Is it a side dish recipe for Thanksgiving turkey or for beef tenderloin? Or is it a great use for day old bread? Maybe it’s bread pudding without eggs? After tasting this unique side dish recipe, this easy tomato pudding recipe can be made ahead for the holidays.
Calling all my Ohio people!
If you’ve been around here for a while, you might remember I grew up all over the country and spent half of my high school years in Toledo up until I was married. All the years I lived there, I had never heard of this apparently famous traditional tomato pudding from Toledo that hailed from a now-closed tea room called The Tally Ho. [Coincidentally, I lived on the corner of two streets, one of which was Tally Ho.]
Clearly, I was meant to make this oh-so-interesting caramelized tomato bread pudding. Also, I'm pretty obsessed with tomato recipes like my homemade Italian red sauce or this awesome tomato jam.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Tomato pudding is one of those dishes that will cause a stir. Translated: your guests will nervously take a spoonful of this crispy red bread pudding just to be kind. They’ll put it on the side of their plate, take a bite. And then another. And then get back in the buffet line.
It’s that good.
Here’s why they’ll keep coming back for more:
- Crispy edges. This savory bread pudding has crisp caramelized edges that everyone will fight over.
- Easy to make. You’ll be able to prep this recipe in 10 minutes and make it ahead for the holidays too.
- Great use of leftover or slightly stale bread. And also will let you use up the rest of that can of opened tomato purée.
Ingredients You'll Need
One of my dear friends from high school shared her family’s recipe for tomato pudding and I took parts of that recipe and combined it with parts from The Tally Ho Tea Room Tomato pudding along with research on ingredients found in classic tomato puddings. It was my first time making it and I must say I'm a convert!
Old-fashioned tomato pudding has a rich history as far back as 1842 and is also associated with stewed tomatoes being eaten with bread and sugar. In South Carolina, you might find the addition of vanilla in their tomato pudding recipe.
The best thing about this recipe is that it needs so few ingredients but a few of them are pretty unexpected for sure!
Here are a few of the standout ingredients:
- Tomato purée. You can of course use garden tomatoes run through a food mill but canned tomatoes make this so easy!
- Brown sugar. The addition of brown sugar urges this into the sweet and savory category. Think of this as an alternative to sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving or a side dish for fried chicken.
- Candied ginger. Don’t be scared! You only use a teeny amount of candied ginger (save the rest for your holiday cookies or pumpkin bread). It adds just a touch of warmth!
- Orange juice. An ingredient in my friend’s recipe and also cited as an ingredient that was included in the famed Toledo bread pudding recipe as well.
Where to find candied ginger
Candied ginger might be hard to find. I found mine in the spice section of my grocery store. You can also look in the baking section as well. Otherwise The Ginger People candied ginger is one of my favorites.
- Baking or gratin dish. My favorite is an Apilco oval baking dish seen here because it lasts forever and doesn’t chip easily.
- Mixing bowl and wooden spoon. Mason and Cash are some of my favorite mixing bowls ever. I also love these melamine mixing bowls from Williams-Sonoma.
Step by step: how to make tomato pudding [with images]
In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes, brown sugar, fresh squeezed orange juice, ginger and boiling water to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon salt .
Toss the bread cubes with melted butter and pour into a casserole dish .
Pour the tomato mixture over the bread .
Press down and make sure the bread is covered with the tomato sauce .
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the center is puffed and the edges are crispy and browned.
Brush the small amount of remaining melted butter around the bottom and sides of the casserole dish.-Josie + Nina
- Candied ginger. Use ginger powder instead of candied ginger if necessary. You can also substitute cinnamon for the ginger all together. I would use ½ teaspoon.
- Bread. I used sourdough but the recipes I looked at also call for soft white bread from the grocery store which will result in a softer pudding texture. It all depends on what you like!
- Brown sugar. You can substitute light brown sugar for dark (as I did) but whatever you do, do not substitute white sugar for brown sugar in this recipe.
Can I double this bread pudding?
Absolutely! Whatever you do, just make sure you have enough liquid and keep the ratio of the sugar to the tomato puree.
I only have fresh tomatoes and don’t want to run to the store. Can I use them?
Sure! Follow these easy steps:
- Core 1 lb of Roma tomatoes and remove any seeds or water pulp. You don’t have to remove the skins but if you want to I have all the scoop on how to peel a tomato.
- Place the tomatoes in a saucepan and cook on medium low for about 10 minutes until they’ve cooked down and released their juices.
- Blend with a stick blender right in the pot or allow to cool before blending in your regular blender.
What can I serve with tomato bread pudding?
Serve this sweet and savory bread pudding alongside your Thanksgiving turkey, beef tenderloin…even some fried chicken! It’s the best side dish recipe for a buffet or holiday party.
- Cover the tomato pudding if it starts to get too dark.
- Lower the temperature to 325˚if it works better with your menu and timing of your main dish.
Serving, Storage and Make Ahead Tips
- Serve with a green salad like this Italian Arugula salad.
- Makes a great buffet side dish recipe next to Farro with 3 Green Veggies.
If you would like to make this the day before and bake the next day, add an extra ¼ cup of boiling water to the sauce.
Reheat in the microwave in 15 second increments depending on how big the portion is that you’re reheating. You can also reheat in the oven sprinkled with a little water but cover it so it doesn’t dry out.
Bake before freezing.
Tomato pudding can be frozen (in either a freezer safe container or covered with plastic wrap and then wrapped in foil) up to 3 months.
…before you go...
If you make this recipe, be sure to give it a star rating and share your reviews in the comments below! Or pin the recipe by clicking on one of the images above and save it for later.
Easy Tomato Pudding Recipe
- 6 cups white bread (about 6-8 thick slices), cut into 1-inch cubes, crusts removed. I used day old sourdough but soft white grocery store bread works very well
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1 cup brown sugar, dark preferred, but I used light
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon candied ginger , minced
- ¼ cup boiling water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350˚.
- Cut the bread into slices (if you haven't already) and remove the crusts from the bread. You want 5-6 cups total of bread. If you want the recipe firmer, use more bread and less if you want it softer.6 cups white bread (about 6-8 thick slices)
- In a medium bowl, toss bread with melted butter, mixing until coated.½ cup butter
- Brush any remaining butter inside the baking dish before adding the bread to the dish. Space evenly on the bottom of the dish.
- In a small saucepan, add the tomato puree, brown sugar, fresh orange juice, candied ginger, boiling water and salt. Bring to a simmer, thickening slightly for about 5 minutes.1 cup tomato puree, 1 cup brown sugar, ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice, ¼ teaspoon candied ginger, ¼ cup boiling water, ½ teaspoon salt
- Pour the tomato mixture over the bread and use a fork or wooden spoon to press down the tomatoes into the bread. Make sure the bread is coated completely.
- Bake uncovered for at least 45 minutes until the tomato pudding is caramelized on the edges and the center is puffy. Cover if the pudding gets too dark.
Absolutely! Whatever you do, just make sure you have enough liquid and keep the ratio of the sugar to the tomato puree. I can't find candied ginger.
That's ok! Substitute ½ teaspoon of cinnamon instead of ginger powder. Make ahead.If you would like to make this the day before and bake the next day, add an extra ¼ cup of boiling water to the sauce. Storage. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat. Reheat in the microwave in 15 second increments. To reheat in the oven, sprinkle with a little water and cover with foil. Heat in a 350˚ oven until warm, about 20 minutes.
Heather Bress says
The recipe directions do not say whether or when to add the boiling water. Is that only used if you are making ahead?
Thanks, I can't wait to try this. I grew up near Toledo and this was always on my grandmother's Thanksgiving table!
Lori Murphy says
Hi Heather! Good catch and all fixed! Add it in when you make the sauce. The extra 1/4 cup of water (so 1/2 c total) is for making the recipe ahead of time. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
I am making this on Wednesday and I can't wait to try it. I have heard about "Ohio Tomato Pudding" but I have yet to make it. I'll report back!
Lori Murphy says
DO IT, Susie! And let me know what you think! (I literally can't stop eating it...)😂