Overnight French Toast Casserole

posted in: Breakfast & Brunch        date:

Overnight French Toast

Saturday morning breakfast has to be my favorite meal of the week. Usually it involves Eric and I cooking something together that’s too involved to make before he leaves for work. We usually rotate between chocolate chip scones, cream biscuits and sausage gravy and cheddar cheese biscuits because we usually have everything we need for those recipes. Sometimes, though, an involved breakfast isn’t possible even on the weekends. That’s when we turn to this recipe. Baked French toast is made the night before and is perfect for times when you don’t want to be standing over a skillet flipping French toast all morning. We usually make this at Christmas because it allows us to spend more time taking pictures and seeing family instead of being in the kitchen. We recently had visitors (friends one weekend and family the next), and we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. So we prepped this the night before we needed it and popped it into the oven the next morning.

French toast can be just so-so when done wrong, but that’s not a problem with this version. Even though the bread sits overnight in the custard, it doesn’t get too soggy or eggy. The bread absorbs the custard but still gets toasted and lightly browned in the oven. The best part is that the pan is coated in a melted butter and brown sugar mixture that basically caramelizes in the oven. So when you flip your French toast out of the dish, it’s like it already has syrup on it. This is so decadent that it really doesn’t need anything else, but you could certainly drizzle it with maple syrup or dust it with confectioners’ sugar to take it over the top. Plus, since it’s so easy to make, you can enjoy it even on a weekday.

Just a few notes: We used a cinnamon swirl loaf from a local bakery one time we made this, and it was more amazing than I can say. However, the brioche we used the second time around was nearly as delicious. The recipe says that this should serve eight people, but that hasn’t been the case for us. I’d say it’s more a four to six person serving, at least with the way we eat breakfast around here.

  • YIELD: 4-6 servings
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1 loaf (about 1½ pounds) brioche or challah, sliced 1½-inches thick

  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup milk (at least 2%)

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ cup chopped pecans

  • Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar and/or fresh fruit for serving, optional

  • 1

    Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.

  • 2

    When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

  • This looks so good. I’m saving it for next time we have company!

  • This sounds great! Having a rambunctious toddler makes it challenging for us to have a nice warm breakfast in the mornings, so this overnight french toast casserole sounds like a winner!

  • Kelli

    This sounds delicious, what time should I be over on Saturday:) What local bakery did you get the cinnamon swirl and where did you get the brioche? I feel like I never have good luck with bread around here

    • Courtney

      Kelli, I got the bread from Montana Gold. I adore their cinnamon swirl bread and am determined to make it at home. It smelled so good when we were slicing into it! The only place I can really depend on here to have challah is Trader Joe’s.

  • I’ve been wanting to try something like this for a looong time! It looks delicious!

  • Thank you so much for this, Courtney. Michael and I are getting ready to move and I’m already dreading the days of takeout or less than great meals. With this breakfast in my back pocket, I know we’ll get a couple of days of delicious breakfast in. THANK YOU!

  • Anna

    This recipe looks great! I love how it’s prepped the night before. But a dumb question, when a recipe calls for ground ginger, does it mean the dry powdered ginger? Thanks!

    • Courtney

      Not dumb at all, Anna! That’s exactly what it means.

  • Bettina Halpern

    I made this French toast recipe a few days after you posted it (way back in May). I was going to post a review at that time but forgot to do so. Today I got a craving for it and decided I needed to make it this weekend. But, before I go further in my post, I just want you to know I am a seasoned cook (a little play on words) and a professional cake designer. That being said, I absolutely love reading your recipes, inspiring family stories and life adventures. There are many of your recipe postings which I have tried and all have been both successful and tasty. Now, to the French toast recipe…it was wonderful. When I made it the first time, I used an eggnog bread which I found at the market. My grandchildren (9 year old twins) were staying with me and I thought they would enjoy it, which they did. This time I am going to use homemade cinnamon bread. The eggnog bread was great, although a little rich. That may just be the recipe itself and not the bread. Thanks so much for sharing.