French Toast Casserole

Breakfast and BrunchMake-aheadBreakfast CasseroleFrench Toast

This EASY French toast casserole has a super crunchy cinnamon-sugar top! Bake right away, or make it ahead and refrigerate overnight. Give your family a treat this Saturday morning!

Photography Credit: Lisa Lin

With this French toast casserole, you skip the hassle of standing by the stove and pan-frying each individual slice of French toast.

Instead, you just throw everything into a dish and let the oven do the work! You can even assemble the casserole the night before and bake it the next morning.

You still get all the best parts of a slice of French toast, but with far less effort: soft and custardy middles, cinnamon-infused edges, plus an extra-crunchy toasted topping.

French Toast Casserole in White Baking Pan

What You’ll Need

For this French toast casserole, you are going to need a fairly large loaf of bread – enough to make about 10 cups once cubed. Use any good-quality loaf, like a French loaf, sourdough, ciabatta, or challah. I actually really liked the sourdough bread because the slight sour taste helped balance out the sweetness of everything else.

Leave the crusts on the bread since this adds some good, crunchy texture to the casserole!

Overnight French Toast Casserole Bake Showing Layers

Add Some Toppings!

I also added some orange zest and dried cranberries to my version to brighten up the flavors. You can leave these out if you want, or add your own favorite dried fruits to the casserole!

By the way, those extra-crunchy top pieces are like cinnamon and sugar croutons. As I was testing this recipe, I kept picking them from the top and leaving the bottom for my husband. Shh…don’t tell anyone.

Syrup Being Poured On Square of Easy French Toast Casserole

How to Make Overnight French Toast Casserole

You can absolutely make this recipe straight through and bake it right away, but for a totally hands-off and hassle-free morning, assemble it the night before and bake it in the morning when you get up. This actually gives the bread even more time to soak up the milk, which makes the inside of the baked casserole more custardy and decadent.

Here’s what to do: Assemble the casserole through Step 4, cover well, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, uncover, drizzle the casserole with the topping, and bake. Baking time will be slightly longer.

Ways to Make This Recipe Your Own

We’ve gotten some fabulous comments since first posting this recipe! Here are a few ideas you should definitely try:

  • Add a little booze to the custard, like Amaretto or rum (a few tablespoons should do it!)
  • Use cinnamon swirl bread for the bread!
  • Swap in any non-dairy milk instead of the dairy milk, like almond milk or cashew milk
  • Use doughnuts or leftover cake instead of bread (oh my goodness)
  • Add some crispy, crumbled bacon, either in the mix or over top — or both!

What other ideas do you have? Tell us in the comments!

Looking for more French Toast recipes?!

Updated December 31, 2018 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe.

French Toast Casserole Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Chill time: overnight (optional)
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Make-ahead instructions: Assemble the casserole through Step 4, cover well, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, uncover, drizzle the casserole with the topping, and bake. Baking time will be slightly longer.

This casserole reheats well, though the chunks of bread on the top will gradually lose some crunch. The best way to reheat it is to bake it in the oven at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes to warm through and re-crisp the top.

Ingredients

For the casserole:

  • 1 large loaf good-quality French loaf, sourdough, ciabatta, or challah (enough to yield 10 cups of chunks of bread)
  • 1/2 cup (45g) chopped pecans
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • Zest from one medium orange (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Optional toppings for serving:

  • Dried cranberries
  • Powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Place an oven rack in the center position.

2 Slice the bread into 1-inch slices and then cut them into 1-inch cubes. You can also tear the bread apart with your hands. Leave the crusts on.

French Toast Casserole

3 Layer the bread and pecans in a baking dish: Lightly grease a 2-quart (if you want thicker slices) or 3-quart baking dish (if you want thinner slices) with cooking spray or butter. Add enough bread cubes to cover the bottom. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of pecans on top. Continue layering the bread chunks and pecans.

French Toast Casserole

4 Prepare and add the custard: In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the milk, sugar, orange zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and mix well. Pour the egg and milk mixture evenly over all the bread chunks. (I found it easier to pour the mixture into a large measuring cup with a spout first before pouring the mixture over the bread.)

At this point, the casserole can be baked right away, or covered and refrigerated overnight.

French Toast Casserole French Toast Casserole

5 Drizzle with topping: In another bowl, mix the melted butter with the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Using a spoon, drizzle the mixture evenly over all the bread chunks.

French Toast Casserole

6 Bake the casserole for 35 to 45 minutes. I baked mine for about 38 minutes. Leave the casserole in the oven longer if you want the chunks of bread on the top to be more brown and crunchier.

7 Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle dried cranberries and dust powdered sugar on top, if you like. Serve with maple syrup at the table.

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Finished French Toast Casserole Recipe in Baking Pan

Lisa Lin

Lisa Lin is the writer and photographer behind Healthy Nibbles & Bits, where she shares simple, gluten-free recipes. She grew up in San Francisco and spent time living in China and Washington, D.C. before moving back to California. Her recipes are often inspired by her time in China and travel throughout Southeast Asia.

More from Lisa

72 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Cynthia

    I’ve made this the past 2 days for different parties! Everyone loved it. I do have one question though even after buttering and spraying the pan it stuck terribly. I love the crispy crunchy on top but am I doing something wrong?

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Aubree

    Can you make this ahead and freeze?

    Show Replies (2)
  3. Cindy

    Can the pecans be left out with good result? I have a child with nut allergies.

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Valerie

    I had left over French bread and made this casserole for dinner tonight. Had crisp bacon on the side, and it was wonderful and satisfying. I know what we’ll be eating Christmas morning!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Lisa

    This was awesome, and SO easy! I had a taste for something sweet yesterday but didn’t want to mess with pancakes or french toast, so this came up on google search.

    Will be a weekend staple around here. You must try it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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