Lazy Oven-Baked French Toast Casserole

5 from 7 votes

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When French toast for breakfast is appealing, but making it in the morning isn't, you need an easy make-ahead, oven-baked French toast casserole.

Fork and knife on a plate with French Toast and berries.

The idea of French Toast for breakfast is almost always appealing. The idea of making it for everyone is sometimes not so appealing. But what about an easy baked French Toast casserole that you could put together ahead of time, stumble out of bed the next day, preheat the oven, and soon have that amazing eggy, cinnamon-ey, bready fragrance filling the house? That is super appealing.

This dish is composed of layers of eggs, milk, and bread, plus your choice of flavorings, so essentially, French toast translated into a casserole or a strata. This would be great for a brunch potluck as well, and if you time it right, you can bring and serve it still warm. If you are planning to cook there, however, mention that to the host and reserve your oven time ahead! No one likes a guest with a surprise needs-to-be-baked dish. Don’t forget the maple syrup. Also, some berries. And a small container of confectioners’ sugar for dusting, which you want to do right before serving. Yes, it’s mostly for show, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Serve this with a Fruit Salad, Bacon, and maybe a Frittata for a robust brunch spread.

Berries and French Toast on a plate with a knife.

Baked French Toast – an easy make ahead French Toast casserole with all of the happiness, but no stove time.

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Oven-Baked French Toast Casserole Ingredients

Challah bread, eggs, milk, and other French toast casserole ingredients.

For this oven-baked French toast casserole recipe, you need only a few common ingredients:

  • Eggs – Create the custardy texture of this casserole.
  • Milk – The base for the soaking mixture.
  • Sugar
  • Maple syrup – More sweetness, French toast-style.
  • Vanilla extract – Deepens the flavor (I love vanilla in French toast; use pure vanilla if at all possible vs. artificial vanilla extract).
  • Cinnamon – Adds a bit of warmth.
  • Challah bread – Preferably slightly stale for the perfect French toast casserole texture.
  • Fresh fruit, maple syrup, and confectioners’ sugar Pick and choose for serving.

Recipe Variations

You can add some chopped dried fruit or nuts to the strata if you like. You could also use a challah with raisins or sub in a brioche for the challah.

Spatula lifting French Toast topped with berries.

How to Make French Toast Casserole

  1. Prep liquid mixture: Blend up the milk and eggs, plus some vanilla, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
  2. Build the casserole: Layer the bread in the casserole dish and pour the liquid over. 
Woman placing bread into a baking dish with egg mixture.
  1. Soak bread overnight: Press to submerge the bread. Seal it up and place it in the fridge overnight so that the bread can soak.
  2. Bake: Pop it into a preheated oven and bake until it is slightly puffed and golden.
Woman grabbing a green baking dish of  French Toast from the oven.
  1. Top and serve: Top the baked French toast as desired with confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, fruit syrup, berries, or other fruit. Some whipped cream would not be outside the realm of consideration. The French Toast is great warm, room temperature, or even a bit cool.
Topping oven-baked French toast casserole with powdered sugar and berries.

FAQs

Why is my French toast casserole soggy?

Bread is very absorbent, so make sure you keep the ratio of bread to liquid as directed. Too much liquid could make this casserole soggy. Your French toast can also come out soggy when undercooked or if the bread was very moist, not dry, and wasn’t able to soak up the custardy liquid.

Should you dry out bread for a French toast casserole?

Yes, slightly stale or dry bread is best for French toast casserole as it will allow the bread to absorb the egg and milk mixture. You can use whatever slightly stale bread you have lying around your house, though challah bor brioche is my first choice, as I love the texture of these egg-based breads. Using already stale bread will help you avoid having to wait around for bread to dry out.

Pro Cooking Tips

  • This is a good dish to use to pull the kids into the action. They can help put together pretty much the whole French toast casserole, although you’ll have to decide if they are old enough to help slice the bread (there are lots of kid-friendly plastic knives on the market). Let them pick and choose whatever dried fruits or nuts they like to go in the casserole.
  • If your bread is not slightly stale, you can help that along. Slice the bread and leave it out on a wire rack overnight or for several hours to dry out a bit. If you are in a rush, you can bake it in a preheated 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes until it is a bit dried out.
Lazy Oven French Toast in pan with berries on top.

Make-Ahead

This is the perfect brunch dish for a lazy weekend morning because everything can be assembled the night before casserole-style and transferred in the morning from the fridge to the oven. The ultimate make-ahead dish, most stratas should be prepared about 8 hours before they are cooked, so an overnight rest in the fridge makes sense. Leftovers do reheat nicely in the microwave or oven (pop the casserole back into a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes).

What to Serve With French Toast Casserole

Fork with a piece of French Toast.

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5 from 7 votes

Lazy Oven Baked French Toast

When French toast for breakfast is appealing, but making it in the morning isn't, you need an easy make-ahead, oven-baked French toast casserole.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • Butter or nonstick cooking spray (for greasing the baking dish)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (plus more maple syrup for serving; optional)
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large loaf challah bread

    (preferably slightly stale;
sliced 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick – see the Cooking Tip)

  • ¾ cup whole raisins (chopped dried fruit or chopped nuts; optional)
  • Fresh fruit such as berries, sliced peaches or pears, and/or confectioners’ sugar (for serving)

Instructions 

  • Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter or spray it with cooking spray.
  • Place the milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to mix well. Set the milk mixture aside.
  • Arrange half of the slices of bread in the prepared baking dish, cutting the bread so that it fits in a solid layer. Pour half of the milk mixture over the bread, then evenly distribute about half of any dried fruit or nuts, if using, on top.
  • Repeat, creating a second layer of bread and then pouring the rest of the milk mixture on top and distributing the rest of the fruit or nuts over the bread. Lightly press the bread down into the liquid.
  • Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. The bread will have absorbed almost all of the milk mixture. Uncover the baking dish, and if there are drier-looking pieces on top, take them off and carefully tuck them underneath the bread on the bottom so that the more milk-soaked pieces are now on top (this is messy but it all works out in the baking). Note that any dried fruit sitting on the top of the French toast will get pretty chewy when baked, and nuts on top will get toasty; the fruit and nuts that are tucked into the French toast will be softer, so disperse the fruit and nuts as you see fit.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • Bake the French toast, uncovered, until it is puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Let the French toast sit for 5 minutes to firm up a bit, then cut it into squares and serve it hot with your choice of maple syrup, fresh fruit, and/or confectioners’ sugar.

Notes

  • Top the baked French toast as desired with confectioners’ sugar, more maple syrup, or a fruit syrup, berries, or other fruit. Some whipped cream would not be outside the realm of consideration. The French Toast is great warm, room temperature, or even a bit cool.
  • This is a good dish to use to pull the kids into the action. They can help put together pretty much the whole French toast casserole, although you’ll have to decide if they are old enough to help slice the bread (there are lots of kid-friendly plastic knives on the market). Let them pick and choose whatever dried fruits or nuts they like to go in the casserole.
  • If your bread is not slightly stale, you can help that along. Slice the bread and leave it out on a wire rack overnight or for several hours to dry out a bit. If you are in a rush, you can bake it in a preheated 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes until it is a bit dried out.

Nutrition

Calories: 189kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 135mg, Sodium: 249mg, Potassium: 330mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 376IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 166mg, Iron: 1mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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5 from 7 votes (5 ratings without comment)

11 Comments

  1. WillyC says:

    I’ve made this many, many times and it is a huge hit – the key is to flip the toast right after you take it out of the fridge, then drain most (not all) of the excess liquid. After cooking half the time, flip again to brown the ther side – comes out crisp on both sides and perfectly done on the middle

  2. Joey says:

    I also had trouble getting the inside done without burning the top. I used a glass baking dish and after 35 minutes the top was almost burned and the inside was still liquid. I turned the heat down for about 10 more minutes with not much luck and ended up microwaving for 7 minutes on high. It ended up OK, but I might try with a little lower heat and a metal dish next time.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      Different ovens and different pans definitely affect things….I have used glass plenty of times with no issues, but sorry you had issues. Hopefully the metal pan solves the problems.

  3. Cat says:

    I decided to try this out for Christmas morning this year, using pannetone and slices of banana. It was a hit!! It’s being adopted as a Christmas tradition from now on!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Katie Workman says:

      that sounds brilliant!

  4. Whitney says:

    this recipe did not work. while the top of my bread was golden and puffy, it was also hard as a rock, the bottom was so mushy i could not eat it. I put it on for ANOTHER 30 minutes and it was still inedible. i tried to fix it on my skillet, didn’t work. thumbs down in my opinion.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve not heard anything like this before, and I’ve made it myself a whole lot of times! Wonder what happened.

      1. anne cortes says:

        does it make any difference if you use glass baking dish or metal?

      2. Katie Workman says:

        Glass might take a bit longer!

    2. Cat says:

      Sounds like you accidentally turned on the broiler element instead of the regular baking element. Otherwise can’t think of a reason for the top to have been so overcooked

      1. Katie Workman says:

        that does sound like it might have been the cause!