Pumpkin Bread Pudding is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the combination of pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cranberries, and a bit of coconut this time of year.
This cranberry pumpkin bread pudding is a terrific alterative to traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin recipes like pie.
This is pumpkin bread pudding recipe makes a huge amount, which is terrific for big Halloween and Thanksgiving togethers!
However, if you’re making this for dessert for a small group and don’t want a couple of weeks of leftovers, cut the recipe in half.
Or keep the leftovers for a decadent but still wholesome breakfast or brunch treat when family is visiting from out of town.
What’s the best bread for pumpkin bread pudding?
Depending on what type of bread you use, you can make this a gluten free pumpkin bread pudding.
You can use gluten free wheat bread, white bread, or even raisin bread for extra deliciousness! If your bread isn’t stale, just cut up the bread, place the pieces on baking sheets and place in a warm oven until the bread is lightly toasted.
If you’re not gluten free, use regular white or wheat bread. As a treat, you can use challah, French or brioche bread.
Thrifty tip: pumpkin bread pudding recipes are a terrific way to use bread ends if your family’s like mine and refuses to eat them.
Tips for making the best pumpkin bread pudding
Slices of this easy pumpkin bread pudding recipe reheat very well in the microwave, but they’re delicious cold, too.
You can also make this bread pudding several days before needed. Just cover with aluminum foil, refrigerate, and reheat in a microwave (by the serving) or the whole pan in a 325 degrees F oven for 15 minutes.
How to bake this easy pumpkin bread pudding
To make your pumpkin and cranberry bread pudding super moist, you must cook it in a bain marie or hot water bath. The moisture from the water creates uniform heat around the food.
The bain marie also prevents the bread pudding from getting dried out or rubbery. It’s an extra step, but it’s worth doing.
Here’s how to create a bain marie:
1. Find a baking dish that is larger than your 2-quart baking dish.
2. Place your baking dish containing the bread pudding inside of the larger baking dish.
3. Fill the larger baking dish with 1/2 to 1 inch of water.
4. Open the oven door then carefully lower the dishes into the oven, close the door and bake.
5. If you’re concerned that you may slosh the water into your bread pudding, place both dishes in the preheated oven first. Then pour the water from a measuring cup with a spout, a tea kettle or a water pitcher into the larger pan.
6. Close the oven door and then bake your bread pudding.
How to serve cranberry pumpkin bread pudding
The best thing about this bread pudding is that it’s terrific on its own. However, it’s only made better by adding a topping!
More Thanksgiving dessert recipes
Looking for more Thanksgiving dessert recipes? Then try these gluten free pumpkin desserts:
- cooking spray
- 24 ounces gluten free or whole wheat bread, stale but not hard
- 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup monk fruit sweetener
- 3 cups skim milk or unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 12-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk or coconut cream
- 2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
- Spray the inside of a 2-quart baking dish rectangular baking dish and set aside.
- Cut or tear bread into 1/2 inch pieces. You should have about 10 lightly packed cups of bread pieces. Place in a large bowl.
- Cover bread with dried cranberries and coconut.
- In a medium bowl whisk eggs and egg whites.
- Add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, sugar, skim milk, and condensed milk to eggs and whisk until blended.
- Pour egg, spice, and milk mixture over bread and cranberries. Mix together bread and liquids until bread is saturated. Let stand for 30 minutes periodically pressing the bread down with a spoon or spatula to help bread absorb the liquid.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Baked the pumpkin and cranberry bread pudding in a bain-marie (water bath) until puffed and firm in the center - about 1 1/2 hours.
- Serve warm or cold, either plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Originally published on October 20, 2011 and November 2, 2017. Updated with new pictures and information.