Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar

Who says bread pudding is always sweet and always for dessert? Not me! Instead, this is a savory bread pudding, absolutely delicious, a layer of hearty greens sandwiched between layers of good whole-grain bread studded with cubes of butternut squash and cheddar cheese. This rustic bread pudding (vegetarian casserole?) can be made ahead, much like a breakfast strata.

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

Homestyle Whole Food, Fresh & Seasonal, Holiday Special & Worthy of an Occasion. Budget Friendly. Vegetarian. Beautiful Color! Rave Reviews. One of My Very Favorite Vegetarian Casseroles. So Good!

A Little Background

This Savory Bread Pudding launched my 2009 collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes at A Veggie Venture, all now showcased in a multi-year collection of My Very Best Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes. The vegetarian entrée has become such a signature recipe that today I'm moving the recipe over here to Kitchen Parade.

But just look! So many other home cooks love it too ...

  • "... we both really enjoyed this dish, and Hubby LOVED it. He wouldn't normally go within 10 feet of wilted greens ..." ~ Anonymous
  • "It was awesome! Even, my husband, who always claims that he doesn't really like squash, liked it." ~ Tracy
  • "This was so delicious! It was a big hit as the main course for the vegetarians for Thanksgiving, and for the carnivores as well." ~ Nancy
  • "This came out amazing. ... The flavors are amazing!!!! It was a huge hit at my house and is definitely a recipe I'm going to be making again and again and again. YUM YUM YUM.." ~ Lindsay
  • "I've used some recipes from your site and they often turn out. However, this one was particularly great." ~ Anonymous
  • "... it is just as delicious with pumpkin and collards and it was the times I made it with butternut and Swiss chard. Every time I make it I wonder why I don't make it more often :-)" ~ Sarah

Vegetarians at the Thanksgiving Table

How to strike fear in a cook's heart? "Alanna, I'm bringing so 'n' so to Thanksgiving dinner. He's a vegetarian." Even though I was a vegetarian myself for many years, even though I often cook simple vegetarian and vegan meals, there's something about meat, well, that's celebratory.

The good news about this bread pudding casserole? It tastes good to everyone, carnivores and vegetarians alike. It feels special. It tastes substantial. And it smells divine while it's baking! One of my book club tasters walked in the door asking, "What smells so good in here?" and another, "You could bottle that aroma ..."

More good news? Over the years, I've collected a cookbook's worth of vegetarian & vegan recipes recipes including a whole host of Vegetarian Entrées for Thanksgiving.

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

About This Recipe: Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar

  • This is a savory bread pudding that's more vegetables than bread and is perfect for a vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish or a weekend brunch or a holiday buffet supper. It might also stand in as the "vegetarian stuffing" at Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Good Bread + Butternut Squash + Swiss Chard + Cheddar + a Savory Seasoned Custard
  • Ingredient List = all the above + onion + butter + sage + nutmeg + cayenne + 3 eggs + whole milk + cream + mustard
  • It takes almost an hour to pull this together but every time I make it, usually 2-3 times every winter, I'm reminded that it's just worth the effort, especially since it can be made ahead of time, then tucked into the oven to serve later.
  • Bread puddings aren't always pretty, to my eyes, especially baked in a cast iron skillet, this one's just gorgeous!
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, you may well have all the ingredients on hand.
  • This is a calorie-friendly recipe, compared to other bread puddings which are usually laden with bread, cream and cheese.
  • This is a budget-friendly dish, there are no hard-to-find, need-to-order or expensive ingredients.
  • As written, the recipe will serve 8 as a main dish, more as a side dish.
  • I hope you love it! So good!

  • In spring, you might turn to Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding, a rustic bread pudding with whole wheat bread, asparagus, cheese, fresh herbs and lemon zest.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other vegetarian & vegan recipes.
Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

Why This Bread Pudding Works So Well

  • Savory Not Sweet – It's definitely savory. This is no dessert masquerading as supper.
  • Proportions – This is an "unbready" bread pudding, light on bread and heavy on vegetables. I use about a 4:1 vegetable:bread ratio.
  • Good Bread – A flavorful, slightly dense whole-grain bread is perfect for bread pudding. Sturdy bread doesn't "deflate" with the weight of vegetables and custard, it holds its own and doesn't turn the least bit mushy. And it's not just filler, the bread itself actually tastes good!
  • Contrast – Butternut squash and the cheddar are quite creamy. In contrast, the chard is slightly astringent, slightly bitter, that's a good thing!

Streamlined Recipe

Right from the start in 2009, readers loved this recipe. Many, however, noted that it was time-consuming to make. My own notes read, "So good. Worth the time and effort."

Even so, our best recipes are worth streamlining, if only so we make them more often. So I've entirely re-written the recipe to make it easier to follow, step-by-step.

But frankly, streamlining makes the recipe "look" more complicated because indeed, there are a few moving parts.

But please, don't let this stymy your ambition.

Remember: So good. Worth the time and effort.

How to Make This Savory Bread Pudding

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four straight-forward steps. You can do this!

  • SAUTÉ the onion and chard stems, then the chard leaves.
  • COLLECT half the sautéed onion and chard stems plus cubes of bread, butternut squash and cheddar.
  • LAYER half that bread mixture, all the sautéed chard leaves, then the remaining bread. Soak it all with a seasoned custard.
  • BAKE for 45 minutes uncovered. Pull it out of the oven and if there are some cubes of squash sticking out, they may not be cooked so press them back in. Cover and bake for another 15 minutes.
Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

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 illuminating 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!

Good Bread! Be sure to use a bread that's both sturdy and tastes good. If the crusts are tough, cut at least most of them off.

Good Greens! Chard is so perfect here, it has the perfect amount of astringency to contrast with the custard and cheese. Be sure to buy enough greens, since they do cook down. You'll want to end up with about 3 cups cooked chard. Oh! And do salt the greens generously, make sure they taste good.

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 homey fall casserole inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.


Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours (can be made ahead)
Serves 8 as a main course, 16 as a side dish
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 4 cups, 450g)
  • 3 large bunches Swiss chard, washed well, stems chopped separately, leaves cut into rough 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped Chard Stems
  • Chopped Chard Leaves
  • Salt to taste, be generous
  • Half the Cooked Onion-Chard Stems
  • 1 large butternut squash, cut in 1/2-inch cubes to yield at least 16oz/454g and no more than 24oz/680g, see How to Cut, Peel & Cube a Butternut Squash and Keep All Ten Fingers
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (assumes Morton's Kosher Salt)
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper, be generous
  • 8 ounces/212g good, sturdy bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces/212g sharp cheddar, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1-1/4 cups (300g) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (50g) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons good mustard such as Dijon (what is "good mustard"?)
  • Half the Bread-Butternut Mixture
  • Cooked Chard Leaves
  • Remaining Bread-Butternut Mixture
  • Custard

PREP BEFORE BEGINNING TO COOK Chop the onions. Wash the Swiss chard really well, trim off and discard anything that's a bit gnarly. Cut the heavy stem out of each large chard leaf, collect all the stems together, line them all up and cut the chard leaves off the stems. Set the leaves aside for a minute, keep them separate from the stems. Trim off and discard the bottom ends of the stems, then chop the stems into pieces. Now stack the leaves on top of each other like pancakes, roll the stack into a "cigar" and cut through the cigar first lengthwise and then crosswise. Continue to keep the chopped stems and the cut-up leaves separate.

Heat the oven to 425F/220C.

LARGE CAST IRON SKILLET: ONION & CHARD Melt the butter on medium heat. Stir in the Chopped Onion and Chopped Chard Stems and cook until just soft, just until golden, seasoning generously with salt while cooking. Move ***half*** the Cooked Onion-Chard Stems into a large mixing bowl, one large enough to hold almost all the ingredients. Keep the ***remaining half*** Cooked Onion-Chard Stems in the skillet to continue cooking with the chard leaves.

Stir the Chopped Chard Leaves into the skillet a big handful at a time, stirring to coat with fat each time, letting the leaves cook a minute or two before adding another handful. When all the Chard Leaves are added, let the leaves cook until soft, seasoning generously with salt while cooking. (Be sure this mixture tastes good: while it cooks, keep tasting a bite of chard leaf, adding salt until it does.) Once it's cooked and tastes good, move the contents of the skillet to another bowl for the moment.

LARGE MIXING BOWL In this bowl that already contains half the Cooked Onion-Chard Stems, stir in the butternut squash cubes. Stir in the seasonings, really getting in there to distribute evenly. Stir in the bread cubes and cheddar cubes, distributing evenly throughout.

CUSTARD In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the remaining Custard ingredients.

LAYER IN A CAST IRON SKILLET (or A CASSEROLE DISH) Spray the skillet or baking dish with baking spray.

1) Transfer *** half *** the Bread-Butternut mixture (the contents of the large mixing bowl) back into the skillet or casserole dish, spreading evenly but without packing it down, you don't want to compress this mixture.
2) Spread the Cooked Chard Leaves across the top, then the remaining contents of the large mixing bowl. (See ALANNA's TIPS, if making ahead, you may choose to stop here.)
3) Transfer the *** remaining half *** of the Bread-Butternut mixture across the Cooked Chard Leaves.
4) Gently pour the Custard liquid into the cast iron skillet, distributing it as evenly as possible, being careful to wet all the bread pieces, especially.
5) Whew. You got all that, right? It's way easier than it sounds.

BAKE the Bread Pudding uncovered for 45 minutes.

COVER & BAKE LONGER Remove the Bread Pudding from the oven; if any pieces of butternut squash are poking out and still firm, use a fingertip to gently push them into the custard. Cover with foil or an oven-safe lid and bake for another 15 or so minutes until the custard is firm in the center.

LET REST for about 10 minutes or so before serving. With the cover left on, the Bread Pudding stays warm for a good 45 minutes.

TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE This Savory Bread Pudding can be made ahead in two ways.

  • It can be fully assembled, then baked a few hours later for serving immediately.
  • ~ or ~
  • The Squash-Bread mixture and Chard can put into the baking dish the day before and the Custard mix prepped ahead but not poured over the Squash-Bread-Chard mixture until it's time to bake; then combined just before baking.

With the first method, the Bread Pudding turns out slightly crusty on top, very good! With the second, the Bread Pudding is more custard-y, also very good. Cook’s choice! With either option, you'll want to either let the dish come to room temperature (allow two to three hours) before baking or plan for a longer baking time.

ALANNA's TIPS Bakers, consider a batch of homemade bread for this bread pudding. I'm especially fond of Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe and Light 'n' Fluffy Whole-Grain Bread and most recently, a slightly sweet Swedish Rye Bread. This is a great base or "concept" recipe, begging for adaptation. I think cornbread would be a fabulous substitute for whole-grain bread. I think about adding fennel to the chard and corn to the overall mixture but ran short of room. Sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash? Of course. Kale instead of chard? Naturally. (I do find that even a mature spinach doesn't have quite the same astringency as chard so recommend spinach only as a second choice.) For a meat version, I'd add cooked Italian sausage, chunks of cooked bacon or cubes of smoked ham or pulled smoked chicken. Once I substituted dollops of soft roasted butternut squash for butternut squash cubes, saving some knife work. The result was a bread pudding that still tasted great but lacked texture. Still, it might be useful information for other cooks. For info on roasting the squash, please see How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. 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 main dish serving: 378 Calories; 20g Tot Fat; 12g Sat Fat; 137mg Cholesterol; 863mg Sodium; 34g Carb; 6g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 15g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 8 & PointsPlus 10 & SmartPoints 14 & Freestyle 11 & myWW green 11 & blue 11 & purple 11 & future WW points This recipe has been Alanna-sized.
I fashioned today's bread pudding recipe after my favorite recipe for Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding but the genesis of the inspiration came from Orangette's Molly Wizenberg via her column in the November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit where other folks also rave about the recipe (unfortunately most of Bon Appetit including reader comments are now behind a paywall). Thank you, Molly! My Disclosure Promise
Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

More Vegetarian Ideas for Fall & Winter Celebrations

~ vegetarian & vegan recipes ~
Celebration Salad (Maple-Roasted Carrots with Arugula, Dill, Cranberry Vinaigrette, Pomegranate and Glazed Pecans) ♥, an exultant platter of vegan texture, color, flavor and mood. Meatless Monday. Gluten Free.

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin ♥, a stunning tomatillo-hominy vegetarian meal for fall, a great vegan entrée for Thanksgiving.

Cauliflower Risotto ♥, an easy risotto with cauliflower, bacon, fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ chard ~
~ winter squash ~
~ recipes using bread ~
~ cheddar 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, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. 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.

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Alanna Kellogg

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