5 Ingredients or Fewer

Simplest Bread Pudding With Salted Brown Sugar Sauce

February 18, 2019
12 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 9x13-inch casserole
Author Notes

As easy and good as bread pudding gets. Don’t underestimate the short ingredient list—it knows what it’s doing. The challah is torn and toasted, the half-and-half is rich but not too rich, the dark brown sugar brings all the malty-toffee vibes, and a combination of whole eggs and yolks means a fluffy, custardy texture with no eggy flavor. Oh, and that brown sugar and half-and-half—plus a big pinch of salt and knob of butter—turn into what I like to think of as Cheater’s Caramel. You’ll want to spoon it onto just about everything. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • Bread pudding
  • 1 (1-pound) challah loaf
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, more or less for greasing the pan
  • Salted brown sugar sauce
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Toast the bread: Cut the challah into 1-inch slices. Tear these slices into big pieces with your hands. (They don’t have to be even!) Add to a rimmed sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the bread is lightly browned and dried out. Let cool completely.
  3. Psst: Leave that oven on, we’re using it again soon. While the toasted bread is cooling, make the custard. In the largest bowl you have, combine the half-and-half, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, eggs, and egg yolks. Whisk until completely smooth.
  4. Add the toasted, cooled bread to the custard mixture. Use two big spoons (or your hands) to toss until all the bread is coated. Butter a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add the bread-custard mixture to the pan. (There will be some custard that hasn’t absorbed into the bread yet. Just pour it evenly over the top.) Use one of the spoons to gently push down the bread. Let the bread absorb the custard for 30 minutes, using the spoon to push down the bread every so often to encourage it to soak up as much custard as possible.
  5. Bake the bread pudding uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and the center is no longer liquidy (you can use your finger or a small knife to check this). Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Make the brown sugar sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Mix, stirring slowly but constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. That’s it! (If you want a thicker sauce, you can bring it to a simmer and cook it until thicker. But I like it just like this—especially since it thicken more as it cools.)
  7. Serve big scoops of bread pudding with an extra-big drizzle of brown sugar sauce on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SkilletGuy
  • HiItsDom
  • Alex Hoffer
    Alex Hoffer
  • Anita McCrimmon
    Anita McCrimmon
  • Jennifer Rinde
    Jennifer Rinde
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

8 Reviews

SkilletGuy January 25, 2023
Nothing beats a warm and comforting bowl of bread pudding topped with a salted brown sugar sauce. Serve it as a dessert at your next dinner party and everyone will be sure to enjoy it!!

-Jack from SkilletGuy.com
HiItsDom January 25, 2022
This recipe is so delicious! I used some zwieback I had in the freezer instead of challah and it turned out great! I wondered if it would be pretty sweet and it definitely isn't. My partner and I are eating ours with ice cream. :)
Alex H. February 21, 2020
This recipe was very easy and turned out great. It took maybe 15 minutes of active prep time and was faster than the instructions indicate — I didn’t need to wait 30 minutes for the bread to absorb the custard, 5 min was plenty. It also fit just fine in a 9x9 baking dish. I tweaked the sauce a little — added about 50% more salt than the recipe called for and a couple oz of rum.
Anita M. December 11, 2019
Very nice simple recipe. I made exactly as written. Salt enhances taste and tames the sweetness a bit Made this morning to take to work. It was perfect, a hit with my co-workers!
Emma L. December 18, 2019
Thanks, Anita! So glad to hear it.
Jennifer R. November 17, 2019
This is the most amazing bread pudding! I wondered if the brown sugar sauce would make it too sweet, but it was absolutely perfect. It was a simple recipe to follow I will be making this one again soon!
Emma L. November 17, 2019
Thanks, Jennifer—so glad you enjoyed!
Jennifer R. December 26, 2019
I made this recipe again for Christmas. It's just so good I had to share with family. We were staying out of town, so I meant to grab my good vanilla extract to take with me. When we got to our destination, and I began making the dessert, I realized I accidentally grabbed the maple syrup extract instead. I used it since it was all I had, and it was fantastic! Thank you again!