This vegan bread pudding has a crispy golden crust covering a tender, gooey inside that is lightly sweetened by maple syrup and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
It’s a perfect dessert topped with vegan ice cream, or a decadent breakfast served with vegan whipped cream and fresh berries.
How to Make Vegan Bread Pudding
My grandma used to always make an amazing Challah bread pudding when we visited for Thanksgiving every year. I’d wake up on Saturday morning to a house filled with the sweet and warm scents of cinnamon, maple, and brown sugar goodness.
Of course, her version used half-and-half and about a million egg yolks to make the rich, baked custard. I’ve been chasing that high, looking for a way get to make a rich bread pudding vegan, without using any animal products.
Sweetly Spiced Custard
The gooey custard for this delicious vegan bread pudding is sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with vanilla, cinnamon, and just a bit of nutmeg. It’s wonderful to bake in the winter and makes the whole house smell amazing.
Extra butter and brown sugar go in the topping, which you can fill with raisins, walnuts, pecans, or whatever fits your fancy. And that all bubbles together into an amazing soft sticky pudding.
I tried making vegan bread pudding with a couple of different egg substitutes. Ground flaxseed thickened well, but it left too much texture in the pudding part. I need a sauce that was smooth and luxurious, and not gritty or speckled.
Could you just leave out any thickener? This works surprisingly well for many recipes! Sometimes those added eggs don’t actually add much.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work for vegan bread pudding. Without any thickener, the sauce became a thin, soupy liquid left in a puddle in the bottom of the pan. I need a thick custard that can hold it all together.
I finally settled on good ol’ cornstarch. It’s what I make my regular egg-free pudding out of. It’s smooth, and easily thickens any liquid, and doesn’t add any taste after it’s cooked.
The only downside is that you have to heat it up over the stove (before you bake the bread pudding) to thicken the sauce. So, one extra step, but it’s totally worth it. And it’s still easy to make!
Vegan Bread Pudding Tips
Okay, so, before you scroll down to the recipe, here are some of the most important things I’ve learned to make the perfect vegan bread pudding:
- Use old bread. Dry, stale bread will more easily absorb all of the gooey custard. If you don’t have old bread, don’t worry! I’ll explain how you can dry out your bread to make it perfect for this vegan bread pudding recipe.
- Make sure your non-dairy milk is cold. To make the pudding, cornstarch is first added to plant-based milk so it can be fully dissolved. Make sure that milk is cold so the cornstarch doesn’t immediately congeal into lumps. Whisk the cornstarch and non-dairy milk together really well, before adding to the rest of the pudding ingredients.
- Let the pudding soak in before baking. Give the bread time to absorb all the liquid. This is especially important if you are using a dense bread like a baguette or sourdough, which will take longer to soften up.
- Make it your way: add raisins and nuts, if you want them. I know so many people grew up eating the bread pudding their mom or grandma made, and you want it exactly like that. Personally, I like mine plain, with fresh fruit on top. But if you want raisins or pecans to go with that cinnamon and maple syrup, definitely add them in with the brown sugar and butter topping I included in the recipe down below.
How to Make Stale Bread
You’re supposed to make bread pudding when you have some old bread you need to use up. Some people store the heels and leftover bread bits in the freezer until they’ve accumulated enough for a batch. It’s a fantastic use for bread that might otherwise be discarded.
But me? I don’t always plan ahead. Sometimes, I want bread pudding now, and all I have is fresh bread.
There are two ways to make stale bread for vegan bread pudding:
- On the counter overnight. If you can manage to plan this far ahead, cut your loaf of bread up into small cubes so there is more surface area for the bread to dry out. Just leave this out on a baking sheet overnight, and it should be nice and stale for bread pudding in the morning. If it doesn’t feel dry enough in the morning (maybe you live in Florida), try a bit of method 2:
- In the oven for fifteen minutes. If you need your stale bread immediately, you can use the oven to dramatically speed up the process. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Cut the bread up into cubes, and place it in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly toast the bread cubes in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Check on the bread every five minutes or so, stirring the bread. You want the bread to dry out, but you don’t want it to get browned at all. So if you notice any pieces starting to go golden, turn the temperature down to 225°F.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for vegan bread pudding!
Please let me know in the comments if you do, or if you have any variations to recommend to the other readers. And, as always, feel free to share the recipe if you love it!
How can you make vegan bread pudding gluten-free?
To make this vegan bread pudding recipe gluten-free, you first need to start with a gluten-free loaf of bread. Since gluten-free bread tends to be a bit denser than wheat bread, try to give your bread pudding extra time to sit after it’s all mixed together (before you bake it).
Make sure the corn starch is certified gluten-free as well since it is sometimes made in the same factory as wheat products.
Can I make vegan bread pudding in advance?
Absolutely! In fact, I highly recommend it. The vegan bread pudding tastes best when you can prepare it the night before, and let the mixture sit in the fridge overnight. This gives the bread time to fully absorb all the vegan custard and makes the interior of the pudding extra soft and tender.
I don’t recommend preparing it more than a day in advance or trying to freeze it before baking.
What kind of bread is best for bread pudding?
Old bread! As I’ve mentioned, you want stale bread that can soak up the pudding.
Okay, but are you curious about what type of bread is best? I love to use vegan challah bread, if you ever see some, and can manage to not eat it all immediately. Baguettes or any other freshly-made bread works fantastically, especially because they tend to not have any preservatives so they go stale quite quickly.
Honestly, this recipe works with any kind of bread. It’s typically made with white bread, but using a mix of dark and white bread creates a gorgeous variety when all baked together. Remember to give dense bread a bit of extra time soaking in the pudding before you bake.
- 4-5 cups stale bread, cut into cubes
- 1 (15 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup plain plant-based milk, cold
- 3 Tbsp cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.
- Place the cubed bread into a medium bowl.
- Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a medium saucepan. Whisk to combine, and heat over medium until it just begins to bubble.
- Stir the cornstarch into the plant-based milk until it fully dissolves.
- Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the coconut mixture, whisking constantly.
- Bring the mixture back up to a simmer, and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking often.
- Pour this mixture over the bread cubes. Gently squish it all together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, to make sure all the bread is saturated. Let this rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or as long as overnight.
- If you are using the topping, make a crumble out of the butter and brown sugar by smashing it together with a fork or your fingers. Add in your mix-in of choice. Drop spoonfuls of the topping over the bread pudding.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until it is bubbly and browned on top.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
- If your bread isn't dried out, lay it out in a single sheet on a baking pan, and lightly toast it in the oven at 250°F for 15-20 minutes. Check on it every five minutes, stirring so it dries evenly. You want it to dry out, but not brown.
- You can sub other non-dairy milk for the coconut milk, it just won't be quite as rich.
- If you aren't adding in any fruit or nuts, then you don't need to include the butter and brown sugar topping. But it does make it taste extra yummy.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375