Homemade croissant bread pudding is rich and custardy with a hint of orange for a surprisingly delightful flavor. It’s easy to prep and will quickly become a family favorite.
I must admit I was never a fan of bread pudding. It wasn’t that I had tasted it before; it was just that so many other desserts sounded more appealing. Then along came one of our good friends always talking about how good bread pudding was and that it was his favorite dessert. So why not? I decided to make it and give it a shot. Boy was I wrong for not having tried it before. The creamy custard texture with a slightly sweet bread is out of this world.
Of course, I’m already experimenting with versions of this category of dessert, and I just started eating it. But I love playing around with flavors and developing my version. So I’m sharing with you what I have come up with, croissant bread pudding. The combination of buttery, flaky croissants with the custard filling and a hint of orange is sure to hit that sweet spot.
What you need to make croissant bread pudding
Baking sheet pan
Large mixing bowl
9 x 13-inch baking pan
Croissants. Day-old croissants work well in this recipe. About 6-7 large croissants will yield 10 cups. It’s not necessary to purchase croissants made from scratch in a French bakery. Select croissants at your local grocery store, and they will work perfectly.
Heavy cream. The heavy cream will add a richness to the bread pudding. You can substitute half and half or whole milk if you prefer.
Milk. Always use whole milk in baking unless otherwise specified. The fat in the milk not only adds richness, but it also helps tenderize and add moisture to desserts.
Eggs. Large eggs are the standard size in baking. In bread pudding, the eggs thicken to create that soft, custardy filling.
Vanilla. Always use pure vanilla extract. It will yield the best flavor.
Brown sugar. Combining brown sugar with the granulated sugar rounds out the flavor of the croissant bread pudding.
Sugar. Use granulated sugar for this recipe as one of the sweeteners.
Salt. Adding a bit of salt will bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Orange zest. Use a fresh, ripe orange to maximize flavor.
Butter. Adds richness to the vanilla sauce.
How to make croissant bread pudding
- Bake croissants. Begin by layering your cut croissants on a parchment-lined baking sheet pan. Bake in a preheated 300°F/150°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until the croissants are dried out.
- Mix filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, whole milk, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and orange zest. Whisk together until well mixed.
- Refrigerate. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Fill with toasted croissants and pour in the custard mixture. Lightly push down the croissants to ensure mostly submerged in the liquid mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate bread pudding for one hour.
- Bake. Bake the croissant bread pudding uncovered in a preheated 350°F/177°C oven for 40-50 minutes or until custard is set and the top is golden.
- Make sauce. While the bread pudding is baking, combine butter and brown sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. Carefully, add the heavy cream and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally and then remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Assemble. Pour warm vanilla sauce over slightly cooled croissant bread pudding just before serving. Enjoy!
Tips and takeaways
- If you love the flavor of almond, instead of 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract in the bread pudding filling, reduce to 2 teaspoons and add 1 teaspoon of pure almond extract.
- For this recipe, you can substitute 10 cups of brioche or challah bread for the croissants. It will yield a denser bread pudding. However, you do not need to dry out the brioche or challah and therefore omit the first step in the instructions.
- This croissant bread pudding will go well with a variety of sauces. You can top with a fruit puree, crème anglaise, bourbon sauce, or butter rum sauce.
- To reheat bread pudding, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350°F/177°C oven. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until just warmed through.