If you’ve ever wondered what to do with leftover gluten free bread, this easy recipe for gluten free bread pudding is the answer. You’ll never waste another crumb!
A simple, custard-style bread pudding
I don’t consider a savory bread pudding to be, well, bread pudding. That’s stuffing (or dressing, if that’s how you call it), and it’s delicious—but in a class by itself.
Baked custard is made with just a few simple ingredients (eggs, milk and/or cream, and sugar). In the case of bread pudding, you’re adding large chunks of dry bread to the mixture and baking it low and slow.
The best bread pudding is rich and creamy, and not too sweet. The pieces of bread should be crisp on top and tender all the way through, but never ever mushy. With the right simple ingredients, in the proper balance, bread pudding is deceptively easy.
The best gluten free bread for making bread pudding
First and foremost, the bread you use for bread pudding must be a savory yeast-style bread. You might be able to use our yeast-free sandwich bread, but I don’t think it’s sturdy enough. Quick breads are really just cake in bread form, so they don’t make the cut.
Now, you might consider gluten free yeast bread to be such a commodity that you’d never have “leftovers,” but I find that I do tend to collect odds and ends of it. If the pieces are thin, and not chunky, like the kind you get from pre-sliced gluten free breads I make those into homemade breadcrumbs.
The best bread for the task is the type that can be cut into large chunks and is rather stale or dry. The large pieces are able to soak up the custard mixture without falling apart. If the bread is already moist, and not stale or dried, it won’t be able to absorb the liquids we’re adding.
When I make bread pudding, it’s usually from leftover homemade bread (my favorite is our basic gluten free white sandwich bread). Either it’s already been sliced thickly or was unsliced, so I’m able to cut the bread into 1 1/2-inch cubes.
If you’d like an even richer bread pudding, try using our recipe for gluten free cinnamon swirl bread. You won’t need to add much sugar to the custard mixture, though, since the swirl bread is already filled with brown sugar and cinnamon.
The other type of bread that I really like for bread pudding is packaged gluten free bagels. I’ve yet to buy a gluten free bagel that is anything more than a roll-with-a-hole, but I do buy them because my son likes to eat them toasted.
Since those packaged gluten free bagels tend to go stale on their own rather quickly, we’ll frequently have a few of them that aren’t fit for sandwich-making but haven’t actually gone bad. I’ll stick them into the freezer and then defrost them once I have a critical mass.
How to make fresh bread “stale” enough for bread pudding
Since gluten free bread is such a commodity, bread pudding is a great way to repurpose leftover gluten free bread that has gone stale. Once it’s stale, it’s ready to absorb the mixture of milk, eggs, and sugar.
But what about when your bread is fresh, and you still want to make bread pudding? Maybe you’ve just made a fresh loaf of bread because you’re dying to make bread pudding, and you’re too impatient to wait for it to go stale on its own (you are my people!).
It’s quite easy to dry out fresh bread in a hurry, and you’ll love the results. Just cut the bread into 1 1/2-inch cubes and place it on a rimmed baking sheet, in a single layer.
Preheat your oven to 300°F and toast the bread cubes for about 30 minutes, or until the cubes feel dry to the touch when you squeeze them lightly. You won’t be able to dry it out completely without verging into crouton territory, but you can remove enough of the bread’s moisture to permit it to absorb the custard mixture.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: It’s actually relatively easy to make this recipe without dairy. Just replace the milk with your favorite unsweetened, plain nondairy milk (mine is almond milk) and the heavy whipping cream with coconut cream.
Be careful to select gluten free bread to cube that’s dairy-free. And don’t use butter, of course, to grease the casserole dish. I find that cooking oil spray is most effective, anyway.
Egg-free: I’m afraid this recipe simply cannot be made egg-free. If you’d like to make an egg-free bread pudding, you’ll really need a separate recipe. So sorry!
Sugars: There’s only 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar in this whole recipe, which is a relatively small amount for a sweet dish. If you’d like, you can reduce the sugar by up to one half, to 1/4 cup (50 g) total, but I wouldn’t use any less than that or it will be bland. If you’d like to try making the recipe sugar-free, try using Truvia granulated sugar replacement.