cook. I’m wondering if it has to do with cooking in whole milk. I just started another batch of soaked wheat berries, cooking only in water this time. I want to see if the results are any different after 4 hours.

      Reply

      • Aleksandra
        December 27, 2021

        you must use shelled wheat grains,
        if you have shells, it’s hard to get rid of them, cook them,
        it’s a waste of effort and your work,
        look for grains without hulls in stores,
        worth it
        greetings

        Reply

    • Reese
      January 5, 2023

      I know this a long time ago but this recipe should specify hard red wheat which is most commonly grown in the Ukraine. The white wheat berries don’t break down the same way.

      Reply

  • Wally (Walter) Soltys
    December 22, 2020

    Greetings from Australia. Hope all is well with you and your family. My wife is just going out shopping and I’ve shown her all the ingrediants for Kutia. Will let you know how it turns out. Wally.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 22, 2020

      Hi Wally! I hope you enjoyed this recipe! We look forward to your feedback!

      Reply

  • Irene Ladouceur
    December 22, 2020

    First time on your site. Like that your recipe is on one page. Goin’ try your Kutia recipe.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 22, 2020

      I’m so happy you discovered our blog. Welcome! 🙂 I hope you love this recipe!

      Reply

  • Nancy Denz
    November 19, 2020

    Can I use Solo canned poppy seed filling in this recipe?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 19, 2020

      Hi Nancy, I never tried canned poppy seeds in this recipe, but I would add them to taste, maybe 1/2 cup. I hope this helps, and let me know how it will work out.

      Reply

  • Karishma
    November 3, 2020

    My husband is ukraninan and I want to make Kutia for him this year. Do you know if I can make it in a slow cooker or instant pot?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 3, 2020

      Hi Karishma, I haven’t tried this in an Instant Pot but here is what one of our readers wrote: “I made kutia yesterday following your recipe, and it turned out really nice. Just want to let you know – instead of cooking wheat berries on the stove, I cooked them in my Instant Pot for about 60 minutes (without prior overnight soaking). You need a little less liquid (about 3 cup, I’d say) in this case. Baking kutia in the oven after that added a nice touch. Thank you for the recipe!
      Overall, love love love your website! So many great Russian/Ukrainian dishes that you adapt for cooking here in America! Thank you for all your hard work!” I hope this is helpful!

      Reply

      • Karishma Patel
        November 13, 2020

        Thanks so much! Can’t wait to surprise my father-in-law with Kutia this Christmas. 🙂

        Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      November 3, 2020

      Hello Karishma, I haven’t tried that yet to advise but I saw others shared that they used an instant pot and they loved the result!

      Reply

    • Michele
      December 23, 2020

      I made the wheat berries in my Instant Pot this year, no soaking needed, 1.5 cups of wheat berries to 3 cups of water, cooked for 60 minutes, natural release vent. It absorbed most of the water so I didn’t need to drain. I scalded 1/2 cup of milk to proceed with the poppy seeds, then followed the recipe as written as I do like mine baked.

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        December 24, 2020

        Thank you for sharing that with us, Michele!

        Reply

  • Daniella
    January 4, 2020

    This is exactly how my Ukrainian family makes Kutia! The only difference is we will make it days in advance and let it sit in the fridge. The slight fermentation that happens enhances the flavour. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 5, 2020

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review, Daniella!

      Reply

  • Beth
    January 4, 2020

    I love this recipe, it is my third time making it! Unfortunately, I messed up this year’s batch. I did it completely with milk, but I think the two previous batches I made last year, I did half milk half water. This time the recipe turned out puddingish! I couldn’t “pour the milk off” as it was so thick! It’s still very delicious, but the texture is a bit too moist. Although my husband ate two bowls full and said it’s perfect! lol I still gave the recipe 5 stars, because even though it isn’t as pretty as your pictures show, it is outstanding in flavor and you give such easy to follow instructions. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 4, 2020

      I’m so glad your family has enjoyed this recipe, Beth! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

  • Helen Mazzara
    January 3, 2020

    Hi Natasha
    Can you use Millet instead of Wheat as I am gluten intolerant. I guess one would omit the soaking and the length of time to cook but would you bake it in the Oven?
    Thank you I enjoy your recipes!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 4, 2020

      Hi Helen, I haven’t tested that but I think it could work. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe

      Reply

  • Michele
    January 1, 2020

    This was exactly how my grandmother made her kutia which I did not have a recipe for, everyone loved it, my sons ate the leftovers for breakfast, thanks for a great recipe!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 2, 2020

      That is the best when kids love what we moms make. That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Anna Patka
    December 5, 2019

    Hi Natasha
    I was exploring recipes for Kutia and came across your site. I don’t know if you are aware that your recipe is almost word for word the same as in one of my favorite Russian cookbooks, Please to the Table. Perhaps you came across it on another site and it was not given appropriate attribution. I am sure you would want to give credit where credit is due.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      December 5, 2019

      Hi Anna, Yes that is exactly right. I always make it a point to give credit when it’s due because I would want others to do the same for me. You probably missed the credit in the post. I linked to the book as well.

      Reply

    • Tamara Gisele
      January 6, 2020

      Anna: This recipe may have been printed in a Russian cookbook but hundreds of thousands of Slavic (Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Slovenians etc…) families have in fact concocted this and other versions of Kutya for centuries. So let’s not make this about Russian cookbook authors being slighted.

      Reply

  • Natasha
    January 8, 2019

    Hi Natasha,
    I made kutia yesterday following your recipe, and it turned out really nice. Just want to let you know – instead of cooking wheat berries on the stove, I cooked them in my Instant Pot for about 60 minutes (without prior overnight soaking). You need a little less liquid (about 3 cup, I’d say) in this case. Baking kutia in the oven after that added a nice touch. Thank you for the recipe!
    Overall, love love love your website! So many great Russian/Ukrainian dishes that you adapt for cooking here in America! Thank you for all your hard work!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      January 8, 2019

      Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that with us! Cooking that in an Instant Pot is genius! I’m so happy you are enjoying our blog, thank you for that feedback

      Reply

    • Yoges Nathan
      August 5, 2019

      Hi Natasha, thank you for the instant pot tip. Is that 3 cups of milk or 3 cups of water?

      Reply

    • Nata
      December 24, 2020

      Thank you so much for the tip with InstaPot. I did soak my winter berries but I do not have 3 hours for additional cooking 🙂 so InstaPot it is with 40 min vs 60. We will see how it turns out. Last year, it was good but I did not soak berries overnight and Kutia was slightly hard, but my family are it all up.

      Reply

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