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This bourbon-spiked challah bread pudding is the perfect dessert for a cozy night in.
Bread pudding is a warm and comforting dessert that originated as a way to use stale bread. It is made by combining chunks of bread with eggs, milk, sugar, and butter to create a rich custard. While it was once known as “poor man’s pudding,” there is nothing humble about this modern version made with challah and a splash of bourbon—it is decadent in every way! The bourbon adds depth to the custard, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and nutty flavor, without making the pudding taste boozy. I highly recommend using it, but you can substitute it with more milk if you prefer. Serve the bread pudding warm from the oven topped with vanilla ice cream for a truly cozy and satisfying dessert. It’s like a hug in a bowl!
This dessert is delicious in its simplicity, but feel free to experiment with add-ins like chocolate chips, toasted nuts, dried fruit, or shredded coconut. You can even make a chocolate or apple rum raisin version. And don’t think of it as just dessert—it also makes a great brunch dish.
What You’ll Need To Make Bread Pudding
Enriched breads like challah and brioche are the best breads to use for bread pudding, but if you have a loaf of French or Italian bread, they’ll work too. Just avoid using sourdough because its tangy flavor doesn’t go well with the sweet custard. The bread can be fresh or slightly stale; actually day-old bread is perfect for this dessert, as it will more readily soak up the custard mixture.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and then add the milk, sugar, melted butter, bourbon, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
Whisk until evenly combined.
Mix in the challah cubes.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and let stand at least 1 hour (or refrigerate overnight). If you are baking the dish after an hour of sitting, Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden and puffy and the center is set. It’s normal for it to deflate after you remove it from the oven. The custard expands while baking and will settle as it cools.
How To Freeze Bread Pudding
The baked bread pudding can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap or in a freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat in the oven until warmed through.
Serve the dessert warm from the oven topped with vanilla ice cream.
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This bourbon-spiked challah bread pudding is the perfect dessert for a cozy night in.
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups (packed) challah or brioche cubes, from one loaf (about 9 oz)
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, sugar, melted butter, bourbon, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and whisk until evenly combined. Mix in the challah cubes. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and let stand at least 1 hour (or refrigerate overnight).
- If you are baking the bread pudding after an hour of sitting, preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the top is golden and puffy and the center is set. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
- Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The bread pudding can be assembled and refrigerated overnight. It can also be frozen, after baking, for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat in a 300°F-oven until warmed through.
- Per serving (Nutritional info does not include ice cream - 8 servings)
- Calories: 305
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 43 g
- Sugar: 29 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 8 g
- Sodium: 249 mg
- Cholesterol: 126 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
I loved how easy this was to make! It’s a great option for when you’re doing a lot of entertaining and you want to check something off your list in advance. And based on the results, no one will know how little effort it took! It’s warm, pudding-y and super delicious. It’s lovely with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream (but would also be good without i f you choose to forgo it). This will go onto my list of repeats!!!
The instruction to “Preheat the oven to 350°F” should come as a final step, not as the first step. As written, the empty oven would remain heated to 350°F for at least one hour – or even overnight — before the pudding is put in it. Really? Careless editing.
Hi Roddy, I agree that the preheating instruction should come later in the recipe and will update it accordingly. Thanks for pointing it out.
Jenn, I was a bit harsh at grading your recipe so low. The misplaced “start your oven” advice is used by many chefs, not just you. I’m glad to see that you fixed it. The actual pudding was very good, definitely 4 or 5 star.
I made this again today… for the 3rd time this winter. As the weather is getting warmer here in eastern Canada, my family will have to wait until fall for more of this deliciousness! I added 1/2 cup of raisins that I soaked in the 2tbsp of bourbon listed in recipe. Thank you!
After removing from the refrigerator should the bread pudding come to room temperature before baking? Also, did you bake this in a pie dish?
Hi Chris, no need to bring it to room temperature before baking. And I did make mine in a pie dish, but any 2-quart dish will work. Hope you enjoy!
We love your bread puddings, especially the chocolate one… How would you make a Bananas Foster bread pudding (like Sullivan’s Steak house serves)? My husband love it and I’d like to make it for his birthday. Thanks!
Hi Karen, I’ve never been to Sullivan’s but you could add sliced bananas to either bread pudding and replace the bourbon with rum. I’d love to know how it turns out if you try it!
Jenn, I have made this 4 times in as many weeks! Two friends recovering from surgeries, neighbors, and my own family have loved it. Comfort food at its best. Love your recipes. 💕
I am looking to make this dessert for St. Patrick’s Day. Please give me suggestions for the bourbon to be used. I don’t want the most expensive but do want to be able to serve as a drink for those who drink bourbon. By the way I love your recipes. Yours is the first site I go to when meal planning.
Hi Ellen, Thanks for the nice words about the recipes — so glad you like them! I use Ancient Age bourbon. Hope everyone enjoys the bread pudding!
My family of eight loves it!
This was so good! I made it ahead of time and after an hour I realized I forgot the milk. I pulled it out of the fridge and added the milk, then put it back. Baked it for 60 minutes at 350. It was brown on the sides and pulling seats, and somewhat firm in the middle. The pudding was somewhat runny but I think that was from my milk mistake. Would you think that was the case and was safe to eat? Either way we gobbled it up.
Hi Samantha, So glad you enjoyed it! Yes I do think adding the milk later may have caused it to be a bit runny, as it may not have been fully incorporated with the eggs. But I’m sure it was still safe to eat. 🙂
This was very good the day I made it and even better the following day.
I made this for dessert on Christmas Day. I started it on Christmas Eve. Wow!! Like all of your recipes this turned out perfect. I am making it again, going to try to make single serving freezer for my kids to take back to University.
Hi Jen! Love your recipes. Could I use 2% milk instead of whole milk?
You can, but it won’t be nearly as rich. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!
Made this last night and it was a hit, including with family members who claim not to love bread pudding! I used Hawaiian-style sweet bread instead of challah as that’s what I had on hand, and reduced sugar to about 3/4 cup. Otherwise made as written. Served with a little whipped cream. My mom said the flavor reminded her of a really good cinnamon roll. Thanks for yet another delicious and foolproof recipe!
Super easy recipe and I will be making this for Christmas Eve. I was wondering if you can recommend a vanilla sauce recipe or a similar sauce recipe the top. Thanks!
Hi Laticia, You can use a creme anglaise sauce, like this one. Or for an easy cheat, you can melt a good quality vanilla ice cream, like Haagan Dazs.
OMG is all I have to say! I’m a lover of bread pudding but have only ordered it out at restaurants. I didn’t realize how easy it is to make it at home and how much it tastes like what I’ve ordered when I’ve been out. Jenn mentions eating it is like a warm hug — it’s so comforting and warming and has the perfect balance of flavors. And I wouldn’t skip the bourbon — it’s not overpowering at all (that’s from someone who’s sensitive to booze in their desserts) and kind of adds a yummy caramel flavor I’d suggest making this NOW!
This pudding was good, but a little bland, in my opinion. More cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg would give it more zip.Also adding raisins or currents would enhance the flavors.
Did the same. Added nutmeg and raisins to pump up the flavor.
Can you substitute another liquor for the bourbon?
Sure, Hattie. Please LMK how it turns out. 🙂
Looks scrumptious! Can’t wait to try it!!!!
I make bread pudding often and this is a great recipe. Question about the freezer friendly instructions, though. Freeze it after baking? I have frozen before baking and it turns out well.
Hi Margaret, I’ve never frozen bread pudding before baking it, but I think you could. 🙂
Hi Jenn, I’ve made a lovely bread pudding with apples. How would you add them to your recipe? Looks delicious!
Hi Kimberly, If you’d like to include apples, you may want to give this recipe a try. Hope you enjoy if you make it!
I love bread pudding so looking forward to making this. What do you think about adding raisins? Will it work and if so how much? Any adjustments needed? Thanks for yet another great recipe!
Hi Janet, you can definitely add raisins to this and I’d recommend about 2/3 cup. While you’re preparing the other ingredients, I’d soak the raisins in a small bowl of hot water to soften them up. Alternatively, you could consider this recipe. Hope you enjoy whatever you make!