Looking for an easy and delicious dessert for St. Patrick’s Day? Try Irish bread pudding with whiskey sauce. It is the perfect use for stale bread and can be made ahead of time.

whiskey sauce poured on irish bread pudding slice with raisins.


 

Bread pudding is such a delicious dessert and while I typically serve it around Christmas, I wanted to try a different variation for St. Patrick’s Day. All you have to do is add some Irish whiskey and you have Irish bread pudding! The whiskey caramel sauce guarantees that every bite is delicious. This dish is crisp on top, tender on the inside and has whiskey-soaked raisins throughout. If you have extra raisins, make raisin scones next!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make in advance. Since the bread needs time to soak, it can easily be made up to 12 hours ahead of time.
  • Rich flavor and soft texture. The custard-soaked bread is super soft and moist while the whiskey-soaked raisins and sauce adds a kick of flavor.
  • Good use of leftover bread. Stale bread is best since it soaks up all the liquid.
  • Tested and perfected recipe. I used my classic bread pudding recipe and made adjustments to use raisins and whiskey (instead of bourbon) for a festive Irish touch.
  • Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. A little Irish whiskey makes this a natural dessert for the holiday!

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make irish bread pudding with whiskey sauce.
  • Brioche: Use day-old bread that is dried out. This helps soak up the whiskey-milk mixture.
  • Whiskey: Any whiskey will work, but Irish whiskey is the most festive option for St. Patrick’s Day. I used Jameson.
  • Raisins: To add a little sweetness and flavor, raisins are soaked in whiskey before they’re used in the recipe.
  • Milk: Whole milk is preferred to make the custard mixture, but low-fat can be used in a pinch.
  • Heavy cream: The whiskey sauce is rich and needs a thick base so heavy cream works best.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter for this recipe. Different brands of salted butter have various amounts of salt added. It’s best to add the salt yourself.

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

Recipe Variations

Try different mix-ins. Another good option is dried currants, which is what is used in Irish soda bread. If you like a little texture, try adding 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds. Chocolate chips also taste delicious!

Substitute the bread. Try Challah, French or Italian bread. A pillowy soft bread works best to soak up the liquid.

Use a different alcohol. Bourbon and rum are also popular options. You can also use American whiskey, but then of course it wouldn’t be Irish!

How to Make Irish Bread Pudding

photo collage demonstrating how to make irish bread pudding in a baking dish and saucepan.
  1. Soak the raisins in whiskey for half an hour. Drain into a separate bowl to use the whiskey later.
  2. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and place the bread pieces in the dish so they are close together.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, butter, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cook until scalding hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then add the eggs, whisking constantly so they don’t scramble. Stir in the raisins.
photo collage showing irish bread pudding after the bread has soaked up the liquid and how to make whisk sauce in a saucepan.
  1. Pour mixture over bread cubes. Set aside to soak for 45 minutes to an hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden.
  2. Make the whiskey sauce. Brown the butter, then add the brown sugar, whiskey and heavy cream. Stir until sugar is dissolved and serve warm with the bread pudding.

Expert Tips

Cool the pudding mixture slightly before adding the eggs. Whisk constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.

Let the bread soak. This is really important to achieve the perfect moist texture. I suggest 1 hour, but you can keep it in the fridge for up to 12 hours.

Check the bread pudding towards the end of baking. If it’s browning too quickly, add a sheet of aluminum foil over the top while it finishes baking.

Add the sauce right before serving. It’s a rich sauce so people may want more or less depending on their preference. It’s also easier to store leftovers if the sauce is separate.

Irish bread pudding with raisins in a white baking dish.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keep the sauce in a separate container so the bread pudding doesn’t get soggy.

Make ahead the bread pudding and let it soak in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Make sure the dish is covered in plastic wrap so it doesn’t absorb any odors. The sauce may also be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Freeze the bread pudding (without the sauce) for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating. I do not suggest freezing the sauce since the alcohol affects the texture as it defrosts.

Reheat the dish at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through. The sauce may be reheated over a low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Recipe FAQ

Can I use fresh bread?

Yes, but you have to dry it out. After the bread is cut into pieces, scatter them on a baking sheet and bake at 250℉ for 10 minutes or until dry.

Why is my bread pudding dry?

Most likely the bread didn’t have enough time to soak up the liquid. It’s also possible it was over-baked. Use an oven thermometer to check that your oven temperature is accurate.

How do you know when bread pudding is done baking?

The center should be set when the pan is gently shaken. You can also use a thermometer to check if the inside is 160℉, which means the eggs are fully cooked.

Can I make this recipe nonalcoholic?

Yes, omit the whiskey and soak the raisins in fruit juice, such as apple juice. For the sauce, increase the heavy cream to 1/3 cup and add 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract.

fork on a plate with slice of irish bread pudding and a piece taken off the side.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

whiskey sauce poured on irish bread pudding slice with raisins.

Get the Recipe: Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

This easy dessert is just what your St. Patrick's Day needs! Topped with whiskey sauce and raisins, this Irish bread pudding is simply delicious.
5 (13 ratings)

Ingredients

Bread Pudding

  • ½ cup raisins
  • cup (80 ml) Irish whiskey
  • 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
  • cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Whiskey Sauce

  • 6 Tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream, or Irish cream
  • ¾ cup (150 g) packed brown sugar
  • Reserved Irish whiskey from soaking raisins

Instructions 

Bread Pudding

  • In a small bowl, add raisins and whiskey. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the whiskey.
  • 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 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 the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  • Once the mixture has cooled a bit, but is still warm, add the eggs. Whisk continuously while adding the eggs so they don’t scramble. Stir in the whiskey-soaked raisins.
  • Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes making sure that all the top pieces are soaked. Push down the cubes so there aren’t any gaps below. Set aside for 45 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard. If soaking longer than an hour, cover and store in the refrigerator (see notes).
  • Preheat oven to 350℉. Bake the 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 it while baking. If it's browning too quickly, set a piece of aluminum foil over the top to prevent any burning for the remaining baking time.

Irish Whiskey Sauce

  • While the bread pudding bakes, make the whiskey 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, add the brown sugar, whiskey and heavy cream. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat to cool slightly.
  • Pour sauce over bread pudding and serve warm.

Notes

Fresh bread: Cut it into cubes, place it on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for 10 minutes. This will help dry it out.
Milk: Whole, low-fat or skim works well. Whole milk yields a richer bread pudding.
Nonalcoholic: Soak the raisins in orange juice or apple juice. For the sauce, omit the whiskey and increase heavy cream to 1/3 cup. Add 1 Tablespoon vanilla.
Make ahead and assemble the bread pudding. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Uncover and bake according to recipe.
Serving: 1slice, Calories: 383kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 143mg, Sodium: 254mg, Potassium: 156mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 719IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 1mg

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