If you are Italian, then you have panettone running through your blood. If not, then there is no doubt you have seen this fruity sweet bread around Christmas time just about everywhere. This Italian Bread Pudding with Panettone is a great way to turn a traditional cake into a delicious dessert.
Confession: I used to hate panettone. My nonni always had it in the house. "It never goes bad" I was told. Once you get past the idea that it can survive a zombie apocalypse, (it actually can't, but that's okay) then you can begin to see its endless possibilities.
The great thing about using panettone in bread pudding is that it already has so much flavor from the dried fruits, all you need to do is add the custard. I added fresh orange zest and orange liqueur to bring out the flavors of the candied fruit.
I make this every New Year and everyone devours it. If you have any panettone haters, try converting them with this decadent dessert. While I love it as a dessert, it makes a great breakfast too!
What is panettone?
Panettone is an Italian yeast-leavened bread. Traditional panettones are studded with raisins, candied fruit, and liqueur. However, fancy flavors have popped up in popular retail stores. These include chocolate, lemon, and even tiramisu! Its tall dome shape is most recognizable and is usually sold in tall boxes, while modern versions are adorned in beautiful wrapping.
You can find panettone in specialty Italian stores, but these days during the Christmas season, anyone who is anyone is selling them (TJ Maxx, Target, even pharmacies). By itself, it makes a great breakfast bread alongside a morning coffee or tea. In addition, panettone makes a great French toast.
Ingredients for Italian bread pudding
In addition to the panettone, only a few more staple ingredients are needed.
- Panettone: I like to use the classic variety with candied fruit. However, flavored panettone such as chocolate, pistachio, or almond would also work well here. You will need one pound. If you can only find 2 pounds, then use half or make a double batch. Some panettones are slightly more than 1 pound, but that's ok, you can still use the whole thing. Leftovers can also be used to make panettone French toast.
- Whole milk and heavy cream: You can also use whole half and half. I would stick to the full-fat versions, as this will add to the richness of the bread pudding.
- Eggs: Along with the cream will form the custardy base.
- Sugar: White granulated sugar.
- Orange zest: This helps bring out the candied fruits in the panettone.
- Orange liqueur: This is optional. I always have Grand Marnier (orange flavored cognac) on hand for desserts. This works well with the brandy flavor usually found in panettones.
- Sliced almonds: Totally optional. Sometimes I like a bit of crunch on the bread pudding, so these add some texture. Most of the time I omit. If you want to make it look fancy for guests then the almonds add a nice touch.
See the recipe card for a full list of ingredients.
Remove the panettone from the box. Cut it into 1-1.5 inch pieces. They don't have to be perfect. If you like your bread pudding chunkier, you can cut them even bigger. Don't trim the crusts. At this point you can let them get stale by leaving them out, or you can toast the panettone in the oven for about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined.
Add the half and half, orange liqueur (if using) and the orange zest. Continue to whisk until fully combined.
Grease a 9x13 baking pan. Add the cut panettone to the pan, and spread it out evenly. Pour the egg mixture over the panettone, and gently press down to soak the bread. Let stand for 10 minutes.
You are now ready to bake! Place the pan in the oven and bake at 350℉ for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown, puffed up and set. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
See the recipe card for a full list of instructions.
How to serve panettone bread pudding
Italian bread pudding with panettone can be served warm, chilled, or at room temperature. However you prefer it, try some of these suggestions to elevate it.
- Keep it simple with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream.
- Drizzle with chocolate sauce.
- Top it with a scoop of ice cream, like this eggnog ice cream.
- If eating it for breakfast, serve it with maple syrup.
- Serve with coffee, tea, or an Italian liqueur such as Amaretto, or Frangelico.
Store cooled bread pudding in the fridge for up to 5 days. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to preserve freshness.
Panettone by itself has an extremely long shelf-life. Prepared panettone can last anywhere from 3-6 months unopened. So feel free to stock up for later baking!
Frequently asked questions
Panettone has a golden color, and a rich, buttery taste. Similar to brioche, it's a studded sweet dough with hints of citrus, particularly orange. Depending on the type of panettone you buy, taste will vary depending on the ingredients.
Look for panettone from Italy to ensure you are getting a quality product. When opening your panettone, the aroma will be strong- this is good! You will be able to smell the ingredients, especially citrus and vanilla. A good panettone will have a delicate texture, and be light and airy. Stale or cheaper panettone will be denser and more cake-like. Try experimenting with different brands to determine which you prefer.
Most classic varieties found in grocery stores are relatively inexpensive averaging 7-12$ for 1 pound. Artisan panettone, especially flavored panettones from big retailers can cost upwards of 50$.
Other Italian favorites
🍳Did you make this recipe? I would love to hear about it! Please leave a recipe rating with comment right below the recipe card. If you snapped a photo of your creation, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @brunchandbatter.
Italian Bread Pudding with Panettone
- 1 9x13 baking dish
- 1 1lb Italian panettone, cut into 1-1.5 inch cubes (crusts on) Some panettones are slightly more than 1 pound (17.6 ounces or 1lb 1.6 ounces). You can use the whole thing.
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3¼ cup half-and-half (or half milk and half heavy cream)
- 1½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 tsp orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) optional
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds optional
- powdered sugar for dusting optional
- butter for greasing the pan
- In a baking pan or tray, lay the sliced panettone in a single layer, and let it get stale (at least 6 hours or up to overnight). Alternately, toast the panettone in a 350℉ oven for about 10 minutes. If you are short on time, you can skip this step.1 1lb Italian panettone, cut into 1-1.5 inch cubes (crusts on)
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter a 9x13 baking dish on the bottom and up the sides.butter for greasing the pan
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, cream, orange zest and orange liqueur if using. Whisk until well blended.8 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, 3¼ cup half-and-half, 1½ teaspoon orange zest
- Place the panettone in the buttered pan and spread evenly. Pour the egg mixture over the panettone. Gently press down on the cubes to submerge. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
- Bake for about 45-55 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is set. (It will puff up a bit and then deflate once it starts to cool). Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream. It can also be eaten for breakfast!2 teaspoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), ⅓ cup sliced almonds, powdered sugar for dusting
*Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. Nutrition information can vary depending on many factors, such as products used, measurements and substitutions, therefore it is recommended that you obtain nutritional calculations based on your own finished recipe.