Pilar Valdes' Coconut Tres Leches Bread Pudding

10 minsPrep Time
3 hrsCook Time

3 hrs 10 minsTotal Time


  • 1 lb Challah Bread, torn into 1 ½” pieces, and lightly toasted
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 7 yolks and 2 whole eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup toasted Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, divided
  • Cooking Spray
  • Dulce de Leche (optional)


Make the Custard Base: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until homogenous and frothy. Then add the tres leches—condensed milk, coconut milk and whole milk and mix well until smooth. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt and whisk until fully combined.


Prep your Slow Cooker: Combine the Challah and 1 cup of the coconut flakes. Lightly spray the insert of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add Challah-coconut mixture and pour the custard on top. Press down with a spatula so that the bread begins to absorb the custard. Cover with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. 


Cook: Set your slow cooker to low and let pudding cook fully, 2.5 to 3 hours, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. (Some slow cookers run hotter than others, so start checking after 2.5 hours.) Turn off the slow cooker and remove the lid and let sit for another 15 minutes to cool and set slightly before serving.


Serve: Top with remaining coconut flakes and dulce de leche drizzled on top. 


Slow Cooker Dulce de Leche: 

1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk 

Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Lay the can on its side, in the insert of the slow cooker. Cover the can completely with water until fully submerged with at least 2” of water above the can. (This is a critical step. If there is not enough water covering the can, the can may pop.) Cover the slow cooker and set on low and allow to cook for 8 hours. Turn off the slow cooker. 

Carefully remove the can and set aside to cool completely before handling; this will allow the product to cool, but also for the pressure built in the can to subside.Open the can and give the dulce de leche a stir. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 


Slow cookers are incredibly versatile, and they aren't just for your low and slow roasts and braises —they can be used for desserts too! Definitely keep them in mind for when you don’t want to turn on that oven (especially during those sweltering, hot summer months!), or if you don’t have space in your oven (around the holidays!) and they work especially well for desserts that are cooked at a lower heat and in a bain marie aka water bath —like cheesecakes, custards and terrines, and this Coconut Tres Leches Bread Pudding. 


A few quick notes about this recipe. A lot of recipes call for using stale bread; we definitely don’t love waiting a day or two for bread to go stale. Just give the bread a quick toast, until lightly golden and dry. Don’t skip this step —it helps the bread soak up the custard and distributes the flavor better, as well as gives the finished pudding a better texture. Speaking of bread - we prefer hand-tearing the challah because it makes all these crags and surfaces, and soaks up that much more custard. That being said, hand cutting will completely work too. Lastly, because we are using coconut milk as one of the tres leches, some separation from the fat and milk may occur. Not to worry, it all gets settled and reabsorbed when the pudding is resting. We love to serve this with some toasted, unsweetened coconut chips and drizzled with dulce de leche. (We’ve also included our stovetop dulce de leche recipe, but feel free to use your favorite recipe or grab some at the store.)