This easy French toast casserole with cinnamon crunch topping is golden and caramelized on the outside, pillowy and slightly creamy on the inside—it's everything I crave in traditional French toast, but simplified!
Breakfast for Dinner with French Toast Casserole
It was a few weekends back when my intense craving for French toast struck.
I wanted French toast for dinner—something that the hubs and I sometimes like to have when we're in the mood for some comfort food that leans in the direction of sweet and “breakfast-y”. I'd been craving that golden, pillowy, crisp-on-the-outside-slightly-creamy-in-the-center indulgence for days by that point.
But here was the problem: I didn't want to go out… And, I was feeling lazy!
The last thing I wanted to do was to stand at the stove dippin' & flippin' pieces of toast, frying them up in a pan one at a time—that process was simply too involved for my liking on that particular late afternoon.
So I had to come up with a more simplified alternative to get my French toast fix.
Enter this French toast casserole recipe where everything gets tossed together and into a big baking dish! Win!
How to Make French Toast Casserole
It couldn't be easier to make a hot, fresh, delicious French toast casserole when you're craving French toast, but aren't craving the somewhat-lengthy process of preparing it.
And that's exactly what makes this the perfect recipe when you're looking for a quick, throw-it-in-the-oven breakfast for the next morning, or would like to enjoy some breakfast for dinner, like me!
Here's all you do:
- Cube up some good bread into large chunks (rich brioche bread is amazing for this), and place it into a large bowl.
- Whisk together some eggs, vanilla, half and half (or milk), a touch of sugar and some cinnamon, and pour that custard mixture over the cubed bread, and very lightly toss to coat.
- Turn the mixture out into a prepared baking dish, cover with foil, and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours so that the flavors marry and everything soaks in; or even longer if you're looking to prepare this as an overnight French toast casserole for breakfast the next day. (It isn't totally necessary that you allow the casserole to rest if you'd prefer to prepare and serve it immediately, it just helps it be a bit more puffy and light).
- Combine your ingredients for that delicious crisp topping, part of the package when it comes to French toast casserole. I love to make a cinnamon crunch topping for mine—so good!
- Then, when ready to bake, remove the foil, sprinkle on your topping, and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden-brown.
And that's it! No dippin' and flippin' involved!
You're now ready to dive into the easiest form of French toast you've ever enjoyed in this simple and ridiculously scrumptious French toast casserole.
Tips & Tidbits for French Toast Casserole:
- Brioche bread is best: A rich egg bread is best for French toast, and is a dream for this casserole. It has extra body and flavor to it, and becomes nice and puffy and creamy when the custard is added and it's baked. (Challah bread is darn tasty, as well.)
- Give it a rest: In order to have the puffiest French toast casserole, allow your assembled casserole to rest in the fridge for about 3 hours before baking it (you can even go longer to make it an overnight French toast casserole). Of course, you can bake it immediately, but allowing it to rest and absorb the flavors and the custard helps create that perfect consistency.
- Optional add-ins: I love my French toast casserole nice and plain, because it best reminds me of traditional French toast; but feel free to add in raisins, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, or even pecans.
- Easy to re-heat: Leftovers totally come back to life when reheated for about 5-10 minutes at around 350° in a toaster oven—tastes just like fresh!
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
French Toast Casserole with Cinnamon Crunch Topping
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
• 1 (16 – 17 ounce) loaf brioche bread cut into cubes (I use Trader Joe's sliced brioche loaf)
• 6 eggs
• 1 ½ cups half & half
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• Pinch salt (about a scant ¼ teaspoon)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cinnamon Crunch Topping Ingredients:
• ⅓ cup brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch salt
• 2 tablespoons unsalted, melted butter
• ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
-Lightly mist a medium-size baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
-To prepare the casserole, add the cubed brioche into a large bowl; in another bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla, pinch of salt, and cinnamon, and pour this custard over the cubed brioche; toss very gently and carefully as to not break up the cubes, just until combined, and turn out into your prepared baking dish.
-Cover with foil and place into the fridge to rest for about 3 hours, or overnight if making ahead for the next day's breakfast. (You can skip this “resting” step, but the casserole may not be quite as light and fluffy inside.)
-While your casserole rests, prepare the cinnamon crunch topping by combining the brown sugar, the cinnamon, the pinch of salt and the melted butter in a small dish, and mix with a fork; add in the flour, and blend that in with the fork until crumbly; set aside in the fridge until you're ready to bake the French toast casserole.
-When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°.
-Sprinkle the cinnamon crunch topping over top of the casserole and bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes turning half-way through the cook time; after 35 minutes, turn off the oven, and allow the casserole to stay inside for another 5-7 minutes; then, remove from oven, dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with maple syrup.
And if you'd like to see another French toast recipe (a more traditional one), check out this sweet Caramel Apple French Toast!