What is bread pudding sauce made of?

Bread pudding sauce is a sweet sauce that is commonly served warm over bread pudding. The sauce helps bring together the flavors of the bread pudding and adds an extra layer of sweetness. Bread pudding sauce can be made in a variety of ways, but some of the most common ingredients used are milk, cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and whiskey or rum.

Quick Answer

Bread pudding sauce is typically made by combining milk, cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and liquor like rum or whiskey. The most basic version is made with just milk, sugar, and vanilla. More elaborate versions add eggs as a thickener and cream for richness. The sauce is thickened on the stovetop or in the oven, then served warm over the bread pudding.

What are the main ingredients in bread pudding sauce?

Here are some of the core ingredients that go into making a bread pudding sauce:

  • Milk – This provides the base liquid for the sauce.
  • Cream – Heavy cream or half-and-half helps give the sauce a richer, smoother texture.
  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar sweetens the sauce. Brown sugar can also be used.
  • Eggs – Eggs help thicken and enrich the sauce.
  • Vanilla – Vanilla extract adds flavor.
  • Whiskey or rum – These liquors provide an aromatic flavor.
  • Spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom are commonly used.

The ratios of milk to cream, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients can be adjusted based on preference. For example, more cream results in a richer sauce, while more eggs makes it thicker. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg enhance the classic bread pudding flavors.

What is the basic recipe for bread pudding sauce?

Here is a basic recipe for a classic bread pudding sauce:


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium, whisking frequently, until steam starts to rise from the surface.
  3. Continue heating, while whisking constantly, until sauce is hot and sugar fully dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and serve warm over bread pudding.

This simple sauce uses just a few ingredients for a classic accompanying sauce for bread pudding. For a richer version, heavy cream can be substituted for half of the milk. For a boozier sauce, 1/4 cup rum or whiskey can be added. The sauce can also be enhanced with extra spices, eggs for thickness, or different extracts.

What are some flavor variations for bread pudding sauce?

While classic bread pudding sauce is made with a simple vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavoring, the sauce can be adapted with different flavors. Here are some tasty bread pudding sauce variations:

  • Chocolate – Cocoa powder or melted chocolate can provide a chocolate flavor.
  • Pumpkin spice – Pumpkin pie spice blend adds warmth.
  • Maple – Maple syrup or extract gives a sweet maple taste.
  • Coconut – Toasted shredded coconut or coconut milk provide tropical flair.
  • Almond – Almond extract and slivered almonds give a nice nuttiness.
  • Bourbon or whiskey – These liquors add boozy sophistication.
  • Coffee – Instant coffee or espresso powder can provide a mocha effect.
  • Fruit – Purees or preserves of berries, peach, etc add bright fruitiness.

The basic bread pudding sauce recipe can be easily adapted to create any flavor profile desired. Components like the dairy, sweetener, and spice ratios stay constant, while different extracts, liquors, or mix-in ingredients create unique flavors.

What are some ways to thicken bread pudding sauce?

Bread pudding sauce should have a silky, creamy texture that lightly coats the back of a spoon. There are a few methods that can help thicken up the sauce:

  • Eggs – Whisking egg yolks into the hot sauce at the end of cooking gently thickens the sauce.
  • Cornstarch – Mixing a cornstarch slurry into the simmering sauce will thicken it.
  • Heavy cream – Replacing some of the milk with heavy cream adds thickness.
  • Breadcrumbs – Toasting breadcrumbs and stirring them in absorbs liquid.
  • Whipped cream – Folding in whipped cream lightens and thickens the sauce.
  • Simmering – Letting the sauce simmer uncovered helps reduce excess liquid.

For best results, eggs or cornstarch can be used to reliably thicken the sauce without dulling the fresh dairy flavors. Simmering the sauce down is also an easy way to reach the perfect silky consistency for coating the bread pudding.

Should bread pudding sauce be served warm or cold?

Bread pudding sauce is best when served warm. A warm sauce helps absorb into the bread pudding, creating a delicious syrup-soaked effect. It also mingles tastefully with the warm custard of the pudding. A cold sauce is more likely to congeal and not spread evenly over each bite.

To serve the sauce warm, it can be made ahead of time and reheated gently before serving. Or, it can be prepared while the bread pudding bakes and kept warm until ready to assemble the dessert. Bread pudding is best served fresh out the oven, and the warm sauce completes the decadent dish.

What are some ideas for serving bread pudding sauce?

Bread pudding sauce is classically served pooled around warm bread pudding in a bowl, allowing the sauce to soak into the pudding. Here are some other fun ideas for serving bread pudding sauce:

  • Drizzle sauce decoratively over individual baked bread pudding cups or ramekins.
  • Serve sauce on the side for dipping bites of bread pudding.
  • Drizzle lines or swirl patterns of sauce artfully on the plate.
  • Serve the sauce in a gravy boat or small pitcher for pouring at the table.
  • Flavor just a portion of the sauce with spices, chocolate, or liqueur for a unique effect.
  • Thicken the sauce into a glaze consistency to spread over the top of the pudding.

Get creative with decorative drizzling, sauce dollops, or even sauce swirl lollipops. The possibilities are endless for presenting the sauce beautifully with the warm bread pudding.

What are some common toppings to serve with bread pudding and sauce?

Bread pudding with a luscious sauce is decadent enough on its own, but some tasty toppings can provide texture and extra flavor. Some popular toppings include:

  • Whipped cream – Mounded on top or dolloped around the plate.
  • Ice cream – A scoop of vanilla or caramel ice cream.
  • Nuts – Chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds sprinkled over.
  • Fresh fruit – Sliced strawberries, blueberries, or bananas.
  • Toasted coconut – Shredded coconut lightly toasted for crunch.
  • Crumbled cookies – Cookie pieces like graham crackers, Oreos, or gingersnaps.

The possibilities are endless for crunchy, fruity, creamy toppings to complement the steaming bread pudding and sauce. Let flavors of the sauce guide the topping – nuts for nutty sauces, fruit for fruit sauces, and cookies for chocolate or caramel sauces.

How long does bread pudding sauce keep in the refrigerator?

Properly stored bread pudding sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. To maximize its shelf life:

  • Cool sauce completely before covering and refrigerating.
  • Store sauce in an airtight container to prevent drying out.
  • If topped with whipped cream, store cream separately and dollop on just before serving.
  • If sauce seems to thicken too much, stir in small amounts of milk to thin.

To reuse, give the sauce a good stir before gently reheating in a saucepan or microwave. Add a little extra milk or cream if needed to adjust consistency. Discard sauce if it grows mold or smells odd.

For longer storage, the sauce can be frozen for 2 to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Can the sauce be made ahead of time?

Yes, bread pudding sauce can absolutely be prepared 1-2 days in advance. This allows time for the flavors to meld and makes assembling the dessert easy.

To make ahead, prepare the sauce completely then let cool completely before refrigerating in an airtight container. When ready to serve, gently reheat sauce in a saucepan or microwave, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add a splash of milk or cream if the sauce has thickened too much while stored.

Take care not to let the sauce boil or overheat, as this can cause curdling. Gently reheated bread pudding sauce can be served warm over freshly baked bread puddings for easy assembling of the dessert.


Bread pudding sauce helps bring all the elements of bread pudding together in sweet harmony. Milk, cream, sugar, and spices are combined as a base, then egg yolks, cornstarch, or extended simmering help create the perfect silky texture. Served warm, the sauce soaks deliciously into the bread pudding. Adaptations like chocolate, fruit purees, or liqueurs allow for creative flavor twists. Toppings like whipped cream, nuts, and fruit can provide even more decadence. Bread pudding sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Whether enjoyed in classic or creative iterations, a lush bread pudding sauce completes this cherished comfort dessert.

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