French Toast Casserole

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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.

 

VIDEO! How to Make French Toast Casserole

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.

French Toast Casserole in White Baking Pan

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!

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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, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt, 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

188 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Alicia

    I did the overnight method using leftover japanese white bread crusts + french bread and it turned out amazing! The orange is such a nice touch. :) The recipe seems rather flexible, which I like.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Shawn McInnes

    Well, I think I need to try doing this one again (making some changes the next time I make it) because the first time I made it (yesterday) I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way this turned out. I had been saving the heels of the loaves of bread (Oroweat Buttermilk) for awhile, adding them to a Ziploc bag in the freezer over a period of time (waste not, want not). Well, I figured that I finally had enough bread, so I unthawed them and cut all of them up into 1-inch squares (I found that 15 heels = 10 cups of cubes). I followed the recipe exactly as written. With the amount of bread cubes I had, I decided to use a 9×13-inch pan — I really don’t think it would have all fit into a smaller pan. I didn’t let the bread soak overnight — I baked it as soon as I had finished assembling it since the recipe said that that was okay to do. The liquid called for didn’t moisten the top pieces of bread much at all — it just all sank to the bottom. Because of that, it didn’t turn out very moist at all on the top part (quite dry, in other words). There was no indication on the recipe whether this should be refrigerated or not, so I Google’d it and it said that bread puddings with milk and eggs should be refrigerated — so I put mine in the fridge once it cooled down. I know this isn’t technically a bread pudding, but I want to be really careful about making sure things are refrigerated if there’s any doubt. So, next time, I think I will make more of the liquid mixture and I will mix the bread cubes into that before I put them into the pan. I will also let it sit overnight. I’ll probably make more of the topping mixture too. I really wanted to like this because it had such great reviews. Try, try again.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Julia

    Very good! I did add a splash of almond and vanilla extracts to the custard, as well as about a half cup of raisins (added at the same time as the nuts). I’ve made once with walnuts and once with pecans and both were great! We really liked the crunchy crust and softer middle.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. CD

    Made this Christmas Day and New Years Day. For Xmas day I followed the recipe to the T including the orange zest, and it was just okay. On New Year’s Day I left out the orange zest and added a 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the custard and it was a lot more flavorful. I will make it like that from now on. I used ciabatta and let it set overnight before cooking in the morning.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Joe

    We made this New Year’s Day, it was amazing. I used a regular loaf of honey wheat bread, used a cup of 2 percent milk and a half-cup of heavy cream. Baked for about 35 minutes. Wonderful crunchy top and chewy middle. We will certainly make this again!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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