Buttery, flaky pastries make this Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce stand out from the rest! Toasted croissant pieces are baked in a fragrant custard sauce, dotted with rich chocolate chunks and drizzled with a warm vanilla butter sauce for the ultimate comfort food dessert recipe. Best of all? It's super easy to make and requires only a handful of ingredients!
Most bread pudding recipes use day old bread, but this Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce is an updated twist on a traditional comfort food. Flaky, butter croissants are soaked in a spiced custard sauce, generously sprinkled with chunks of chocolate and baked until fragrant and golden brown. A drizzle of warm vanilla bread pudding sauce is the perfect finishing touch to this easy, make-ahead dessert. Trust us; everyone will want the recipe!
Why you'll love this recipe
✔︎ Lighter than other bread puddings: Airy croissants give a fluffier texture to what is traditionally a dense dessert. Although it's rich, you won't feel weighed down after eating a slice of this recipe.
✔︎ Easy vanilla bread pudding sauce: Sure, you can eat your croissant bread pudding plain, but why would you when you can add a drizzle of this simple dessert sauce? Once you taste it, you'll be looking for other ways to use it!
✔︎ Works for brunch or dessert: Croissant pastries make this bread pudding the perfect comfort food to start or end the day.
✔︎ Make ahead: This recipe can easily be prepped or made ahead of time. You can freeze leftover pieces, too!
Grab all of your ingredients in one trip to the grocery store.
A few bread pudding ingredient notes:
Croissants: Most grocery store bakeries stock croissants. If you're feeling adventurous, try making your own croissants at home! It doesn't matter if you have fresh or stale croissants as they are toasted before being added to the recipe.
Half and half: Don't try to "lighten" this bread pudding but substituting whole milk for the half and half. The results won't be the same. If needed, you can use equal parts heavy cream and whole milk instead (which is essentially half and half).
Eggs: This recipe was tested using large eggs.
Chocolate: I used semi-sweet chocolate, but feel free to use the type of chocolate you prefer (milk, bittersweet, etc). Avoid unsweetened chocolate as it will taste bitter in this dish.
A few vanilla sauce ingredient notes:
Heavy cream: This gives you the thickest vanilla sauce. Half and half will yield a thinner, runnier sauce.
Brown sugar: This recipe was tested with light brown sugar, but dark brown sugar can also be used for a slightly darker sauce.
Toasting the croissants - even if they are already stale - gives this bread pudding a lighter texture than most. It's an extra step that's well worth the 10 minutes of time it takes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Chop or tear the croissants into bite-sized pieces. Toast for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the custard.
Place eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Whisk or blend in half and half.
Layer half of croissant pieces and half of chocolate chunks in a greased baking dish. Repeat with other half of pudding ingredients. Evenly pour custard over croissants and chocolate. Gently press croissants into custard. Allow croissants to soak up liquid for 30 minutes, pressing down on croissants two or three more times.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and custard no longer oozes up from center when pressed. Cool for 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
While the pudding is cooling, make the sauce.
Place all sauce ingredients except vanilla in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Drizzle warm sauce over bread pudding.
Serve it warm or cold! I love warm slices of bread pudding drizzled with the warm vanilla sauce, but you can also eat a leftover slice cold from the fridge, if you prefer.
The texture of bread pudding is best the day it's made but it can be held in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Yes! I refrigerate leftover bread pudding and gently microwave at 50% power for 30-45 seconds. You can also reheat the entire casserole covered in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove foil for the last 3-5 minutes to crisp the top.
After the pudding is cooked, cool it completely then cut it into squares. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to two months. Do not freeze the bread pudding with the vanilla sauce on it or the pieces will get soggy when defrosted. Defrost in the refrigerator and warm in a 350°F oven until heated through. It will not have as crusty of a top as when freshly made, but it will still taste delicious.
Expert tips for making the best bread pudding
✘ If possible, weigh your croissants for the best results. Croissants vary greatly in size, so it's best to use an inexpensive kitchen scale to ensure you have approximately the right amount of bread for the pudding. My favorite scale quickly toggles between metric and U.S. standard measurements, plus the display pulls out so you can easily read it when topped with a large tray or bowl.
✘ Any shape of a 1.5 quart baking dish works in this recipe: round, oval, square or rectangular.
✘ Generously grease the baking dish with cooking spray before adding the ingredients to ensure the pudding releases easily when baked.
✘ It's important to press the croissants into the liquid while it's soaking so the liquid becomes evenly distributed throughout the pudding. Do this two or three times before baking.
✘ Test if the bread pudding is done baking by gently pressing it down the middle to see if the custard has been fully absorbed. If a lot of excess liquid bubbles up, continue baking, checking every five minutes for doneness. Cover with foil, if needed, to prevent excess browning.
✘ Allow the pudding to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing so the slices firm up a bit.
✘ I prefer to add the vanilla sauce to each piece of bread pudding as I serve it. This prevents the entire dish from getting soggy if it isn't going to be eaten all at once.
Substitutions and Shortcuts
➤ Use chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks. Any kind of chocolate works in this recipe: milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet. Avoid unsweetened chocolate.
➤ Not a chocolate fan? Omit it entirely. This croissant bread pudding will still be delicious.
➤ Don't have half and half? Substitute equal parts whole milk and heavy cream instead.
➤ I prefer to use light brown sugar in the vanilla bread pudding sauce to keep it from getting too dark in color, but dark brown sugar works, too. Your sauce will be a richer brown color with dark brown sugar but will still taste delicious.
➤ Short on time? Prep this recipe ahead of time. Pour the custard over the croissants and chocolate and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Allow the baking dish to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
➤ Challah or brioche bread can be substituted for the croissants for a denser pudding. Toast bread just like the croissants before assembling.
➤ No time to make the vanilla sauce? Keep it simple and dust the pudding with powdered sugar. You can also use a store bought jar of salted caramel sauce or fudge sauce. Vanilla ice cream is also tasty.
More easy dessert recipes
Desserts don't need to be complicated to be delicious!
Or serve this easy Balsamic Strawberry Sauce over scoops of vanilla ice cream (trust us on this one). You can find all of our dessert recipes in our archives.
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Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
- 13 oz croissants (about 6 large or 12 mini)
- 3 large eggs
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups half and half
- ½ cup chocolate chunks (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
Vanilla Bread Pudding Sauce
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher or sea salt, optional
To make the bread pudding:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1.5 quart baking dish. Set aside.
- Coarsely chop croissants into bite sized pieces. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.13 oz croissants
- Whisk together eggs, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk in half and half.3 large eggs, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups half and half
- Layer ½ of toasted croissant pieces in bottom of pan. Sprinkle with half of chocolate chunks. Top with remaining croissant pieces and chocolate chunks. Slowly pour custard over croissants in pan. Gently press croissant pieces into custard. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow the croissants to soak up the custard, pressing pieces into custard two more times.½ cup chocolate chunks (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes. The custard should be set and the top golden brown. While the pudding is cooling for 15 minutes, make the sauce.
To make the vanilla bread pudding sauce:
- Place heavy cream, sugars and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt, if using. Drizzle over warm pieces of bread pudding.¼ cup heavy cream, ¼ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup light brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, pinch of kosher or sea salt,
- Weigh your croissants for best results as sizes can vary greatly.
- Any 1.5 quart baking dish works in this recipe (round, square, rectangle, etc).
- It's important to press the croissants into the liquid while it's soaking so the liquid becomes evenly distributed throughout the pudding. Do this two or three times before baking.
- Test if the bread pudding is done baking by gently pressing it down the middle to see if the custard has been fully absorbed. If a lot of excess liquid bubbles up, continue baking, checking every five minutes for doneness. Cover with foil, if needed, to prevent excess browning.
- Use chocolate chips instead of chocolate chunks. Any kind of chocolate works in this recipe: milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet.
- Not a chocolate fan? Omit it entirely. Or use raisins or another dried fruit of your choice.
- Don't have half and half? Substitute equal parts whole milk and heavy cream instead.
- Challah or brioche bread can be substituted for the croissants for a denser pudding. Toast bread just like the croissants before assembling.
- Skip the vanilla sauce and dust the pudding with powdered sugar instead. You can also use a store bought jar of salted caramel sauce or fudge sauce. Vanilla ice cream is also tasty.
Make ahead instructions:
Pour the custard over the croissants and chocolate and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Allow the baking dish to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
- You can also freeze leftovers. Tightly wrap slices and freeze for up to two months. Defrost in the refrigerator and wipe off excess moisture. Rewarm in a 350°F oven until heated through (about 10-15 minutes). It will not have as crusty of a top as when freshly made, but it will still taste delicious.
- Make the vanilla dessert sauce up to three days ahead of time and keep refrigerated. Reheat in the microwave until warm.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.
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