French Toast Casserole is effortless to put together and not only will your kitchen smell amazing as it bakes, it tastes festive and delicious. Perfect for a large group at breakfast, brunch, or for a comforting dessert.
I first tried French Toast Casserole many years ago, long before everyone knew about it and before it was a holiday breakfast “thing”. At a work pot luck, my friend Janet, known for being a fabulous cook and part-time caterer, walked in with a beautiful pastry/bread pudding casserole that smelled like cinnamon heaven. It made such an impression between how beautiful it looked, how festive it smelled, and how comforting it tasted- that the moment is forever in my memory. I still have the recipe, written in her lovely handwriting.
Today, there are so many breakfast casserole recipes, like my Sausage Breakfast Casserole, that you’ve probably all heard of or tried some version. French Toast Casserole is almost expected at the holiday breakfast table. But I’m always surprised we usually save it for the holidays. It’s beyond easy and foolproof, it should get more attention all year long. Whenever I want to serve something special without a lot of effort I think of this recipe. You can easily make a mini-version by cutting the recipe in half for a smaller group, and dress it up for a nice dessert as well.
How do you make French Toast Casserole?
French Toast Casserole is a combination of cubed French bread (of course), a good amount of eggs, milk, and spices.
How long do you need to refrigerate French Toast Casserole before baking?
Most recipes call for French Toast Casserole to be refrigerated overnight. I’ve made the recipe several times, varying this step anywhere from four hours, to as long as 24 hours. The casserole needs to sit in the fridge long enough for the egg mixture to fully absorb into the bread before baking, so four hours appears to be plenty of time.
What toppings go on French Toast Casserole before baking?
A mixture of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cold butter are mixed together and sprinkled over the casserole before baking to help create a crispy streusel topping that adds great texture and flavor.
The French Toast Casserole right out of the oven is ready for lots of great toppings and can be cut or just scooped for individual servings.
Is French Toast Casserole like bread pudding?
French Toast Casserole is a lot like a bread pudding dessert, especially if you bake it a little less than the full recommended time of one hour. You can customize the casserole to be kind of soft if you bake for 45 minutes. If you’re looking for a French Toast with more substantial firmness and if you want the topping to be a lot crisper, bake for one hour. This will crisp the top but not burn it.
What toppings are good with French Toast Casserole?
We love warmed real maple syrup poured over our French Toast Casserole with some fresh berries. But you can keep it simple or really vamp up the casserole to be more of a special dessert. Melted butter can be drizzled along with the syrup and if you like more crunch, chop and toast some pecans or walnuts, or even macadamia nuts, to sprinkle on top. Whipped cream won’t make anyone mad if you serve it along side the finished casserole. If cranberries are in season, they can be added to the bread before baking so they soften and melt into the casserole (blueberries are great this way too).
How to serve leftover French Toast Casserole?
Any leftover French Toast Casserole can be refrigerated up to three days, covered with plastic wrap. Reheat the casserole in your oven until warm in the center, or microwave individual servings. Always heat the syrup before serving, it’s the only way to serve it in my book.
Whether for breakfast or an evening’s dessert, if you love French Toast, anything with maple syrup and cinnamon, and especially if you like bread pudding, this is a must-try for you. Hope you like it. Let me know what you think!
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it! Be sure to share your pictures on Instagram and tag @gooddinnermom so I can see it. Happy baking.
French Toast Casserole
- Butter, for greasing baking dish
- 1 loaf French bread or sourdough
- 10 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup half and half or whipping cream can just add more milk if desired
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed firm
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed firm
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- 1/2 cup butter cold, cut into pieces
Topping options for serving
- Warm syrup
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- whipped cream
- chopped pecans
- melted butter
For the French Toast
- Generously grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish with butter. Cut the French bread or sourdough loaf into 1-inch cubes and distribute evenly in the casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, add the eggs, milk, half and half, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk together until well combined. Slowly pour the egg mixture over all of the bread. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator so the egg mixture can finish soaking all of the bread; at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
For the Topping
- Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir together with a fork. Add the cold butter and with a pastry cutter, mix it all together until the butter is broken up into pea-size crumbles. Store covered or in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to bake the casserole.
Bake the French Toast Casserole
- When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 325° F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator, uncover it, and evenly sprinkle the topping mixture over it. Bake the casserole for 45 minutes if you like a softer bread pudding texture, or for one hour if you want the top more crisp and the French toast to be more firm (both are excellent).
- Remove the casserole from the oven and cut into individual servings or just scoop out with a large spoon. Top with melted butter, warm syrup, and fresh blueberries.
Options for additional toppings or add ins
- Additional toppings include freshly whipped cream for more of a dessert option; toasted or candied pecans, chopped. Any other berries are great including raspberries or cranberries (Cranberries are excellent if you add it to the chopped bread before pouring the egg mixture over. Then the cranberries soften and kind of melt into the custard. This is possible with the blueberries too, if desired).
- Leftovers will keep wonderfully for about three days in the refrigerator, though if the top of the casserole was crisp at first baking, it softens up in storage. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
- The French toast casserole is equally good when refrigerated for four hours before baking as it is if refrigerating for 24 hours beforehand. Four hours is the minimum to help the egg mixture to soak the bread.
- Delicious with fresh berries sprinkled on top at serving, the casserole is also great if you add some berries into the casserole with the bread cubes.
- If you like nuts, add some to the topping before baking for added crunch and flavor.
Recipe adapted from my friend Janet, aka JBR.