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French Toast Casserole has thick slices of brioche soaked in an egg custard, then layered and baked in a casserole. Brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon add sweet flavors to this fantastic bread pudding.
An Incredible Breakfast Casserole
Start your day in the best possible way with this delicious French Toast Casserole!
We used our Perfect French Toast recipe as the starting point for this special breakfast – but layered custard-soaked and lightly-fried brioche slices into a casserole dish, then baked it up as a bread pudding. Every bite has creamy, soft bread flavored with brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.
This is one unforgettable breakfast – and I predict you’ll be making this for Easter brunch, or any other gathering when you want to impress your guests. You could even serve this for dessert – it’s sweet, creamy, and very decadent!
Why you’ll love French Toast Casserole
- It combines two favorites – French toast and bread pudding – into one delicious dish.
- The sweet custard is perfectly seasoned with vanilla and cinnamon, and it goes so well with the sweet brioche bread.
- You can do much of the prep for this recipe ahead of time – so it’s convenient to get a delicious breakfast on the table without a lot of fuss.
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Brioche – Brioche is a lightly sweet, French bread with a fine crumb and tender texture – making it ideal for recipes like this because it easily soaks up the custard. Look for pre-sliced brioche in the bakery section of your supermarket if you can find it or slice your own into ½ inch thick slices. You can also use Challah (which has a similar texture) – but we prefer the sweeter Brioche.
- Butter – Butter is used to grease the casserole dish and to fry one side of each slice of the French toast before it is layered in the casserole dish
- Milk & Light Cream – We used a combination of whole milk and light cream for a rich and creamy taste, but you can use just whole milk, or buy a large carton of half & half.
- Brown Sugar
- Pure Maple Syrup – This is used to sweeten the custard, and when serving your French Toast Bread Pudding. Avoid imitation maple syrups for this recipe.
- Vanilla Extract
- Ground Cinnamon
- Salt – Choose a table salt for this recipe, rather than a coarser kosher or sea salt. A pinch of salt added to a sweet dish helps enhance the sweetness.
Special Tools Needed
- Wide Mixing Bowl – To mix the custard and dip the bread.
- Large Skillet – To fry one side of each piece of French Toast
- 9x13x3-inch Casserole Dish – Note that your baking dish should be at least three inches deep for this recipe (a standard 9×13 glass Pyrex dish will probably be too shallow)
- Large Spatula
- Various measuring cups and spoons
- In thinking through how to approach this delicious recipe, we wanted to be sure to differentiate a ‘French Toast’ casserole from a traditional bread pudding which is typically made with smaller chunks of leftover bread.
- Since the ingredients in the two recipes are similar, we decided to fry slices of egg-soaked bread in butter – just like you would when making French Toast. BUT we still wanted the bread to be able to absorb the custard.
- Our solution was to fry only one side of each slice of bread – then we layered the bread (cooked-side up) in the casserole dish and poured custard over it.
- Finally, we baked it in a water bath like you would any custard. The result is perfection! As you cut into the finished bread pudding, you can clearly see the layers of cooked French Toast – but you also see that the custard soaked into the bread as it baked.
- Knowing that we’d serve maple syrup over the top, we also decided not to top the casserole with any sort of crumb or nut topping to keep it simple and not overly sweet.
How do I make French Toast Casserole?
- Butter the casserole dish.
- Mix custard in a large bowl.
- Dip sliced Brioche in custard – being careful not to oversoak.
- Fry one side only of each slice of bread in a hot skillet with melted butter.
- Layer each slice of French Toast pieces cooked side up in buttered casserole dish
- Pour custard over the top.
- Place in a water bath and bake covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for another 45 minutes
- Let set up for five minutes then cut into pieces and serve with maple syrup over the top.
Tips & Tricks
- Brioche can quickly get soggy once soaked in the custard – so don’t oversoak.
- Use a large spatula to lift the soaked slices out of the custard and right into the buttered skillet so they stay together.
- Also note that if one of the slices of bread rips a bit, it really doesn’t matter since it will be baked in a custard and any tears will be hidden.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make French Toast Casserole ahead of time? You can make the custard ahead of time. Then soak and fry the bread and bake the casserole just before serving. Having said that, the finished baked French Toast Casserole stays together nicely and reheats well – so you could pre-bake the entire dish the night before, then place the casserole dish in the oven to reheat in the morning.
- How do I store leftovers? Store refrigerated for up to four days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? Reheat individual portions in the microwave.
- Can I freeze? You could freeze individual portions but they may get soggy once thawed and reheated.
You might like these other French Roast Recipes:
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6 tablespoons butter, divided
10 large whole eggs
4 cups light cream or half and half
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus more to serve over portions
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 loaf Brioche (our pre-sliced loaf was 18 ounces)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Generously grease a deep 9x13x3-inch casserole dish using one tablespoon of the butter.
- The custard bakes in a water bath so find a pan wider, longer, and deeper than the casserole dish. A roasting pan works well.
- Heat a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil and keep hot. This will be used for the water bath.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and melt one tablespoon of butter.
- Dip as many pieces of bread into the custard as will fit in the pan at one time then place each soaked piece into the hot buttered pan and cook to brown JUST ON ONE SIDE.
- Remove each slice to the buttered casserole dish with the cooked side facing up, layering the bread, and overlapping to fit.
- Continue cooking with more butter and soaked bread, cutting any pieces in half to fit into corners. Also, OK to use the heel ends of the bread, just make sure those are not used in the top layer.
- Once all the bread has been fried on one side and are layered somewhat evenly in the casserole dish, pour the remaining custard over the bread.
- Pour the hot water into the water bath pan and then place the casserole dish into this pan with the hot water coming half way up the sides of the casserole dish. You may need to remove or add some of the hot water.
- Cover the entire top with parchment then tightly cover with foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, remove the parchment and foil and bake for another 45 minutes until the top is puffy and when a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the casserole dish from the water bath and let sit five minutes to set up then cut 3X4 into 12 portions.
- Use two small spatulas to remove the first piece. Serve with hot maple syrup and melted butter if desired.
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