French Toast Casserole is ideal for entertaining and allows you to feed a crowd while still enjoying your company. You have the flexibility to prepare ahead or the morning of, then pop it in the oven to bake. Done and done!
I find most French toast casseroles resemble more of a bread pudding than actual French toast. My goal is for an easy way to prepare this breakfast favorite for a crowd without having to fry individual slices.
Preparing this dish the night before or the morning of is key here. No worries if you forget to do it the day prior, because I’ve tested this both ways. You shouldn’t be punished for a little forgetfulness.
This has to taste and look like French toast and not bread pudding. This means that the bread needs to be sliced rather than torn into pieces.
A crunchy buttery topping that isn’t created by loads of sugar is another must for this recipe. Remember, maple syrup is poured when serving. If you’re like me, eating something incredibly sweet gives me a sugar headache. You’re in control of the additional sweetness when you pour the syrup. As a type A, I like being in control.
The crust of the bread compliments the soft (not soggy!) interior. Remember, this is a French toast casserole and not bread pudding.
I use Challah bread and slice it into 3/4 inch slices. I overlap them in a buttered baking dish, using the heel of the bread to top the last slice to even out the casserole. This can be accomplished by lifting and tucking each piece into place. Lift and tuck, lift and tuck…kinda sounds like my future.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over each slice of bread by lifting up the slices as you sprinkle to cover every piece. There’s a purpose to sprinkling the sugar in between the slices rather than all on top. This method ensures that both sides of each slice are coated with cinnamon sugar, giving it a swirl effect similar to coffee cake. If you sprinkle the sugar all over the top – which I’ve tried – the sugar is concentrated in one area making it candy sweet and too crunchy.
Slowly pour the liquid all over the slices. Every nook and cranny can be coated just by slowly drizzling the liquid rather than pouring it all at once. You’d think the sugar would wash away when the liquid is poured, but it doesn’t. Why not sprinkle it after the liquid? Because I don’t want to risk ripping the bread since it will be soaked in liquid. Besides, doesn’t that sound a little messy?
Finally, melted butter is drizzled on top.
Now you have a choice. You can cover this and put it in the refrigerator overnight and bake it in the morning at your leisure, or you can cook after it sits while the oven preheats – at least 15 minutes.
The texture is different if sitting overnight because the casserole has all that time to soak up the liquid. If you slowly drizzle the liquid onto every piece, the liquid will be absorbed. For this post, I baked it right away.
Bake it for 50 minutes if you want it crunchy, but after 40 minutes it should be done. It will puff up while baking giving it good height. Don’t be discouraged when it sinks a bit after removing it from the oven because it’s normal for it to deflate.
Serve with only real maple syrup. You’re definitely worth it. Now YOU can control the sweetness by pouring as much or as little as you want.
Try some of my other breakfast treats:
Life is too short for mediocre food.
French Toast CasserolePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- Pour half of the melted butter (4 tablespoons) into a 9x13 inch baking dish and coat the bottom and sides.
- Slice the bread into 3/4 inch slices.
- Place the slices in the baking dish overlapping each piece. Lift and tuck to aid in fitting the slices in the baking dish. Do not press down or squish bread.
- Combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Slowly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the bread. Lift up the slices to cover every piece.
- Whisk together the milk, heavy cream, eggs, vanilla or bourbon, salt, and remaining cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. If you have a large measuring cup, use it instead for ease of pouring.
- Slowly pour the liquid all over the bread, lifting each slice to ensure the liquid covers the surface. Lightly press down a little to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.
- Drizzle the melted butter on top covering the casserole.
- At this point, you can cover with wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Let it sit out while the oven preheats.
When you're ready to bake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake for 40 - 50 minutes. I bake it for 50 minutes because we like it dark and crunchy on top. The casserole will be puffed, but will start to deflate after it's removed from the oven.
- Serve with real maple syrup. You're worth it!
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