A Custardy Vintage Grape-Nuts Recipe Worth Rediscovering

Growing up, the cereal shelf of our pantry was woefully bare. You had your choice of Shredded Wheat, Grape-Nuts, or Cheerios. It was a 10-year-old's nightmare.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Being innovative (and hungry) youths, we learned to doctor up the options. Shredded Wheat was delicious under a good inch of raw heavy cream. Dry Cheerios and a handful of chocolate chips was a not-half-bad approximation at trail mix. Best of all, we would add Grape-Nuts to the custard base of our homemade vanilla ice cream.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Years of this behavior left me with a deep, abiding love for Grape-Nuts. Their humble, suspiciously gravel-like appearance belies a fantastically nutty flavor that works wonderfully in desserts. Ask any New Englander, and they'll nod and say Grape-Nuts pudding.

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This vintage recipe, a pudding cake-like sweet studded with cereal, was developed back in 1926. I It didn't appear on the back of the Grape-Nuts box until 1952, and sometime between then and now, it very sadly disappeared from the box.

Photo by Posie Harwood

The batter is laced with lemon zest and juice and lightened up with whipped egg whites. It makes a sweet, soft dessert that separates into three layers as it bakes: an airy, puffy soufflé on top, a cake-like layer in the middle, and a creamy custard on the bottom. Every mouthful is rich and eggy and bright with lemon. The cereal gives it a bit of texture and a sweet, malty flavor.

Consider it the perfect balance between the high sophistication of a soufflé and the nursery food-type comfort of pudding. (What's not to like?)

How have you turned cereal into dessert? (Any favorite Grape-Nuts recipes?) Share your ideas in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Risottogirl
  • melissa
  • amysarah
  • Dea Henrich
    Dea Henrich
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Risottogirl May 17, 2016
Mmmmm...grew up with grape nut pudding. And grape nut ice cream is still my fave, but I have make my own here in San Francisco.
melissa May 15, 2016
more grape nuts ideas too! i bought a box for kitchen sink cookies and need more ideas than just as a yogurt topping.
amysarah May 15, 2016
Dating myself, but I remember this well (can attest it was still a thing in the late '60's/70's.) Pretty sure it involved a pinch of nutmeg too. Much later when my kids were young, I occasionally made chocolate pudding-cake - also strata of custard and airy cake on top - but never thought about the degree of separation before. Must try this again!
Posie (. May 15, 2016
Love the nutmeg idea! I'm going to try a version with that, and leave out the lemon. Honestly, it's just the most comforting dessert but still really elegant in its own way.
Dea H. May 15, 2016
My mom used to make something called a Southern Pie. It was basically a pecan pie with Grape-Nuts instead of pecans. I'm not sure why this pie was a holiday staple. It could have been my mom's thriftiness--she and dad were children of the Great Depression. It could have been an aversion to the occasional bitter pecan. It could have been a tree nut allergy a friend had. Regardless of the reason, the pie was a staple in our home during the holidays. One of my sisters still makes at least a dozen for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Posie (. May 15, 2016
Whoa, that's cool! I would love to have the recipe to try for my sisters if you'd be willing to share!
Alexandra H. May 18, 2016
I agree! Southern Pie sounds scrumptious! As do these lovely little puddings. You had me at Grape Nuts....
Dea H. May 18, 2016
1/2 c. Grape Nuts
1/2 c. warm water (you can substitute brandy or bourbon for up to 2 teaspoons of the soaking liquid)
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. dark corn syrup
1/8 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. butter

Put Grape Nuts in water, let stand until all water is absorbed. Combine eggs, sugar and add corn syrup, vanilla and butter. Fold in softened Grape Nuts. Pour into an unbaked pie shell. Bake in 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until filling is puffed completely across the top.

I have also made these as tarts in muffin cups.