Rich and decadent holiday bread pudding recipe made with spiced apples and cranberries and finished with maple vanilla cream sauce. Originally published December 2017. Last updated November 2022.
My go-to holiday bread pudding recipe is filled with tender fruit, nuts, and layers of flavor. This nutty bread pudding makes for a memorable special occasion dessert that your loved ones will request all the time. Let's get into the delicious details!
Grab my Holiday Dinner Guide for a memorable meal from start to finish!
If you enjoy unique bread pudding recipes, check these out next!
What Does it Taste Like?
Think spiced apple raisin bread pudding but with cranberries instead. The base of this recipe is a classic bread pudding made with French bread in a creamy egg custard. The cranberries and apples are spiced and cooked down in butter for super tender texture and deep fruity flavor.
You'll get warmly sweet spice notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg as well as nutty flavor from toasted pecans and almond extract. Vanilla extract brings everything together and allows each flavor to shine. The most similar dessert to this bread pudding currently on the site is my maple autumn pie made with apples, pears, cranberries, and warming spices.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
This apple cranberry bread pudding calls for common and easy-to-find ingredients. You probably have many of them on hand already. Here's what to add to your grocery list.
- Almond Extract
- Dried Cranberries
- Granulated Sugar
- Half & Half
- Heavy Cream
- Sea Salt
- Vanilla Extract
What kind of bread to use for bread pudding? I typically use a loaf of French bread but you can also use challah, Texas toast, or even baguette.
Why do you put eggs in bread pudding? The eggs add richer texture, flavor, and some structure to the bread pudding, especially in the absence of any leavening or rising agents.
Maple Cream Sauce for Bread Pudding
What kind of sauce goes with bread pudding? Cream sauce is the go to and my maple vanilla bread pudding sauce is really what makes this the best bread pudding for Christmas or any cozy winter holiday. And it only requires five ingredients. Making creamy bread pudding sauce is easier than you think!
- Granulated Sugar
- Heavy Cream
- Maple Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
Tips & Tools for the Best Bread Pudding
Do I need stale bread to make bread pudding? Nope. You can absolutely make bread pudding with fresh bread.
Should I soak the bread overnight? You can but it's really not necessary. Especially if you don't want soggy bread pudding. I make bread pudding all the time without soaking more than a few minutes.
Can I make this recipe in advance? Absolutely. Bread pudding is a good holiday dessert to make ahead of time. You can simply prep all the ingredients in advance, soak the bread in the custard for a while, or even bake the whole thing and store it. That's what I typically do for Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving dinner.
How to store bread pudding with fruit in it? Store this dessert in the refrigerator in an airtight container or covered tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Store the sauce in an airtight container, as well, and keep in mind that separation is natural so you'll likely need to stir it after reheating. Both will keep for about seven days.
Why does bread pudding fall? You'll notice that the pudding puffs up while baking then collapses or flattens to be about even with the rim of the baking dish. This is normal as there's no rising agent used in baking bread pudding.
Grab a sharp knife and cutting board to prepare the fruit for this cranberry apple spice bread pudding recipe. You'll also need a saucepan to make the maple vanilla bread pudding sauce. Lastly, a square baking dish. I prefer a clear glass dish so that I can see the sides of the pudding to ensure an even bake.
More Decadent Dessert Recipes
- Caramel Apple Pie with All-Butter Crust
- Cherry Apple Crisp in the Slow Cooker
- Honey Peach Pound Cake
- Pineapple Upside Down Rum Cake
- Red Velvet Layer Cake with Chocolate Covered Strawberries
And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this fruity bread pudding recipe for later and follow me over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
The Best Bread Pudding Recipe for the Holidays
Cranberry Apple Spice Bread Pudding with Maple Cream Sauce
For the Apple Cranberry Bread Pudding
- 2 apples
- 5 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 loaf French bread
- 4 eggs beaten
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups half & half
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup pecan pieces
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon divided
- ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Maple Vanilla Cream Sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square 8 x 8 inch baking dish with non-stick oil spray and set aside.
- Chop apples into ½ inch pieces and set aside.
- Place four tablespoons butter in microwave-safe dish and microwave until melted. Meanwhile, tear French bread into small (about one-inch) pieces and place in rectangular baking dish.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs until smooth then add heavy cream, half & half, melted butter, 1 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix until uniform. Pour mixture over torn bread pieces and set aside.
- Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped apple pieces, dried cranberries, pecans, remaining tablespoon of sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt to pan. Stir until fruit and nuts are evenly coated and cook until tender (about three minutes).
- Add fruit and nut mixture to pan with bread pieces and custard. Mix and smooth pan contents to ensure that all pieces are evenly distributed and coated.
- Transfer pan to oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until top of pudding is firm (but not hardened) to touch and golden brown. Pudding should slightly pull away from edges of the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.
Maple Vanilla Cream Sauce
- Make sauce while bread pudding cools: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and cream and mix until uniform.
- Allow sauce to bubble and thicken for a few minutes then reduce heat to medium low. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla extract and simmer for another five minutes or so. Serve warm with bread pudding.
What a twist on traditional bread pudding, which I find boring and uninspired. This looks delicious and like something we would all enjoy!
Thanks, Nancy! There's so much you can do with bread pudding. I hope you'll try this one out. 🙂
Annette Dattilo says
Bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts. And YES I want to chomp on that photo lol. Thank you for sharing this looks so delicious. Had to pin this one. Happy holiday. xo
This looks amazing! I've never had bread pudding but looks like I'm going to need to change that!
We love bread pudding and the apple cranberry sounds so yummy. Your vanilla topping would be to die for and make the perfect topping.
Ruthie Ridley (@RuthieRidley) says
Your recipes are the best! This one looks divine!!
I'm a bread pudding lover, but this nutty apple cranberry version is next level. I made it for the family for breakfast today and had to sneak back in and grab a serving for lunch. Loved the combination of sweet and tart here.
Jessica Lawson says
I brought this bread pudding to a holiday pot luck and came home with an empty dish. Everyone was raving about it. It's perfectly sweet and tart and the custard to bread ratio is on point. I don't know if I can wait another year to make this recipe again!