Cinnamon bread pudding is the ultimate homestyle breakfast treat. This recipe uses up leftover bread by soaking it in creamy cinnamon custard and baking it to perfection.
Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, the flavor is reminiscent of homemade cinnamon swirl bread - packed with warm cinnamon, lightly sweet, and best enjoyed warm.
Cinnamon roll bread pudding is a great recipe to make ahead for the holiday season, as it serves a larger crowd. Imagine pulling this out of your oven on Christmas morning - a real showstopper!
When serving a brunch crowd, make-ahead options are your best friend. That's why this cinnamon bread pudding is the perfect option for a gathering. Though, you could also choose this equally delicious Pecan Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Cinnamon sugar - This iconic flavor combination in strewn throughout the bread pudding, soaking the whole way through the bread. The spiced sugar also gets sprinkled all over the top before baking, making the crispy top taste like cinnamon sugar toast!
Comfort food - Casseroles are the ultimate stick-to-your-ribs meals that are especially perfect for cold weather or the holiday season. It's warm, spiced, sweet, and the best treat for breakfast or brunch.
Make ahead - Cinnamon bread pudding can easily be up to a day in advance, allowed to soak in the fridge, then baked off an hour before you're ready to serve your guests.
- Bread. Challah bread or brioche bread makes for the best bread pudding, as they are flavorful, enriched bread doughs. Use an Italian or French loaf if you can't find challah or brioche. Note that stale bread is best for bread pudding!
- Eggs. Four large eggs are used to create the custard and help the bread pudding set.
- Milk. Whole milk is the best option for this cinnamon roll bread pudding.
- Heavy whipping cream. This produces an ultra silky, thick custard to soak into the bread pudding.
- Cinnamon. Both ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick are used to create the cinnamon flavor in this bread pudding.
- Sugars. Brown sugar (not pictured) is used to sweeten the custard and granulated sugar gets mixed with ground cinnamon to sprinkle over the top.
- Raisins. This ingredient is totally optional! They can be soaked in rum for more flavor, omitted, or other mix ins can be added.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Where to Find Challah Bread
Challah bread can be found in most grocery store bakery sections, or at most smaller bakeries that make and serve bread.
If you can't find challah specifically, any type of brioche bread (even buns!) will be the next best option.
Having trouble sourcing either of those options? No problem. Use a large French or Italian loaf.
Stale bread is best for bread pudding, as it soaks up all of the custard more quickly. Open the bag of bread as soon as you purchase it, and allow it to remain open until you're ready to make the bread pudding.
Substitutions and Variations
- For extra pizzaz, soak your raisins in rum for 1-2 hours before scattering them on top of the cinnamon bread pudding.
- Peeled and chopped apples can be mixed into the bread pudding prior to baking for a delightful fruit addition.
- If you can't find challah or brioche bread, use a loaf of stale Italian or French bread instead.
- This recipe can be made using half and half in place of the heavy cream.
- For a saucier bread pudding, top the finished bake with caramel sauce, vanilla sauce, or bourbon sauce. If you're an icing fan, you can even drizzle a vanilla glaze on top (mix powdered sugar with vanilla and a bit of milk until you reach a slightly loose consistency).
How to Make This Recipe
One: Whisk together the milk, cream, butter, cinnamon stick and brown sugar over medium heat until the butter melts. Cool completely.
Two: Remove the cinnamon stick. Whisk in the vanilla, ground cinnamon, and eggs until completely smooth.
Three: Tear the bread into 1-2" pieces.
Four: Add the bread to a 9x13" casserole dish and spread evenly.
Hot tip! Tearing the bread rather than cutting it produces nice craggily bits for the custard to soak into, and that crisp up nicely on top during the bake time.
Five: Scatter raisins all over the bread pieces (if using).
Six: Slowly spoon or pour the cooled cinnamon custard mixture evenly over all of the bread.
Seven: Push down on the bread a bit to be sure all pieces get saturated.
Eight: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top. Allow it to continue soaking as the oven preheats, then bake until set and enjoy hot or warm.
Overnight Bread Pudding
This is a great recipe to assemble the night before and bake off in the morning. Follow the recipe according to instructions, stopping before you add the cinnamon sugar to the very top.
Cover the casserole dish tightly in plastic wrap and foil, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the cinnamon bread pudding from the fridge and uncover. Preheat the oven, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top.
Bake according to recipe instructions, though you will likely need to add an additional 5-10 minutes to the bake time since it was cold from the refrigerator.
The bread pudding should be puffy, crispy on the tops and edges, and be hot the entire way through. Insert the tip of a butter knife into the very center for 5 seconds, then remove it. Touch the tip of the knife to check if it's warm or hot.
- Stale bread is best for this recipe, as it soaks up and holds the custard best.
- Rip the bread into pieces instead of cutting it. The extra craggly bits get crispy on top when baked, and add a delightful textural component to the recipe.
- After ripping the pieces of bread, let them sit out uncovered for a few hours prior to using them, or lightly bake them at 200℉ until slightly dried out.
- After heating the milk mixture, let it cool until at room temperature (or at least slightly warm) before adding the eggs. Adding eggs to hot liquid will result in accidentally scrambling your eggs.
Enriched breads like brioche or challah are perfect for this recipe. If you can't find an enriched loaf, use an Italian or French loaf.
Stale bread soaks up the custard better than fresh bread, and prevents a soggy bread pudding.
Bread puddings may be dry if too much bread was used in the recipe, or the bread pudding was cooked for too long, drying out the bread and liquid.
Store the cinnamon bread pudding covered with foil in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat portions in the microwave, or the entire casserole dish in a 350℉ oven for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.
Drizzle on some extra milk or heavy cream prior to reheating to rehydrate the bread, as it starts to dry out in the fridge.
Cinnamon Bread Pudding
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- ¼ cup unsalted butter plus extra for greasing pan
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 loaf challah bread torn into ~2 inch pieces (about 8-10 cups)
- ½ cup raisins optional
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a small saucepan over low heat, warm milk, cream, brown sugar, butter, salt, and the cinnamon stick. Continue cooking until the butter melts and the mixture begins bubbling just around the edges. Remove from the heat and cool until warm (or fully cool).3 cups whole milk, 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 cup brown sugar, ¼ cup unsalted butter, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 cinnamon stick
- Once cool, remove the cinnamon stick, then add the vanilla, ground cinnamon, and eggs and whisk until completely combined and smooth.1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 large eggs, 2 large egg yolks
- Mix together the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.⅓ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Generously butter a 9x13 inch casserole dish, then add half of the torn bread. Add half of the custard over top, then sprinkle on half of the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle over half of the raisins, if using.1 loaf challah bread, ½ cup raisins
- Add the remaining bread, and top with the rest of the raising (if using) and remaining custard. Gently push down so the bread begins to soak up all of the liquid, then add the remaining cinnamon sugar on top. Allow it to rest while the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Cover lightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes. Serve hot or warm.