This gluten-free bread pudding is sweet, moist and the perfect dessert, brunch or breakfast treat. Easy, dairy-free options are included in the recipe.
The Best Bread for Gluten-Free Bread Pudding
The best bread is one that is slightly sweet and will allow for big chunks of bread that will absorb the delicious egg custard. Here are the best gluten-free options:
- Gluten-free bagels work so well because they are a hearty bread that holds up well when soaked in the custard. Four or five bagels is about the right amount for this recipe. I used Canyon Bakehouse plain bagels.
- Gluten-free hot dog or hamburger buns – Udi’s hold up very well. But the best, if you can find them is Rudi’s gluten-free Brioche Hamburger Buns. They are buttery, sweet and perfect for bread pudding.
- Gluten-free baguette – Against the Grain Gourmet baguettes are the absolute best! They are chewy (not crumbly like nay gf breads) and so delish! Udi’s and Schar also have gluten-free baguettes that will work too.
- Sliced gluten-free bread is not the best option for bread pudding unless you can find one that has very thick slices or you make your own and cut 2 inch slices. Otherwise I recommend one of the above options.
What is Bread Pudding?
Bread pudding is essentially a casserole dish of stale or toasted bread with a custard (egg and milk). It is important that the bread is stale or toasted, so that it can absorb the custard without turning to mush.
I kept the flavor of this bread pudding relatively neutral with a good dose of vanilla. But, the custard can be flavored in so many ways. See below for some options.
Bread Pudding Flavors
Cinnamon, warm spices, coffee and chocolate are excellent additions. These flavors can be additions to the pudding itself or put in a sauce to be poured on when served. Here’s how you can easily add some different flavors to the bread pudding:
- Pumpkin Spice – Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon to the custard mixture. Or use 1 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice blend instead.
- Coffee – Dissolve 1 tsp instant coffee granules with the milk. Or add 1/2 tsp espresso powder to the custard.
- Chocolate Chip – Add 3/4 cup chocolate chips or 1 cup chocolate chunks.
- Cranberry – Orange is perfect for an autumn or holiday brunch. Replace one quarter cup of the milk/cream with 1/4 cup orange juice. Add one cup dried cranberries and the zest of one orange.
How to Make Moist Bread Pudding
It is surprising how many recipes exist out there in the web-verse that instruct you to mix the bread with the liquid, pour it into the pan and send it right to the oven. This will create a dry bread surrounded by cooked custard.
In a proper bread pudding, the bread is supposed to be soaked through with the custard mixture. This means mixing the bread with the custard and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes. This way, the bread cubes will absorb the liquid all the way through and once baked, will be moist, fluffy and flavored with whatever you put in the custard.
The amount of time needed to soak the bread will depend on the size of the bread cubes and how dry they are to begin with. If your bread cubes are as dry as croutons you might need 45 minutes to an hour. Smaller and slightly less dry cubes will need 30 to 40 minutes.
You’ll know that the mixture is ready to go into the pan when you can squeeze a bread cube and not feel a dense hard center.
What to serve with bread pudding
Bread pudding is traditionally served with a boozy sauce that uses rum or whiskey. See my list of bread pudding sauces above.
In addition to a sauce, bread pudding is wonderful with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, fruit compote, hot fudge or chocolate sauce.
Moist, Sweet Gluten-Free Bread Pudding
- 6 c 2" cubes of gluten-free bread (see suggestions above for type of bread)
- 1½ c milk or dairy-free milk substitute
- ½ c heavy cream or plant-based cream sub (Nut Pods is great) or evaporated coconut milk
- 4 large eggs
- ⅔ c sugar
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or plant based butter sub (Miyoko's is excellent)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract, powder or bean paste
- Grease an 8" square pan or small oblong pan (about 7×10") with butter.
- The bread cubes need to be either stale or toasted. You can leave them on a pan spread out in a single layer and leave out for 24 hours. Or spread the cubes out in a single layer on one or two sheet pans and bake at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cubes are dark golden brown.
- Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
- While beating, pour in the melted butter and mix until incorporated.
- Add the bread cubes and stir for a full minute to be sure that all the bread is coated.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes stirring every so often. At 30 minutes, test one bread cube by squeezing gently. If it feels like it has a dense hard center, continue letting them soak. If it is mostly soft, it is ready to bake.
- Transfer to the greased pan and bake for 45 minutes.
- Once cooled, keep this bread pudding refrigerated. It should stay moist and delicious for at least 3 days.