Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding

A savory bread pudding made with whole wheat bread and a creamy custard. It's slightly rustic and studded with spears of asparagus, bites of mushroom and just the right amount of melting cheese (not too much, not too stingy), then brightened with fresh herbs and lemon zest. It's an easy choice for a Mother's Day brunch menu or a weeknight spring supper. Bread puddings can be heavy and dense, not this one!

Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding ♥, rustic, studded with fat spears of asparagus and cheese, bright with fresh herbs and lemon zest. Perfect for a spring brunch menu or a weeknight supper.

Savory Bread Pudding, Made from Scratch. Real Food, Fresh & Inventive. Versatile Timing, Make Ahead or Just Before Baking. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Holiday Special. Assemble in Advance for an Easy Weeknight Supper. Potluck & Party Friendly. Vegetarian But High Protein. Rave Reviews.

  • "... This was just excellent for Mother's Day ..." ~ Anonymous
  • "Wow. Everyone loved this today." ~ Ali
  • "This was delicious ... my meat & potatoes hubby ... went back for seconds ..." ~ Jane

On My Mind: Thoughts for Mother's Day

Small acts, too, express a mother’s love.

Picture a mom with a baby in a stroller and a boy in hand near the Kirkwood train station. As a train rumbles round the bend, the mother squats, opening up her knee as a stool of perfect height for the four-year old, who hops right on.

Picture a mom and daughter skipping hand-in-hand through Laumeier Sculpture Park.

Picture front-yard baseball in Glendale, grandpa pitching, kids hitting, mom catching.

Picture each, imagining moves as graceful as they are practiced.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother in ways small but significant: all those called "Mom" and "Mum" and "Momma" and "Mommy" and "Ma" but also grandmoms, aunties, older siblings, teachers, childcare workers, dance teachers, soccer coaches, family friends ... "mothers" in all but name.

FYI This column was first published in my hometown newspaper, hence the references to St. Louis-area towns and parks.

About This Recipe

  • Asparagus Bread Pudding is a savory baked casserole, served hot or barely warm as either a vegetarian main dish or a side dish. It is lighter than most savory bread puddings, thanks to lots of vegetables and less cheese and tastes light and spring-y, thanks to the asparagus, fresh herbs and lemon zest.
  • The distinctive ingredients are good whole-wheat bread, asparagus and mushrooms – plus a touch of lemon zest, which makes all the difference.
  • Ingredient List = 8oz whole wheat bread + butter + 1 leek + mushrooms + asparagus + 3 eggs + whole milk + cream + 4oz cheese + fresh tarragon or basil + lemon zest (don't skip) + salt + cayenne + lemon pepper
  • Allow about 35 minutes to assemble the bread pudding and 45-60 minutes baking time. It may be assembled either the day before serving or right before baking. If it sits overnight, the top of the bread pudding turns slightly crusty in the oven. If it's mixed and baked right away, the bread pudding turns out more custard-y. Both are good!
  • The casserole is quite pretty, showing off both the asparagus and the mushrooms.
  • The recipe serves 6 as a main course or 12 as a side dish.

How to Make Asparagus Bread Pudding

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in five easy steps. You can do this!

  • Cut the bread into bite-size pieces and toast in the oven just until golden.
  • Sauté the leek and mushrooms in butter just until soft.
  • Mix the custard.
  • Combine everything, including the asparagus, in a casserole dish.
  • Bake for 45 - 60 minutes.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Choose the Right Bread This recipe calls for much less bread than other savory bread puddings, just 8 ounces, but that doesn't mean that "oh, any bread will do". Choose a bread that tastes good and is quite sturdy, that probably means a bakery bread vs a grocery store bread. I choose whole-wheat bread time and again both for its appearance and taste. Avoid most if not all mass-produced breads because these contain an ingredient (sorry, I'm forgetting what it's called) that extends shelf life but also turns breads to mush.

Choose Medium-Thick or Thick Asparagus Skinny asparagus would just melt into the casserole. Medium thick spears can be cut into one-inch lengths, thick asparagus I'd cut into half-inch bites.

Know Your Taste, Crusty vs Custard-y This recipe can turn out bread pudding that's either "crusty" or "custard-y". For the crusty version, mix and combine all the ingredients ahead of time and refrigerate overnight, then bake the next day. For the custard-y version, mix and combine all the ingredients (or mix ahead of time but keep separate before combining) and bake straight away. I happen to equally like the results of both methods.

Hungry Yet?
A Mother's Day Menu

Strawberry Milk

Baked Bacon and
Cooked Pork Sausage or
Smoked Salmon
Asparagus Whole-Wheat Bread Pudding
(recipe below)
Five-Minute Fruit Salad or
Savory Orange Slices

Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream or
Fresh Strawberry Pie

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for a savory bread pudding hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding ♥, rustic, studded with fat spears of asparagus and cheese, bright with fresh herbs and lemon zest. Perfect for a spring brunch menu or a weeknight supper.


Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 1-1/2 hours or overnight
Makes 1 8"x12"x1.5" casserole
to serve 6 as main course, 12 as side dish
  • 1/2 pound (225g) good sturdy bread, preferably whole wheat, cut into 1-inch pieces (see TIPS)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, white & light green parts only, cleaned well and cut into half-inch half moons (see TIPS)
  • 4 ounces (112g) fresh mushrooms, caps torn into pieces, stems chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 pound (112g) cheese, grated (see TIPS)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or basil or another fresh herb
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon (don’t skip this!)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • Custard
  • Toasted Bread
  • Sautéed Vegetables
  • 1 pound (450g) asparagus, preferably either medium-thick or thick, woody ends trimmed (see TIPS), cut in bite-size pieces

Set the oven to 375F/190C. Spray or butter an oven-safe casserole dish about 8"x12".

TOAST THE BREAD Arrange the bread pieces in single layer on a baking sheet, place in the oven until lightly toasted.

SAUTÉ THE LEEK & MUSHROOM In a skillet, melt the butter on medium heat until frothy. Stir in the leeks and mushrooms, cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring often.

MIX THE CUSTARD In a bowl large enough to hold and stir everything, whisk the eggs well first, then stir in the remaining ingredients. (If making ahead of time, see TIPS.)

OPTIONAL MAKE-AHEAD STEP Stop here for now. Set the bread aside to continue to dry and separately refrigerate the Sautéed Leek-Mushroom mixture and the Custard. (Keeping the prepared ingredients separate until just before baking will yield a more "custard-y" bread pudding.)

COMBINE Stir in the Toasted Bread, then the Sautéed Leek-Mushroom mixture and asparagus. Don't worry, yes, it'll be quite soupy at this stage. Transfer to the well-greased casserole dish.

OPTIONAL MAKE-AHEAD STEP If baking later, cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. This will yield a more "crusty" bread pudding.

TO BAKE RIGHT AWAY Bake for 45 to 60 minutes; after 15 minutes, gently press bread back into the liquid; cover with foil if the top is becoming too brown before done. The casserole is "done" when the center no longer sloshes but has cooked to a soft firmness.

~ or ~

TO BAKE LATER Within 12 hours, heat the oven to 375F/190C. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes; after 15 minutes, gently press bread back into the liquid; cover with foil if the top is becoming too brown before done. The casserole is "done" when the center no longer sloshes but has cooked to a soft firmness.

TO SERVE To serve hot, let cool and set for about 5 minutes before serving. To serve barely warm, cover and let rest at room temperature until ready to serve, within 30-60 minutes.

PAN EQUIVALENTS To make this bread pudding, I use a shallow Corning casserole that's approximately 8x12x1.5 (in inches) and holds about 8 cups of liquid. For other size baking dishes, here's what I'd recommend. Do know, baking times may vary. Luckily, bread puddings are quite forgiving!

  • For a 9x13 – Increase ingredients by 25%, I'd go with one extra egg.
  • For an 8x8 – Decrease ingredients by 33%, I'd go with two eggs instead of three.
  • For a 7x11 – Decrease ingredients by 25%, I'd go with two eggs instead of three.
  • For a 9x9 – Decrease ingredients by 20%, I'd stick with three eggs but add a bit more bread.
ALANNA's TIPS This savory bread pudding recipe thrives on good crust so there’s no reason to slice it off, even with an extra crusty whole wheat baguette from St. Louis Bread Company (for those outside St. Louis, that's Panera). If you're inclined to use homemade bread, I recommend this Light 'n' Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread or My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe Leeks can be fussy to clean! If you're new to cleaning them, check out how to clean leeks. I also have good luck with frozen leeks, just be sure to chop them up either before or after cooking. For cheese, use anything from an inexpensive supermarket blend to a pricey Grùyere. Just be sure it melts well. Be sure to clean the asparagus well, especially if it's from your garden or the farmers market. No matter the source, you'll also want to trim the woody ends off the spears, here's a short video that shows you how, it's got a rhythm! Asparagus & Woody Ends (Step-by-Step Photos & Video). Bend, Bend, Snap! Bend, Bend, Snap! This bread pudding can be made ahead in two ways. (1) It can be fully assembled, then baked the next morning. With this method, the bread pudding is slightly crusty on top, very good. (2) Or the bread, leek-mushroom and can be prepped the day before but then combined just before baking. With this method, the bread pudding is more custard-y, also very good. Cook’s choice! If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving (assumes 6 main dish servings): 338 Calories; 19g Tot Fat; 11g Sat Fat; 164mg Cholesterol; 391mg Sodium; 24g Carb; 4g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 17g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 7 & PointsPlus 9 & SmartPoints 13 & Freestyle 11 & myWW green 12 & blue 11 & purple 11 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 1/3 a serving (5g protein).

More Ideas for Spring Brunch Menus

~ breakfast & brunch recipes ~
Asparagus Custard Tart ♥, a simple vegetable tart, perfect for spring brunches and light suppers. So pretty!

Light Tomato Basil Quiche Recipe ♥, a make-ahead, healthy, vegetarian and light quiche recipe.

Easy Green Chile Egg Casserole ♥ No bread! Just eggs, green chiles, bits of cheese and a surprising ingredient, cottage cheese. Vegetarian. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ asparagus recipes ~
~ recipes using bread ~
~ leek recipes ~
~ mushroom recipes ~
~ cheese recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2009, 2012, 2015 (repub) & 20222

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Marilyn5/04/2009

    Okay ... that looks so good ...

  2. Grace F.5/05/2009

    That looks delicious! I love that you show the nutritional analysis. I wonder what it would be if I substitute artichoke hearts instead of asparagus?

  3. Marilyn ~ Glad to catch your attention. It IS so good!

    Grace F ~ Thank you! I think asparagus and artichoke hearts would be a wash. But when in question, you can always check this Weight Watchers points for vegetables at A Veggie Venture.

  4. Anonymous5/11/2009

    This was just excellent for Mother's Day, the whole wheat bread is definitely needed.

  5. Wow. Everyone loved this today, I felt like a superstar! That lemon peel really does make a difference. I love your recipes, the tips make me a better cook. Thank you!

  6. Ali ~ So nice to hear from you! And thank you, thank you, for your kind words. They mean the world!

  7. This was delicious. I wasn't sure how my 'meat & potatoes" hubby would like it but he went back for seconds and said to put it on a regular rotation.

  8. Jane ~ Wonderful! Thanks so much for letting me know. PS I have that “meat and potatoes” thing goin’ on here too so know how careful we must be with vegetarian dishes. So glad this one worked for you!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna