Why I Make Thomas Keller's Bread Pudding Every Thanksgiving

November 20, 2015

Burnt edges make some meals taste better, but not all—and that's why we paired up with If You Care to share a recipe that benefits from a little coverage.

I don't remember when I first started making Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding for Thanksgiving, only that I thought it silly it’d never occurred to me to replace the stock in stuffing with cream and egg yolks and handfuls of cheese. What had we been doing all these years? 

Thomas Keller's Leek Bread Pudding

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I started cooking Thanksgiving at my house early on—when I was 18, I think—and it was good exercise for my cooped-up type-A demons, and an excellent excuse to cook a whole bunch of new recipes not on my own college-poor dime. By then, I’d mastered Keller's 7-yolk pasta dough, and had hopefully dog-eared but not totally used his French Laundry Cookbook. Early experiments included a confusingly complex red pepper coulis I had pushed through a pasta strainer instead of a chinois, hack-happy home cook in the making I was. The red pepper coulis failure I rightfully blamed on myself, so by that logic he really hadn’t let me down yet. Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding was up next. 

This bread pudding was everything its ingredient list promised it would be, which is why it’s become as regular to the holidays as our family squeaking out the Doxology before every meal. I don’t deviate from what Keller instructed that first time, except for one place: When the top starts to brown too fast, and it might, I cover the whole thing with a buttered piece of parchment for shelter.

That same parchment piece then gets shuttled around the oven for the remainder of the cooking day: atop re-warming mash, as a sort of off-kilter hat to the domed apple pie. Another tip? If the oven has room, I’d double the recipe—it’s just as good cold, the next day. 

Thomas Keller's Leek Bread Pudding

Adapted slightly from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home

Serves 12 (as a side)

2 cups 1/2-inch thick sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 cups 1-inch cubed crustless brioche or Pullman loaf
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup shredded Comte or Emmenthaler cheese

Get the full recipe (and print and save it) here.

Photo of finished pudding by Bobbi Lin; photo of buttered parchment by James Ransom

Burnt edges make some meals taste better, but not all—and that's why we paired up with If You Care to share a recipe that benefits from a little coverage.

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Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


AndyManlee November 13, 2018
Kenzi, what if we used a different stuffing mix (my wife is particular to a local one by Macrina bakery). can i use the same amount of wet (milk/cream/cheese)? or do I need to adapt the liquid based on ratios?
CookedGoose November 3, 2018
I’m never sure what Pullman bread is - and what could I substitute?
Can I use onion instead of leek - what quantity?
And finally, I love when the edges of regular stuffing brown! Why wouldn’t they be good in this dish?

I know it’s a lot of questions, but I’m sincere
Deborah C. November 11, 2018
Pullman bread is simply sandwich bread, like those square loaves you find. Squishy white bread.
Kevin November 25, 2015
I love that pan. Anyone know the manufacturer?
Author Comment
Kenzi W. November 25, 2015
You're right on. It is indeed.
Kevin November 25, 2015
Awesome thanks! It's a very classic look. Any opinions on performance and comparable items (I have la creuset in mind)?
karen F. November 4, 2018
It’s a dansk castiron , I believe.
Jeune November 22, 2015
Sounds delish! Can't wait to try with our crowd this week.
Love the class in your responses Kenzi~
Riddley G. November 20, 2015
I made this a few weeks ago and MY WORD it was great!
Juliebell November 20, 2015
Thank you Kenzi for a lovely recipe and article so appropriate to the season. If you can't get with the spirit Mr Newsmike I would hope you might take your nasty comments and retire under your rock. You're a boring troll.
Newsmike November 20, 2015
Troll. haha you are such a substantive poster. What about Kenzi here correcting Chef Keller? Dope.
Juliebell November 20, 2015
djr222 November 21, 2015
Looks like the village idiot is alive and being a dink get a life cupcake
Newsmike November 20, 2015
And I was being kind in not pointing out that if there is a person on the planet who should not be adapting Thomas Keller recipes, it is this "editor" who's shift at Applebee's has probably started by now.
johng November 20, 2015
It's "whose shift" you illiterate moron. BTW, please STFU worthless troll.
Newsmike November 20, 2015
Shouldn't you be at a Hillary 4 Amerika rally, Idiot? Troll, look at your selfies for trolls.
Christine B. November 20, 2015
Haha newsmike funny typo. Maybe it's you who's trying a but too hard... No wait that's how you're acting. This is a food site. No place for meanies here!!!
Newsmike November 20, 2015
Explain if you can.
Christine B. November 20, 2015
Read your post. You wrote, "trying a but too hard."
Newsmike November 20, 2015
Kenzi, Thanks for making my point, Surely you realize that when you wrote "our interns do write posts for us, and they're just as smart and valuable as the rest of our content" you are admitting that your writing is at the intern level.

I do chuckle at the thought of you pacing the floor, pounding away at to come up with a phrase as sophmoric as "squeaking out the Doxology. Trying just a but too hard, ya think?

If memory serves didn't you have a stupendously amateurish post last year about this time where in trying to describe how good a batch of Christmas cookies were, you compared them to group sex? Seems the site yanked that literary masterpiece down in record time. I'm not sure which term in your title is more amusing, managing or editor.
Author Comment
Kenzi W. November 20, 2015
Ah, I knew we went way back. I think you're referring to this, which is very much up and alive on the site: I'm sorry you have such strong feelings about my writing! (By the way, it was hard to write "squeaking out the Doxology," yes, but not because I struggled with finding the words—it's because I cannot sing.) Lucky for you, there are plenty more voices and writers to read, and I hope you're finding ones you like somewhere here.
Sarah J. November 20, 2015
This is the best stuffing-substitute I have ever ever ever tried. I am adding it to my Thanksgiving menu this year!!!
Stephen O. November 20, 2015
I enjoyed your reply to Newsmike as well! I also love Thomas' bread pudding recipe as well! The last time I made it, I used day old pretzel slider buns that I had a surplus of. It is incredible comfort food! cheers!
Austin November 20, 2015
I really love Thomas Keller but haven't ever tried this - looks simple and lovely, perhaps something to try on Thursday? Thanks for the recommendation!
Newsmike November 20, 2015
Who decided to let the interns write posts?
Author Comment
Kenzi W. November 20, 2015
Hey Newsmike—I wrote this, and I'm the managing editor here. Do you have a problem in particular with it? And for the record, our interns do write posts for us, and they're just as smart and valuable as the rest of our content strives to be.
Austin November 20, 2015
I just wanted to say this is an incredibly polite reply to a very rude comment. Well done!
Author Comment
Kenzi W. November 20, 2015
Ha, thanks both of you! Come over and I'll feed you bread pudding.