This French Toast Bake recipe (French Toast Casserole) combines the flavors of traditional French toast with the convenience of a casserole, topped with an easy Brown Sugar Pecan Topping!
This French Toast Bake is downright swoon worthy, ideal for extra special breakfasts, brunch or the easiest way to serve a crowd! It can be thrown together in minutes and is 100% make ahead friendly to keep your celebratory mornings stress free. This Baked French Toast Casserole is made with thick, toasted cubes of brioche or challah soaked in a cinnamon-maple spiced custard, topped with an (optional) showstopping, buttery, crunchy, brown sugar, pecan topping, then baked until golden. Whether you’re an experienced baker or a novice cook, this French Toast Bake recipe is sure to become a family favorite that you’ll return to again and again!
We love overnight French toast casseroles at our house. They’re perfect for stress-free mornings whether for birthdays, holidays or just a special Sunday breakfast with the fam. Along with this French Toast Bake, don’t miss these favorites: blueberry French toast casserole, cinnamon roll French toast casserole, croissant berry breakfast casserole, pecan praline French toast bake and crème brûlée French toast.
How to Make French Toast Recipe Video
WHY YOU’LL LOVE this French Toast Bake recipe
Delicious and comforting: This French Toast Bake recipe is positively scrumptious with the vanilla, cinnamon, maple, custard-soaked bread elevated by the irresistible buttery, crunchy pecan streusel.
100% make ahead friendly! This French Toast Casserole is best prepped the night before, so all you have to do is pop it in the oven the next morning. This makes it a great option for busy mornings so you can multi-task or relax and enjoy the time with family or friends.
Perfect for feeding a crowd: This Baked French Toast combines the flavors of traditional French toast with the convenience of a make ahead, overnight casserole! It’s ideal for brunch or breakfast gatherings, because it’s quick to assemble but makes 12 hearty servings.
Quick and easy to make: This French Toast Bake recipe doesn’t require any special skills or techniques, and you don’t have to individually dip and cook every piece of bread! With just a few basic ingredients, you can whip up this delicious breakfast casserole in no time.
No soggy casserole! The key to the best breakfast casserole with a custardy center and crunchy topping is to toast the bread cubes before soaking. This allows maximum absorption of the custard without making the bread mushy!
Uses simple, everyday ingredients: Overnight French Toast Bake can be whipped up anytime by keeping a few pantry friendly ingredients stocked such as bread, eggs, half and half, and spices. You can even keep your favorite bread in the freezer until it’s time to use.
Customizable: This French Toast Casserole is highly customizable, allowing you to experiment with different breads, spices, and toppings to create a variety of different flavor combinations. You can even make it gluten-free or vegan by using alternative ingredients.
Baked French Toast Ingredients
This French Toast Casserole is showstopping in flavor, but it’s made from easy-to-find ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
FOR THE French Toast:
For the crumble topping:
The topping is optional but is one of the best parts of the Overnight French Toast Bake recipe in my opinion! It rewards you with tender, custard soaked bread juxtaposed with the crunchy brown sugar pecans in every dizzyingly delicious forkful.
What’s the best bread for french toast bake?
French Toast Casserole should be fluffy, soft, creamy and custardy, but not soggy. To achieve this texture, technically you can use any somewhat stale, thick bread, but for the best flavor and texture, you have two choices: brioche and challah. Here’s the breakdown:
Brioche: Is a classic French bread that bakes up golden, soft, and pillowy with a sweet, buttery flavor. It’s ideal for French toast because it’s extravagantly rich, eggy and buttery, known as a Viennoiserie, which means it’s made from a leavened yeast dough, like a croissant. These factors result in an extra soft, fluffy bread that soak up the custard with enough structure so it doesn’t fall apart. Brioche can usually be found by the loaf in the bakery section.
Challah: This is a Kosher loaf of braided bread made from eggs, water, flour, yeast and salt. Challah makes fantastic Baked French Toast because it’s loaded with more eggs and butter than your average bread and soaks up the egg mixture very well while maintaining its structure. It’s not quite as sweet as brioche and a little denser and drier. Still good, just not as good as brioche. Challah will be located in the bakery section of your grocery store.
French bread: A long, wide French Loaf, not to be confused with a thin, long French baguette, is an okay option for Baked French Toast, but is missing the buttery sweet flavor and fluffiness of brioche or challah and will be denser and chewier when baked. French bread is hard and crusty on the outside which gives it structure with a light and soft crumb which adeptly soaks up the egg mixture. Because French bread is denser than brioche, you’ll want to soak it for a little longer in the egg mixture so it has time to really soak up the mixture.
Gluten free bread: You can make gluten free Baked French Toast by using gluten free bread. Whole Foods carries Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Bread in the frozen section (thaw first) or on Amazon here. I have also heard good things about Udi’s Gluten Free Bread.
BREADS TO AVOID
Light breads: Breads like sandwich bread are too soft and will become soggy.
Very crusty bread or heavy breads: Examples include artisan breads, rye bread, pumpernickel, etc. These breads will not become soft and custardy.
Savory breads: These breads often don’t have the right texture and you’ll end up with an odd, off-putting flavor combination.
HOW TO MAKE Overnight FrEnch Toast Bake
Assemble and bake this French Toast Casserole the night before, then just pop it in the oven in the morning! Let’s take a closer look at how to make this recipe (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Overnight French Toast Bake FAQS
The origins of French toast are a bit unclear, and there are various theories about its origin. However, despite its name, French toast is not actually French in origin.
One theory is that French toast originated in ancient Rome, where it was known as “pan de mei” or “bread soaked in milk.” Another theory suggests that it originated in medieval Europe, where it was known as “pain perdu” or “lost bread,” as it was a way to use up stale bread that would otherwise be thrown away.
The name “French toast” is believed to have originated in the United States in the 19th century. Some say that the dish was named after the French chef who introduced it to America, while others speculate that it was named simply because it sounded fancy and exotic.
So while French toast may have a French-sounding name, it is not actually French in origin.
The top three choices of bread to use for French Toast are Brioche, Challah and French Bread. All of these options are sturdy enough to soak up the custard without becoming soggy. Brioche, however, earns extra points because of its buttery sweetness and is my top choice for French Toast Casserole.
Use bread cut into 3/4-inch-thick cubes. The thicker the cubes, the more egg mixture it can soak in while remaining fluffy, soft and custardy without becoming soggy.
When making French toast, it’s common to use slightly stale bread because it absorbs the egg mixture without becoming soggy, preventing the breakfast casserole from becoming mushy when baked. Toasting the bread is great alternative for waiting for the bread to become stale. It also allows you to cube it before toasting for ease, and imparts an alluring nutty flavor and aroma.
Because you used too many eggs! The general rule of thumb is 3 eggs per 1 cup half and half. Any more eggs and you run the risk a French Toast Casserole that tastes more eggy than custardy.
It’s important to not underbake or overbake the French Toast Casserole. An underbaked casserole will be runny instead of creamy and an overbaked casserole can be dry instead of creamy. To perfectly bake your French Toast Casserole every time, bake until the custard is creamy but set and top is puffy and golden brown. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center of the casserole. The tester should come out with a few moist crumbs, but not be wet.
French Toast Bake or Casserole can be soggy if:
1. You use the wrong bread (soft instead of sturdy bread).
2. The bread isn’t stale enough or thick enough.
3. You use milk instead of half and half/cream in the custard.
To ensure beautifully soft but not soggy casserole, use day old or toasted brioche, challah or French bread, use half and half and don’t let the casserole sit longer than 24 hours.
French Toast Casserole with a streusel topping should not be covered when baking, allowing for a perfectly golden, crunchy top. If the top is becoming too brown at any point during baking, cover it with foil.
French Toast Casserole is best served warm, fresh out of the oven, or at the very least room temperature. I do not recommend serving it cold.
Baked French Toast should be refrigerated within 2 hours of baking due to the eggs in the custard or it can spoil. It is recommended, however, to let it sit overnight in the refrigerator before baking so the bread can soak up the custard.
Tightly covered leftover French Toast Bake will last in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Absolutely! I actually prefer making this as an Overnight French Toast Bake. It means less work for me in the morning, plus it gives the bread extra time to soak up the spiced custard before baking.
There is a reason most French toast casseroles call for sitting overnight – it gives the custard time to permeate and really soak into the bread. This results in sublime flavor and texture through and through. So, for best results, plan on OVERNIGHT French toast casserole preparation method.
With that being said, you can still make this recipe without letting it rest overnight. Just adjust your expectations as the casserole won’t be as fluffy or flavorful as the custard won’t have as much time to soak in. The top layer of bread may even turn out hard or crispy because it hasn’t had the time to soak up a lot of egg mixture.
1. Use a softer bread, one that isn’t as toasted.
2. Instead of pouring the custard over the bread cubes in the casserole dish, which won’t saturate the top bread as well, mix all the bread cubes and the custard together in a bowl first to fully saturate all the cubes. When ready to bake, transfer to the casserole.
3. Let the saturated cubes rest on the counter for 30-60 minutes before assembling, then bake per recipe instructions. You can also let the casserole soak in the refrigerator for just what you have time for, whether that’s 1 hour or 3.
French Toast Bake, also known as overnight French Toast Casserole, is a delicious breakfast dish that’s perfect for feeding a crowd. It’s made with a few simple ingredients, including bread (brioche, challah or French bread), eggs, half and half, sugar, and spices. To make the dish, the bread is usually cubed and placed in a baking dish. The egg mixture, which is made by whisking together eggs, milk or cream, sugar, and spices, is then poured over the bread. The casserole is usually left to sit overnight, allowing the bread to soak up the custard mixture. In the morning, the casserole is baked in the oven until it’s golden and crispy on top. French toast bake can be served with a variety of toppings, such as fresh fruit, syrup, cinnamon or whipped cream.
Bake until the custard is set, puffed up, and reaches an internal temperature in the center of 175 to 190ºF (79 to 88ºC), about 45 to 55 minutes. The less time you bake the casserole and the lower the internal temperature, the softer and more custard-like it will be. The longer you bake the casserole, and the higher the internal temperature, the more firm it will be.
toppings for Baked french toast casserole
Enjoy your portion of French Toast Bake with just the streusel topping and berries, or add a simple drizzle of maple syrup. You can also go all out by combining one or more of the following toppings (some are best if you skip the pecan crumble):
possible French Toast recipe variations
There are countless variations of French Toast Bakes including adding berries, switching up the topping, etc. Here are just a few ideas:
WHAT to serve with baked french toast
I prefer serving this sweet breakfast casserole with savory sides and/or fruit. Try one or more of the following:
HOW long is Baked french toast Good for?
Tightly cover leftover French Toast Casserole or transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
can you freeze french toast casserole?
Yes, you can freeze leftover Baked French Toast, or freeze the casserole before baking. Note, the streusel topping can be frozen, but is best freshly added because it won’t be nearly as crunchy once thawed.
To freeze, allow the casserole to cool completely. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap a couple times, followed by foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat per instructions.
How do I reheat french toast bake Recipe?
Overnight French Toast Bake is best enjoyed immediately after baking, but leftovers do reheat well. Reheat individual servings in the microwave for 45 seconds, then at 10 second intervals, or reheat in the oven, covered with foil, at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
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French Toast Bake Recipe
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- 1 16 oz. loaf challah or brioche cut into 3/4” cubes (French bread is okay/last choice)
- 6 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp EACH ground cloves, ground nutmeg, salt
BROWN SUGAR PECAN CRUMB TOPPING
- 1 ½ cups pecans, chopped (about ¼ inch)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2-2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp EACH ground cloves, ground nutmeg, salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Toast bread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the cubed bread in a single layer to a large baking sheet (15×21-inches, or two half sheets). Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through until golden, dry and toasted (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!). Set aside to cool while you make the custard and crumb topping.
- Custard: In a large liquid measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk all of the Custard ingredients together.
- Assemble: Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; add toasted bread cubes. Pour the custard over top. Press the bread into the liquid to submerge (the tops won't be covered). You may need to press, wait a few minutes, then press again.
- Chill: Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours for the bread to soak up the custard (the bread should feel slightly mushy). Make and refrigerate the crumb topping at the same time. See below.
- Pecan Crumb Topping: Whisk together the pecans, flour, sugar, vanilla and spices in a large bowl until evenly combined. Pour in the melted butter and maple syrup. Stir with a spatula to combine, breaking up any large pieces. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator (the colder the topping, the crunchier it will be).
- Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Just before baking, evenly sprinkle the Pecan Crumb Topping over the bread (the topping should be chilled until baking). Bake, uncovered, until the custard is set, about 45-55 minutes, depending on how soft/”eggy” you like it. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh berries and syrup if desired.
- To store: Tightly cover leftovers; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To freeze: Leftovers can be frozen, but the streusel won’t be nearly as crunchy. If making specifically to freeze, omit the streusel topping, and add it just before baking. The frozen casserole should be thawed overnight before being baked/reheated.
- To reheat: Reheat individual servings in the microwave for 45 seconds, then at 10 second intervals, or reheat in the oven, covered with foil, at 325 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
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