Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Bread pudding with bourbon sauce is a rich dessert popular around the holidays. This recipe uses stale bread, milk, eggs and bourbon.
Bread pudding is a dessert worth trying this holiday season. It is a great use of day-old bread and it’s made with simple ingredients found in your pantry. The best thing about this bread pudding though is the bourbon sauce. It takes this dessert to the next level!
Why this recipe works: This recipe uses the proper ratio of milk and eggs to yield a rich custard mixture that binds the stale bread pieces together. Once baked, the bread pudding is semi-solid with a sweet, golden crust on top.
How to make bread pudding
- Prepare bread: Cut stale bread into 1-inch cubes. Place in a greased 2-quart baking dish.
- Prepare filling: Heat milk, butter, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt over medium heat. Cook until barely simmering. Remove from heat and let mixture cool slightly. After the mixture has cooled slightly, add the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.
- Let bread pudding rest: Pour mixture over bread and let the mixture rest so the bread can soak.
- Bake bread pudding: Preheat oven to 350 F. bake bread pudding until golden and jiggly, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let bread pudding cool slightly while making the bourbon sauce.
- Make bourbon sauce: Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add bourbon, heavy cream and brown sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over bread pudding and serve.
Tips for this recipe
Bread pudding is a versatile dessert. If you don’t have stale bread on hand, use fresh bread. Cut the bread into pieces and bake at 250 F until dry, about 10 minutes. For the filling, let the custard mixture cool until it’s warm before adding the eggs. If the mixture is too hot, then the eggs will scramble.
One of the most important steps is to let the bread soak up the custard mixture before baking. You can let it rest for up to an hour! Keep an eye on the bread pudding as it bakes, but try not to open the oven. If the top is browning too quickly, add a sheet of aluminum foil on top. This will prevent it from burning.
For the sauce, I definitely recommend browning the butter for more depth of flavor. It takes a few extra minutes, but it’s worth it! I like drizzling some of the sauce over the bread before serving and let guests add more if they desire.
Frequently Asked Questions
I prefer brioche bread, but challah and french bread works well too.
Yes, the bread pudding doesn’t contain alcohol. The sauce can be made with 1/3 cup heavy cream and no bourbon. I suggest adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract too.
Yes, bread pudding freezes well without the sauce. Once the bread pudding has cooled completely, wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 3 months, then defrost in the refrigerator overnight before bringing to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread pudding for 10 to 15 minutes until heated through.
Bread pudding lasts for up to 5 days when covered and stored in the refrigerator. I suggest waiting to add the sauce until serving to prevent the pudding from becoming soggy.
Bread pudding is my new favorite Christmas dessert for entertaining guests. When I first tasted this recipe, I was as excited as I was when I tried my bourbon sweet potato pie for the first time over Thanksgiving. Bourbon truly takes desserts to the next level!
Check out these other recipes that would make a nice addition to the Christmas dessert menu.
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Get the Recipe: Bread Pudding
- 15 ounces (5 to 6 cups) day-old brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (see notes)
- 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 6 Tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- ¾ cup (150 g) packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) bourbon
- Grease a 2-quart ceramic/stoneware baking dish with butter. Place bread cubes in pan and gently press down to fill any big gaps. I like to turn some of the top pieces up so the crust is seen for contrast.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together milk, butter, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stirring frequently, cook until hot (not boiling) and the butter is melted. The mixture is done when the milk is starting to simmer at the edges. Remove saucepan from the heat and allow mixture to cool slightly.
- Once the mixture cooled a bit, but is still warm, add the eggs. Whisk continuously while adding the eggs so they don’t scramble.
- Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes making sure that all the top pieces are soaked. Push down the bread pieces so there aren’t any gaps below. Set aside for 30 to 45 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake bread pudding for 40 to 45 minutes or until the custard is set, but jiggly in the center, and the top is golden brown. Keep an eye on the bread pudding while baking. If the top is browning too quickly, set a piece of aluminum foil over the top to prevent any burning for the remaining baking time.
- While the bread pudding bakes, make the bourbon sauce. Brown the butter over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. The butter will get foamy. Once the butter has a nutty aroma, remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar, bourbon and heavy cream. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Pour sauce over bread pudding and serve warm.