Easy Bread Pudding

published Dec 10, 2023
Bread Pudding Recipe

Chunks of toasted challah are soaked in a spiced vanilla custard, then baked, for an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert.

Serves8 to 12

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 6 minutes

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Close up shot of a finished bread pudding topped with powdered sugar.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Bread pudding is my go-to dessert anytime I’m feeding a crowd. In fact, the first time I made it was when I was in charge of dessert for a large dinner party in my 20s. It was a total hit. Since then, I’ve tweaked and refined the recipe to get it just right.

Baked in a trusty 9×13 pan, my recipe features soft chunks of bread soaked in a rich, just-sweet-enough vanilla custard with a shatteringly crisp, butter-drenched top. This classic bread pudding is the perfect balance of crowd-pleasing treat and easy dessert, with a make-ahead moment if you want to get a head start. 

Ingredients in Bread Pudding

  • Unsliced challah bread or brioche bread. Either of these soft, eggy breads are perfect for bread pudding. Before assembling the pudding, you’ll dry the cubed bread in the oven, which keeps the dessert from getting soggy.
  • Unsalted butter. A few tablespoons gets melted and drizzled over top before baking. The result is an extra-flavorful, crisp top.
  • Whole eggs and yolks. This combo makes for a rich, full-flavored custard.
  • Milk or half-and-half. A fuller-fat dairy is the way to go with this dessert, so if you’re using milk, you’ll want to stick with whole milk.
  • Granulated sugar. You’ll use just enough to make the dessert decidedly sweet, without being too sweet.
  • Vanilla extract. It’s not a misprint in the ingredient list — you’ll use two full tablespoons here. This ensures the custard and the bread are packed with a big vanilla flavor.
  • Spices. The recipe calls for a mix of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, though it’s quite easy to substitute in any of your favorite spices here. Cardamom, ginger, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice all work nicely.
  • Citrus zest. Finely grated orange or lemon zest is totally optional, though I always include it. Mixed into the custard, it adds a gentle fragrance to the dessert.
  • Dried fruit or chocolate chips. If you want to jazz up your bread pudding a little, one half-cup of chocolate chips or dried fruit, like raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or chopped apricots are a nice addition. 
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Is Bread Pudding Good the Next Day?

Bread pudding is best served warm, shortly after it comes out of the oven. But, with that said, leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Heat it through in the oven so the center is warm and the top is crisp before serving.

Best Ways to Serve Bread Pudding

Between the warm vanilla custard and pillowy bread, this dessert is truly delicious on its own. Personally, I love a simple dusting of powdered sugar, which looks pretty and adds a hint of sweetness. You could also top slices of bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce.

Bread Pudding Recipe

Chunks of toasted challah are soaked in a spiced vanilla custard, then baked, for an easy, crowd-pleasing dessert.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 6 minutes

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    (about 1-pound) loaf unsliced challah or brioche bread

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 2

    large egg yolks

  • 1

    medium orange or lemon (optional)

  • 4 cups

    whole milk or half-and-half

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    dried fruit (such as raisins, cherries, cranberries, or chopped apricots) or chocolate chips (optional)

  • Powdered sugar and/or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300℉. Meanwhile, cut 1 loaf unsliced challah or brioche bread into 1-inch cubes. Place in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Bake until the bread is dry but not browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside until mostly cool.

  3. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 350℉. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with unsalted butter. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second bursts until mostly melted, 30 to 40 seconds total. (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.) Set aside to cool slightly.

  4. Place 4 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk to break up. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium orange or lemon into the bowl if desired; reserve the fruit for another use. Add 4 cups whole milk or half-and-half, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk until combined.

  5. Add the bread and 1/2 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips if using. Gently stir to coat the bread and press the bread down slightly to soak up the custard.

  6. Transfer to the baking dish and arrange into an even layer. Pour any remaining liquid over the top. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.

  7. Bake until puffed, golden brown, the bread pulls away from the edges of the pan, and the custard is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with powdered sugar or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The bread can be toasted up to 1 day ahead. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven before serving.