This recipe for easy French Toast Casserole is a traditional overnight breakfast casserole recipe given to me by my Mom. Recipes from Mom are the best, aren’t they?
A big tradition in our family on holiday mornings is to make a big brunch. I always put together a menu that is easy (no one wants to do a lot of work on a holiday morning, right?) This Easy French Toast Casserole is perfect for Easter brunch. We also make it often for Christmas morning. And we’ve been known to enjoy it on Thanksgiving morning after a vigorous hike!
What is French Toast Casserole?
It’s is an easy way to make French toast for the family all at once- and it’s perfect for holidays when you can make it the night before and just pop it into the oven the next morning. It’s super easy to prepare, and it’s a no-fuss, not-fancy kind of special meal to share with family.
This recipe comes from a well-worn recipe card that my Mom copied from my grandma back in the 70’s. Do you treasure things like this as much as I do? I have a whole pile of recipe cards from my mom- many of which were copied from various family members. I’m so thankful that my older family members cooked and baked so much- more memories to share!
What’s the difference between bread pudding and French Toast Casserole?
I’ve been told that this French Toast Casserole recipe looks awfully similar to bread pudding. Well, to be truthful… French toast is a lot like bread pudding! Bread pudding is bread that is baked with milk, sugar, spices and eggs. It usually has raisins in it too. Well, guess what? French toast is made the same way– milk, eggs and spices with bread. The difference is that this casserole is served at breakfast with warm maple syrup. Bread pudding is served as dessert with some kind of sweet sauce.
Before I forget, I must recommend that you also check out my Pumpkin French Toast Casserole and my Eggnog French Toast Casserole. Those are great choices for breakfast and brunch too!
How do you make this recipe?
Add stale bread cubes to a pan, pour egg custard over the top, give it some soak time in the refrigerator, and then add butter/sugar/cinnamon sprinkles on top. It’s so easy… which makes it the perfect holiday breakfast casserole.
The best part about French Toast Casserole is that you can make it the night before! After a good overnight soak, the casserole is baked until puffed and golden (about an hour).
Does this breakfast casserole have to sit overnight?
It’s a good idea to give the French Toast Casserole a chance to soak really well before baking. I recommend at least four hours in my recipe, but since it’s so easy to make the night before you want to serve it… you might as well let it have all of that extra soaking time too. The bread cubes will be so tender and sweet soaking in all of that sweet custard!
Can I make this gluten-free?
Yes! My Mom is actually gluten-free now, so we can make her a gluten-free version! Use a sturdy gluten-free French Bread in place of regular French bread. Give it about an hour soak time instead of letting it soak overnight. Gluten-free bread doesn’t tend to keep its shape as well as gluten breads, so less soaking time is recommended. Proceed as usual with the rest of the recipe.
This is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven. Isn’t it beautiful? It comes out of the oven all puffy and pretty. It will settle and deflate a little while it cools.
Warm slices are topped with warm maple syrup. It’s such a comforting choice for everyone to enjoy for a breakfast or brunch for holidays or a special celebration.
Can this recipe be re-heated?
Yes. I like to use my microwave for individual slices, but you can certainly re-heat in the oven too.
Can this recipe be frozen?
Yes! You can choose to freeze it either before or after baking, using a freezer-safe casserole dish. Although this recipe is super easy to make, freezing ahead might seem like a time saver for some people.
If you choose to freeze French Toast Casserole before baking, prepare it until you put the egg custard over the bread cubes. Then place plastic wrap over and press down to adhere to the soaked bread. Wrap in plastic wrap again. Then wrap with foil and freeze (up to 1 month) before ready to make. When ready to make, let the frozen French Toast Casserole defrost in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Add the topping. Then proceed with the regular baking instructions.
If you want to freeze French Toast Casserole after it’s already baked (or if you want to freeze leftovers), you can do so for a month or two. Wrap the cooled French Toast Casserole well with plastic wrap, cover with foil and freeze. To serve, let it defrost in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Then remove the plastic wrap, cover with foil and heat in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Looking for more breakfast ideas? Here are a few recipes to try:
- Caramel Apple Monkey Bread
- Avocado- Bacon Toast
- Greek Yogurt Pancakes
- Easy Breakfast Strata
- Spicy Egg and Chorizo Breakfast Tacos
- Spiced Apple Waffles
French Toast Casserole
- 10 to 12 ounces day-old (stale) French bread, cubed
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold butter, chopped into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- warm maple syrup, for serving
- Spray a 9x13-inch pan (or similar casserole dish) with nonstick spray. Sprinkle the bread cubes in the prepared pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic down against the bread cubes to submerge them in the egg mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking to let it warm up closer to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Sprinkle the butter pieces evenly over the casserole. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle that evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. You'll see the casserole puff up considerably- it will settle down once you remove it from the oven and it begins to cool. Serve warm slices with warm maple syrup.
- Maple syrup is not included in the nutritional information.
- FREEZE AHEAD TIPS: If you choose to freeze French Toast Casserole before baking, prepare it until you put the egg custard over the bread cubes. Then place plastic wrap over and press down to adhere to the soaked bread. Wrap in plastic wrap again. Then wrap with foil and freeze (up to 1 month) before ready to make. When ready to make, let the frozen French Toast Casserole defrost in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Add the topping. Then proceed with the regular baking instructions. If you want to freeze French Toast Casserole after it's already baked (or if you want to freeze leftovers), you can do so for a month or two. Wrap the cooled French Toast Casserole well with plastic wrap, cover with foil and freeze. To serve, let it defrost in your refrigerator for 24 hours. Then remove the plastic wrap, cover with foil and heat in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
If I want to freeze for a few weeks, I just need to go through step 2 and stick in the freezer, correct? I have a baby shower that I need to take brunch to but wont be around a few days before. Therefore, I want to go ahead and make it and just let it thaw out before baking. Making sure I pour the liquid over the break and store with the plastic wrap over it before popping in the freezer. Thank you!
I haven’t tried freezing this recipe, so I’m not sure.
I added about a tablespoon of cinnamon and a tsp of nutmeg to the egg batter and it tasted delicious.
I forgot to press down onto the scran wrap. Will it be ok?. I am cooking it in 6 days.
You mean you’ve already made it and are cooking it in 6 days? I hope that’s not the case. You can make it one day and refrigerate it overnight to be cooked the next day. And yes… it’s important to submerge the bread in the liquid by having something press down on it.
This recipe turned out So DELICIOUS!! I added a can of low sugar apple pie filling (chopped up), and it was sooo good! Thank you!
Made this for a Bridal Shower Brunch. Turned out great and everyone loved it!! Several people asked for the recipe. I made it a “PEACH” French Toast casserole. Just added 4 peaches cut into small cubes. Will definitely make again.
I make this for Christmas morning using Panettone instead of French bread. Delicious and a family favorite!
I love a warm french toast casserole drizzled with maple syrup!!! It’s such a comforting breakfast treat!
I make this french toast casserole almost every weekend! My family LOVES it and it’s so easy to make!
This is one of our all time favorite breakfasts for the holidays! Delicious!
Perfection! The best holiday breakfast! This recipe is such a great make-ahead.
We looove French toast casserole. This looks to die for. I am making it over the holidays!
Wonder how browned breakfast sausage would work into this recipe?
Might be good!
LOVE French toast casserole!!! Such a crowd pleaser and so easy!!
Can you make this 2 or 3 nights in advance?
I’d say stick with making it the night before.
I have someone who is lactose intolerant. Would I be able to replace the milk with lactaid?
I’m not familiar at all with lactaid, so I have no idea!
I would actually love some of this right now with a hot cup of coffee! YUM!
We make a lot of French Toast casseroles over the winter! Definitely will be trying this!
Love old recipe cards like that, and breakfast casseroles too.
French Toast Casserole is such a perfect breakfast, especially around the holidays! And I love that this is an old family recipe 🙂
I love seeing family recipes and how the amazing foods we grew up with can be passed on from generation to generation! This sounds incredible! French toast is a classic comfort food for me!
I love family recipes like this, and this casserole sounds like it would be perfect for us. Love that it’s so easy, too! 🙂
Spending time with our family during Christmas and watching all the movies is our favorite! This french toast casseroles is just perfect when you have family staying over! Looks so good!
Great post, Lori, and that casserole looks positively scrumptious! I’d enjoy this any time of day!
I’m a sucker for Christmas and holiday movies, and I especially love when they involve people being in the kitchen together! My family and I have always cooked together and make special dishes for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve never had French Toast Casserole, though, which makes me want to try it!
I love making french toast casseroles when people are in town visiting! They are such a great and tasty way to feed a crowd!