This Italian bread pudding recipe is a very simple and easy to make Italian dessert. It uses stale bread, golden raisins, eggs, sugar and milk which is baked in the oven and topped with a rich sweetened condensed milk sauce.
Bread pudding is a dish that is made in almost every culture and Italians are no exception. Traditionally the idea behind bread pudding is to use the leftover stale bread and make sure nothing goes to waste.
I love this Italian dessert so much because I hate to throw out any food (unless it goes bad.) Getting to eat dessert and making sure I am not wasting food is a win win here.
What is Italian Bread Pudding?
Italian bread pudding is very similar to American bread pudding. It usually has golden raisins and the Italian bread pudding is most often made with a creme anglaise type of sauce.
This type of traditional sauce is a little more involved and not exactly quick to make. For this bread pudding recipe, the sauce has been simplified by using condensed milk with some butter, vanilla and milk.
I think it makes it easier for the everyday cook. I feel very confident in saying that it tastes better too!
I think another main difference is there is no cinnamon in Italian bread pudding. It does however require the same basic ingredients to soften up stale bread and transform it into something that tastes so amazing.
The bread for this Italian bread pudding:
If you do not have stale bread or cannot wait to make the recipe then store bought baguette from the bakery section (without any toppings or butter) can be used; just make sure to leave it out on the counter overnight to toughen up.
Just remember, the more preservatives that are in the bread, the longer it will take to get stale. Basically, all natural bread is not only better for you but better for your bread puddings!
Another important note about the type of stale bread to use is you want stale bread that tough and not dry. If you have bread that dried out too much like a crouton then that would not taste as good. Stale and chewy is the name of the game for bread pudding.
Ingredients you will need to make this Italian Bread Pudding recipe are:
- stale bread
- golden raisins (optional but recommended)
- For the sauce- condensed milk, butter, milk and vanilla
Many of these ingredients can be substituted based on your preference. If you cannot find golden raisins, you can use regular purple raisins. If you need a dairy free alternative then you can sub out the regular milk for dairy free milk.
Even the sweetened condensed milk sauce can be adjusted by just using coconut condensed milk!
About the sauce for this Italian bread pudding recipe:
This condensed milk sauce that I created for this recipe was born out of laziness and not wanting to make a traditional complex vanilla sauce. I have to say that in this instance, my laziness really paid off!
My quick vanilla sauce is made with sweetened condensed milk, a touch of butter, vanilla and milk. Yup, canned sweetened condensed milk!
I don't think there is any dessert or breakfast (like my baked french toast casserole) that doesn't taste better with condensed milk. I will even make this condensed milk sauce on its own for cakes.
It is one my favorite sauces for desserts and the uses are absolutely endless. You can add it to ice cream, cake, bread pudding or any other things you can think of needing a sweet decadent and lush sauce.
I love it even more because it is so easy to make. I just don't think cooking should be complicated.
As I mentioned above, if you are on a dairy free diet, you can totally use a coconut condensed milk in place of the regular condensed milk. It is really delicious both ways!
What I love about this recipe (and think you'll love too):
- It is so simple to make.
- It tastes amazing.
- That vanilla condensed milk sauce is addictive (make extra, trust me). If you want you can skip straight to the vanilla sauce recipe here!
- It is made in individual portion sizes so everyone can eat their portion when they want.
For More Italian Dessert Recipes:
- Italian Pizzelles are a classic cookie made at family gatherings and holidays. Growing up, these were made every Sunday for our Italian family gatherings.
- My cookie press Pizzelle cookies that are made with the same dough you make a pizzelle with but you do not need a special pizzelle maker for this one. So delicious!
- Italian basil olive cake. This is one of my favorite cakes to make and it is as easy as blending everything together and pouring into a pan.
Tips on making this bread pudding:
What if I do not have individual ramekins?
This is a question I get asked often. If you do not have individual ramekins, you can combine this whole recipe for the four servings into a small square baking dish, about 8"x8" or if you are using a round baking dish then a small round 6"x2" dish.
Add five minutes of cooking time to the recipe and then test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into center and it comes out clean. If it is still wet just add another 5 minutes or so until it is cooked through.
I will say that ramekins are so invaluable in my kitchen. If you do not have ramekins I would definitely try to add those to your kitchen wishlist since they come in handy for some many things!
It is best served warm once it has rested for a few minutes after coming out of the oven.
Should bread pudding be served hot or cold?
You always want to serve your bread pudding almost right out of the oven. Just remove it from the oven and let it sit for a couple minutes before serving.
Can I make my bread stale for this recipe if I do not have stale bread?
You can speed up the process of bread going stale by placing your bread on a baking sheet and into a pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes. Just check it every few minutes and make sure it is not turning into a crouton but just getting dried out a bit.
Can this bread pudding be made ahead of time?
Yes. If follow all of the recipe all the way through baking, just let the bread pudding come to room temp after it is done cooking. At this point, place some aluminum foil over the tops and store in your fridge for up to 2 days. To re-heat, remove from the fridge about a half hour before warming. When ready to warm, place your ramekins on a large baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil. Then place into a pre-heated 325 degree oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until warmed all the way through.
Italian Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
- 4 ounces of stale bread a little less than ½ of a baguette, preferably a thin baguette cut into ½ inch slices
- 1 ½ cups of milk
- ½ cup of golden raisins
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of butter and extra for greasing your ramekins
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ a can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbsp of milk
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp of butter
- Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
- In a small pot heat your milk and sugar until the milk gets hot and the sugar is dissolved.
- While your milk is heating, place your stale bread into a shallow dish. Now pour your hot milk mixture over this and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Now in a small bowl add your raisins and enough hot water to cover them and let those sit for 20 minutes.
- While your bread and raisins are soaking, butter 4 large ramekins (or 6 medium sized ramekins) and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar and spread it around so that it covers all of the butter. Set these aside.
- Once your bread is done soaking, pour it through a large sieve and with your hand gently press out some of the milk. Now place your bread into a large bowl.
- Drain your raisins and add those to your bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk your egg and egg yolk and add that to your bowl and mix all of your ingredients together carefully as to not break up your bread too much.
- Now scoop out your bread mixture into your ramekins making sure they are all even and sit just below the rim.
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, increase your oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes.
- While your bread pudding is baking you can make the sauce.
- Vanilla Condensed Milk Sauce:
- With a small saute pan over medium heat add your sweetened condensed milk, 1 tbsp of milk, vanilla and butter and mix until it is heated through and becomes silky.
- Turn off heat and leave on the stove.
- Once the bread pudding is ready, remove from the oven and lest rest for 5 minutes.
- After resting, drizzle liberally with the vanilla glaze. Enjoy!