French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

French toast casserole is the best way to enjoy all the flavors of French toast without having to stand over the stove dipping and flipping individual slices. If you’ve ever tried making French toast for a crowd, you know the feeling of being halfway into a loaf of bread simultaneously thinking, “what have I done?” and “I’m hungry!” French toast casserole solves this problem. Even better, this dish is best when prepped the night before, so all you have to do is pop it in the oven.

What Ingredients Are in French Toast Casserole?

French toast casserole is made with all your usual French toast ingredients: bread, eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. We use half-and-half to achieve a rich custard, and we sprinkle in some toasted pecans for more flavor and a little texture. Feel free to substitute walnuts or chocolate chips or leave out the add-ins entirely.

One little extra that we add to our French toast casserole is a mixture of granulated sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Sprinkling this on top of the casserole before baking yields a crunchy caramelized crust on top that gives Cinnamon Toast Crunch vibes. You could vary the spices in the topping for a different flavor profile. Try ground cardamom or even pumpkin pie spice.

How Do You Make French Toast Casserole?

French toast casserole is super simple to put together. Bread cubes and nuts go into the baking dish, then your egg and dairy mixture is poured over the top. The key to this dish, though, is the overnight soak. This step ensures that the stale bread has plenty of time to absorb the rich custard, which means that every bite will be perfect.

Does French Toast Casserole Have To Sit Overnight?

If you’d rather not make this the night before, you can combine the bread and the custard mixture in a large bowl. Let this sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all the bread cubes are getting nice and soaked. Then transfer the mixture to the baking dish, sprinkle with the sugary topping, and bake. Start checking for doneness a few minutes early, since the casserole won’t be baked straight from the fridge and won’t need quite as long in the oven.

What To Serve With French Toast Casserole

Serve French toast casserole with sausage links or patties, crispy bacon, or veggie sausage, because the combination of maple syrup and savory breakfast meat is one of the finer things in life. Have some warmed maple syrup and softened salted butter on the table for those who like their French toast on the richer side and flaky sea salt for diners who love a salty-sweet contrast. Add a bowl of fruit salad or cut fruit for good measure. Brunch has never been easier!

Tips for Making French Toast Casserole

  • Allowing the casserole to sit, refrigerated, overnight helps the custard seep into the bread evenly, resulting in a casserole where every bite is a perfect bite.
  • Be sure to use toasted pecans. Toasting brings out the flavor of the nuts.
  • Instead of half-and-half, you can use whole milk or a combination of milk and cream in any ratio you prefer.
  • If you like a less-sweet French toast casserole (all the better for adding more maple syrup while serving), reduce the sugar in the custard to 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
  • This recipe works especially well with stale or dry bread. Purchase your loaf ahead of time, or you can even tear it into cubes and let them sit uncovered on a baking sheet for a few hours to help them dry out a little.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided

  • 1 (12 ounce) loaf French bread,  torn into bite-size pieces (about 12 cups)

  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

  • 3 cups half-and-half

  • 6 large eggs

  • 2/3 cup (132 grams) light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup, divided, plus more for serving

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    french toast casserole ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  2. Brush 1 tablespoon of the butter over the bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Place bread chunks evenly in the dish and sprinkle with pecans.

    bread cubes and pecans inside of buttered casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  3. Whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a large bowl.

    french toast casserole custard whisked together in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  4. Pour the half-and-half mixture over the bread chunks and pecans and press lightly to ensure all bread pieces are absorbing liquid. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.

    custard poured over bread cubes in casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  5. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.

    casserole with soaked bread cubes removed from fridge

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  6. Meanwhile, stir together the granulated sugar, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl.

    brown sugar topping for french toast casserole in small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

  7. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the casserole and bake until the bread has puffed slightly and the sugar topping is crispy and dark brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.

    baked french toast casserole with powdered sugar garnish

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

How To Store French Toast Casserole

Refrigerate leftover French toast casserole, tightly covered, for up to 4 days. Serve leftovers cold, at room temperature, or warmed in the microwave.

You can also bake the casserole, let it cool completely, wrap it well in foil or plastic wrap, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed.

Recipe Variations

  • Play around with the spices and nuts. Cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger would all work well. For the nuts, try toasted hazelnuts or almonds instead of pecans.
  • Make a pumpkin French toast casserole by whisking up to 1 cup canned pumpkin puree into the custard.
  • Use cinnamon raisin bread instead of the French bread.

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