Dessert gets a festive twist with a wee touch of Irish whiskey

This week we're sharing the recipe for one of our favorite desserts, spiked with an Irish twist just in time for St. Patrick's Day: Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce.
Almost everyone likes a good bread pudding for dessert. Adding a small amount of Irish whiskey give this classic recipe a festive kick just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

This week we’re sharing the recipe for one of our favorite desserts, spiked with an Irish twist just in time for St. Patrick’s Day: Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce.

We love to make bread pudding for several reasons, especially for dinner parties or brunch. For one thing, it’s a large-batch dessert and ridiculously easy to make, and can be made in advance and refrigerated, or even frozen, until ready to serve.

Next, it’s a great way to use stale or leftover bread, tastes delicious, and is always a crowd-pleaser. In fact, we’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good bread pudding. We prefer to use artisan-style breads like the French bread or baguettes from the Fargo Breadsmith store, but rustic dinner rolls or even Irish soda bread would also work great. Stay away from ordinary sliced bread, as it just doesn’t have the heft to create an excellent bread pudding.

This is a classic bread pudding recipe which can be served as is or embellished in myriad ways by adding raisins or other dried fruit. For this special occasion we’re keeping it Irish by adding a tablespoon of Jameson Irish Whiskey and serving it with an Irish whiskey sauce.

Whenever we include liquor in a recipe we will invariably receive an email asking if it’s safe for kids to eat. This is such a good question. As long as the liquor is cooked into the recipe, as it is here in both the bread pudding and the sauce, or in a savory sauce, then the alcohol content evaporates during the process, making the dish safe for any age to enjoy.

Because of the high egg content, bread pudding is typically cooked in a water bath at a low temperature, in this case, 300 degrees. The water bath is essential as it keeps the eggs from scrambling and ensures that the dish will be gently and evenly baked.

The Irish whiskey sauce requires a little more technique but is well worth the extra effort. It can be served immediately or refrigerated for several days, or even frozen for up to one month. The base of the sauce is a classic vanilla sauce, also known as a crème anglaise.

To make the sauce, you’ll need to scald the milk first, which helps to infuse any added flavors into the milk, in this case, the vanilla extract. Scalding is not scorching – cook the milk over medium heat just until it starts to boil and becomes frothy, then remove immediately from the heat and cool at room temperature for several minutes.

Next, egg yolks and sugar are whisked together until the mixture becomes very thick and pale yellow in color. Tony uses a whisk to mix his sauce, but it takes several minutes for the sauce to thicken and his muscles are bigger than mine, so I prefer to use my electric handheld or stand mixer instead.

The two mixtures are then combined by adding the cooled milk in a slow, steady stream to the egg and sugar mixture, and then the sauce is returned to the sauce pot to cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the Irish whiskey, stir, and serve by spooning over the bread pudding.

Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day and may the luck of the Irish be ever with you!

Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce


7 large eggs

1½ cups heavy cream

1½ cups milk

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup sugar

1½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Irish whiskey (optional)

¾ pound cubed day-old bread – use artisan-style breads or dinner rolls, or even Irish soda bread, but NOT sliced bread


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine the eggs, cream, milk, honey, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and whiskey, if using, in a large bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the bread cubes and mix together. Cover with a damp towel and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes at room temperature. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour in a water bath until golden brown.

Cool slightly and serve with Irish Whiskey Sauce.

To Store: Keep in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. Bread pudding can also be frozen before or after baking. For best results, reheat in microwave before serving whether refrigerated or frozen.

Tony’s Tips

  • To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the thickest part of the pudding – when it comes out crumb-free, it’s ready.
  • For an easy sauce, melt a good-quality vanilla ice cream and add the whiskey once it’s liquid.
  • Jameson whiskey is our preference, but any Irish whiskey will do.

Irish Whiskey Sauce


1 teaspoon corn starch

1 cup milk, divided

½ teaspoon vanilla or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

3 egg yolks

3½ tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons Irish whiskey


Dissolve corn starch in 2 tablespoons of milk and set aside. In a small sauce pot, scald the remaining milk and vanilla over medium heat until the edges start to bubble. Remove from heat and add the corn starch mixture into the scalded milk. Stir to incorporate then cool at room temperature for at least 5 minutes.

Use a whisk or electric mixer to mix the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Keep whisking and add the cooled-down milk in a slow, steady stream until fully combined.

Return the mixture back to the sauce pot and gently cook over medium-low heat while stirring, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in the Irish whiskey and remove from stove.

Serve immediately over bread pudding or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days. Reheat before use if desired.

Tony’s Tips

  • Sauce can be frozen for up to one month.
  • Irish cream liqueur or any other flavored liqueur would also work great.

“Home With the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 10-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at All previous recipes can be found at