Overnight French Toast Casserole
Overnight French toast casserole is a delicious way to prepare breakfast the night before. You’ll love this make ahead baked version of French toast, with no messy skillet or griddle to clean.
We love French toast at our house! Ben likes to make it for the kids in the morning, using whole wheat bread soaked in lots of milk and eggs. Nice and easy, and healthy, too. With a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and topped with fresh fruit, it’s a good alternative to the usual bowl of cereal.
Sometimes, though, you want a breakfast that’s a little special. Maybe you have guests coming, or it’s a holiday or birthday, or maybe you just crave a breakfast that’s a little decadent.
This overnight French toast casserole is perfect for that special breakfast. Scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, with a crunchy sweet buttery base, and custardy bread pudding baked to golden brown perfection, oven baked French toast is heavenly, truly the best!
Made the night before with ingredients you probably have on hand, baked in the morning, and served with a flourish, you’re going to wonder why you don’t make this oven baked French toast more often! It’s ideal for when you have overnight guests because it won’t leave you standing at the stove over a hot griddle, wondering when you’ll get a chance to sit down.
Bonus: it smells so good while it’s baking! Perfect with a cup of coffee.
About this Overnight French Toast Casserole:
I like to use a loaf of French bread, brioche, Italian bread, Texas toast, or challah to make this French toast casserole. (Challah is a slightly sweet bread, rich with eggs, traditional to Jewish Sabbath day celebrations.) You want to buy an unsliced loaf preferably, so you can cut the bread into nice sized cubes. But don’t worry if your bread is already sliced–it will be just fine!
This recipe is actually better if the bread is slightly stale, or day old. Sometimes I stick leftover French or Italian bread in the freezer, wrapped securely, and save it for later, when I’m ready to make this casserole. Stale bread is actually a treasure in my kitchen–I love to make these fantastic croutons with stale bread!
If your bread is really fresh, don’t despair! Cut (or tear) the loaf into large cubes (approximately 1 inch) and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Let the bread dry out for an hour or so, or dry it in the oven briefly, for 10 minutes at 275ºF. Drier (aka stale) bread absorbs the egg mixture better.
Next, I mix butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together, cook it until it’s nice and syrupy, and spread that yummy mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. Then comes the bread pieces, and over it all, the mixture of eggs and milk is poured. Nestle those bread chunks right down into the liquid so they soak up all the creamy goodness.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil, stick the whole business in the fridge, and your work is finished!
In the morning, turn the oven on, uncover your dish, and bake it for around 55 minutes or until it’s set. You can test it with a butter knife. Just insert the knife near the center and see if it comes out clean. If milky liquid is clinging to the knife, bake it for another 5 minutes, and check it again. It should be a nice golden brown on top.
Cut into squares, scooping out nice big pieces. Make sure you get the sticky caramel stuff from the bottom of the pan–it’s the best part!
Enjoy with fresh fruit, or bacon, sausage, or ham. Coffee or orange juice is a must!
How to make this easy French Toast casserole your own:
- As I mentioned above, you can use a variety of different types of bread. You can even mix different kinds together. Each type of bread will have unique characteristics.
- I like cinnamon and nutmeg in this casserole. You could increase either spice or leave one out. Pumpkin pie spice would be a good substitute.
- You could add up to one cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the bottom layer of butter and brown sugar.
- If you prefer French toast that is lower in calories, skip the bottom layer. You’ll want to make sure your pan is well-greased. Just put the bread in the pan, and pour the egg mixture over it. I would sweeten the egg mixture first with 1/4 cup maple syrup or sugar.
- Sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on the top after the French toast is baked looks pretty, or you could drizzle maple syrup over it.
- Wanting something a little different? Try these chai flavored French toast skewers! Baked apple French toast cups are popular with kids, and this grilled French toast, stuffed with strawberry basil cream cheese, is really an amazing treat!
Reheating and Storage Tips
Left over French toast reheats well although the top will probably be a little less crispy. I would microwave each piece briefly, in 30 second intervals. It heats up rather quickly.
I love that this oven baked French toast recipe is one you can make ahead; it’s a great meal prep idea. You can make it up to 24 hours in advance, refrigerated, covered well with plastic wrap or foil.
Round out your breakfast or brunch with these recipes:
Wondering what to serve with this oven baked French toast? Here’s a few ideas for you to try:
- Baked bacon (so easy, bake it while the French toast casserole bakes!)
- Homemade sausage patties (Whole30 compliant)
- Crispy roasted potatoes
- Fruit salad parfaits (with shortbread cookie crumble)
- Citrus salad with mint, honey, and lime
- Instant Pot homemade applesauce
- Slow cooker maple dijon ham slices
- Brûlée caramel coffee by Lori at Foxes Love Lemons
- Snickerdoodle latte by House of Yumm
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark will work)
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
- 1 18 oz. loaf of french bread or challah, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 10-12 cups of cubed bread)
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole milk)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Grease or spray a 9x13 baking dish.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Cook until butter and sugar no longer separate, about 7 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle bread cubes over brown sugar mixture in an even layer.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Pour egg mixture over bread, pressing down slightly if needed to saturate all the bread with the egg mixture.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap/cover and place cold pan in cold oven. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Bake for 55 minutes or until browned, bubbling, and no longer liquidy in the middle. A butter knife inserted near the center should come out clean, not coated with egg/milk mixture.
- Other types of bread can be substituted.
- Can be made up to 24 hours in advance before baking.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 of 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 194mg Sodium: 542mg Carbohydrates: 61g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 25g Protein: 15g
Husband’s take: If it’s possible, Ben likes this even more than I do!
Changes I would make: None are necessary, but have fun with some of the ideas I mentioned above.