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This Savory Bread Pudding with leeks, gruyere and thyme is a cozy, decadent vegetarian side dish, perfect for the holiday table or special dinners.
The cold outside makes me want to hunker in and bake… and this Savory Bread Pudding Recipe is like a warm cozy blanket on frigid days like these, so comforting and warm. We often think of bread pudding as sweet, something to have for dessert, but served savory; it’s a hearty, flavorful side dish, pairing well with almost any main.
Savory Bread Pudding gets all its goodness and flavor from leeks- perfect for special gatherings or the holiday table – pairing well with many things. At home- we serve it up as a simple, hearty vegetarian main, along with a big helping of salad. I often think of this as a grown-up alternative to mac and cheese. Pure comfort food.
Why you’ll love Savory Bread Pudding!
- Comfort food at its finest: This bread pudding is indulgently cheesy and full of warm bread that is packed with buttery, rich flavor.
- The caramelized leeks: The caramelized leeks give this the BEST flavor! The flavor of a leek is more subtle and sweet than an onion. When caramelized, the sweet, decadent flavor comes alive.
- A perfect vegetarian main for the holiday table: What I love about this recipe, is you can make it in one large baking pan, or divide it into individual portions using separate ramekins or small baking dishes (like we do in catering) for a beautiful presentation.
- Preparing this dish is just as enjoyable as consuming it: The heavenly smell of this bread pudding baking in the oven is reason enough to make it!
Savory Bread Pudding Ingredients
- Leeks: Leeks are a type of vegetable with a mild onion-like flavor. In this recipe, the white and light green parts of the leeks are sliced and sautéed until tender and caramelized, adding a savory and slightly sweet taste to the bread pudding. Generally, you’ll want to use the lighter parts of the leek because that is where the flavor is. The darker parts are great for stock or this beautiful emerald Leek Oil -no need to waste any part! As an added bonus, leeks are high in vitamin K and vitamin C.
- Salt: Salt is a crucial ingredient for enhancing the natural flavors present in the dish. It is used to season both the leeks and the custard mixture.
- Butter and olive oil: Both butter and olive oil are used to sauté the leeks, adding richness and depth of flavor. Together they help to enhance the overall taste and texture of the bread pudding.
- White Pepper: White pepper is milder in flavor compared to black pepper and adds a subtle heat to the bread pudding. It blends well with the other seasonings, enhancing the overall taste without overpowering it.
- French Bread: French bread is the base of the bread pudding. It is cut into cubes and toasted to give it a crispy exterior and a soft interior. The bread acts as a sponge, soaking up the flavorful custard and leeks.
- Chives: Chives are small green herbs that have a flavor similar to onion or garlic. They provide a fresh and delicate aromatic flavor to the bread pudding, enhancing the overall taste. Scallions can also be used here.
- Fresh thyme: Thyme is an herb that adds a subtle earthy and slightly floral flavor to the bread pudding. It complements the other savory ingredients and gives the dish a delightful aroma.
- Eggs: Eggs serve as the binding agent in the bread pudding, helping to hold everything together. They also add richness and contribute to the custard-like texture.
- Milk: Milk contributes to the creamy texture that surrounds the bread and leeks. It adds moisture to the pudding when baked.
- Half and half: Heavier than milk, using half and half adds a rich flavor and texture to the custard that cannot be achieved by milk alone. We find that using heavy cream makes this a little too rich!
- Nutmeg: Freshly grated nutmeg adds a warm and slightly sweet flavor to the bread pudding. It pairs well with the other savory ingredients, giving the dish a cozy and comforting taste.
- Gruyere or Gouda Cheese: Cheese is sprinkled between the layers of bread and leeks. It melts beautifully during baking, creating a gooey and savory layer throughout the pudding. You can also substitute comte or Emmentaler cheese. Parmesan cheese would taste lovely on top before or after placing the dish in the oven.
Each ingredient in this recipe plays a crucial role in creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures in the Savory Leek Bread Pudding.
How to Make Savory Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut leeks into 1/2 inch rounds using only white and light green parts.
Place in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes to remove dirt, stirring occasionally. Most of the dirt will fall to the bottom. Rinsing the leeks in water also helps soften them for sautéeing. Remove them with tongs or with your hands careful not to stir up the dirt that falls to the bottom.
Set a skillet on med-high heat. Strain the leeks, blot dry, and add them to the un-oiled, heavy-bottomed pan. Season with salt and stir for 5 minutes.
As leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to med-low. Stir in the butter and olive oil and cover the pan, stirring every 10 minutes for 20-30 mins, until tender.
Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Stack the bread for easy slicing.
Toast on a sheet pan for 20 mins until golden and dry. You may need to mix or turn mid-way so they are evenly browned. Transfer to large bowl.
Grate 1 ½ cups of cheese. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk 4 eggs. Add milk and half and half. (Don’t be tempted to use all half and half, it will turn out very rich!) Whisk. Add salt, thyme, chives, a pinch of fresh nutmeg and white pepper. Whisk.
Add your now tender buttery leaks to the toasted bread and toss well in a large mixing bowl.
Assemble: Grease a 9x 13-inch baking dish, or you could use individual-sized ramekins.
Sprinkle the bottom with ½ cup cheese. Spread 1/2 of the leek and bread mixture in the pan and sprinkle with ½ cup more of the cheese. Add the rest of leek mixture to the pan. Mix the custard once more and carefully pour enough of it to cover the bread mixture, gently pressing on the cubes of bread allowing it to soak in. Let sit 10 mins.
Then add remaining custard, allowing some of the bread cubes to protrude. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake in the middle of the oven until nicely puffed and lightly browned about 1 1/2 hours. Your home will smell heavenly.
Serve the Savory Leek Bread Pudding as a delicious vegetarian side dish or as the main course with a BIG green salad.
- Leeks: The caramelized leeks are integral to the rich and comforting flavor of this dish, but other alliums like shallot and onion work well here too! If you love garlic, go ahead and add some minced garlic cloves to the pan.
- Cheese: Gruyere and gouda are by far our favorite cheeses for this creamy, decadent dish, however comte and Emmentaler are great options too.
- Meat: While we love enjoying this bread pudding as a savory vegetarian main, you could add meat to this recipe if you wish. Bacon, ham, or sausage would pair well.
- Other vegetables: You could mix in other sautéed vegetables if you wish! Mushrooms, broccoli, or bell peppers would make lovely additions.
This type of bread pudding is a savory take on sweet bread pudding. While bread pudding is commonly considered a dessert, savory bread pudding makes a wonderful side dish, vegetarian main, or holiday dish! Both sweet and savory bread pudding involves cubed bread soaked in an egg custard.
It wasn’t until after the 13th century that bread pudding got its name. Originally it was called ‘poor man’s pudding’ because it was made with bread, hot water, and sugar. After the 13th century the recipe started to include milk, eggs, and a type of fat to soak the bread, it was called ‘bread and butter pudding.’ Today it is simply called bread pudding.
Make sure you bake the bread pudding for the entire cook time, only opening the oven near its end. To check on your dish, simply turn on the oven light instead of opening the door. The pudding bakes for 1 1/2 hours to ensure the mixture sets.
In addition to cooking the bread pudding for the entire length of time, using stale bread can prevent the dish from getting soggy. If needed, you can turn on the broiler for a few seconds to crisp up the top.
When done, the texture of the bread pudding should be crispy on top and custardy and cheesy in the middle.
Storage & Reheating
Store this bread pudding in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. Reheat in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave.
You can freeze this bread pudding by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and foil. It will keep for 2 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until the dish is warm all the way through. Crisp up the bread by turning on the broiler for a few seconds.
More Recipes You May Like
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This Savory Bread Pudding with leeks and gruyere is as cozy as it gets! A delicious and comforting side dish or vegetarian main- perfect for special dinners or the holiday table. (Adapted from Thomas Keller’s recipe- but a little lighter!)
- 3 cups leeks (about 3-4 leeks depending on size)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 12 cups bread cubes ( about one large french bread loaf)
- 1 Tablespoon chives or scallions
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
- 4 large eggs
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere, gouda, or comte or Emmentaler cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cut leeks into 1/2 inch rounds using only white and light green parts and place in a bowl of lukewarm water to remove dirt. Mix several times and let any dirt settle to the bottom. Rinsing in water also helps soften the leeks when sauteing.
- Set a skillet on med-high heat. Strain the leeks and addd them to the un-oiled pan. Season with salt and stir for 5 minutes. As leeks begin to soften, lower the heat to med-low. Stir in the butter and olive oil and cover the pan, stirring every 10 minutes for 20-30 mins, until tender.
- Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and toast on a sheet pan for 20 mins until golden and dry. You may need to mix or turn mid-way so they are evenly browned. Transfer to large bowl.
- Grate 1 ½ cups of cheese. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk 4 eggs. Add milk and half and half. (Don’t be tempted to use all half and half, it will turn out very rich) Whisk. Add salt, thyme, chives, a pinch of fresh nutmeg and white pepper. Whisk.
- Add your now tender buttery leaks to the toasted bread and toss well.
- Assemble: Grease a 9x 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle the bottom with ½ cup cheese. Spread 1/2 of the leek and bread mixture in the pan and sprinkle with ½ cup more of the cheese. Add the rest of leek mixture to the pan. Mix the custard once more and carefully pour enough of it to cover the bread mixture, gently pressing on the cubes of bread allowing it to soak in. Let sit 10 mins.
- Then add remaining custard, allowing some of the bread cubes to protrude. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake in the middle of the oven until nicely puffed and lightly browned about 1 1/2 hours.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 365
- Sugar: 9.8 g
- Sodium: 635.3 mg
- Fat: 19.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 9.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 39.5 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 19.6 g
- Cholesterol: 121.2 mg
Keywords: savory bread pudding, leek bread pudding, thomas keller’s bread pudding recipe, savory leek bread pudding, bread pudding recipes, vegetarian side dishes