Bourbon-Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

We've figured out the custard-to-bread ratio that will make this classic dessert turn out every time.

Bourbon-Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
Photo: Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Matthew Gleason; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
20 mins
Stand Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Servings:
8

Sweet potatoes and bourbon are a match made in dessert heaven. Fans of bourbon desserts and bread pudding will love this easy recipe, which gets a nice fall upgrade from mashed sweet potatoes. When cooked, the sugars in sweet potatoes intensify in flavor, making them even more perfect for blending with bourbon, which is resplendent with caramel and vanilla notes.

Not all bread puddings are created equal; this recipe is extra special thanks to a very crucial step—toasting the challah bread cubes.

Light, airy, and buttery, challah benefits from a good toasting, which helps the bread hold up to being soaked in the rich bourbon custard. If you can't find challah, feel free to use brioche or any soft, buttery white loaf bread.

Most bread pudding recipes have a creamy interior and a toasty top, but this recipe gets extra points for the hidden layer of pecans in the center. That extra crunch makes this bread pudding even more spectacular—it's sure to be a hit on your Thanksgiving desserts table.

Ingredients

  • 1 large (12- to 14-oz.) sweet potato (makes about 1¼ cups mashed)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 10 cups (1-inch) cubed challah bread (from 1 [16-oz.] loaf)

  • 5 large egg yolks

  • 2 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • cup honey

  • cup bourbon

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 6 tablespoons toasted chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Pierce sweet potato several times using a fork, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave potato on HIGH for 4 minutes. Flip the potato with a pair of tongs (it will be hot), and microwave for 5 minutes. Check for tenderness with a fork, and continue to microwave in 1-minute increments until cooked through, if needed. Let the potato cool enough to be handled, about 10 minutes. Peel potato, and place flesh in a medium bowl. Add butter and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and mash until well combined. Set aside.

  2. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet; bake in a preheated oven until dried out but not browned, turning halfway through, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the pan, about 20 minutes.

  3. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl, and set aside. Combine heavy cream, sugar, honey, bourbon, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Gently warm over low until sugar and honey are dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in cinnamon and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Remove from heat, and gradually whisk cream mixture into egg yolks in a bowl until well combined. Add sweet potato mixture to cream mixture, and whisk until mostly smooth. Add bread cubes, and toss gently until moistened.

  4. Spread half of the soaked bread cubes in the prepared dish, and sprinkle with half of the pecans. Repeat with remaining soaked bread cubes and pecans. Pour any remaining custard from the bowl over the mixture, and let stand for 15 minutes.

  5. Bake in a preheated oven until the center is set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating dish halfway through and covering with aluminum foil during the last 10 to 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning, if needed. Let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tips

A good bread pudding has just the right ratio of custard to bread, so it ends up rich and decadent rather than too eggy or soggy. To help avoid the latter, the bread here is lightly toasted to ensure it's dry enough to soak up all the bourbon-flavored goodness.

Related Articles