How to Make Bread Pudding

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding Goes Modern with Warm Bread Pudding Sauce

How to Make Bread Pudding

When I was a child, mom took leftover bread, milk, sugar, eggs, and flavoring and morphed those ingredients into a simple, comforting bread pudding. The pudding varied depending on what was on hand. Now it seems like everyone wants to learn how to make bread pudding.

Chefs in the finest restaurants are now creating heirloom dessert recipes, the ones handed down from generation to generation. They are learning how to make rice pudding and bread pudding like Grandma but with their own modern twists. My friend, Erin, has been making and sharing her family’s easy carrot cake recipe for years.

Recipes like these that grew out of the necessity to “waste not, want not” are now stars of the culinary scene. From simple to sublime, how to make bread pudding just may top the list.

How to Make Bread Pudding: A Basic Recipe

This is a master recipe for how to make bread pudding. For family dinners, serve this with my easy vanilla sauce. For having company, serve it with whiskey or caramel sauce.


  • 6 cups day-old bread, cut up into small pieces, crusts left on
  • Softened butter for brushing in pan
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Good add-ins

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of any of the following:
  • Dried cherries or your choice dried fruit
  • Toasted chopped nuts
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate or butterscotch morsels
  • 2 cups fresh fruit (you may need a larger baking pan)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch or 9-inch pan on bottom and sides with softened butter. Put bread pieces in the pan.
  2. Stir add-ins gently if using.
  3. Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until well-mixed. Pour over bread, and smoosh bread down so that all the bread is under the custard.
  4. Let sit 15 minutes for bread to absorb the custard. Bake until golden brown and toothpick in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Serves six to eight.
Bread pudding ready to bake.
Bread pudding after baking.

Get Saucy! – Easy Vanilla Sauce

You won’t believe it until you try it! This is not as thick as a traditional vanilla sauce, but more like a cream consistency. This is a nice sauce to serve alongside a pear crumble recipe, as well.


  • Good quality vanilla ice cream


Over very low heat, melt ice cream in a saucepan. As soon as it’s melted and warm, spoon over bread pudding.

Bread pudding with easy vanilla sauce.

Buttery Rum Sauce

This takes less than five minutes to make.


  • 3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons rum or to taste (I use dark rum.)


  1. Stir brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat until sugar is melted and mixture starts to bubble.
  2. Add milk and rum. Simmer until sauce thickens to your liking. Serve warm. Can be made a day ahead and rewarmed.

Creamy Caramel Sauce

Follow ingredients and instructions above but substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla for the rum.

Whiskey Sauce

I use Bourbon whiskey to make this sauce.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons whiskey


  1. Stir sugar and butter together in a saucepan over low heat and cook until butter melts and mixture starts to bubble.
  2. Whisk in whipping cream and whiskey. Cook for one minute. Serve warm. Can be made a day ahead and rewarmed.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bread Pudding

I have made versions of this time and again, and yes, it’s a showstopper dessert.


  • Day old French bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4” cubes, enough to make 4 cups
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped, 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 2 oz. white chocolate, grated, 2/3 cup


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter a 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish.
  2. Whisk together beaten eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Whisk in milk and mix well.
  3. Place bread and chopped white chocolate in a bowl. Pour custard over bread and smoosh bread down with a spoon so that all the bread is under the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes for bread to absorb the custard.
  4. Pour into prepared dish, distributing white chocolate chunks evenly.
  5. Sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center come outs clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Cool 20 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. Serves six.


  • If edges or top brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

Adapted from New-Fangled, Old-Fashioned Bread Puddings by Linda Hegeman and Barbara Hayford.

White chocolate macadamia nut bread pudding.

What Kind of Bread is Best?

Once you learn how to make bread pudding with plain bread, venture out. The softer the bread, the more moist, custard-like the pudding will be. Sweeter bread makes sweeter puddings. Generic white bread, croissants, gluten free or raisin cinnamon bread, even hamburger and hot dog buns work well. Try artisan bread for their firmer texture.

Artisan Breads

No Day Old Bread?

Toast bread cubes in a 350-degree oven about five to 10 minutes, depending on the kind of bread, to dry them out.

Did you learn how to make bread pudding as a child? Do you have a favorite now? Join in the conversation below.


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