French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (2024)

  • Bread Pudding
  • Savory
  • Gruyere
  • Eggs
  • Onions

The flavors of French onion soup repackaged into a hearty, cheesy bread pudding that's perfect for breakfast, lunch, or a light one-pan dinner.


Emily and Matt Clifton

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (1)

Emily and Matt Clifton

Emily and Matt Clifton are recipe developers, photographers, and cookbook authors. Their two cookbooks are Cork and Knife (2019) andThe Ultimate Dutch Oven Cookbook (2021).

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Updated June 13, 2023

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French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (2)

Why It Works

  • Caramelizing the onions develops their sweet flavor and deep brown color.
  • A generous addition of buttery Gruyère cheese gives you that crucial gooey texture.
  • Oven-drying the bread allows it to soak up the eggs better—no stale bread required.

We're big fans of bread pudding of almost every stripe. With one basic method and either a savory or a sweet set of flavorings, you can throw together a wide variety of dishes with a basic framework of bread, eggs, and milk. We generally reserve the term "bread pudding" for a sweet variation and "strata" for the savory version, which usually involves more eggs. It works so well that for the last few years, we've made a strata for Thanksgiving instead of stuffing.

As for flavorings, we love the same components you'll find in areally well-executed French onion soup: onions caramelized until they're nicely sweet; a gratin of browned, bubbly cheese threatening to flow over the top of the bowl. The soup is often packed with pieces of bread to soak up the flavors anyway, so it doesn't take a huge leap of the imagination to invert the ratio and create a French onion strata.

We start with the onions—just as in the soup version, the key is to get them as well caramelized as you can. Of course, that can mean slowly cooking the onions for upwards of an hour. Since we wanted this strata to be a more convenient dinnertime option, here we trim the time to about 25 minutes, adding sugar to help speed things along; the onions won't be quite as deeply dark this way, but they'll still be pretty amazing. (Mind you, if youwantto go through the more time-consuming process of a long, slow caramelization, feel free to do so.) No matter what, don't be afraid to add a little water at any point if necessary to keep the onions from burning.

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (3)

For the bread, we picked up a large, soft Italian loaf, but any unsliced country-style white bread should work fine. There's no need for stale bread, but it does need to be dried in a low oven at least a little—that will help it absorb the egg mixture without becoming a sopping-wet mess.

There's also no need to soak your bread overnight. Again, we're not looking for a completely pudding-like consistency, which would be better suited for a sweet recipe; the goal here is more a contrast of textures, with some crispy bits and some soft, creamy ones. We recommend around 15 minutes for the soak, but you could go longer.

Finally, assemble the dish by creating alternating layers of soaked bread, onions, and cheese, then bake it just until the eggs are set.

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (4)

And there you have it: French onion soup, without the soup. A versatile dish that will serve you well for breakfast, lunch, or even a light, one-baking-dish dinner. Plus, you won't have to wait for dessert to have your pudding.

March 2017

Recipe Details

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe

Active40 mins

Total75 mins

Serves6to 8 servings


For the Caramelized Onions:

  • 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish

  • 3 large Spanish onions (about 2 1/2 pounds; 1kg), thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 1/4 cup (60ml)dry sherry

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) dry white wine

For the Strata:

  • 1 large Italian or French bread loaf (about 1 pound; 450g), cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 6 large eggs

  • 3 1/2 cups (830ml) half-and-half or whole milk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22ml) smooth Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml)Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshlyground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese


  1. For the Caramelized Onions: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add onions, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring frequently and keeping skillet uncovered, until onions are deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; if onions threaten to burn at any point, stir in a tablespoon or two of water as needed, and/or lower heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute longer. Add sherry and wine and cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, for the Strata: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until bread is dry but not browned, about 8 minutes.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half or milk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add dried bread and let soak in custard for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

  4. Butter a 12-inch cast iron skillet or a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and add half of bread. Scatter half of caramelized onions and half of cheese all over. Layer remaining bread on top and scatter remaining onions and cheese over. Drizzle any remaining custard all over, then bake until bread is crisp and custard is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Special Equipment

12-inch cast iron skillet or a 9- by 13-inch baking dish

Read More

  • Pressure Cooker French Onion Soup
  • French Melt (Grilled Cheese With Caramelized Onion and Comté)
  • French Onion Soup Tarte Tatin
  • Real French Onion Dip
  • French Onion Soup Cheese Dip
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
30g Fat
49g Carbs
25g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6to 8
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g38%
Saturated Fat 17g86%
Cholesterol 220mg73%
Sodium 1019mg44%
Total Carbohydrate 49g18%
Dietary Fiber 3g12%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 8mg42%
Calcium 488mg38%
Iron 4mg20%
Potassium 523mg11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

French Onion Strata (Savory Bread Pudding) Recipe (2024)
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