Bread pudding is something that I spent a good chunk of my life disliking because it felt like a french toast casserole, too eggy with a funny texture. And, if you're looking for a really custardy bread pudding that you can serve in pretty slices, this isn't the bread pudding for you. This bourbon pecan bread pudding keeps the integrity of the bread, having the bread meld with the custard base to create a beautiful texture that still has some chew. Add in the sweet-bourbon burst of raisins and the crunch of pecans, and this is my picture perfect version of bread pudding.
What is bread pudding?
Bread pudding takes a pudding/custard base (eggs + sugar + milk) and inserts it into stale bread, then you bake it like a casserole. Think of it almost like a really massive version of French toast, but way better. A lot of people really lean into that custard version of bread pudding where it's super soft, melt in your mouth texture. I, personally, cannot stand it. If that's what you like, there are so many recipes on the internet that do a really good job of that version. This is not one of them. I love a bread pudding that keeps the bite (and shape!) of the bread. This leans to a little bit firmer (but still moist and decadent!) version of bread pudding.
What bread should I use?
A stale bread is the best bread! I prefer to use a bit drier, heartier bread. Babka and challah are my favorite. I actually used babka in the batch I made for this post. Brioche is great, but only after it has really dried out. French bread is also a good option. I don't love grocery store style loaf bread. It's super soft, and it doesn't keep its integrity after it's been soaked in the liquid. If you really want to loose the individual bread pieces, then go with something like a loaf of white bread. If you want to keep the bites clearly defined, I would recommend one of the others listed above.
What if my bread isn't stale? Can I toast it?
For the pictures you see here, I used two loaves (which comes out to be about 15 cups) of my Buttermilk Babka. Because I made the bread pudding the day after I made the babka, it hadn't had a chance to dry out, yet. So, I cut it into 1" squares. Then, I spread the squares into a single layer on a lined baking sheet and baked at 250F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
What do I add to my bread pudding?
- Raisins are a staple, but you can also dice up some prunes. I actually prefer it with prunes because they pair really well with bourbon.
- Nuts are also important! That smooth texture of the "pudding" needs the added crunch of a pecan or walnut. Plus, the nuttiness helps balance the rich, creamy flavor of everything else.
- Chocolate! Seriously, add some chocolate chips. You can thank me later!
- Fruit! Think bananas, apples, and so on. Both of these fruits would pair really well with the bourbon in this recipe and would add extra flavor/moisture to the end result.
I hope y'all enjoy this bourbon pecan bread pudding! Leave a comment below if you make it with any additional add-ins, would love to hear your versions!
Love and butter--Kristi
Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding
- 5 cups stale or dried chunks of bread
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup bourbon (Plus ¼ cup for raisin soak)
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a bowl, cover the raisins in ¼ cup of bourbon. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar vigorously until frothy. Stir in milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and bourbon. Add in bread, folding until fully coated. Let sit for 10 minutes, gently folding the bread in the bowl so that all pieces are evenly saturated. Repeat twice, letting it sit for a total of 30 minutes.
- Grease a large casserole pan, layering in a single layer of soaked bread. Add in a sprinkle of pecans and raisins until the bread is finished. Bake for 40-50 minutes. You should be able to insert a knife and have it come out clean. Top with powdered sugar and whip cream and enjoy.