This easy banana bread pudding recipe is made with pretzel bread for a fun twist. I love it for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
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So how many other ingredients could I cram into that title? Could it be too many, you ask? No, I answer, definitively.
Pretzel bread is everywhere now and I am not complaining. Big fan. Always have been. Take me to a Cardinals baseball game - nachos you say? Hot dog? No, gimme that big ole pretzel and a bunch of mustard packets and I am set. So I found myself with a freezer full of these pretzel buns and some bananas and there you have it.
This easy bread pudding recipe has to be part of your holiday celebration. Because oh my gosh it's so freakin' easy.
A number of years ago, I had a friend who told me she was "working on bread puddings" - as in learning how to make them. What? You don't have to "learn" how to make a bread pudding recipe. You just dump everything in the pan and throw it in the oven and out comes gooey, pretzel-y love.
Why you'll love it
So what's the best thing about pretzels? That chewy dough contrasted with the crunchy salt. So how do you incorporate that experience into the bread pudding? You don't want to use salted buns because that would all just melt into the pudding and muck it up.
The answer? Salted caramel sauce.
A lot of caramel sauce recipes will ask you to dissolve the sugar in water and as the water evaporates the sugar will caramelize. I can't make it like this. I always burn it. One Christmas I think I made it three times before it turned out and it was still kinda burnt.
This caramel sauce recipe is from James Peterson's Baking cookbook, and just asks you to put the sugar right in the pan and turn on the heat. Keep stirring until it caramelizes and then add the cream. Simple.
And if you want to keep it really easy, no one would fault you if you just bought the stuff in the jar. Enjoy this as a fantastically easy holiday dessert, and again in your jammies the next morning.
For the bread pudding:
- Pretzel bread: I like to use pretzel buns, either the round ones or the sort of hot dog sized ones because you get more of the super pretzel crust flavor. But you can use a whole pretzel loaf, too.
- Heavy cream, whole milk and eggs: This will form our custard. The combo of heavy cream and whole milk keeps the custard rich, but not overwhelming.
- Ripe bananas: VERY ripe. Like banana bread ready bananas.
- Brown sugar and vanilla: For sweetness and aroma.
- Dark rum: Something like Meyers Rum or The Kraken. This is the fun part! Additional sweetness, and a bit of festive fun. The alcohol will cook out, so don't worry about the kids. Or you can leave it out.
- A pinch of salt: For that true pretzel vibe.
For the salted caramel sauce:
- Sugar, heavy cream, sea salt: This is a revolutionary and easy recipe for caramel that does not involve boiling water and scorching things!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Break up the pretzel bread into 1-inch pieces and let them sit out for at least 30 minutes, and up to overnight. This will allow it to go a bit stale and really soak up the liquid.
Mash your bananas until they are pretty gooey and liquid-y. I don't really know the culinary term for this, you just don't want big chunks.
Beat the eggs, and combine with brown sugar and salt. Whisk together with milk, half and half, rum, vanilla, and bananas.
Add pretzel bread to liquid mixture and let soak for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
This is another reason it's such an easy bread pudding recipe. You can do all of this the night before and leave it in the fridge, then pop this in the oven while you're eating dinner and - voila! No effort!
Put the mixture in a buttered 9" x 13" pan and place in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, until the top is golden brown and liquid is absorbed.
Top with warm salted caramel sauce and enjoy!
Make the salted caramel sauce:
Adapted slightly from James Peterson's Baking
Put the sugar into a heavy-bottomed and fairly high-sided sauce pan over medium-high to high heat.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to melt and turn reddish-brown.
Once the sugar is smooth and caramelized, add heavy cream - be very careful as the super-hot caramel will cause spattering. (Thus the room temperature cream and deep pan.)
Continue to stir until cream and caramel are blended.
Add ¼ teaspoon of sea salt such as Maldon, or other mild artisan salt, and serve.
Store in the refrigerator.
- When making the caramel, try to let the cream come closer to room temperature before you start. If it's really cold it will just cause the caramelized sugar to harden and you'll spend 10 minutes stirring to try to get it to melt back down and combine. (This sauce will also harden if you put it on ice cream. Be warned.)
- Use a sea salt such as Maldon for the sauce, or other milder, artisan salt if you can. Kosher salt has a sharper, more acidic flavor that doesn't blend as well with the caramel.
Can you make bread pudding ahead of time? YES! In two ways, actually. You can let the bread soak in the custard overnight, then bake it off the next day. OR you can go ahead and bake it, then let it cool and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days until you are ready to serve it. Cover with foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven until heated through.
Can you freeze bread pudding? Yes! Allow the bread pudding to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. You can then store it in the freezer for 2 - 3 months. To reheat, let it thaw in the fridge, then cover with foil and place in a 350 degree oven until heated through.
- Everyone loves pecan pie, but when it has a cheesecake layer, too? You're unstoppable when you make Pecan Cream Cheese Pie!
- I always make Spritz Cookies for Christmas. They're a family favorite.
Caramel Pretzel Banana Bread Pudding
- 16 oz pretzel bread
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon dark rum
- 3 bananas very ripe
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream Allow to come to room temp if possible
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Break up the pretzel bread into 1-inch pieces and let them sit out for at least 30 minutes, and up to overnight. This will allow it to go a bit stale and really soak up the liquid.
- Mash your bananas in a bowl until they are pretty gooey.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, and combine with brown sugar and salt. Whisk together with milk, half and half, rum, vanilla, and bananas.
- Add pretzel bread to liquid mixture and let soak for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Put the mixture in a buttered 9" x 13" pan and cook for about an hour, until the top is golden brown and liquid is absorbed.
- Allow to cool slightly, then slice and serve topped with salted caramel sauce. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-heat before serving.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Put the sugar into a heavy-bottomed and fairly high-sided sauce pan over medium-high to high heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to melt and turn reddish-brown.
- Once the sugar is smooth and caramelized, add heavy cream - be very careful as the super-hot caramel will cause spattering. (Thus the room temperature cream and deep pan.) Continue to stir until cream and caramel are blended.
- Add the ¼ teaspoon of salt and serve.
- Store in refrigerator.
- Use a mild sea salt such as Maldon for the salted caramel sauce. Kosher salt is more acidic and can be a bit jarring when added to the sauce.
- If you're making this for a holiday meal, presentation is key. For those occasions I like to use my Juliska Berry and Thread baking dish. Classy, but not conservative.
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