French toast is one of those comforting morning recipes that allows you to eat dessert for breakfast. What’s not to love about thick-cut bread soaked in vanilla custard? It’s the perfect way to transform a loaf of bread into something magical.
EASY OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST
Save time and stress by preparing French toast casserole in the slow cooker the day before you need it. Instead of individually dipping and pan-frying each custardy slice of bread, add everything to the slow cooker, soak it overnight, then let the slow cooker work its magic in the morning!
An overnight soak gives the custard plenty of time to soak into the buttery cubes of toasted brioche. The casserole then gently cooks in the slow cooker to produce tender, pudding-like results, loaded with the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg, with a touch of sweetness from vanilla.
Grab a bottle of maple syrup! You’ll want to dig in as soon as this casserole is ready!
WHY MAKE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE IN THE SLOW COOKER?
I didn’t realize how versatile a slow cooker could be until it transformed bread, egg, and cream into the most luxurious breakfast treat!
Using a slow cooker saves me time and builds a better French toast casserole. I love not having to fire up the oven, plus I can take this dish anywhere! I prepare the toasted brioche and the custard the night before, then let the slow cooker take over in the morning. This gives me a chance to enjoy my first cup of hot tea and watch cartoons with my kids.
Also, when you bake a custard, typically you want a warm and moist environment so the texture stays velvety, instead of rubbery, which can happen when custard is overcooked.
The slow cooker mimics just the right steamy environment. The eggs in the casserole cook gently over a longer period of time, allowing the creamy, spice-infused custard to bring everything together.
WHAT’S THE BEST BREAD FOR FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE?
French brioche is my top choice for French toast. It’s a tender and rich bread made with flour, butter, eggs, and a touch of sugar.
It has a nice chew, with golden buttery crust, but yields a silky texture when it absorbs the custard. I found pre-sliced loaves at Trader Joe’s, which I then cut into cubes.
Brioche rolls, loaves, and burger buns work great as well. Challah, French bread, or even sourdough would be tasty substitutes.
HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE?
French toast casserole is easy to make. Here’s how!
- Toast the bread to remove the moisture, while helps it soak up more custard.
- Make the custard, add the bread cubes, and soak overnight in the fridge (or at least for one hour).
- The next day, let the slow cooker insert with the soaked bread cubes come to room temp, and then put it in the slow cooker!
- Get ready to devour a big slice!
As the casserole cooks, it will puff up, then deflate a bit. When done, the center should no longer be jiggly. Custards are ready to eat at 175ºF.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT NEED TO COOK?
French toast casserole is a wonderful dish to make on slow and laid back weekend mornings, for Sunday brunch, or when you need to serve a group buffet style.
Depending upon when you want to eat, plan for 30 minutes to take the chill off the insert before cooking. If you placed the cold insert and food in the slow cooker, it would increase the time it takes for the temperature to ramp up. Letting the pot sit briefly at room temperature helps to reduce cook time.
The casserole should be ready in about two and a half hours if cooked on the high setting. If cooked on the low setting, it should take about five hours. Your kitchen is going to smell amazing!
It’s best not to slow cook the casserole overnight—the eggs in the casserole may overcook and become rubbery in texture, instead of smooth and custardy.
A Great Make-Ahead Breakfast for the Week!
This French Toast Casserole also reheats well, so it’s a good choice if you need a make-ahead breakfast for the week. French toast casserole can be refrigerated for up to five days and then reheated in the microwave. Reheat in 30-second intervals until warmed through, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO ADAPT THIS RECIPE?
The ways to add some variety and excitement to this basic Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole are endless.
Try any of the following:
- Top with sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.
- Add dried cranberries, raisins, or apples to cook with the casserole.
- Sauté apples or peaches with brown sugar and butter, then serve on top.
- Mix up the spices and add cardamom, cloves, ginger, or even cocoa powder.
- Add crunch with chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts.
- Kids love chocolate chips on top or in the casserole
- Make mom happy with some homemade caramel sauce drizzled over the top.
TRY THESE SWEET OR SAVORY BREAKFAST CASSEROLES
Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole Recipe
- 16-ounce French Brioche loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (12 cups)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (softened)
- 8 large eggs
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
- Pure maple syrup, for topping
1 Get ready: Set the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 300ºF for toasting the bread. Grease the inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with the softened butter.
2 Toast the bread: Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large sheet pan or two smaller pans. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through toasting. The bread should be lightly golden, dry, and crisp. Remove the bread cubes from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.
Once cool, transfer toasted bread to the slow cooker and arrange in an even layer.
3 Make the custard: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half-and-half, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the bowl with the eggs, and whisk to combine.
4 Add the custard to the bread cubes: Pour the custard mixture over the bread. Press the bread into the liquid to submerge. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes or up to 24 hours.
5 Bring the casserole to room temperature: Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes.
6 Slow cook the casserole: Place the slow cooker insert into the slow cooker base, cover it with a lid, and cook it on the high setting for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, or on the low setting for 4 to 5 hours.
The casserole is ready when the custard is set in the center and puffy; it should not be runny or jiggle. It will shrink slightly once the heat is turned off. The center of the casserole should be above 175ºF when tested with a thermometer.
7 To serve: Allow the casserole to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with maple syrup.
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