Sunday Morning Slow Cooker Bread Pudding
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Sunday morning is always a bit harried, trying to get out the door to church with three little ones in tow. And since it's Sunday – a day we like to set aside for rest, worship, and family time – I like breakfast to be something a little special.
Trouble is – on a day of rest when we're trying to get out the door in a hurry, “special” isn't exactly something I want to spend a lot of time on.
So when I discovered that I could make bread pudding in the slow cooker, I was ecstatic! I've been making this every Sunday for several months now and every week it's something we all look forward to. I prep it Saturday night and we have a hot breakfast waiting for us in the morning.
And the best thing about it is that it's highly customizable – this recipe is only limited to your culinary imagination! Some weeks we have plain bread pudding, some it's banana bread pudding, some it's chocolate. My two current favorites are the dairy-free Indian chai bread pudding and the almond bread pudding with apples and apricots.
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I haven't tried it with any gluten-free breads, but I would imagine it would work just fine as long as there's plenty of bread so that it doesn't get completely saturated and get overly soggy.
I've also discovered that it works well for savory bread puddings too. Thanksgiving stuffing has been a breeze and our favorite spicy ham and cheese strata comes out beautifully.
Oh, and one frugal tip – make this with leftover bread pieces saved through the week. Since our homemade bread comes out with very crunchy, chewy crusts (which my husband and I love), we typically trim them off for our younger children because they're just too difficult to chew. Through the week I save the crusts and make this bread pudding with all those reserved bread pieces. Any stale pieces you have – croissants, challah, sourdough, whole wheat, whatever! – will work beautifully.
Slow Cooker Bread Pudding
serves 6-10, depending on serving size
7-8 cups bread cubes
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar or maple syrup
3 tablespoons rum (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then stir in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and rum. Mix well.
Add the bread cubes, pressing them into the egg-milk mixture, and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, very liberally coat the slow cooker insert with butter.
After the bread cubes have soaked, pour the entire mixture into the slow cooker insert.
Cook on low for 4-8 hours. (It's typically done after four, but longer won't hurt it.)
Bread Puddings Variations
Dried Fruit Add-Ins
Just before pouring the bread cubes into the slow cooker, add in 2-3 handfuls of dried fruit.
Banana Bread Pudding
While whisking the eggs, mash in 3 very ripe bananas. Add the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and rum as normal, adding an extra tablespoon of either vanilla or rum.
Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding
Over low heat, melt 60 grams (2 oz) of dark chocolate. Reserve.
While whisking the eggs, add in 3/4 cup cocoa powder. Add milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar, excluding rum and adding an extra 1/4 cup of sugar. Whisk in melted chocolate. Add bread cubes and soak as normal.
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add in 30 grams (1 oz) of cocoa nibs or broken pieces of milk chocolate.
Fresh Blueberry and Cream Cheese Bread Pudding
Mix egg-milk mixture as normal and add bread cubes.
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add 1-2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries and 6-8 oz of cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes.
Cranberry and Orange Bread Pudding
Make the bread pudding as directed, adding in an extra 1/2 cup maple syrup and reducing the milk by 1 cup.
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries and the zest AND juice from 2 large oranges.
Indian Chai Bread Pudding with Coconut Milk
While whisking the eggs, add in 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Replace milk with coconut milk (if using cans, two standard 14-oz cans are sufficient even though it won't equal 4 cups).
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add in 2 tablespoons of candied ginger.
If I'm needing protein in the morning, sometimes I'll add a hearty sprinkle of pistachios to this bread pudding once I've served it up.
Almond Bread Pudding with Apples and Apricots
This bread pudding is based on the breakfast bread pudding recipe in our FREE “Whole Food Family Favorites” e-cookbook that you get when you sign up for our updates. (Get your free copy now!)
While whisking the eggs, whisk in 3/4 cup almond butter, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, and a dash of cloves.
Just before pouring it into the slow cooker, add in 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, 3 coarsely chopped apples, and 1/4 cup dried cranberries.
Savory Bread Puddings
Basic Savory Bread Pudding Recipe
7-8 cups bread cubes
4 cups milk OR 4 cups chicken stock OR 2 cups milk + 2 cups stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
Prepare as directed above.
Herbed Bread Pudding
While whisking the eggs, add in 3 tablespoons of your favorite dried herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme.
Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Stuffing
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add 1 cup finely diced celery, 1 large, finely diced onion, and 1 tablespoon dried sage. You may add chopped giblets if you so desire.
Mushroom, Spinach, and Cheese Bread Pudding
In a large sauté pan, sauté 1 pound of your favorite mushrooms and wilt 1 large bunch of spinach.
Just before pouring the soaked bread cube mixture into the crock pot, stir in the mushrooms, spinach, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Greek Feta and Olive Bread Pudding
I love feta and olive bread – why not make a feta and olive bread pudding?!?
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add in 1 cup crumbled feta cheese and 1 cup chopped kalamata olives. You may also add 1 teaspoon dried oregano if desired.
Leek and Bacon Bread Pudding
Chop uncooked bacon into 1-inch pieces and sauté until crisp in a large pan. Remove with a slotted spoon and sauté 2 leeks in the remaining bacon grease, using both the white and green parts.
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, stir in the bacon and leeks.
Peppers, Ham, and Cheddar Bread Pudding
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add in 2 chopped bell peppers, 1 cup of diced ham, and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Add 1 diced jalapeño if desired.
Italian Sausage Bread Pudding
Brown 1 pound of Italian sausage and cook it well.
Just before pouring into the slow cooker, add in the cooked sausage, plus 2 tablespoons dried oregano and 4 cloves of garlic, minced. Optionally, you may add 3-4 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes as well.
What's your favorite bread pudding? Do you have any ideas to share?
I’m going to try this!! 🙂
I can really see myself trying this. What time do you put yours on if it’s done after 4 hours? 🙂 I don’t stay up till midnight on Saturdays, and we don’t eat before 8. Does this work well on the keep warm feature and cook for 6 hours?
Definitely. Put it in whenever you go to bed, set it to cook on low for 4-6 hours, then have it sit on the warm setting until you’re ready to eat. I’ve left it for up to 12 hours on warm! I know not all machines have that capability, but it’s a very flexible, forgiving recipe, so feel free to play around with it.
If your cooker does not have a warm setting (my old one does not.) I plug it into a timer then it starts whenever you need it to.
That’s a great idea even if your slow cooker DOES have a warm setting! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
This looks so good!
If only we could eat dairy and eggs! This looks so darned good!
Try skipping the eggs (they’re just there as a binder and to make it a bit custard-y) and use either coconut milk or almond milk instead! It’ll still work. 🙂
I’ve heard some people who avoid eggs use flax seeds and water as a binder. I have no experience with it, but perhaps someone else could chime in?
Flax seed and water seems to work for all the recipes I have used it for. I also use a gelatin blend depending on the recipe.
Ooo, yes. Flax seeds can mimic egg whites quite nicely. 🙂
Unfortunately, after eight hours in a slowcooker with no timer (cooking the bread pudding overnight), it was burnt on the edges and most of it was inedible. It all had a faint burnt taste and some of it was mysteriously watery and had no taste whatsoever besides the burnt flavor. I made the blueberry/cream cheese one, and most of the cream cheese was hard and burnt. I followed the recipe exactly including buttering the inside liberally. It was probably great after four hours. I would not recommend anyone make this overnight without a slowcooker that has a preset timer for when to start and stop. Do they make those, I assume? 🙂
Oh, shoot! How frustrating!!!! Was it on low that whole time? As I’ve said before, I’ve left it on low for up to 12 hours in my machine (the edges were dry by that point, but the rest was still quite good) – obviously, different slow cookers have vastly different temperature settings. Thank you SO much for returning and sharing your experience.
Again, I’m so sorry that you lost an entire batch. ::hugs::
I am trying this now! I know exactly what you are saying about Sunday mornings- down to the three littles in tow! (Mine are three, eightenn months, and newborn!)
I was so excited to wake up to the banana bread pudding in the slow cooker in the morning and woke up to a very watery and runny bread pudding instead. The bread pudding looked it never set and the was a layer of liquid floating on top. I had it on the warm setting for 10 hours over night since this new slow cooker seems to not be a powerful as my previous one. Any thoughts as to what went wrong? Thanks!!
Hmmm… well, first of all, what a disappointment! I’m so sorry to hear that.
My initial thought, however, is that it was too hot – a watery consistency (either sitting on the top or pools of it when you scoop) is the prime symptom of too high a temperature with custards. Also, while it’s never been a problem in my slow cooker to leave it for hours upon hours, perhaps next time you make it, make it during the day so you can peek through the lid every once in a while to observe how it progresses and determine if too long a cook time was a factor.
You might also try adding in another egg to increase the egg-to-milk ratio, as the extra albumin proteins may help. Or try stirring in a bit of cornstarch to keep it cohesive, although I’ve never tried that method personally and so I can’t vouch for it.
Again, I’m sorry it didn’t go as planned. 🙁 I hope the next batch exceeds expectation! 🙂
I have a wonderful bread pudding recipe that I would like to make and take for a potluck at work. I have found out that it bakes very well in the oven, in the crock from my crockpot. What I am wondering is if it can be put in the crockpot throughout the day on warm? Or will this dry it out too much? I’ve tested the baking part, just haven’t had the chance to test the warming part. Thanks!
Hmm…. I’m not sure! I had never thought of that but it might work really well. The outsides might burn a bit over the day and you’d want to keep the lid on as much as possible to keep it from drying out, but it might work like a charm. Maybe make two, so that if it doesn’t go as planned, you can at least have a cold one on stand-by?
Good luck and have fun!
Kresha, what size of slow cooker are these recipes for? I have small a 2.5 pint slow cooker. Would I simply reduce the quantities pro rata to suit? God bless.
I would say a 4-quart slow cooker would be the absolute smallest these recipes could fit, and a 5-6 quart would be ideal.
And yes, you can adjust the amounts with the same ratio, although the egg to milk ratio may change a bit since eggs can be divided, but it’s pretty flexible, so that’s just fine!
I hope that helps!
Thanks, Kresha, for your prompt and helpful reply.
Can I make the slow cooker bread pudding one day, then reheat on warm in the slow cooker the next day for about 2 hours?
Hmmm… that’s a great question. However, I’m not sure. If you were to make it in the oven, I think it would work just fine. However, I’m not sure if the texture would remain the same or not in the slow cooker, but it might turn out really nicely! So, I’m sorry I don’t have experience with this one!
If you DO decide to do it, I might recommend lining the slow cooker with parchment paper before you pour the bread pudding mixture in, as if you cook it directly in the insert, then cool it, then reheat it, the sides may adhere themselves to the sides and be very difficult to remove, especially if your slow cooker tends to run on the hot side.
Do you think this would work with “bread croutons” – i.e. plain dried bread cubes that you would use for stuffing? I have a TON leftover from Christmas and am looking for delicious ways to use them!
YES, most definitely croutons would work. Sometimes I add an extra 1/4-1/2 cup liquid when the bread cubes are so dry, but it’s very forgiving.
Any change if you are using bread that is not dried out? I don’t want it to turn to mush? Maybe toast the bread.
When I’m using fresh bread, I just reduce the liquid slightly – surprisingly, I’ve never had one turn to mush, although I think the idea of toasting the bread is GREAT, as it will help the bread hold its structural integrity. Perhaps tear it into pieces first, THEN toast in the oven for best results.
Good luck and enjoy!