This old-fashioned bread pudding recipe is the best way to use stale bread! It’s a cinch to make and when it’s done, you have a dessert that’s both cozy and decadent.
Cozy and decadent might seem like a strange way to describe a dessert, but trust me on this one! With eggs, butter, heavy cream, and a rich vanilla sauce, this bread pudding recipe feels like an indulgence, but it’s also the kind of nostalgic dessert that instantly brings back warm memories of family gatherings and holiday celebrations.
Classic Bread Pudding Recipe
Even if you’ve never had bread pudding before, it will likely taste familiar to you if you’ve ever had French toast. That’s because, like French toast, it’s made with stale bread and a custard mixture. French toast is fried in a pan (unless it’s French toast casserole!), while bread pudding is baked in a casserole dish. Usually, bread pudding is served with some kind of sauce, while French toast is typically served with maple syrup.
For many families, Christmas bread pudding is a holiday tradition. Although it’s meant to be a dessert, no one will bat an eyelash if you serve it for a brunch or Christmas morning breakfast either! The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy enough that you can make it year-round whenever you have some stale bread sitting around!
- Plain white bread – Your bread should be stale, or it will need to be toasted before making the recipe.
- Melted butter
- Milk – I recommend whole or reduced-fat (2%) milk.
- Heavy cream
- Raisins – Not a raisin fan? You can omit them or use chocolate chips instead, which is not a traditional bread pudding ingredient, but it is delicious!
- Vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Sauce:
- Heavy cream
- Egg yolks
- Vanilla extract
- Vanilla ice cream
How to Make Bread Pudding
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the bread into one-inch pieces and toast them in the oven. (You can skip the toasting part if your bread is stale).
2. Make the Custard
Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the milk, cream, sugar, raisins, and vanilla extract.
Place the bread cubes in the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish and drizzle them with the melted butter. Pour the custard mixture over the bread.
Bake the bread pudding for about 45 minutes, or until it’s set.
5. Make the Sauce
Bring the cream and sugar to a boil in a two-quart saucepan, then remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir in a small amount of the cream mixture, then pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan. Cook until just thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the ice cream. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
Spoon the bread pudding into bowls or onto plates, then top with the vanilla sauce.
- Use raisin bread, challah, sourdough, or even bagels instead of white bread.
- Swap the vanilla sauce for scoops of ice cream.
- Top each serving of bread pudding with candied pecans.
- Use store-bought caramel sauce as a topping instead of vanilla sauce.
Is bread pudding a New Orleans thing?
Bread pudding is a recipe that originated in Europe hundreds of years ago, but New Orleans definitely perfected it! It’s a popular dessert there, especially in the French Quarter.
Is bread pudding supposed to be wet or dry?
Neither! It should not be wet like the kind of pudding you make from a box, but it shouldn’t be dry either. The texture should be similar to the middle of a piece of French toast—moist and tender.
How do you know when bread pudding is ready?
The center will be set and a knife inserted in the center will come out clean. If you have a food thermometer, the center should reach 160ºF.
How to Store Leftovers
Bread pudding (and the vanilla sauce) can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can serve it warm or cold, but I definitely recommend warming it up first!
More Old-Fashioned Dessert Recipes
- Bread Pudding Ingredients:
- 1/2 loaf – plain white bread
- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 6 whole eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Vanilla Sauce Ingredients:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
- Cut bread slices into one-inch squares and toast in a hot oven. Place in the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish and drizzle with melted butter.
- Combine remaining ingredients and pour over bread.
- Bake at 350 degrees until custard is firm, approximately 45 minutes.
- Combine cream and sugar in a two-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Beat egg yolks, flour, vanilla and salt; stir in a little of the hot cream.
- Add this mixture to the rest of the hot cream.
- Cook, stirring constantly until just thickened (do not overcook).
- Remove from heat and add ice cream, stirring until melted. Strain.
- Serve with bread pudding.