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An easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Sauce! The pudding is moist and flavorful, and the creamy, sweet maple Bourbon sauce pulls all the flavors together.
You will love this pumpkin bread pudding custard spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger! Inside there are bourbon-soaked tart cherries, which balance the sweet custard, and on top, a crunchy bread topping contrasts nicely with the creamy pudding. A symphony of textures and flavors.
Table of Contents
- Why You Will Love the Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Professional Tips for Making Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Ingredients Needed
- Possible Substitutions
- Possible Variations
- How to Make Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
- Make ahead instructions for Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Pumpkin Bread Pudding Recipe
- Before You Go
Why You Will Love the Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Perfect pumpkin spice flavor. The custard base has 1 cup of pumpkin puree and a perfect blend of spices! The brown sugar adds sweetness with a hint of molasses!
- Rich, moist and easy. There is the perfect amount of custard for the bread, so you know that all you have to do is let it soak and bake it until it’s set. No more dry bread pudding!
- A crunchy, sugared cinnamon topping. My professional pastry chef secret is tossing some extra bread in cinnamon, sugar and butter for a crispy sweet topping. It provides the perfect textural contrast!
- An easy maple Bourbon cream sauce to beat all sauces. Bread pudding is delightful all on its own or with a simple vanilla anglaise; however, this silky maple Bourbon sauce heightens the pumpkin spice flavor and adds so much more complexity!
Professional Tips for Making Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Pick the right bread. I love Challah or brioche bread in pumpkin bread pudding because of their flavor, texture, and crust. Dense, whole-wheat breads are not a good choice because they make the pudding heavy.
- Allow the bread to dry out a bit. It will absorb the moisture faster and helps it not dissolve into one dense, mass. Even just letting the cubed bread sit out on the counter for a few hours works!
- I cut my bread into ½ – ¾ inch cubes. The larger pieces allow the custard to soak into the bread and create a cohesive pudding, but keep it from blending together into one solid brick.
- Keep the crusts on. This is not a PB&J, the crust has a function here: it doesn’t absorb as much of the custard so it will provide a different texture.
- Cubed Bread: I prefer brioche, challah or a soft white bread for bread pudding. The bread does add flavor!
- Milk: I use 2% milk in this bread pudding to keep a little of the milk flavor and fat. You could use nonfat or whole milk. The more fat, the richer the custard!
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream adds a richness to the bread pudding and it has a little natural sweetness. The fat in it makes for a thicker pudding with a smooth texture.
- Pumpkin Puree: Homemade or canned is fine! Just be sure homemade puree is well drained. Buy a couple cans, so you can also make a homemade pumpkin cake this season!
- Light Brown Sugar: Using light brown sugar adds sweetness along with a pleasant light molasses flavor.
- Whole Egg: The egg in a baked custard is integral to thickening the custard.
- Kosher Salt: The kosher salt will enhance all the flavors, don’t skip it!
- Spices: You can use my pumpkin spice recipe or the individual spice measurements in the recipe card. I use freshly grated nutmeg for the flavor.
- Bourbon: You can definitely taste the Bourbon in this bread pudding and sauce, so choose one that you enjoy. If you don’t like the taste of raw Bourbon, then choose one with an aroma that suits you.
- Chopped Pecans: I do not pre-toast my pecans because the oven temperature is high enough that they will toast in the oven.
- Dried Tart Cherries: Feel free to omit these or use raisins instead! I love the dried tart cherry flavor with pumpkin and spice. It cuts some of the sweetness and just adds a little something extra.
- Butter: Melted butter holds the sugar and spice on the crunchy bread topping.
- Maple syrup: Use Grade A robust flavor for the maple Bourbon sauce. I know it’s a splurge, but it’s worth it!
- You can use pumpkin pie spice instead. This pudding is also delicious with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice. I use my pumpkin spice recipe!
- Half and half. You can substitute 3 cups of half and half for all the cream and milk. You can also substitute whole milk for the 2% or non-dairy milk and cream.
- Homemade pumpkin puree will also work. Just be sure to drain it overnight so that it doesn’t add too much additional moisture, or you will get a soggy pudding.
- Eliminate the alcohol. Simply omit the Bourbon in the custard and add an additional ¼ cup milk.
- Make the pudding with pumpkin bread. Use a mixture of challah and pumpkin bread in this pumpkin bread pudding instead! It will be extra rich and decadent.
- Bake it in individual ramekins. Portion the pudding between buttered ramekins for individual desserts!
- Serve it with a different sauce. Serve this pumpkin bread pudding with the hard sauce from my easy bread pudding recipe, vanilla anglaise, vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel sauce, salted maple caramel sauce or even butterscotch sauce!
How to Make Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Use these instructions to make easy pumpkin bread pudding with Bourbon sauce! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Make the Bread Pudding:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F.
Step 2: Microwave Bourbon and cherries on high in a small bowl for 1 minute. Set aside to cool. This will infuse the cherries with the Bourbon. It is optional.
Step 3: In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Whisk in milk, cream, pumpkin puree, sugar and spices until incorporated. Add any Bourbon that was not absorbed by the cherries.
In the professional kitchen I make large batches of bread pudding base by blending all the ingredients for the base with an immersion blender (stick blender), or you could use a regular blender.
Step 4: Add the 5 cups of the cubed bread to the custard and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until all of the bread is coated and has started to absorb the liquid. Pour carefully into an 8 inch square baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
Alternately, you could place the prepped pudding in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 5: Prepare the sugared topping while the pudding rests. In a small bowl mix sugar, butter, cinnamon, kosher salt and pecans together. Add the bread and toss to coat. Distribute on top of the pudding, pressing down slightly so that the larger pieces are partially submerged.
Step 6: Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the custard is set and jiggles like cheesecake. I like to press gently on the center of the pudding, you should feel some resistance.
Step 7: Let cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes prior to serving. You can serve it warm, room temperature or cold. I prefer it warm or room temperature
Make the Bourbon Sauce:
While the pudding is cooking, make the sauce.
Step 8: In a small sauce pot, stir together maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, Bourbon and a small pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Step 9: Reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.
Sauce can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It will separate in the refrigerator, reheat and stir to mix back together. This is the brown sugar’s fault.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
Bread pudding is an incredibly easy dessert, but you want to make sure that the liquid has had enough time to absorb and the pudding is properly baked. Otherwise you will have a dry, sad dessert. More sauce and ice cream can also remedy that!
Make ahead instructions for Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Prepare the pudding through Step 4, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. I always prepare the crispy topping fresh, but the sauce can also be made ahead and refrigerated. Reheat prior to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
Watery bread pudding is mostly likely underbaked. If that happens, just pop it back in the oven until it gives a little resistance when lightly pressed in the center.
Dry bread pudding is a result of over-baking the pudding or under-soaking the bread with the custard. It is best to check that the bread has properly absorbed the custard prior to baking by pressing on it – the bread should not spring back and you should see the custard come out.
Store unbaked bread pudding covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store baked bread pudding well-wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Baked bread pudding can be frozen up to 2 months.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
For the Pudding:
- 5 cups brioche, Challah, or your favorite bread cut into ¾ inch cubes
- 4 whole eggs
- 1 cup 2 % milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie mix
- 1 cup light brown sugar packed
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg I used freshly grated
- ½ cup tart dried cherries or raisins
- ¼ cup Bourbon
For the Crispy Topping:
For the Maple Bourbon Sauce:
Make the Bread Pudding:
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Microwave Bourbon and cherries on high in a small bowl for 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Whisk in milk, cream, pumpkin puree, sugar and spices until incorporated. Add any Bourbon that was not absorbed by the cherries.
- Add the 5 cups of the cubed bread to the custard and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until all of the bread is coated and has started to absorb the liquid. Pour carefully into an 8 inch square baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
- Prepare your topping while your pudding rests: In a small bowl mix sugar, butter, cinnamon, kosher salt and pecans together. Add the bread and toss to coat. Distribute on top of the pudding, pressing down slightly so that the larger pieces are partially submerged.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the custard is set and jiggles like cheesecake. I like to press gently on the center of the pudding, you should feel some resistance.
- Let cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes prior to serving.
- You can serve it warm, room temperature or cold. I prefer it warm or room temperature – after refrigeration, the topping will begin to soften and lose some of its charm.
Make the Bourbon Sauce:
- While the pudding is cooking, make the sauce.
- In a small sauce pot, stir together maple syrup, brown sugar, cream, Bourbon and a small pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving.
- Sauce can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It will separate in the refrigerator, reheat and stir to mix back together. This is the brown sugar’s fault.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed this bread pudding! Check out our other delicious pumpkin recipes!