How to Make Bread Pudding the Old-Fashioned Way

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The ultimate comfort food is within your reach. Follow along as our Test Kitchen teaches you how to make bread pudding.

There’s no doubt about it. Old-fashioned bread pudding is the ultimate classic comfort food. It’s part monkey bread, part custard and just as cozy as a dessert can possibly be. (Just like these dessert recipes!) This dessert has seen many revivals over the ages. In fact, the first written recipe for bread pudding—then called custard puddinge—appeared in the 17th century, but food historians suspect it was made long before the recipe was put to paper.

Why has this recipe endured for so long: likely because it’s one of the most delicious ways to use up day-old bread.

Thanks to Test Kitchen expert James Schend, you needn’t follow an ancient text or rent a time machine to indulge in this classic dessert. He’s sharing his best tips for how to make bread pudding the old-fashioned way. Read along as we guide you through this easy recipe for the best-ever bread pudding—or should we say puddinge?

How to Make Bread Pudding

how to make bread pudding the old-fashioned wayTaste of Home

Our go-to bread pudding recipe in our Test Kitchen is this one from former staffer Maria Petrella. It’s rich and lightly spiced—the perfect recipe to try if you’re new to this dessert or are looking for a classic rendition of bread pudding.

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2-1/4 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 20 dinner rolls (1-1/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes (18 cups)*
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Test Kitchen tip: Just like home cooks of time past, we agree that day-old bread works great in bread pudding. If you don’t have dinner rolls on hand, choose a sturdier bread that’s slightly stale. It will help absorb the custard better. (This tip works for homemade French toast, too!)

Go to Recipe

Test Kitchen-Recommended Tools

  • Our beautiful ceramic baking dish is perfect for oven-to-table serving. It’s oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.
  • This OXO whisk’s rubber handle will help you keep a firm grip while whisking the custard. It has also made our must-have basic kitchen tools list.
  • Our 3-quart saucepan will give you more than enough room to whip up the bread pudding sauce. Like all of our cookware and bakeware, it’s Test Kitchen-approved, too.


Step 1: Combine the Fixings

Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F. While it’s getting toasty, wrangle together the first 10 ingredients to make the custard for your old-fashioned bread pudding.

Test Kitchen tip: For a silky-smooth consistency, it’s best if the milk, cream and butter are close in temperature. So wait a few minutes before you dump that fresh-from-the-microwave melted butter into the cold dairy.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first 10 ingredients until evenly blended. Toss in the bread and give it a gentle stir. Here the idea is to get the dinner roll cubes thoroughly soaked with the custard mixture.

Test Kitchen tip: Take extra care to beat the egg whites into the yolks before you add the bread. This will keep your custard from turning into scrambled eggs.

Step 2: Soak It

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Transfer the ingredients into a baking dish. Make sure the rolls are fully saturated with the custard by gently pressing down on individual bread pieces with a spoon. Like a sponge, the bread will absorb more of the liquid.

Test Kitchen tip: Using dense bread? Let it soak in the custard a little bit longer. Place it in the fridge until it’s entirely saturated.

Step 3: Add Sugar and Wait

old-fashioned bread puddingTaste of Home

Next, sprinkle the brown sugar over the pudding. Let the pudding stand for about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the bread has softened.

Step 4: Bake!

Pop the bread pudding in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The dish will turn golden brown and start to puff. Remove from the oven when a knife poked into the center comes out clean. But don’t leave the kitchen just yet. While the pudding cooks, move on to the next step.

Step 5: Start Your Sauce

old-fashioned bread pudding sauceTaste of Home

The secret to a good bread pudding is in the sauce. It can be a little finicky to get the consistency just right—but follow our lead and you’ll be in great shape. Begin by melting the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

old-fashioned bread pudding sauceTaste of Home

Add in the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Gradually stir in the cream and bring the liquid to a boil. As soon as you see bubbles start to rapidly rise, turn down the burners so that the sauce is simmering. (You should still see small bubbles gently rising to the surface.) Stir continuously for 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, the sauce will begin to thicken.

Step 6: Add the Final Touch

Once you’ve reached your desired consistency, remove from the stove and add the vanilla, sea salt and baking soda. Stir until combined and drizzle that heavenly goodness onto the bread pudding.

Step 7: Indulge

How to make bread pudding the old-fashioned wayTaste of Home

Your yummy old-fashioned bread pudding is ready! Grab your biggest serving spoon and scoop out a hefty portion while the pudding is still warm. My tip? Add a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top, or better yet, homemade vanilla ice cream.

How to Make It Even Better

For an extra boost of flavor, try adding in mix-ins like dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips just before baking. Here are James’ favorite variations:

  • Chocolate-Cherry: Stir in 3/4 cup dried cherries and 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips.
  • Apricot-Almond: Stir in 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots and 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds.
  • Cranberry-Walnut: Stir in 3/4 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts.
  • Fig-Pistachio: Stir in 3/4 cup chopped dried figs and 3/4 cup toasted pistachios.

How to Store Bread Pudding

Let it drop to room temperature, then cover and store in the fridge. Bread puddings typically last about two days without losing moisture. When you’re ready to eat, reheat it in the microwave or cut the pudding into pieces and cook on the stovetop. Add a little bit of butter to the pan so that the pudding crisps on each side. The texture is wonderful!

If you’d like to enjoy it for even longer, you can freeze your bread pudding. To freeze bread pudding, bake as you normally would and let it cool before placing it in an air-tight container. You can freeze it for up to three months.

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.
James Schend
As Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversees the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and manages all food content for Trusted Media Brands. Prior to this position, James worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.