Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar ♥ Vegetarian Recipe

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

Whole Food, Fresh & Seasonal, Holiday Special & Worthy of an Occasion. Budget Friendly. Vegetarian. Rave Reviews. One of My Very Favorite Vegetarian Casseroles.

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 ..."

About This Recipe

A savory bread pudding that's more vegetables than bread 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.
This vegetarian entrée launched my 2009 collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes, all now showcased in a multi-year collection of My Very Best Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes.
Distinctive Ingredients = good bread + butternut squash + Swiss chard + small cubes of melted 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!

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, 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. Frankly, it makes the recipe "look" more complicated because 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 onion and chard stems, then chard leaves.
COLLECT half the sautéed onion and chard stems plus cubes of bread, butternut squash and cheddar.
LAYER half the bread mixture, all the chard, 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.

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!

Good Bread! Be sure to use a bread that's 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.

Best Recipes!

graphic button small size size 10 Savory Bread Pudding Made the List!
graphic button small size size 10 Favorite Vegetable Recipes for 2009

So Many Compliments!

graphic button small size size 10 "... we both really enjoyed this dish, and Hubby LOVED it. He wouldn't normally go within 10 feet of wilted greens ..." ~ Anonymous
graphic button small size size 10 "It was awesome! Even, my husband, who always claims that he doesn't really like squash, liked it." ~ Tracy
graphic button small size size 10 "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
graphic button small size size 10 "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
graphic button small size size 10 "I've used some recipes from your site and they often turn out. However, this one was particularly great." ~ Anonymous
graphic button small size size 10 "... 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

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 inspires you, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ A VeggieVenture. 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
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

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, trim off the bottom ends, then chop into pieces, keep the stems separate from the leaves. 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.

Heat oven to 425F/220C.

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. Leave 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 cook it until soft, seasoning generously with salt while cooking. (Be sure the cooked chard tastes good, while it cooks, keep tasting and adding salt until it does.) Move the Cooked Chard to another bowl.

LARGE MIXING BOWL Stir together half the Cooked Onion-Chard Stems and the butternut squash cubes. Stir in the seasonings, really getting in there to distribute evenly. Stir in the bread and cheddar, distributing evenly throughout.

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

LAYER IN 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.
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.

BAKE uncovered for 45 minutes.

COVER & BAKE LONGER Remove the Bread Pudding from the oven; if any pieces of butternut squash are 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.

(1) It can be fully assembled, then baked a few hours later for serving immediately.
(2) 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.

graphic button small size size 10 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.
graphic button small size size 10 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. [Note to Vegetarians]
graphic button small size size 10 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 .

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Asparagus-to-Zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables where recipes range from seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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


  1. Oh my. That looks just heavenly! I hastily bookmarked this recipe. Alanna, this just might have to be my main dish this Thanksgiving.

    And did you say vegetarian entrees all month?! YAY!

  2. I'm always looking for substantial main dishes for vegetarian holiday meals; our kids are vegetarians, so we tend to go all-veg for the holidays. A dish that has great mouth feel and satisfies the meat-eaters in our family goes right to the top of my list.

  3. I agree that meat is celebratory at a festive dinner, but this bread pudding more than compensates for any missing meat. The colors and rich combination of bread, squash, chard and cheddar sound wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Any suggestions on what else might work in place of the chard? We are living overseas and can't get that. I can get spinach, though, but wasn't sure if it would work as well. Anything else you think might work instead? I love this idea; I think I might end up experimenting some with this.

  5. I just found your website and the recipes all look very good and you have a lot of healthy ones. However, I noticed that the WW points aren't always accurate. For example, corn, winter squashes, and cooked carrots are not zero points. Thanks for letting me share.

  6. Nupur ~ Oh good, I always love to pique the interest of my favorite vegetarian! ;-)

    Lydia ~ Something substantial is the issue, isn't it? I think your meat eaters would love this --

    Lynda ~ Oh you've so captured this dish, it's really something special.

    Ana ~ Any green would do, they all have a little astringency, don't they? The only thing that would change is the cooking timing. Collard greens and mustard greens, say, take longer to cook. But since this is done in the skillet, there's no getting it wrong. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous ~

    I follow a sort of 'old school' way of counting Weight Watchers points. I add up all the calories in a dish, even the ones that might qualify as 'free' in the Weight Watchers world, then I divide by the number of servings and THEN calculate Weight Watchers points.

    For some things, like corn, I've actually taken and ear of corn (which most of us would think of as a 'serving' when we eat an ear of corn) and cut off the kernels to see how much corn is actually eaten.

    For vegetable side dishes, my serving sizes are actually larger than what other systems might call a serving. I make no distinction, a pound of vegetables is four servings. This makes it easier to compare one vegetable to another, pound for pound. I also make notes when that seems 'skimpy' -- roasted potatoes, say, roast down to something so that the portion size feels small. It's my way to be 'real' about Weight Watchers and points.

    If you're using the Weight Watchers 'slide' rule, I've found that it appears to hit 1 point when a serving size is right on the cusp of switching over from 0 to 1. Since I'm calculating points mathematically, not visually, one of these, as I calculate it, may well fall into 0 points while you 'see' it as one. Since I provide not just Weight Watchers points but all the nutrition data, you're welcome to calculate points however works for your own life and health objectives.

    I hope that you appreciate the effort that goes into calculating nutrition information for each and every dish on both my websites.

    Finally, with all due respect, you might send your complaints to other sites, even big commercial sites, that opt NOT to provide nutrition information at all.

  8. How many stems or ounces of Swiss chard is in a bunch? I still have chard growing in my garden outside, but it doesn't grow in bunches! Thanks for your wonderful site!

  9. Anonymous ~ Duh, sorry, I should have provided that information. There's maybe a 8 or 10 stems in a bunch here, you know of course that the greens really cook down.

    PS Thank YOU for reading!

  10. I made this recipe last night and cut it in half, since there is just my husband & I. I ended up with ~14 oz of squash, used two eggs instead of three, and cooked it in an 8"x8" pan. It seemed a bit shy on custard. Any suggestions?

    BTW, we both really enjoyed this dish, and Hubby LOVED it. He wouldn't normally go within 10 feet of wilted greens, so that's really saying something.

  11. Anonymous ~ Aii, you and your husband have made my day, be sure to tell him! :-)

    With both this bread pudding and with the similar Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding, I learned that the dish turns out more custard-y if it's combined just before cooking, versus beforehand. Would this apply to your situation? It actually seems opposite to me, that it would be more custard-y by mixing ahead of time.

  12. No, I poured on the custard immediately prior to baking. Perhaps I had a bit too much squash. At any rate, it was very good.

  13. What a beautiful recipe!! I had a couple questions about variations. Do you think roast squash could work or would roasting the squash cause it to be overcooked (I always hear how roasting brings out amazing flavors of the squash)? Also, if using spinach instead of chard how much spinach would be sufficient? Last question, I had a similar dish at an event that used gruyere cheese do you think the same amount of gruyere could be used as cheddar.

  14. Monique ~ So glad you like it. I think roasting the squash is a great idea, it'll keep cooking once combined with everything else but won't get direct heat so wouldn't have the chance to burn, though it might begin to 'melt' a little, not a bad thing! Use the same amount of spinach, just be sure to use curly spinach, not baby spinach, which is great for salads but doesn't cook well. Gruyere would be awesome, yes use the same amount, I think.

  15. I made this for dinner last night. It was awesome! Even, my husband, who always claims that he doesn't really like squash, liked it.

    I think that maybe the squash should be chopped even a bit smaller than 1/3" or else precooked a bit before putting it in the casserole. The squash on the top layer was not quite as tender as I would have liked, even though I squished the squash bits down into the custard two separate times.

    You aren't kidding about the prep work time. I actually *like* chopping veggies and it was a bit long for me. But totally worth it.

    This recipe is definitely a keeper for me, though I would try to do something about the squash. Maybe steam in the microwave for a couple of minutes before mixing it in?

  16. This was so delicious! It was a big hit as the main course for the vegetarians for Thanksgiving, and for the carnivores as well. I had to sub delicata for the butternut squash. The only bad part was every one else took all the leftovers! Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe.

  17. I made this recipe to accompany Christmas Dinner and it was fabulous! I think next time I will steam the squash slightly before using it in the recipe (or perhaps roasting it as someone else mentioned). At least the squash that will be on the top layer. But even so, this has made it into my "favorite recipe" collection! . . .seashell

  18. I have added this to my Thanksgiving menu. In my produce delivery, I already have two bunches of spinach and a bunch of mustard greens. I was thinking of adding either a combo of both or just the spinach...will that be ok you think? I have so many veggies to get through right now I'm not sure I want to go out and buy more chard, but I can.

  19. Talula Fairie ~ You know, my initial reaction was ' no' - especially to the mustard greens, which fall into the category of 'sturdy' greens versus the 'tender' greens like chard and baby spinach. But on second thought, so long as you cook the greens until they are soft and fully cooked, I think you'll be fine. I would cook the spinach and mustard greens separately if the mustard greens are sturdier than the spinach.

    Good luck, I think you'll love this bread pudding! Now I'm wanting to add it to my (already over-ambitious) Thanksgiving menu!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. This came out amazing. I ended up using spinach only, I'm sure the mustard greens would have been just as good but my spinach needed to get eaten faster and my casserole was ready to be baked. 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 don't know why it's still displaying my name as talula fairie, I swear I changed that...).

  21. I've used some recipes from your site and they often turn out. However, this one was particularly great. I still have some left over that I'm looking forward to eating. Thanks for sharing!


  22. Yay - thanks for sharing the good news! For spring, do be sure to try the Asparagus Bread Pudding, it uses the same proportions of bread:milk:cheese.

  23. I found a pumpkin that I bought last fall that had gotten pushed to the back of the pantry and forgotten but that was thankfully still good. While pondering what to do with it I remembered this recipe and that I also had a bag of collards in the fridge. I just wanted to let you know that 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 :-)


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna