bread pudding with bourbon sauce

About This Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce Recipe

Bread pudding with bourbon sauce is an easy, comforting dessert recipe that’s perfect for the holiday season. The brown butter bourbon sauce is simple and made with just three ingredients: Land O Lakes® Butter, brown sugar, and bourbon.

The bread pudding recipe instructs you to layer the bottom and the top of the pudding with this bourbon sauce. Doing so results in a super flavorful bread pudding with a sugary crust. It’s an easy bread pudding recipe with white bread!

And when combined with the vanilla flavors of a generous scoop of ice cream? Absolutely delicious!

A big thank you to Land O’Lakes sponsoring this recipe. Learn more in the blog post, and thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep Hummingbird High up and running!

For more holiday desserts, check out this Earl Grey Tiramisu, this Eggnog Sheet Cake, and this Creme Brulee Without A Torch Recipe!

bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Why You Should Make The Recipe

Now let’s talk about all the reasons why you should make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe:

The recipe helps prevent food waste.

Because Erlend and I are a two-person household, we can never finish an entire loaf of bread without some of it going stale. Instead of throwing out the stale bread, I frequently repurpose it for use in dessert recipes. Like this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe! Bread pudding works best with stale bread; the stale bread absorbs more of the liquid, making the dessert more custardy.

The bread pudding is extra flavorful, thanks to an easy technique of layering the bourbon sauce.

Most bread pudding recipes instruct the baker to serve a sauce with the pudding on the side. My recipe, however, takes it to the next level. In addition to this side sauce, I instruct you to bake the bread pudding with a bottom layer and top drizzle of the bourbon sauce. Doing so infuses the bread pudding with more flavor with every bite! The final drizzle of bourbon sauce caramelizes, leaving behind a crisp sugar crust similar to the top of crème brûlée.

Both the bourbon sauce and bread pudding recipes come together really quickly.

The bourbon sauce is incredibly simple: simply whisk together brown butter, brown sugar, and bourbon whiskey! That’s it. Because all the ingredients are so flavorful on their own, there’s no need to cook the sauce to make them more prominent. Similarly, the bread pudding comes together quickly. Simply whisk together the remaining ingredients to make a “pudding,” toss the bread cubes in it, and bake the whole thing. It’s magic!

bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Shopping List for Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

  • Land O Lakes® Butter
  • light OR dark brown sugar
  • bourbon whiskey
  • large eggs
  • granulated sugar
  • pure vanilla extract
  • kosher salt
  • whole milk
  • white bread

And let’s talk about key ingredients and their potential substitutions:

Land O Lakes® Butter

You need 6 Tablespoons Land O Lakes® Butter to make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.

Why You Should Use Land O Lakes® Butter In This Recipe

Real Talk: Land O Lakes® Butter is the all-purpose, MVP butter I use in my baking recipes. To me, Land O Lakes® Butter is the standard to which I hold all other butters. It improves every recipe—baking or otherwise—that I use it in. I love it so much that I even used it while testing all the recipes in my cookbook, Weeknight Baking!

Can I use Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter instead?

Yes, absolutely! Most of the time, I actually prefer to use unsalted butter in my baking recipes. Using unsalted butter allows you to better control the amount of salt that goes into each recipe. So if that’s what you prefer too, feel free to substitute the Land O Lakes® Butter with Land O Lakes® Unsalted Butter. There’s no need to increase the salt in the recipe—it still works with just ¼ teaspoon kosher salt!

Brown Sugar

You need 1 cup light OR dark brown sugar to make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.

Light versus Dark Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is granulated white sugar with a touch of molasses to give it its signature color and flavor. Because brown sugar contains molasses, it adds more moisture to baked goods than granulated sugar otherwise would. Brown sugar is available in two varieties: light or dark. Dark brown sugar is my personal preference. Because it contains more molasses, I find it to be more flavorful. However, you can use either in this bread pudding recipe without altering its flavor too much.

I don’t have brown sugar. Can I use granulated sugar instead?

Yes, with reservations. Although granulated sugar works in place of the brown sugar in the bourbon sauce recipe, your bourbon sauce will likely be missing some of the butterscotch flavors you would get if you used brown sugar.

Bourbon Whiskey

You need ⅓ cup of bourbon whiskey to make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.

Bourbon Whiskey versus Other Whiskeys

There are many different kinds of whiskey: bourbon, Canadian, Irish, Japanese, rye, Tennessee, and more. Different countries have different legal definitions for each. In the United States, however, bourbon whiskey must be:

  • Produced in the United States (in fact, most bourbon in the United States is produced in Kentucky)
  • Made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn
  • Aged in new, charred oak containers; and
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof, aged at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at 80 proof.

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Confusing, right?

Can I use another whiskey (NOT bourbon) to make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe?

Yes! Feel free to use whatever kind of (non-bourbon) whiskey you have on hand instead. It will still be delicious, I promise.

Can I use another alcohol in this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe?

Yes, with reservations. This recipe works best if you substitute the bourbon whiskey with another amber- or brown-colored, grain-based, high-proof alcohol. Brandies, rums, and tequilas are probably your best bet. Beer is okay too; however, your cake will be less flavorful since beer isn’t as high-proof as the liquors I listed.

Clear alcohols like vodka and gin work, but aren’t as flavorful as the amber and brown liquors. If you’re opting for a clear liquor, I recommend an orange-flavored liqueur. Just note that whatever alcohol you choose, you are substituting out the bourbon whiskey flavor of this sauce and replacing it with the flavor of the alcohol you are using instead.

White Bread

You need 1 pound (16 ounces or 454 grams) of stale white bread to make this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.

Why do I need to use stale bread for bread pudding?

Bread gets stale as moisture evaporates from it over time; as it does, the bread texture changes from soft and fluffy to stiff and dry. In theory, this dry texture allows the bread to absorb more of the milk and eggs needed to make the pudding. I like to think of the bread as a sponge. A dry sponge absorbs more liquid than a sponge that is already wet and full.

What kind of white bread did you use?

I used a generic white sandwich bread that we had leftover from Erlend’s sack lunches. But you can use whatever leftover bread you have on hand—see the next question!

Can I use other kinds of bread in this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, I recommend it. If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend using an enriched bread—that is, bread made with eggs and sugar in its dough—to make this bread pudding recipe. I especially recommend brioche, challah, or even holiday panettone bread.

bread pudding with bourbon sauce

How To Make Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Here are the basic steps to make bread pudding with bourbon sauce from scratch:

First, make the bourbon sauce.

  1. Prep your ingredients for the bourbon sauce. (Prep Time: <5 minutes)
    Prepping the ingredients for the bourbon sauce goes by fast. Simply slice the Land O Lakes® Butter into 1-inch cubes, and measure out the brown sugar and bourbon. That’s it!

  2. Brown the Land O Lakes® Butter. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Brown butter is made by cooking butter until the water in it evaporates and you’re left with a speckled, amber-colored liquid with a rich flavor and a wonderfully nutty aroma. Depending on how high the heat is and how cold your butter was to begin with, browning butter can take anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes.

  3. Make the bourbon sauce. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    Once the butter is browned, stir in the brown sugar and bourbon whiskey to make the bourbon sauce. That’s it! Easy, right? Set aside to cool slightly while you make the bread pudding.

Then, make the bread pudding.

  1. Prep your ingredients for the bread pudding. (Prep Time: 10 minutes)
    The most time-consuming part of this recipe involves prepping the bread. Slice the bread into 1- to 1 ½ inch cubes. Pro-tip: a serrated knife helps you do the job faster. Then, measure out the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and milk.

  2. Make the pudding. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    The pudding comes together fairly quickly. Simply whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, then gradually pour in the milk as you whisk everything together. There’s no need to cook anything over the stovetop!

  3. Assemble the bread pudding. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Pour the pudding over the bread cubes and toss to combine. Then, assemble the bread pudding by first pouring a layer of bourbon sauce in the pan and top with the soaked bread cubes. Finish with another generous drizzle of bourbon sauce.

  4. Bake the bread pudding. (Bake Time: 50 minutes)
    The bread pudding needs 50 to 55 minutes in the oven. When done, the sides of the pudding will be set. However, the center should still look and feel a little gooey. Don’t be concerned if a skewer inserted into the center of the pudding comes out with a few crumbs attached. In fact, that’s what you want!
bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: What You Need To Make Bread Pudding

I don’t have a 9-inch square pan. Can I use an 8-inch square pan instead?

Absolutely! This bread pudding recipe also works in an 8-inch square pan. However, you may need to add 5 minutes to the recipe’s bake time. A smaller cake pan means that the pudding will be slightly thicker; as a result, it needs a few more minutes in the oven.

Hm, I don’t have either a 9-inch OR 8-inch square pan. What can I use instead?

No worries! This bread pudding recipe also works in a ceramic or glass baking dish that holds between 1 to 2 quarts of food. Like the one I use in these pictures! My ceramic casserole dish measures roughly 7 x 10 inches and holds 1.25 quarts of food.

FAQ: Questions About Recipe Techniques

Help! I want to make this recipe but don’t have stale bread. What can I do?

Great question! I sometimes make stale bread for recipes by laying out slices of the bread on a wire rack and letting it sit uncovered overnight. The next day, the bread is pretty stale already! You can also speed up the process by placing it in front of a fan (though sometimes, if the bread is too light, it can blow away—so watch out!). Another friend of mine swears that putting the bread slices on a wire rack in the fridge overnight yields even better results, too.

If you don’t want to wait overnight, you can “toast” the bread to help dry it out. Slice the bread into 1- to 1 ½- inch cubes. Place the cubes on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350ºF for about 20 minutes, turning the cubes halfway through the bake time to promote even toasting.

Can I make the recipe the day before I’m planning on serving it?

Yes! In fact, doing so yields an even more delicious bread pudding since you allow the bread more time to absorb the pudding. To turn this into a “make ahead” recipe, follow the recipe instructions to make the bourbon sauce and pudding, soak the bread cubes, and assemble the bread pudding. However, instead of baking the bread pudding, simply cover the top of the cake pan with a tight layer of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to bake. The unbaked bread pudding will keep for around 24 hours in the fridge.

FAQ: Serving Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

What temperature do you serve bread pudding at?

My preference is to serve bread pudding while it’s still warm, about 20 minutes after pulling it out the oven. But that being said, this bread pudding also tastes great at room temperature, or even chilled in the fridge. You do you!

What do you serve bread pudding with?

Although this bread pudding recipe comes with a side of bourbon sauce, you can also serve it with a pour of heavy cream, a dollop of whipped cream, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream! Again, you do you—it’s going to be delicious no matter what.

FAQ: Storing Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

How To Store Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Serve the bread pudding warm or at room temperature, with a side of the remaining ⅓ bourbon sauce. You can serve it in its baking dish, or pre-slice the pudding into squares for serving. The pudding will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day. After that, transfer to the refrigerator and refrigerate for up to 2 more days.

Can you freeze bread pudding with bourbon sauce?

Yes, with reservations. This recipe instructs you to dress the bread pudding three times with the bourbon sauce. First, it instructs you to pour ⅓ of the sauce into the bottom of the baking pan. Then, it instructs you to drizzle ⅓ of the sauce over the bread pudding before baking. Finally, it instructs you to serve the baked bread pudding with the remaining sauce.

If you plan on freezing the bread pudding, I recommend skipping the second and third pours of bourbon sauce. If you freeze the pudding after pouring the sauce on top, it will make the bread pudding overly soggy when you rewarm it.

To freeze bread pudding, tightly wrap the baking dish in two layers of plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 3 months. To serve and rewarm, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then for an hour at room temperature. Rewarm in the oven at 350ºF for about 20 minutes. Be extra careful when using a glass or ceramic pan—these types of pans are sensitive to sudden temperature changes. A cold pan can shatter if placed in a warm oven. Be sure to thaw the dish so that it’s close to room temperature when you place it in the oven for rewarming!

bread pudding with bourbon sauce

Best Recipe Tips

Best Ingredient Tip

  • Use a serrated knife with a sharp blade to slice the bread into 1- and 1 ½- inch cubes. Don’t worry about being too precise—the bread eventually gets mashed together! If you don’t have a digital food scale at home, you need around 7 to 8 cups of bread cubes for this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.

Best Serving Tip

  • The remaining bourbon sauce tends to harden and crystallize the longer it sits. Be sure to rewarm it slightly—either in the microwave or in a small sauce pot on the stovetop—before serving as a side with the rest of the bread pudding.

More Pudding Desserts

Get the Recipe: Bread Pudding with Brown Butter Bourbon Sauce

This bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe layers the bread pudding with multiple layers of bourbon sauce, resulting in a super flavorful pudding with a sugar crust!
(5 stars) 18 reviews
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Ingredients

For the Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) Land O Lakes® Salted Butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup tightly packed (7.5 ounces or 213 grams) light OR dark brown sugar
  • cup (2.65 ounces or 75 grams) bourbon whiskey
  • 4 large eggs
  • cup (2.35 ounces or 67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (16 ounces or 454 grams) whole milk
  • 16 ounces (454 grams) stale white bread cubes

Instructions
 

For the Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

  • First, make the bourbon sauce. In a light-colored saucepan, melt the Land O Lakes® Salted Butter over medium-low heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it starts to foam. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan occasionally to prevent the milk solids in the butter from burning. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the butter smells nutty and is amber with dark flecks at the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the brown sugar and bourbon whiskey. Set on a wire rack to cool while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Prep your oven and pan. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.
  • Make the pudding. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk until combined. Gradually add the milk and whisk until combined.
  • Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour the pudding mixture over the bread and use a rubber spatula to gently toss the bread until all bread is moistened.
  • Assemble the bread pudding. Pour ⅓ of the bourbon sauce into the prepared cake pan. Pick up the pan and tilt it from side to side to spread the bourbon sauce across the bottom of the pan. Scoop the bread into the prepared pan and pour any remaining pudding mixture over it. Drizzle another ⅓ of the bourbon sauce over the bread. Use a rubber spatula to press gently on the bread to help it absorb the liquid.
  • Bake the bread pudding. Bake the pudding for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the sides of the pudding is set but the center still wobbles slightly. A skewer inserted into the center of the pudding should come out with a few crumbs attached.
  • Serve and store. Serve the bread pudding warm or at room temperature, with a side of the remaining ⅓ bourbon sauce. You can serve it in its baking dish, or pre-slice the pudding into squares for serving. The pudding will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day. After that, transfer to the refrigerator and refrigerate for up to 2 more days.

Notes

  • Use a serrated knife with a sharp tip to slice the bread into 1- and 1 ½ inch cubes. Don’t worry about being too precise—the bread eventually gets mashed together! If you don’t have a digital food scale at home, you need around 7 to 8 cups of bread cubes for this bread pudding with bourbon sauce recipe.
  • The remaining bourbon sauce tends to harden and crystallize the longer it sits. Be sure to rewarm it slightly—either in the microwave or in a small sauce pot on the stovetop—before serving as a side with the rest of the bread pudding.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.