Hugh Acheson’s Leek Bread Pudding

A Southern chef shares why this dish is his family’s all-time holiday favorite

Photo: Courtesy of The Dana Agency

Renowned chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Hugh Acheson says his family’s favorite holiday side dish is a little unorthodox, but a true crowd pleaser. “It’s a savory bread pudding,” he says. “It’s basically the same idea as a dessert bread pudding.” The quick and easy recipe features butter-steamed leeks folded into a creamy Parmesan and custard base. Crispy sourdough bread cubes are added to the mixture and topped with extra Parm. After a twenty-minute bake to set the custard and melt the cheese, the dish is ready to enjoy.

Acheson notes that this versatile recipe—which is on the menu at his Florida restaurant, Ovide— showcases the natural sweetness of the leeks. “You can serve this with roast beef, turkey, chicken, salmon, or anything really,” he says. “It stands on its own.” 

Watch the video below from Atlanta’s Empire State South, one of Acheson’s three restaurants, to see him share a step-by-step tutorial on how to assemble this unique dish. 

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  • Leek Bread Pudding (Yield: 6 servings)

    • 1 (1-lb.) sourdough boule, cut into ½-inch cubes (crust on)

    • ¼ cup melted butter

    • 1 tsp. freshly chopped thyme leaves

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • 2 tbsp. (¼ stick) unsalted butter

    • 6 medium leeks, dark green removed and then halved, cleaned, and diced to ½-inch arcs

    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

    • 1 cup whole milk

    • 1 large egg

    • 3 egg yolks from large eggs

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, add bread cubes, melted butter, and thyme, tossing the bread to lightly coat in the butter. Spread the bread cubes out on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden and slightly crunchy, about 10 minutes. Return toasted bread cubes to the same large bowl.

  2. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. 

  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 4 minutes. Add 2 tbsp. water and cover. At this point you are just encouraging some good steaming as opposed to browning. Lower heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and set aside. 

  4. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk in the heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, salt, ground pepper, and half of the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Mix this custard base into the leeks, and then add the mixture to the bread cube bowl. Stir well to combine.

  5. Butter a 10×8-inch baking dish or pie round and fill with the bread mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the bread mixture and bake at 325°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until custard has set and the top is golden.