Easy Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce (or, alcohol-free UnWhiskey Vanilla Butter Sauce) is the very definition of Scrumptious! Recipe is adaptable and foolproof, with variations including: Traditional Cinnamon, Cinnamon-Orange, Cranberry-Orange, and Cranberry White Chocolate.
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Bread pudding is a delicious way to use up old bread. Growing up, if any part of a loaf of bread went stale, my mom would never even think of throwing it out. Waste not, want not. Instead, she would make one of my all-time favorite desserts: bread pudding.
Post Updated April 22, 2020 (Originally published May 6, 2014)
When I grew up, I adopted Mom’s thrifty practice of saving old bread. I keep a large resealable bag in the freezer, and whenever we have a lone slice of bread or a part of a loaf goes stale, I throw the extra bread in the bag. When I have enough, I make bread pudding.
You don’t need to be picky about the kind of breads that go into your bread pudding. (I mean, that’s kind of the point, right?) I do like to use a variety if I have it, though. Don’t be afraid to use breads with unique flavors or textures, either! Rye bread is one of my favorite breads to use.
This Easy Bread Pudding is full of sugar and spice and everything nice – and the recipe almost impossible to flub. The foundation recipe below (i.e., Basic Bread Pudding), even without any additions or sauces, makes a perfectly delicious dessert just as written.
By now though, you probably know that I like Options. I need to change things up from time to time, and bread pudding is no different. I’ve included four of our favorite bread pudding variations on the recipe card below:
- Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding
- Cinnamon-Orange Bread Pudding
- Cranberry-Orange Bread Pudding
- Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding
It all just depends upon the extras you throw in.
Once you master the basic recipe, you’ll find yourself coming up with all kinds of combinations of your own.
Easy Bread Pudding (4 Ways)
Basic Bread Pudding
- 1 pound day-old bread roughly 10 cups, cubed
- 7 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white
- 4 cups milk or half & half
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 batch Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce OPTIONAL: SEE NOTES | or Cinnamon-Orange Sauce, or Un-Whiskey Sauce
For Traditional Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding
- ½ - ¾ cup golden raisins or raisins (As always, raisins are optional)
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon additional
For Cinnamon-Orange Bread Pudding
- ½ cup golden raisins or raisins
- 1½ teaspoons fresh orange zest
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon additional
For Cranberry-Orange Bread Pudding
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- Preheat oven to 325°F [163°C]. Grease a large, heavy baking dish with a thin coating of butter, or spray it with cooking spray. A 10" cast iron skillet is my preferred baking pan for this recipe. However, you can use whatever works best for you: a 9x13 baking or casserole dish is another good choice.
- Cut bread into ¾" - 1" cubes. (You should have roughly 10 cups of bread cubes.)
- Put the bread cubes into buttered baking pan or dish.
- Sprinkle dried fruit and/or baking chips over bread cubes (i.e., raisins, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, etc.). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk 7 eggs until frothy.
- Add sugars to beaten eggs and thoroughly whisk together.
- Whisk in ground spices (i.e., cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg), salt, and vanilla. If you are using orange zest, mix it now as well.
- Mixture should be a thick, eggy syrup right now.
- Stir in milk (or half & half).
- Pour the egg mixture over the bread cube mixture in the pan.
- Press it down a little with your hands. You should see a little of the liquid rise up in between the bread cubes.At this point, if the bread pudding seems really dry, I will mix up another egg with about 3/4 cup of milk and drizzle that over the top. It really depends on the density of the bread you are using.
- Allow everything to rest for about 20 minutes to give the bread cubes time to absorb the egg mixture.
- Bake 45-60 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the bread pudding – it should come out clean.
- Allow bread pudding to cool on a wire rack. I usually loosely tent it with aluminum foil to keep it from losing too much moisture as it cools.
- When bread pudding has mostly cooled, drizzle with ⅔ of the cooled, prepared Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce. Reserve the last ⅓ of the sauce.
- When you are ready to serve the bread pudding, heat the reserve sauce slightly and serve on the side as you would syrup for pancakes.
- Refrigerate any leftovers.
Basic Whiskey Butter Sauce Recipe
My mom never made a sauce for our bread pudding when I was a kid (hers was heavenly all by itself), so I didn’t discover spirit-infused butter sauce until I was in my late twenties.
Back then, we used to stop at a sweet little diner down in Netarts (if I remember right) on the Oregon Coast, just for their bread pudding. I can still remember the first time a warm piece of bread pudding arrived at our table soaked with decadent, buttery rum sauce – Oh.My.Gosh!
Ever since, I’ve always enjoyed a spirited butter sauce with my bread pudding. (As if it isn’t already decadent enough!)
Topping off this Easy Bread Pudding recipe is an amazing Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce. Like my Easy Bread Pudding recipe, this basic butter sauce recipe can be adapted as desired.
Variations listed on the recipe card include Cinnamon-Orange Whiskey Butter Sauce, and an alcohol-free Un-Whiskey Vanilla Butter Sauce.
Pro Tip: Substitute rum for whiskey, and Boom! You’ve got Rum Sauce!
Cinnamon Whiskey Butter Sauce for Bread Pudding
- Heavy Medium Saucepan
- 1½ cups white sugar
- ¾ cups butter
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 4 ounces cinnamon whiskey [Fireball] OR 2 ounces Spiced Rum, plus 2 ounces cinnamon whiskey (For Cinnamon-Orange and/or alcohol-free options, SEE NOTES)
- ¼ cup half & half or milk, or almond milk
- Put a small, clean plate in the refrigerator.
- Put sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Set pan on burner, and then turn burner on LOW.
- Stir over low heat until mixture begins to boil.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a full, rolling boil. (A boil that cannot be stirred down.)
- Remove from heat and stir in alcohol. Step back from pan for a moment. Mixture will bubble up almost immediately and release all of alcohol. DO NOT have your face directly over the pan when you add the alcohol. All of this happens very quickly, and you can get a nasty steam burn if you stand too close.
- Take the plate out of the refrigerator. Drop a teaspoon of sauce on the plate, and determine if the sauce on the plate is thick enough for your tastes.
- If the sauce is thick enough for you, move on to the next step. If you would like your sauce to be thicker, return to the pan to the stove over MEDIUM-LOW. Stirring constantly, allow it to reduce for a few more minutes. Try the plate test again.
- When you are satisfied with the thickness of your sauce, pour it into a clean container and allow it to cool.
- Serve sauce over warm bread pudding.
Cinnamon-Orange Whiskey Butter Sauce
- Use 2 ounces of cinnamon whiskey, plus 2 ounces of plain whiskey, plus 1 teaspoon orange zest.
- OR, Use 2 ounces of cinnamon whiskey, plus 2 ounces of Grand Marnier.
Un-Whiskey Vanilla Butter SauceAll of the alcohol cooks out of this sauce when made as directed. However, if you prefer not to use alcohol in your cooking at all:
- Omit all alcohol
- Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon when you add the sugar.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla when you remove the sauce from the heat.
If dessert sauces are something you crave, checkout our round-up of caramel and butterscotch recipes! (And find out what the difference between them is, too!)
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