This easy baked French toast recipe is destined to become your go-to overnight casserole recipe for weekend brunch, holiday breakfast, or even a unique pot-luck dessert, because it tastes very similar to bread pudding.
With just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, you can create an easy breakfast casserole that tastes like traditional French toast but without having to cook individual slices of French toast. You’re going to love this overnight casserole!
Years ago when my now adult children were little, a fellow homeschool mom gave me a few pages of recipes that she used in her home to feed her large family. And a variation of this recipe was in that little packet. Little did I know then, that this would become something of a tradition for us.
This overnight French toast casserole is pretty rich, so I save it for special breakfasts. The special occasion can mean many things, it could be a holiday where we’re only going to eat two meals – bunch and dinner, it could be that we’re traveling and I make this ahead to bake at the AirBNB, or it could be that we’re have out of town guests and this makes an easy breakfast.
Over the years, I’ve made this recipe many different ways – with dairy and diary-free, with store-bought French bread and homemade French bread. It always turns out delicious. So we’ve dubbed this the best baked French toast casserole ever.
Ingredients for Baked French Toast
French Bread – I normally use store bought French bread for this recipe but you can certainly use homemade French bread. Here’s an easy French bread recipe that will work great. Since French toast is a traditional way to use stale bread, is a great time to use bread from the day-old bread section of the grocery store. You don’t need to be picky on the kind of bread, I’ve also used French baguette, sourdough bread, and the trimmings from regular sandwich bread and gluten-free bread that we used to make sandwiches for a bridal shower tea party. You can also use challah bread or Texas toast.
Eggs – We use the eggs from our hens but during the winter months when they aren’t laying, we use eggs that we froze during the spring.
Milk – we use raw whole milk that we buy locally but we’ve also made this French toast recipe with oat milk and almond milk for a dairy-free option.
Half and Half – the original recipe calls for half and half. Usually just use all milk because it’s cheaper – no one has ever complained.
Ground Cinnamon – This wasn’t in the original recipe, but we love the addition. You could also add other warming spices, such as this homemade pumpkin pie spice mix.
Butter – Normally we use real unsalted butter, but for a dairy-free option I’ve used plant based butter
Brown Sugar – If you don’t have any brown sugar, just mix a cup of granulated sugar with 1-2 tablespoons molasses to make some.
Maple Syrup – the original recipe called for corn syrup but we prefer pure maple syrup instead.
How to Make Baked French Toast
Using a knife and cutting bard, cut the bread into cubes. Put the bread crumbs into a greased baking dish. If you want a more classic French Toast casserole you can slice the bread and lay the bread slices at an angle in the baking dish, instead of a single layer.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon.
Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes. I like to give it a stir, especially if I’m going to make the baked French toast right a way and not the next morning.
Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. I like to use this baking pan because it has a lid and I don’t have to worry about using those.
Before you bake it, you’ll need to melt the butter with the brown sugar and maple syrup. I like to do this on the stove and cook it until the edges just start to bubble. That being said, when we’re on vacation, I just pack all the topping ingredients in a microwave safe, airtight container and microwave it.
Pour the topping over the top of the casserole and bake until golden brown. Because this recipe really swells up while baking, I like to put a sheet pan under the casserole dish or on the bottom shelf to catch any drips.
This French toast casserole has a crispy exterior and an eggy bread interior, just what a French toast lover wants!
We serve it with fresh fruit, bacon and sausage.
The full instructions are in the printable recipe card below.
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- 1 loaf of French bread (or another type of bread)
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups half and half (can substitute milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Cut French bread loaf into 1-inch cubes.
- Put into a 9x13 or larger casserole dish. I don't use cooking spray or grease the pan, but you can if you're worried about it sticking.
- Mix eggs, milk, half & half, vanilla and cinnamon together. Pour egg mixture over the bread cubes
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, melt butter and cook with brown sugar and syrup until just boiling. Pour over bread mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40 -50 minutes, or until the entire top is golden brown and domed. Be sure to put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch any overflow.
What are your favorite make ahead breakfasts?