My French toast casserole recipe is absolutely loaded with flavor and tastes great with or without a drizzle of maple syrup on top. This recipe has instructions to be either a make-ahead overnight recipe or it can be prepped and baked right away!
This is a perfect holiday breakfast dish. It makes the top of my favorites list, right along with my one hour cinnamon rolls and buttermilk pancakes. Be sure to check out all of my tips and my how-to video at the bottom of the post!
Would you have guessed that a recipe as simple as this one caused me anxiety for weeks as I hopped from recipe fail to recipe fail? I knew I wanted a simple, versatile French toast casserole recipe. Something that could be made in advance or whipped up the morning of (for those of us who aren’t so good at planning ahead 🙋🏼).
My sister, the reigning queen of classic French toast and crepes queen, endured bland French Toast Casserole after bland casserole taste-testing. “More brown sugar”. “More cinnamon”. “What even is this?” I actually gave up twice, only to come back both times because I really, really wanted to have a breakfast casserole to share with you for your holiday breakfast. I just wanted it to be really, really good.
Well, we have arrived. I hope you love this winning, perfected French toast casserole recipe every bit as much as I do. Let’s get to that recipe, shall we?
Crisp and buttery, this brown sugar streusel topping is the cherry on top of your French Toast Casserole. It’s similar to the streusel I use on my favorite coffee cake and crumb cake, though the preparation is slightly different. It’s flavorful and perfectly sweet and so easy to prep. I like to prepare my crumb topping in a food processor because it takes only a second to do so, but it can also be made with a pastry cutter or just a fork.
If you do use a food processor, take care that you don’t over-process your crumb topping. You want it to resemble dry coarse crumbs with just a few small clumps (see above). Process everything for too long and you’ll end up with a big clump of butter and brown sugar that won’t lend itself to sprinkling.
What Kind of Bread Should I use?
I hands-down recommend Challah bread for making your French Toast Casserole. Yes, you can get away with using a loaf of Italian bread or French bread… but neither will impart the same taste as Challah bread. Yes, it is the most expensive of the options, but for good reason — its taste is magical.
It’s also just a beautiful bread, which doesn’t matter much at all since we’re cutting it up into pieces, but still, we can all appreciate a beautiful bread anyway, right?
How Do You Make Overnight French Toast Casserole
My favorite thing about this recipe is it is so versatile in terms of prep. You can make it in advance so all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven or you can throw everything together the morning of and bake it right away.
If you want to make your French toast casserole in advance, I recommend making the following adjustments:
- Use a semi-stale loaf of bread. Let it sit out for a day or so, or cut it into 1″ chunks and let those sit out for an hour or two. By letting the bread get a little stale, you help make it resistant to becoming soggy while it sits overnight (nobody wants soggy french toast casserole!).
- Prepare your streusel topping, but store it separately and sprinkle it overtop just before baking your casserole
- Those are really my only two changes, but I feel like all lists should have at least 3 bullet points, so here we are.
Notes on Maple Syrup
I really think the maple syrup that goes into the egg mixture is what helps set this French Toast Casserole apart from so many others. Combined with the cinnamon sugar, it adds a great subtle flavor without making the casserole too rich. I’ve tried this recipe with both imitation and pure maple syrup and either will work just fine.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
- Blueberry Coffee Cake <– another great make-ahead breakfast option!
- Chocolate Chip Muffins <– these are big, bakery-style muffins everyone raves about
- Sour Cream Donuts
- No-Churn Ice Cream <– sometimes we serve this with our French toast casserole, we like our dessert and breakfast a little extra around here.
French Toast Casserole
- 1 14oz loaf (400 g) Challah bread*, cut into 1" cubes for best results use day-old bread if making this casserole overnight
- 4 Tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup**
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- 7 large eggs
- 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- ⅓ cup (42 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 8 Tablespoons (113 g) cold salted butter
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and generously grease a 9x13 casserole dish with butter.
- Evenly layer Challah pieces into a deep 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside.1 14oz loaf (400 g) Challah bread*, cut into 1" cubes
- Combine melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well-combined.4 Tablespoons (57 g) unsalted butter, ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup**, 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon salt
- Add sugars and whisk well.¼ cup (50 g) sugar, ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar
- Add eggs and whisk again until ingredients are very well combined.7 large eggs
- Add milk and heavy cream and whisk again until all ingredients are well-combined.2 cups (475 ml) whole milk, ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- Pour mixture evenly over Challah pieces in casserole dish and use a spatula to stir gently so all pieces of bread are able to absorb the custard. Set aside while you prepare your topping.
- Combine flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in the canister of a food processor and pulse briefly to combine (if you don't have a food processor, just stir together in a medium-sized bowl)⅓ cup (42 g) all-purpose flour, ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar, 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Scatter butter pieces evenly over flour mixture and pulse until coarse crumbs form (if no food processor -- use a pastry cutter or fork and knife to cut butter into mixture until coarse crumbs form).8 Tablespoons (113 g) cold salted butter
IF YOU WANT TO SAVE AND SERVE THE NEXT MORNING
- Cover your casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap or foil and place your crumble topping in an airtight container. Place both in the refrigerator.
- The next morning, remove your casserole dish and topping from the refrigerator Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C), uncover casserole dish, sprinkle topping evenly overtop (you may need to give the container a good shake if the topping has settled and started to stick together), and let dish sit while the oven fully preheats. Once preheated, bake*** for 50 minutes, allow to cool for several minutes before serving. Serve topped with maple syrup, if desired.
IF YOU WISH TO SERVE THE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE RIGHT AWAY
- Let the casserole sit for 15-20 minutes or until the bread has absorbed most of the custard. Sprinkle evenly with topping then transfer to 375°F (190°C) preheated oven and bake*** for 50 minutes. Allow to cool several minutes before digging in. Serve topped with maple syrup, if desired.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.