New Orleans Bread Pudding

I decided to make my Momo’s Pineapple Bread Pudding with “Not New Orleans French Bread, ” which my Mama has been holding for over a week in her refrigerator. If you have yet to taste a nice crusty, soft, airy piece of french bread made in New Orleans, you’re missing a perfect piece of bread. Since it wouldn’t make an adequate Po-Boy, it would make a good foundation for a good bread pudding. Let’s hope it doesn’t come out dense, I’m not too fond of a dense, thick, chewy bread pudding, and that’s why I like New Orleans French Bread.

As I  mixed the milk-soaked stale french bread with white sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, butter, crushed pineapple, and my Momo secret ingredient together, I envisioned New Orleans slave owners giving the stale ends of the bread to their slaves and from this delicious dessert was created.“Never even the smallest crust of stale bread is wasted in the true Creole or Cajun kitchens,” explained Roy F. Guste, Jr. Lafcadio Hearn had the same idea in 1885 in his introduction to La Cuisine Creole,

“The Creole servant often makes delicious morceaux from things
usually thrown away by the extravagant housewife.”

I thought the recipe had to have originated from an enslaved person using some bread ends. A simple recipe using stale bread had to come from someone who had nothing.


I did a little research that shocked me when I read that bread pudding was created in Britain and goes back to the Middle East. Makes me wonder how Bread Pudding, the official dessert of New Orleans, originate in that part of the world. We are made up of French and Spanish people, so how did the bread pudding recipe become so popular in New Orleans? Is it the French bread?

“No other place uses New Orleans French bread to make bread pudding,” notes Liz Williams, author of New Orleans: A Food Biography (AltaMira Press, December 2012). “That airy bread creates a bread pudding of special light texture.”

AltaMira Press, December 2012

 It’s 1/4 of the french bread she brought because it was not New Orleans French Bread.

Well, bread pudding did not originate here, but we enriched the recipe by adding New Orleans magic. There are so many versions of bread pudding, although I do not care for the savory bread pudding. My favorite is my Momo’s Pineapple Bread Pudding with a lil condensed milk, or heavy cream poured over it while hot. I also make a rum sauce when I feel fancy.

Here are my after pics, it came out almost perfect, but I may be biased because I know it wasn’t NOLA French Bread.



  • 1 (16-ounce) day-old French bread loaf, cubed
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 1 whole milk
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter or margarine, cut up and softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

How to Make It

Step 1
Combine the first three ingredients, and stir in eggs, blending well. Stir in crushed pineapple and the following four ingredients. Stir in butter, mixing well. Pour mixture into a greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Step 2
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes or until set and golden. Remove from oven, and let stand for 2 minutes.

Cafe Reconcile

1631 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (Central City)

tel: 504/568-1157

Here are two restaurants that have the best bread puddings.

Decadence meets virtue in Cafe Reconcile’s locally famous bread pudding, a custardy slice of heaven that stands among my all-time favorites. This small non-profit restaurant, which fed first responders in the uncertain weeks following Katrina, wins praise for its satisfying soul food and its mission of building culinary and life skills in at-risk teens.

Cafe Reconcile’s toothsome bread pudding is moister than most and redolent of the bananas and rum of its namesake New Orleans dessert, Bananas Foster. Some say the secret is the Leidenheimer bread they use—all of it donated by the bakery—but founder Craig Cuccia credits something more: “It’s the love of the people who bake the bread, the people who make the bread pudding, the people who come from all over to support our mission.” All I know is next time I’m in New Orleans. I’m heading home with a full sheet pan of the stuff. Yes, it’s that good.


The Bon Ton Cafe

401 Magazine Street (Central Business District)

tel: 504/524-3386

Now, if I’m in a white linen tablecloth mood, I’ll go to The Bon Ton Cafe.

Ask any New Orleanian for a “best bread pudding” pick, and chances are they’ll point you to the raisin-speckled version at Bon Ton Cafe, the oldest Cajun restaurant in New Orleans. Bon Ton first put bread pudding on their menu in the 1950s—well before most other fine dining establishments saw fit to serve this humble southern classic—and they’ve been sating sweet tooths with the same family recipe ever since. Tender French bread from Alois J. Binder Bakery, another local institution, makes for a dense yet soft consistency. A crowning drizzle of whiskey sauce adds a grown-up kick to this most traditional New Orleans bread pudding.

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Here are a few really creative bread puddings that are worthy of sharing. 

6078 Laurel Street (Uptown)
tel: 504/895.9441

Uptown restaurant Patois gives bread pudding a Mardi Gras twist,
combining brioche with King Cake in an unforgettable seasonal
creation adorned with gold nonpareils and sprinkled with green and
purple luster dust. A string of Mardi Gras beads is festively fashioned
of white chocolate, while Ponchatoula strawberry compote and Creole
cream cheese ice cream finish this colorful Carnival concoction.

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8115 Jeannette Street (Carrollton)
tel: 504/862-5514

The Boucherie on Jeannette Street in Carrollton makes their bread
pudding with, believe it or not, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and pound
cake, augmented by a caramel sauce of rum and brown sugar.

And in 2008, “Best in Show” was awarded to Ye Olde College Inn for
its “Bread Pudding Po-Boy” at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival.
The winning entry was an entire loaf of bread fashioned into bread
pudding and somehow fried. Only in New Orleans.


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