Pumpkin bread pudding is a decadent, warmly spiced dessert packed with cozy pumpkin flavor and topped with an irresistible salted caramel! This deliciously rich bread pudding will become a fall favorite in your home.
Just when you thought you didn't need another pumpkin-flavored dessert, this pumpkin bread pudding comes along and turns your world upside down. Cubed French bread soaked in a rich pumpkin custard, baked until golden brown, then topped with toasty salted caramel will do that to you!
What Is Bread Pudding?
Bread pudding is a dish most commonly made with stale bread, spiced custard, and sometimes raisins. The dish is said to date back to the 13th century and was once referred to as "poor man's pudding" by the English since it was made with old, leftover ingredients.
Bread pudding became very popular in the Southern US, with the New Orleans-style preparation using French bread, raisins, and bourbon or rum sauce being a favorite of many.
Important Ingredient Notes
A complete list of ingredients with measurements along with detailed recipe instructions can be found in the recipe card located at the bottom of this post.
- Pumpkin. This recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree. Make sure you do not buy pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar, spices, and other ingredients added. Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin is my go-to brand.
- Half and half. This ingredient helps create a rich custard for soaking the bread. If you do not have half and half you may use half heavy cream and half whole milk.
- Spices. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice give this pumpkin bread pudding a warm, spiced flavor that is so fitting for fall. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking or omit a particular spice.
- Vanilla extract. Make sure you are using good-quality pure vanilla extract and not vanilla flavoring. Imitation or cheap vanilla extract can give your bread pudding an "off" taste. Trust me, it's worth it to spend a few more dollars on good vanilla! Nielson-Massey and Rodelle are two of my favorite brands of vanilla extract.
- Bread. Bread pudding can be made with several different types of bread. I recommend 1 to 2-day-old French bread for this recipe. French bread soaks up the custard beautifully and doesn't become soggy or mushy.
How To Make Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Make the custard. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half and half, milk, sugars, eggs, egg yolks, and spices until well combined.
- Combine the bread and custard. Add the cubed French bread to the bowl with the custard and gently mix the bread pudding with a wooden spoon to moisten all of the bread.
- Refrigerate the bread pudding. Transfer the bread pudding to a buttered baking dish, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour up to overnight.
- Bake the bread pudding. Allow the bread pudding to sit out on the counter while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Pour the melted butter over the bread pudding and bake it in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown on top and set in the center.
- Make the salted caramel. While the bread pudding is baking, make the salted caramel by dissolving sugar in water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cooking it until it reaches an amber color. Whisk in heavy cream then add the vanilla, butter, and salt.
- Slice and serve! Allow the bread pudding to cool slightly and serve warm with salted caramel drizzled on top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra decadence!
Variations and Substitutions
- Try topping this pumpkin bread pudding with a different sauce, such as praline sauce, rum sauce, bourbon sauce, white chocolate sauce, or vanilla sauce.
- Switch up the spices and try cardamom, pumpkin pie spice, or apple pie spice.
- Make pumpkin bread pudding with different kinds of bread like brioche, challah, or sourdough.
Frequently Asked Questions
My favorite kinds of bread for bread pudding are French bread, brioche, challah, and white sandwich bread. You want bread that is sturdy enough to hold up to soaking in the egg custard and will not fall apart or become mushy. However, you can make just about any bread work as long as can be sliced or torn into pieces and is stale but not hard.
I recommend serving this pumpkin bread pudding warm when serving it with the salted caramel sauce since the sauce thickens when chilled. Otherwise, bread pudding can also be enjoyed chilled straight from the refrigerator. Bread pudding tastes amazing eaten warm or cold.
Bread pudding can turn out mushy if it is underbaked or if the bread used is too soft and fresh. Let your bread sit out on the counter for a day or two before making bread pudding. Be sure your bread pudding is set in the center before taking it out of the oven.
Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions
Pumpkin bread pudding is an excellent make-ahead dessert and can be assembled and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. You can also bake bread pudding, store it in the refrigerator, and reheat it, covered, in the oven when ready to serve.
Salted caramel sauce can be made a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
More Cozy Fall Desserts You Will Love!
- The Best Bread Pudding
- Southern Buttermilk Pie
- Southern Pecan Pie
- Chocolate Chess Pie
- Chocolate Gravy
- Best Southern Pecan Pralines
- Soft and Chewy Chai Cookies
- Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
- Cardamom Apple Fritters
- Sock It To Me Cake
- Old Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes
- Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- Unsalted butter for greasing baking dish
- 1, 15-ounce can pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 1 ½ cups half and half or half milk and half heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¾ cup light brown sugar or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1, 16-ounce loaf stale French bread cubed, see note
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons melted butter unsalted
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish and set it aside.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin, half and half, milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, salt, and vanilla and whisk until well combined.
- Add the cubed French bread to the bowl with the custard and use a wooden spoon to gently mix the ingredients until all of the bread is moistened. Transfer the bread pudding to the prepared baking dish, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least one hour up to overnight.
- Set the bread pudding out on the counter and preheat your oven to 350°F. Once the oven is hot, pour the melted butter over the bread pudding and bake it in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown on top and set in the center.
- While the bread pudding is baking, begin making the salted caramel sauce by combining the water and sugar in a large saucepan and heating it over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir the sugar and water mixture again once the sugar has dissolved! Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it until it reaches an amber color.
- Lower the heat to low and whisk in the heavy cream. The sauce will bubble up a lot when the cream is added. Stir until the cream is fully incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Set the caramel sauce aside.
- Once the bread pudding is set in the center, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes. Slice bread pudding into squares and serve warm with salted caramel on top. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra decadence!
- Allow your French bread to sit out at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before using it to make bread pudding. Stale bread is best for soaking up the custard and preventing a mushy bread pudding.
- Pumpkin bread pudding is an excellent make-ahead dessert and can be assembled and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake. You can also bake bread pudding, store it in the refrigerator, and reheat it, covered, in the oven when ready to serve.
- Salted caramel sauce can be made a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.