Weeknight Cooking

12 Magical Ways to Transform Bread Into Dessert

Our best bread desserts from Nutella bread pudding to fried bread and "French toast crunch."

March 24, 2020

Now more than ever, home is where many of us are seeking refuge and solace in light of the novel coronavirus. This is a tough time, but we’re here for you—whether it’s a new pantry recipe or a useful tip for your kitchen, here are some ideas to make things run a little more smoothly for you and your loved ones.

On many occasions, baking a multi-step layer cake or whipping a creamy semifreddo is an accomplished and therapeutic process. On other days, when your life has thrown one too many curveballs, the most you can muster is to pour a glass of milk to go with that stale box of chocolate wafers sitting on top of your fridge.

This is where the everyman bread steps in, rescuing you from jumping ship on dessert. The following recipes cleverly transform your favorite pantry staple into treats worthy of any occasion—especially dinner.

Our Best Bread Desserts

1. Nutella Bread Pudding With Blackberry Coulis by Eric Kim

Leftover bread makes for the most luscious chocolate-hazelnut bread pudding, here bound together by a custardy cream mixture that couldn't be easier to whip up. The blackberry coulis (which just means strained fruit sauce) is optional, but tastes great against the rich, chocolatey base.

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Nutella Bread Pudding With Blackberry Coulis

2. Panetón & Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding by Carlos Olaechea

Recipe author Carlos Olaechea recommends these brands of South American panettone, aka panetón: D’Onofrio, Winter’s, Gloria, and Motta, but mentions that Brazilian brands like Bauducco might be easier to find stateside. Regardless of what kind of stale bread you use, it's the hot chocolate sauce—spiked with Peruvian pisco—that really makes this dish.

Panetón & Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding

3. Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch by Genius Recipes

Here's milk toast, but way dressed up. Genius Recipes columnist Kristen Miglore describes this dish as a cross between French toast, tres leches cake, and creme brûlée. Sounds good to us!

Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch

4. Berry Summer Pudding by Merrill Stubbs

"If you've never had summer pudding, now's the time," says our co-founder and president, Merrill Stubbs. If there's a purer celebration not just of summer, but also of the adage "waste not, want not," then we have yet to find it.

Berry Summer Pudding

5. Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches by Alice Medrich

Baker-slash-genius Alice Medrich gave us this salty-sweet wonder of a bread dessert recipe back in 2014—and we've never looked back.

Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches

6. Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha by Genius Recipes

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover croissants. It all starts with honey butter, which helps the cut sides of a stale croissant get caramelized and toasty in the pan.

Alex Raij's Croissants a la Plancha

7. Marmalade Bread Pudding by Izy Hossack

No one in the history of the universe ever said "no" to another bread pudding recipe. This one, by recipe author Izy Hossak, is pretty barebones and pantry-friendly—you just need a good orange marmalade (or other fruit jam) of your choice.

Marmalade Bread Pudding

8. Pane Fritto (Fried Bread) by Emiko

Florence-based food writer Emiko Davies brings us this Italian dream: milk-soaked bread fried in butter. "Think of it as French toast," she writes, "but with a few small tricks."

Pane Fritto (Fried Bread)

9. Oozy Cherries Bread & Butter Pudding by HungryLarder

The recipe calls for brioche, but you could use whatever leftover bread you have lying around. As the cinnamon-spiced top bakes with the juicy cherries beneath, this bread dessert becomes a gooey, comforting treat.

Oozy Cherries Bread and Butter Pudding

10. Croissant Brittle by Emma Laperruque

This three-ingredient recipe from Big Little Recipes columnist Emma Laperruque calls for stale croissants, half-and-half, and sugar. That's it. The magic is what happens as the sugar and half-and-half–soaked croissant pieces bake in the oven—hardening, caramelizing, becoming the best thing you'll ever eat.

Croissant Brittle

11. Persimmon Walnut Bread Pudding by Melina Hammer

Leftover challah utterly transforms in this special bread pudding recipe. It has all of the familiar notes of a traditional bread pudding, but with a couple exciting twists: 1) lemony mascarpone and 2) sweet, ripe persimmons in the custard center. Yes, please.

12. Challah Bread Pudding With Raspberries by Kendra Vaculin

Another challah wonder that proves yet again that sometimes, simple is best. Bright, juicy raspberries work especially well here with the soft-bellied, cinnamon and vanilla–spiced comfort beneath.

Challah Bread Pudding with Raspberries

This article was originally published in 2014, but has since been updated with new recipes for all your pantry dessert needs.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Aditi
  • MMR
  • Robin Jacobs
    Robin Jacobs
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
Student, aimless wanderer of grocery store aisles, almond butter's number one fan.


Aditi May 13, 2020
When I was growing up, my family used to make a really easy, no-cook sort of trifle with bread: make fine breadcrumbs, mix with cocoa powder and sugar, layer in a dish with unwhipped cream, and chill for a few hours. I was always surprised by how lux it came out - the bread layer would absorb the cream a bit and become like a layer of chocolate cake.
MMR March 25, 2020
Great roundup with one big omission, this is my go to dessert in the winter and my husband’s absolute favorite:

Robin J. June 11, 2014
Bread lover's Nirvana!!!
Kenzi W. June 6, 2014
I love everything about this roundup.