An overhead shot of a glass casserole dish with a baked bread pudding.
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Special Bread Pudding with Buttery Vanilla Sauce

Buttery vanilla sauce recipe adapted from Land O' Lakes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brioche bread pudding, cranberry bread pudding, easy bread pudding sauce, new orleans bread pudding
Author: Whitney Reist | Sweet Cayenne


For the bread pudding:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½-¾ cup apple cider
  • 1 (One-pound) loaf brioche bread, cut into 1’’ cubes (I use the Marketplace Brioche from Walmart; it’s amazing!)
  • 2 cups of milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for sides of the baking dish
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the vanilla butter sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon high-quality vanilla extract
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons of calvados bourbon, or cognac


For the bread pudding:

  • Combine the cranberries and apple cider in a small bowl. Let sit for 8 hours and up to overnight (see notes if you don’t have time for this).
  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • In large bowl, combine the bread cubes, milk, and half and half. Let sit for 10 minutes while you combine the other ingredients.
  • Butter the sides of an 8x10’’ casserole dish (it needs to hold 10-12 cups). Pour the melted butter in the bottom of the dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Drain the apple cider from the cranberries.
  • Use a rubber spatula to toss the soaked bread and milk, making sure that most of the milk has been soaked up. The bread will be quite mushy (see photo). Add the drained cranberries and toss to combine. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over top of the bread, spreading with the rubber spatula to evenly distribute.
  • Bake the pudding for 40-50 minutes until it has set and barely jiggles when you shake the pan. It will be golden brown on top, slightly crispy on the outside but moist and tender on the inside. Serve hot with vanilla butter sauce spooned over the top.

For the vanilla butter sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cream, and both sugars. Melt together over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly and comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously, then remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla (and liquor, if using) and place in a gravy boat to serve immediately over hot bread pudding.


  • The bread you are using should be on the dry side. I like to cut mine into cubes, place them on a baking sheet, and let them dry out in the open air all one day before making the bread pudding. You can also dry them out on the baking sheet by baking at 200℉ for 10-15 minutes.
  • For moist and tender cranberries, soak them in the apple cider overnight before making the pudding the next day. If you don’t have time, heat the apple cider and cranberries in the microwave for 2 minutes. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let them steep for 20 minutes before draining.
  • Store leftover bread pudding and sauce in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I like to place single servings in a greased ramekin to reheat at 350℉ for 10-15 minutes, reheating the sauce in a saucepan or in the microwave to serve on top of the pudding as needed.