Looking for a fun new twist on regular old bread pudding? Why not boost the deep sticky sweet flavor by indulging in this Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce?
The easy bread pudding base is the perfect vessel for the caramel sauce, culminating in a moist, sweet, and slightly nutty flavored dessert. This recipe will teach you how to make your own sauce for bread pudding, but you can also easily buy caramel sauce at the store.
This recipe includes a full bread pudding recipe as well as an optional recipe for caramel sauce. If you would rather buy caramel sauce at the store to pour over your bread pudding you absolutely can!
And if you want to make this recipe vegan, opt for plant-based milk and butter in the recipe included on use this vegan caramel sauce recipe, and use this base recipe for Vegan Bread Pudding.
As an environmental scientist, I always have the issue of food waste front of mind. And when avoiding food waste tastes this delicious, I think it’s something we can all very easily get behind.
Green tip: Bread is one of the most wasted food products in the U.S. because of our tendency to throw it out as soon as it’s stale. Reduce your contribution to food waste by re-vamping your stale bread with this Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce!
Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce Ingredients
Here’s everything you need for the bread pudding:
- Stale bread. Truly any old bread will do, but preferably white, challah, brioche, or French bread.
- Eggs. For binding and leavening.
- Milk. For moisture.
- Unsalted butter. Melted, for buttery flavor.
- Vanilla extract. For subtle vanilla flavor.
- Granulated sugar. For sweetness.
You can buy caramel to pour on top of your bread pudding at the store, or you can make your own! If you’re making your own caramel sauce, here is everything you need:
- Granulated sugar. The main ingredient in any caramel!
- Unsalted butter. For thickening and taste.
- Milk. To get the right consistency.
- Salt. To ramp up the flavor.
Caramel Bread Pudding Tips and Tricks
Melt the Butter First
The first step is to melt your butter, so it has time to cool before you add it to your mixture. If you add the melted butter right away when it’s too hot, you may be risking curdling your milk or scrambling your eggs.
You can melt the butter over the stove, melt it in the oven, or if you want to keep it super simple like me, just melt it quickly in the microwave!
Add the butter to a microwave-safe bowl (I just use my Pyrex measuring cup) and microwave on high in 20-second intervals. Stir in between each heating and continue to microwave until the butter completely liquefies.
Once your butter is completely melted, set it aside to cool while you mix up the rest of your ingredients.
Green tip: Look for organic and palm oil-free vegan butter if you can. Buying organic means you are supporting farms that do not use damaging pesticides and fertilizers, and palm oil production is a huge driver behind deforestation.
Mix Your Wet Ingredients
Whisk together your milk, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, and the cooled melted butter in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk until your yolks are broken, and everything is well-combined before adding your bread.
Fold in Your Bread
Cut your bread into small cubes to allow each piece of bread to absorb more of your mixture, giving it that melt-in-your-mouth consistency and ensuring every bite is full of flavor.
Though really any type of bread can be used for bread pudding, white bread, challah, brioche, or French bread are preferred. These variations are typically best because they are milder and subtly sweet in flavor, making them perfect for a bread-y dessert!
Still, no matter what type of bread you use, it’s actually best if it’s at least a day old or preferably stale.
This will give you the optimal consistency after it soaks up all of your liquid, whereas fresh bread may get a little too soggy.
Cutting your bread into cubes is easy! If your loaf of bread is whole, cut it into sandwich-style slices about 1-inch thick.
If your bread is already sliced, it’s as easy as cutting it into 4 parts vertically, then rotating it and slicing it roughly into thirds to form little bread cubes.
You can stack your bread and slice multiple at a time to make the process quicker, but I wouldn’t recommend tackling more than 4 slices at once.
Once you slice your bread into cubes, add it to your liquid mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold your bread into your mixture, ensuring every cube is completely coated.
At this point, you will have a very wet mixture. The bread will soak up any excess liquid as it bakes.
Transfer to a Casserole Dish
Once you’ve mixed all your bread pudding ingredients together, transfer them to a casserole dish.
I used a 13.5″ long oval baking dish in the bread pudding pictured, but you can also easily use a 13″ x 9″ rectangular baking dish or 11.5″ x 11.5″ square dish.
No need to spray, line, or butter your casserole dish. The small amount of butter and fat from the milk is enough to ensure your bread pudding won’t stick to your dish.
Get Started on Your Caramel Sauce
Start by Melting and Browning Your Sugar
Add your granulated sugar to a saucepan or large pot over medium heat. The sugar will start to melt and clump.
Then, as you continue to heat, it will start to brown and liquefy. Once you notice the sugar starting to brown, use a rubber whisk or spatula to continuously stir.
It’s important to continuously stir and monitor this process closely. If the sugar burns, you will end up with a bitter-tasting caramel.
The only way to avoid burning is to continue to move your sugar so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and heat too quickly.
This process usually takes about 8-10 minutes.
Add the Milk Warm
Before adding the milk, we need to heat it! You can easily do so on the stove over low heat until you notice steam start to rise out of the pan. I usually just use the microwave to heat the milk because I find it much easier.
To heat the milk in the microwave, add it to a microwave-safe container (I just use my Pyrex measuring cup), and microwave for 30 seconds on high until you see steam coming off the milk.
Once your sugar is melted and browned, turn the heat source off, but keep the saucepan or pot on the stove, so it’s still getting the residual heat.
Slowly add the milk while you are simultaneously stirring. The milk will cause the sugar mixture to bubble which can sometimes cause some splatter. Be careful—it’s very hot!
If you notice any separation in the sugar crystals (it will appear grainy!), then remove from heat and whisk vigorously until it’s smooth before placing your saucepan or pot back down on the still-hot stove.
Add the Butter Next
Once your milk is fully integrated, you’re ready to add the butter!
Place the butter directly in the saucepan or pot and continue to stir until the butter is completely melted and integrated into the browned sugar and milk mixture.
Once your mixture is thick and smooth, remove from heat and add the salt. The whole caramel sauce should come together in 10-12 minutes.
Serving Your Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
This Bread Pudding with Caramel sauce is best served warm. Caramel solidifies as it cools, so can be a little sticky on your teeth when it’s too cold.
Should You Have Leftovers
This Caramel Bread Pudding will last up to 5 days in a sealed airtight container if store in the refrigerator. Reheat it easily in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until nice and warm.
The bread pudding itself can also be frozen for up to two months, but only before adding the caramel sauce! If you do freeze your bread pudding, allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge to defrost.
As for the Caramel Sauce, it will last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It does solidify when it is cold, so just heat it up either on the stove or in the microwave on high for 45-60 seconds.
Caramel sauce can be served with more than just bread pudding. It’s delicious as a dip for apple slices or pretzels, is great poured over ice cream or baked goods like brownies, or even on popcorn!
Green tip: Of the billions of tons of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of food waste happens at home. Minimize your contribution to food waste by properly storing your leftovers so you can enjoy them later!
Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce Frequently Asked Questions
What is caramel sauce made from?
The main ingredient in caramel is granulated sugar which is melted and browned. Caramel sauce also typically has butter, heavy cream or milk, and salt.
The caramel sauce in this recipe uses milk rather than heavy cream because it’s just a little easier on digestion and can also easily be made dairy-free by substituting unsweetened plant-based milk.
Why do they call it bread pudding?
This delicious caramel sauce gets its name from its main ingredient: stale bread. Pudding is a term often used to describe any dessert, and bread pudding is especially moist when it’s baked and drenched in caramel sauce, making “pudding” the perfect descriptor.
Why You Should Make this Easy Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
- It’s moist. This tender bread pudding absolutely melts in your mouth.
- It’s flavorful. Delicious enough on its own, the caramel sauce is just the cherry on top of an already decadent dessert.
- It’s resourceful! Don’t toss your stale bread—make this next-level treat instead!
If you’re loving this Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and want more bread pudding, check out this Moist Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chips or swap out the Caramel Sauce in this recipe for this Brandy Sauce.
Easy Bread Pudding with Caramel SaucePRINT PIN RATE
- Pyrex Measuring Cup (optional)
- Rubber Whisk *or*
Classic Bread Pudding
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 slices stale bread (preferably white, challah, brioche, or French)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups milk (dairy or unsweetened non-dairy)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup caramel sauce (storebought or homemade by using recipe below)
Caramel Sauce for Bread Pudding
- ⅓ cup milk (dairy or unsweetened nondairy)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Classic Bread Pudding
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Melt your butter on the stove or by microwaving on high in 20-second intervals, stirring in between until completely liquefied. Set melted butter aside to cool.
- Cut your bread into cubes, about 1-inch long on each side, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and your cooled melted butter.
- Fold in your cubed bread and stir to coat. At this point, it should be a wet mixture with a little excess liquid.
- Transfer the bread mixture to a baking dish. You can use a 13.5-inch oval, an 11.5-inch square, or a 13 x 9-inch rectangular casserole dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top starts to turn golden brown.
- Pour caramel sauce over top while it's still warm and allow it to sink into the bread pudding as it cools. You can use storebought caramel sauce or whip up the homemade caramel sauce below while your bread pudding is baking.
Caramel Sauce for Bread Pudding
- Meanwhile, heat the milk either over the stove on low or in a microwave-safe glass (I just use my Pyrex measuring cup) for 45 seconds, until you see steam coming off the milk.
- Add the sugar to a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Stir very occasionally until the sugar starts to form clumps.
- Once the sugar starts to clump, continuously stir with a rubber whisk or spatula until it liquefies and starts to brown. Continue to stir to ensure it does not burn.
- Turn the stove off but keep the saucepan or pot on the burner. Continue to stir and slowly add the warm milk to the sugar. When you add the milk, it will vigorously bubble. Be careful of hot splatter!
- Once the milk is integrated into the caramelized sugar, add the butter and continue to stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in salt.
- This Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Extra caramel sauce will last up to 3 weeks.
- For more great ideas on how to breathe new life into stale bread, check out these amazing stale bread recipes.