French Toast Casserole

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.

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

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.

Square Chunks of Bread On Cutting Board

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.

Pecans and Bread Layered in Baking Dish

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 Egg Mix With Cinnamon on Top Egg Custard Mix being Poured on to French Toast Casserole in Baking Pan

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.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toping on Spoon and 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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Comments

  • VANESSA

    Excellent recipe for French toast casserole! I did use Low fat Carnation Hazelnut Creamer because I had no milk and it was absolutely delish!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Ellen

    It was a hit for our Mother’s Day brunch.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • rose

    this recipe sounds amazing and the reviews have convinced me that I must make it for Mother’s Day breakfast. quick question……..how much longer does it need to bake if prepared the night before? thank you!

  • patti

    The first time I made this, I wanted french toast, but I wanted to make it differently. I also didn’t have any french bread and I was too lazy to go to store. I had sliced bread though so I lightly toasted 6 maybe 7 slices and broke it up instead. This was so much easier and so much better than run of the mill boring stand over the stove for an hour dipping and flipping. My family went nuts over it and it was gone that night (yes I made it for dinner) Tonight, I’m made this with 1 package (6) of blueberry English muffins uncut, but lightly toasted before breaking up. I also put 6 slices of fried bacon in the custard mix before pouring over the muffins. In addition to the cinnamon, butter and brown sugar, I mixed 2 Tbsp of Belgium waffle mix topping before pouring over it. It’s was delish!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Goz

    Excellent, yummy breakfast. Very filling. My wife loved the meal.

    I made it using basic sliced bread in my refrigerator.
    Can’t find pecans in this part of the world, so I used a combo of almonds, peanuts, and cashew nuts.
    I skipped cinnamon which I didn’t have.
    I used tangerine rind from a fresh tangerine, drying it in the oven for 15 mins. It really added a zest to the meal.
    I used dried raisins since I didn’t have cranberries.
    And for serving topping, I used banana sauce (made from a recipe I found elsewhere) which I had leftover from breakfast 3 days ago. It was heavenly!

    I made the casserole at night; finishing about midnight. Took about 40 mins to get all set (because I was trying to decide on options), then baked it for 35 mins at 170 C, and doing an extra 5 mins to have the top crunchier. I refrigerated it after it cooled down.

    I warmed it in the oven at 170 C for 10 mins, and it was still as good as it was the day before.

    I am now wondering how to store the leftover for the next 3-4 days when we’d eat of it again. Should I freeze or just refrigerate?

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Goz! Glad you enjoyed the recipe! I’d just refrigerated it. The casserole will last for about 5 days in the fridge and reheats quite well. Enjoy!

  • Sheila

    Quick question–if going to make it the night before and put in the fridge, do you put the “drizzle” on then or do you put it on the next morning before baking??

  • Lisa Soward

    This is great! I used sweetened condensed milk with the eggs and vanilla. It was a hit!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    • Christina

      How much vanilla and did you replace the regular milk with sweetened condensed milk?

  • Gina

    Came out great! Used challah and walnuts – might add some vanilla extract next time. Thank you for this recipe!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Lana

    I bake all our bread and when we have a bit of stale bread I cube it up and add it to the gallon ziploc in the freezer, When the bag is full it is time to make French toast casserole. I always prep one the night before for overnight guests and it is always a big hit.

  • Steven

    This was awesome. I didn’t have French bread – and not quite enough days old wheat. But here’s a game changer: I was given a bunch of little donuts from a Chinese restaurant. Cut them up and added them to the bread with finely chopped walnuts instead of pecans (what I had on hand). We’re snowed in and this really hit the spot.
    My daughter commented how much she loved the orange zest. Nice touch

  • Barbara

    Can you use salted butter??

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Barbara! Yes, I think salted butter would be just fine for this recipe. In fact, I think I’m going to go back and add an extra pinch of salt to the topping ingredients because I think a little salt would be good. Thanks!

  • Jess

    You can use any bread and it will still come out good. I have used leftover hot dog buns, sliced white bread, sourdough & all were a bit.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Wen

    Amazing recipe, used French Brioche bread, a little Amaretto liquor, walnut and chocolate chips. So easy to follow and customize based on what’s in your pantry/ fridge.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jodi

    Great recipe! Easy, and not time consuming.
    I made it in a bundt pan because we like the browned edges! Delicious!!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Mel

    Yum. Easy and soo good.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jo

    Made it with Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl. It was great!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • KIMBERLY

    I made this yesterday morning and OMG, I may never make individual french toast again. This was AMAZING! I upped he liquid to 2 cups and used half n half, also used 7 eggs instead of 5. I had soft artisan bread so I toasted fhe bread chunks on a cookie sheet first. I added a saueeze of maple syrup to the topping mix as well. House smelled amazing and both me and my boyfriend had seconds. This recipe is definiteky a keeper!

  • JoLynn Becker

    I made this with Lactaid, a lactose free milk, added 2tbsp melted butter to it before baking and 1 tbsp vanilla extract to the eggs & sugar & cinnamon mix. I did not stir it up to coat all the bread, 6 Texas toast slices I cut into 9 squares each. Added more sugar and cinnamon to the top before baking, too. Topping I added 1/4 cup maple syrup to brown sugar and cinnamon and melted butter. Easily the best French toast I’ve ever eaten. Superb.

  • Andrea

    When you say the inside is creamy, does it mean the bread is soggy? I love French toast and want to make this for Xmas, but I’m afraid to do it since we all like our French toast to be well done, no wet middles.

    • Emma Christensen

      Andrea, have you ever had bread pudding? It’s similar to that texture. I wouldn’t describe it as soggy at all, but it’s more like…custard. I think if you prefer your French toast fairly dry and solid, you might enjoy a different recipe better.

  • Polly Richards

    Made this recipe this morning! I used leftover French Bread Loaf, Almond Milk (because we were out of dairy), raisins, almonds – everything else the same. Turned out Perfectly delicious. Brown and crispy on top and bottom, light and fluffy in the middle.

  • Maria

    It seems like you would have to stir after pouring the egg mixture over the bread cubes to coat the middle and bottom layers, no?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Maria! If you were baking it right away, stirring it wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you’re soaking it for any length of time, however, the bread will get coated just fine throughout!

  • Mindy Fisher

    This is a great recipe and so easy to follow..My family just loves it!!!
    Thank you

  • Sandi haltom

    OH MY GOODNESS! I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE LABOR INTENSIVE BUT IT IS NOT AT ALL! I am currently in Finland…cranberries, pecans, and even powdered sugar are difficult to find. The dark brown sugar here is very different from the brown sugar here. I did not want a citrus flavor so I opted out on the orange peel. In place of pecans, I used almonds which provided a more delicate flavor but I adhered to the recipe in every other way! We were so impressed with this very simple but very flavorful delectable recipe! I added sides of bacon and mimosas ( be jealous, I can get real French champagne for 7 euros here!) And the meal was a breakfast celebration. Thanks so much for including the 190 centigrade oven temp…evrrything here is in centigrades!

  • Sari Greene

    Looks Yummy! Does it freeze well?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Sari — We haven’t tried freezing it yet, but my suspicion is that this isn’t going to be the best casserole to freeze, especially if you want a nice presentation after it thaws. I think it will turn fairly mushy as it thaws. You might try it with just one or two servings and see how it goes. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

  • Marie Rivera

    can this be made with just egg whites. have someone allergic to yolks.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Marie — Unfortunately, yolks are pretty important for this recipe to work properly. I wouldn’t recommend it with just egg whites. Sorry!

  • pam

    i prepared this last night & baked it this morning. wonderful for Xmas breakfast.
    tastes like bread pudding. :-)

  • Gregory Dorff

    Great recipe and super easy for this dad to follow. My daughter is convinced that it was a Christmas Miracle that they had such a great breakfast treat!

    Thank you.

    I used Texas toast and tore the pieces of bread. Crisp in just the right places and the topping was perfect. Baked for 30 minutes. Sprinkled powder sugar on top when came out of the oven.

  • Maribel Cruz Bartolome

    The family loved it! Thanks for another recipe, I’ve learned a lot from you.

  • Robert Teresi

    My daughter tried a similar recipe, and made it as you suggested. The bread did not soak up all the liquid. She did leave it overnight. I suggest that the bread cubes be added to the liquid before putting in the casserole dish. It will make it easier to mix the liquid and cubes together and make sure that all the cubes get equal time with the custard. Let it sit and then pour into the casserole dish. This will keep the tops from drying out too much during cooking and make sure that the inside is the creamy consistency you desire.

    • Gayle Prochko

      Robert, I’ve made a very similar French toast casserole and it’s delicious, as this one sounds. I think it would help to use day old bread or cube the bread and dry it out in the oven in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes or so. This will dry the moist bread out and allow the bread to absorb the custard the way that it should. Hope that helps! Looking forward to trying this out on Christmas morning! Thanks Lisa and Elise!

      • deb

        Day old bread does work. In fact I look for day old bread in the bakery for not only french toast, but to make bread crumbs. I will try this recipe definitely with day old bread! Thanks.

        • Gayle

          Deb, this year I actually used a loaf of Italian Panetone bread for this recipe as a friend had given me a loaf for a gift. It’s delicious – give it a try…it’s delicious!

    • Lana

      After I add the liquid I press the bread down into the egg mixture with the back of a fork and if I refrigerate it overnight I repeat the process before putting it into the oven.

  • Agness of Run Agness Run

    Looks so delicious, I am in love with those pictures already. Thanks for this recipe.

  • Ginny Hoppe

    Can this be made with milk free bread and what could I substitute the whole milk for

    • Lisa

      Hi, Ginny. I’ve never tried using milk-free bread with this recipe but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work here. You could substitute whole milk for your favorite dairy-free milk, such as soy milk or almond milk. If you try the recipe, let us know how it goes!

  • Kari

    This looks delicious!

  • Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen

    I am drooling! I want to try your recipe, it just looks so good. I have never made French Toast casserole. I love the photos too.

  • ashi verma

    Hi
    I’ve made literally 100’s of your recipes and thank you, they are always easy to follow and successful in my kitchen
    Ashi Verma

  • Loren

    Yummy! I am totally drooling over this! Can’t wait to try it! xo Loren // http://www.thinkelysian.com

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    I really like the idea of preparing it the night before and baking in the morning :)

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Bookmarking for sure! I hate using the pan and I hate frying in general, it makes such a mess. I’m definitely more of an oven-girl! So glad I can make French toast this way.

    – Charmaine
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Karl Lembke

    French Toast Casserole is an infinitely flexible recipe. I’ve added all kinds of things to it, including various kinds of fruit and chocolate chips.

    I’ve even made “Ham and cheese on rye casserole, with a lot less sugar, cubes of ham and Swiss cheese, a mixture of dark rye and sourdough rye, and mustard to jazz it up.

    • Lisa

      That savory version sounds divine, Karl. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jennifer Jo

    We make something similar (though more basic), but we nestle chunks of cream cheese among the bread cubes: http://bit.ly/2hpPS4H It’s SO good.