This french toast casserole recipe is pieces of challah bread soaked in a sweet custard mixture, then topped with cinnamon streusel and baked to golden brown perfection. A make ahead breakfast option that’s perfect for serving a crowd.
I love to host morning parties, and I look for breakfast recipes that can be prepared in advance, yet are hearty enough to satisfy the biggest appetites. Some of my favorite brunch options include cheese blintzes, sausage casserole, hash brown egg casserole, baked oatmeal and this decadent french toast casserole.
My kids request french toast for breakfast all the time, but who has time to stand at the stove flipping piece after piece of bread? This french toast casserole is so much easier to make, and you can even assemble it the night before, then pop it in the oven in the morning when you’re ready to eat!
Table of Contents
French Toast Casserole Ingredients
To make this recipe, you will need challah bread, eggs, milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, all purpose flour, brown sugar, butter and salt.
How Do You Make French Toast Casserole?
French toast casserole is made in two parts, the casserole and the cinnamon streusel topping. To make the casserole, cut up bread cubes and place them in a baking pan. Make a custard mixture to pour over the bread by whisking together eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar, cream and vanilla. Let the bread soak in the egg mixture in the fridge for at least a few hours so that it has time to absorb all the flavors.
For the cinnamon streusel topping, mix together flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a bowl. Take cold slices of butter and mix them in until topping turns into crumbles. When you are ready to bake the french toast, just put the crumbles over the bread mixture and bake it all together. Once the french toast is browned and cooked through, take it out of the oven, let it cool a bit and serve it with syrup and fresh fruit.
Tips For French Toast Casserole
- Cut the bread into similar sized pieces so everything will cook evenly.
- The casserole must be refrigerated for a minimum of 2 hours to let the egg mixture soak in. Refrigerating it overnight is even better!
- You can also make the streusel the night before. Just store it separately from the casserole in a bag in the refrigerator. Sprinkle it over the casserole before it goes in the oven.
- Top your casserole with fresh fruit, maple syrup, whipped cream or a combination of the three. You could also do a drizzle of raspberry sauce, or even homemade cranberry sauce during the holidays!
If you don’t have a pastry blender to make the streusel, use two forks, or even just your clean hands.
Cooked french toast casserole stays good in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat individual slices in the microwave for 30 seconds or until warmed through.
The best breads for french toast are fluffy so they can absorb the egg, milk and sugar and they are sturdy so that they maintain their shape. I like to use challah bread because it soaks up liquids well and has a great flavor. If I don’t have any challah around, I like to get a loaf of french bread or brioche. French bread is a little less sturdy, but it has a nice, mild flavor. Brioche is a little more firm and has a rich, buttery flavor. Another option is a loaf of sourdough, which will bring sour and savory notes to the dish.
You can freeze baked french toast. Refrigerate the casserole and cut it into squares. Individually wrap those slices in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to go in the freezer. You can keep the casserole in the freezer for up to 3 months. To warm up a slice, simply let it thaw in the refrigerator, then microwave it for 30 seconds or until warm.
While this recipe is delicious as-is, you can change up the ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Bread: Instead of challah, try using brioche, french bread or cinnamon raisin bread.
- Add-Ins: You can add up to 3/4 cup of fresh fruit into the bread and custard mixture. I often do berries or sauteed apples. Another great option is 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. You can also add up to 1/4 cup of pecans or almonds to the streusel topping.
- Flavorings: During the holidays, swap out the heavy cream for eggnog. You can also add more spices such as nutmeg, ground ginger or allspice. For fall, add 3/4 cup pumpkin puree to the custard mixture, and reduce the milk by 1/4 cup.
This french toast casserole is a great way to make french toast for a crowd without standing over a griddle. The flavors and textures are simply the best!
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French Toast Casserole
For the casserole
- 16 ounce loaf challah bread cut into 1 inch pieces
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- cooking spray
- maple syrup and fruit for serving optional
For the topping
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter cold, cut into slices
- Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray.
- Place the bread cubes in an even layer in the pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon.
- Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
- Place the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the butter to the bowl. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.
- Refrigerate the streusel mixture until you're ready to use it.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the french toast.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until casserole is browned and cooked through. If the casserole looks like it's browning too quickly before the bake time is over, cover it with foil.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares. Serve with maple syrup and fruit if desired.
- Cut the bread into similar sized pieces so that they will absorb the egg mixture at the same rate and cook evenly.
- The casserole must be refrigerated for a minimum of 2 hours to let the egg mixture soak in before baking it, but refrigerating it overnight is even better!
- You can also make the streusel the night before. Just store it separately from the casserole in a bag in the refrigerator, then sprinkle it over the casserole before it goes in the oven.