French toast is one of my favorite special breakfasts. I love frying up slices on the stove top for my little family of three on a lazy weekend. But when it comes to making something for a large brunch crowd, I don’t want to be stuck at the stove, dipping and flipping slice after slice of toast.
That’s where this casserole-style French toast comes in. It can be quickly assembled in the morning, or even the night before, before being baked off and served by the slice.
This version has a punch of lemon zest in the rich custard and lots of bright blueberries throughout. Use fresh blueberries in the summer when they're in season. But other times of year, frozen berries are a fine swap. (Don’t thaw frozen berries; adding them while still frozen helps prevent them from coloring the casserole too much.)
A Crispy and Creamy French Toast Casserole
A sprinkle of sugar and dots of butter on top mimic the look, feel, and flavor of crispy pan-fried French toast, while the casserole underneath is all about that irresistible creamy custard center.
More Brunch Recipes for a Crowd
Great Bread Options for French Toast Casserole
We recommend a hearty, rustic loaf for this casserole. But you can use some other types of bread as well. Just be sure to let the bread dry out a bit (a day or two in advance) before using. Here are some suggestions:
- Cinnamon swirl bread
- Cinnamon raisin bread
- Hawaiian rolls
Other Fruits To Try in This Casserole
- Cranberries (sweetened and dried, or fresh if you like a tart pop)
Baking, Freezing, and Reheating French Toast Casserole
The fully cooked casserole can be frozen, although it's better when freshly baked. However, if you have leftovers to freeze, wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Defrost the individual slices in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave using the defrost setting. Heat till just warmed through in the microwave.
Baked Blueberry French Toast Casserole
1 pound loaf rustic bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups of cubes)
1 1/2 or 2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
5 large eggs
2 cups milk (whole or 2 percent)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
Assemble the dry ingredients:
Butter a 9 x 13-inch (or other 3-quart) baking dish. Spread half of the bread cubes in an even layer in the prepared pan. Top with 2/3 of the blueberries, followed by the remaining bread cubes and blueberries.
If using frozen blueberries, add them to the casserole while still frozen (do not thaw). This helps prevent the berries from coloring the casserole too much.
Whisk the liquids:
Beat the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, lemon zest, and the salt together. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, pressing down gently (so you don’t burst the berries) to make sure the egg mixture is absorbed.
Soak at least 30 minutes, or overnight:
If soaking overnight, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F:
Turn on the oven about 15 minutes before you plan to bake the casserole. If you refrigerated the casserole overnight, let it sit out while the oven preheats.
Bake the casserole:
Just before baking, sprinkle the top of the casserole with the remaining sugar and dot with the diced butter. Bake for 45 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden brown. (Casserole that chilled overnight might take a few minutes longer.)
Let cool slightly before serving:
Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar over the top or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Leftovers will keep, refrigerated, for about 1 week and can be reheated in the microwave.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 21g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||56%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 5mg||24%|
|*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.|