The Reason Your Bread Pudding Is Mushy (And How To Fix It)

When done right, bread pudding — whether it's a traditional rich bread pudding or something like cinnamon roll bread pudding — should be moist, but not too moist. If you make even one small misstep, you can end up with bread pudding that is way too mushy to be enjoyed. If this has happened to you, you're probably making this common mistake: using bread that is too fresh. It may sound strange for a recipe to require stale bread, but, when it comes to bread pudding, this is actually essential. 

Stale bread will soak up the custard much more easily than fresh bread, which is key to getting the right consistency. If the bread doesn't soak up enough custard, the end result will be mushy. The solution is to use bread that has dried out a bit. If possible, buy the bread a couple of days early, then slice it and leave it out. If you forget to do this and need to dry it out at the last minute, then dice the bread into cubes, place the cubes on a sheet tray, and bake them in your oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. From there, let them cool, and then add them to your bread pudding recipe as normal.

Other tips for making the perfect bread pudding

The bread is obviously a key part of bread pudding, but it's not the only element that impacts its consistency. To prevent horribly runny bread pudding, you also want to warm up the milk before adding it to the other ingredients for easier soaking. Additionally, cover the bread pudding with foil — but only for half of the baking time. This will ensure that the pudding is neither overdone nor underdone.

While any stale or dry bread will do, some types of bread work better than others for bread pudding. Brioche and challah have strong flavors on their own, which will make for a richer bread pudding experience. Meanwhile, French bread is nice and sturdy so it won't fall apart after being soaked in custard. You can even use leftover dinner rolls or croissants for this dish. It's also best to use bread that is unsliced so that you can control the thickness of the cubes used for the bread pudding.

What's more, there are lots of extra ingredients you can add to elevate your bread pudding, such as orange zest to add some brighter tasting notes or cocoa powder to switch up the overall flavor of the dessert. You can even add chopped fruit, such as apples or nuts — or both — to mix things up even more.