How To Make Sweet Bread Pudding

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


16- to 20-ounce loaf of bread or brioche (1o to 12 cups of bread cubes)
1 tablespoon butter, softened
5 cups whole milk, or a blend of milk and cream
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/8 teaspoon salt
Optional extras: 1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit, 1/2 cup toasted nuts, 1 chopped apple or other fresh fruit, zest of one lemon, zest of one orange

Serrated bread knife
Baking sheet
9-inch x 13-inch baking dish
Aluminum foil


  1. Slice the bread into cubes: Slice the bread into bite-sized cubes or tear it into pieces with your hands.
  2. Toast the bread cubes: Warm the oven to 350°F. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer over a baking sheet. Toast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking, until the cubes feel dry and hard, but are still very pale. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  3. Transfer the cubes to the baking dish: Rub the baking dish with butter, then arrange the cubes inside. Gently shake the dish and pat the cubes down so they settle into place. If you’re using any extra ingredients, scatter these over top, then use a spoon to gently poke and stir them into the bread cubes so that some of them go into the middle, but they don’t all fall to the bottom of the dish.
  4. Mix the custard: Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon (if using), and salt in a mixing bowl.
  5. Pour the custard over the bread: Pour slowly and evenly over the top of the bread cubes, making sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies. The cream should come to just below the top of the bread, with edges and corners poking out the top. You may have a little cream leftover.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight: Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. This gives the bread time to absorb the custard. If you’d like the traditional very flat top with no crunchy bits, press the top of pudding a few times as it soaks or weigh it down with something heavy so that all the bread cubes get pushed into the custard.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325°F: Place an oven rack in the middle position.
  8. Bake the pudding: Uncover the bread pudding and place it in the oven. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the tips of the bread on top are beginning to toast. If the crust seems like it’s getting dark before the custard is done, tent the dish loosely with foil.
  9. Cool briefly before serving: Transfer the pudding to a wire cooling rack and let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a sauce or drizzled with icing (see Recipe Note). Leftovers are will keep for 5 days and are good cold, room temperature, or warmed.

Image credit: Emma Christensen

Image credit: Emma Christensen

Sweet bread pudding is where leftover stale bread gets a second chance at greatness. It’s possible you’ve only ever had this dish of warm, custard-soaked bread at fancy restaurants, but I firmly believe that bread pudding needs to be made more often at home. It is basically an upgraded French toast, after all — all the soft middles and all the crunchy edges in one fabulous, crowd-pleasing dish.

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