French Toast Casserole
Buttery pieces of challah are coated in a spiced custard and topped with a crumble topping before baking. Make this French toast casserole the night before and bake it in the morning!
Make-ahead recipes like this French toast breakfast casserole are useful for holidays and family gatherings.
The entire casserole can be made in advance, refrigerated overnight, and then baked the next morning. This gives you more time to spend with loved ones and makes for stress-free entertaining too!
This baked French toast casserole is the perfect special occasion breakfast for Mother’s Day, birthdays, Christmas — any day, really! Enjoy it as is or dust with powdered sugar and finish with a drizzle of maple syrup.
This casserole comes together with basic ingredients you might have on hand already. I’ve provided an overview of the key ingredients below, plus suggestions on appropriate substitutes.
- Bread: Just like my bread pudding recipe, I prefer to use challah bread in this baked French toast casserole. However, you can easily swap it out with an equal amount of cubed brioche or French bread.
- Heavy Cream & Milk: I find that a combination of the two creates a rich casserole that’s not too heavy.
- Brown Sugar: I prefer using brown sugar for more flavor. You may use light or dark brown sugar, or make a substitute using granulated sugar and molasses.
- Eggs: You’ll need 8 eggs to bind the casserole together and form the base of the custard.
How to Make French Toast Casserole
This casserole comes together quickly and can be made in advance, if desired. Even better, you can opt to bake the casserole the same day you make it or you can let it chill in the fridge overnight.
Let’s review the basic steps for making it:
- Cube the bread: Cube the bread, then spread it out in an even layer in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan.
- Make the custard: Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and lightly beat them. Then, whisk in the brown sugar, vanilla, and spices. Slowly mix in the heavy cream and milk. I highly recommend mixing the ingredients together in this order because it prevents any large clumps of cinnamon in the custard.
- Chill the casserole: Pour the custard mixture over the cubed bread (you might need to press the bread down in spots to submerge it fully). Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Make the crumb topping: In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the cubed cold butter and cut it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork. Cover and chill the crumb topping until you are ready to use it.
- Bring the casserole to room temperature: When you’re ready to bake the casserole, set it on your counter for 30 minutes. During this time, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Top and bake: After 30 minutes, remove the crumb topping from the fridge and sprinkle it over the casserole. Bake just until the top is set and the edges are golden brown.
Because this French toast casserole already has a crumb topping, it really doesn’t need much else in the way of toppings. However, you’re welcome to load up your serving with any of the following:
- Maple Syrup
- Powdered Sugar
- Fresh Berries
- Salted Caramel Sauce
- Dulce de Leche
- Blueberry Sauce
- Strawberry Sauce
- Whipped Cream
- Pumpkin Butter
- Apple Butter
Frequently Asked Questions
Definitely! I actually prefer making this French toast casserole the night before and letting it chill in the fridge overnight. This gives the bread time to really soak up the custard.
However, I do recommend waiting to add the crumb topping until you’re ready to bake it. If you add the crumb topping before refrigerating, it will become soggy.
I prefer making this as a challah French toast casserole, but you may use another dense bread like French or brioche as well. Go to the bakery section of your grocery store and look for a 14 to 16 ounce loaf of unsliced challah so you can cube it yourself.
Bread wasn’t stale enough: I recommend placing the cubed bread on your counter, out of its packaging, the day before making this recipe. It needs to sit out overnight to dry; this helps the bread soak up more of the custard without it becoming soggy!
You used the wrong type of bread: Another reason could be the type of bread that you used. You want to stick with a thicker, denser bread like the ones listed above.
The bread didn’t soak long enough: Make sure to let the casserole chill for at least 3 hours. If the bread doesn’t have enough time to soak up the custard, it can also turn out soggy.
Yes! Once it has cooled completely, cut it into individual squares, and wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze in a large freezer bag for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, reheat in the microwave in 20 to 30 second increments or until warmed through.
- I recommend using day-old bread because it will absorb everything much better! If you forget to set your bread out to dry, you can dry it out in the oven at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
- If possible, buy a loaf of unsliced challah or brioche and cube it yourself. Pre-sliced loaves of bread are often too thinly sliced for casserole purposes and can become soggy in the custard mixture.
- I added just enough spices to this casserole to add a little warmth, but you’re welcome to add extra cinnamon and / or nutmeg for a stronger spiced flavor.
French Toast Casserole
French Toast Casserole
- 1 (14 to 16 ounce) loaf day-old Challah, brioche, or French bread cubed into 1-inch pieces (appx. 11 to 12 cups)
- 8 large eggs
- ⅔ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (135 grams)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream (120 ml)
- 2 cups whole milk (480 ml)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (42 grams)
- ½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (100 grams)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Tiny pinch of salt
- ¼ cup cold unsalted butter cubed into small pieces (60 grams)
- To prepare the French toast casserole: Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan well with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add the cubed bread to the prepared baking dish and spread it around into one even layer. Set aside.
- Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and lightly beat them. Then, add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk until fully combined. Add the heavy whipping cream and whisk until well combined, then slowly pour in the whole milk, continuing to whisk until fully combined.
- Pour the mixture over the bread in the prepared baking dish, making sure to cover all of it. If needed, press down on the bread to make sure it's fully coated.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight (up to 12 hours).
- To prepare the crumb topping: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt, then add the cold cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter into the mixture until it starts to come together and is crumbly.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake the casserole.
- To assemble and bake: Once the French toast casserole is ready, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
- After 30 minutes, remove the crumb topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle it evenly over the casserole.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is set and firm in the middle. If needed, tent with foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking time to prevent excess browning on top.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then serve, and enjoy!
hello! can this be made with croissants or king’s hawaiian bread instead of challah bread?
i love french toast and can’t wait to make this recipe!
Yes, either one would be fine! Just make sure the bread is dry before you use it.
hi again danielle,
if i half this recipe and bake it in a 8×8 pan, how long do i bake it for!
thank you for answering my previous question and this one as well, i appreciate it 🙂
I haven’t tried it in an 8-inch square pan, so I’m not quite sure. I would just keep an eye on it, you’ll know it’s done when the center is set and firm 🙂
Can you use light brown sugar.
Yes, that’s fine.