Bread pudding, also known as French Toast Casserole, is what all your cozy weekend breakfast dreams are made of. It’s basically bread soaked in a sweet and creamy custard, then baked to perfection. The edges of the bread get deliciously crispy while the inside stays moist and custard-like. It’s so much easier than cooking individual slices of French toast in a skillet, and it’s a great way to use up leftover stale or day-old bread. Win-win! So let me show you how it’s done.
Originally posted 5-5-2010, updated 9-18-2021.
Is Bread Pudding for Breakfast or Dessert?
There are many, many different versions of bread pudding, some of which are downright decadent. You’ll even see it on the dessert menu in a lot of restaurants across the south (usually drenched with a delicious bourbon sauce). The version I’m presenting here is the kind I grew up eating for breakfast. It has milk instead of heavy cream, fewer eggs, and a lot less sugar. The addition of applesauce to the custard also keeps things a little lighter and more toward the breakfast end of the spectrum. All of that said, I would still consider it a sweet, special occasion type of breakfast.
What Kind of Bread to Use for Bread Pudding
It’s important to use a hearty bread for bread pudding rather than a soft white sandwich bread. Softer bread will disintegrate in the custard and won’t give you the nice toasty edges on top. Bread pudding is the perfect way to use up leftovers from your loaves of Italian bread, baguettes, or any hearty artisan loaf you may have. And if you don’t have enough leftover bread from one loaf, tear that bread into pieces, pop it into a freezer bag, and save it in the freezer for later when you do have more bread!
What Else Can I Add?
The classic apple cinnamon flavor of this bread pudding is a great base to add even more flavor. You could toss in a handful of walnuts or pecans, or maybe even some dried cranberries. If you want more texture in your bread pudding, try chopping up a fresh apple and stirring that into the mix. If you want to go more toward the dessert route, you could top your bread pudding with a cream cheese icing or caramel drizzle!
Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding
- 6 cups bread pieces ($1.98)
- 2 cups milk ($0.80)
- 4 large eggs ($0.84)
- 1.5 cups applesauce, divided ($0.89)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.28)
- 1/3 cup sugar ($0.11)
- 1 tsp cinnamon ($0.10)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.18)
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional) ($0.36)
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. If your bread is not already in pieces, tear or cut the bread into one-inch pieces.
- Spread the bread pieces out on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes to slightly dry the bread. After baking, let the bread cool for a few minutes to allow the remaining steam to evaporate.
- While the bread is drying in the oven, prepare the apple cinnamon custard. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, 1 cup of applesauce, vanilla extract, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Transfer the par-baked bread to a large bowl, add the raisins, then pour the apple cinnamon custard over top. Stir to combine and allow the bread to soak for at least 15 minutes to absorb all of the custard.
- Meanwhile, use 1 teaspoon of the butter to grease the inside of a two-quart casserole dish. Transfer the soaked bread to the casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Cut the remaining butter into chunks and sprinkle it over the bread pudding.
- Bake the bread pudding for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF.
- After removing the bread pudding from the oven, add the remaining ½ cup applesauce in dollops on top of the bread pudding. Serve warm.
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How to Make Bread Pudding – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Tear your bread into one-inch pieces. You’ll need about 6 cups of torn bread.
Place the torn bread pieces on a large baking sheet and bake in the preheated 325ºF oven for about 10 minutes to dry it out. Let the bread pieces cool for a few minutes after baking. This will allow the rest of the steam to evaporate and dry the bread further.
While the bread is drying, prepare the custard. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups milk, 4 large eggs, 1 cup applesauce, ⅓ cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Place the dried bread cubes in a large bowl along with ⅓ cup raisins. Pour the custard mixture over top and then give everything a stir until all of the custard has been absorbed by the bread.
Set the mixture aside and allow the bread to soak in the custard for at least 15 minutes.
Use one teaspoon (out of the 2 Tbsp total) to grease the inside of a two-quart casserole dish. Transfer the bread pudding mixture to the casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and sprinkle them over the bread pudding.
Bake the bread pudding in the 325ºF oven for about 45 minutes, or until it’s brown and crispy on top and the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. After baking, spoon the remaining ½ cup applesauce over the top.
Cut into six pieces and serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top!
I made a half batch, baked in a loaf pan—it was done in about 40 minutes. Used brown sugar, almond milk, and cinnamon applesauce, added a little chopped apple and some walnuts. The texture of the walnuts balanced the slight sogginess of the bread. Really yummy.
Honestly, super great. I have a ton of apple sauce to use up and this was a great application. Added a lot of sweetness without needing to use a ton of refined sugar. Then, again, I topped the entire thing with about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar, to help the butter crisp and brown.
Made this for myself and thought it was delicious, my mom is recovering from being severly ill (thankfully not covid) so I made a batch with some other food I was sending her, she texted me the next morning and could not stop raving about it and asked me to give the recipe to my aunt that lives with her so she can make it regularly, the only change to the recipie I made was doubled the amount of cinnamon but thats the way our family likes things it might not be for everyone. Was so glad to give my mom something she enjoyed @
Great job Beth you got the Gold medal on this one. Question? I froze the other half of the bread in chunks- enough for another bread pudding. Do you thaw it out an treat it like it was fresh bread cubes an follow recipe as per usual? Thanks
Yes, definitely thaw it first and then depending on whether or not the bread chunks seem dried out after thawing you can either continue as if they are fresh and dry them a bit with the oven, or if they are already a bit stale/dry (as they can sometimes get with time in the freezer), you could probably just skip that step. :)
Thank you for your helpful response. I so appreciate it very much.
Any idea if I can prepare, bake, cook and then FREEZE for future serving? Thanks.
We haven’t tried that method, but maybe with some tweaking it could work. Although, since we haven’t tried it, I hesitate to give you any specific suggestions that might not be successful. My hesitation is that bread pudding contains a lot of eggs, which change texture once frozen and tend to release a lot of moisture when reheated from frozen. Since the apples will also release some moisture, the combination may cause the bread pudding to become soggy and unappetizing if baked, frozen, and then re-baked.
I would suggest freezing the bread until you are ready to make the pudding (up to 2 months). The unbaked dish can be mixed and then refrigerated for up to 24-36 hours ahead, and the baked leftovers can be stored in the fridge for about a week. As I mentioned in our brand-new Bread Pudding recipe (https://www.budgetbytes.com/bread-pudding/), the leftovers keep VERY well in the fridge, and the dish can be served warm or cold — but they are especially excellent reheated in an air fryer so the edges get extra crispy! ~ Marion :)
Awesome. Beth you got the Gold medal on this one. Question? I froze the other half of the bread in chunks- enough for another bread pudding. Do you thaw it out an treat it like it was fresh bread cubes an follow recipe as per usual? Thanks
Oh yes, I used cinnamon swirl bead that I use for French toast. Since some was fresh and some was not, I dried it all out overnite.
I would like to see more custard volume used, so that the bread cubes are completely submerged.
It’s midwinter in New Jersey. I used canned pumpkin in the custard and chopped fresh apples sprinkled among the bread crumbs. We’ll see how it turns out. My first batch didn’t last long enough for me to write a critique.
Thanks for the recipe variations.
Can’t wait to try this recipe! Want to make on Christmas morning-but would like to prepare the day ahead…thoughts on assembling the day before and putting in the fridge then baking the next morning?
I think you could do that. :) Just keep in mind that it will probably be a lot colder when going into the oven, so you may need to bake slightly longer.
If I’m making bread pudding, I buy the discounted bread in the back of the grocery store. It’s especially good if it’s a raisin cinnamon type bread, which they always seem to have.