French Toast Casserole Because Everything Is Better In A 9X13

March 5, 2024

This indulgent French toast casserole brims with classic French toast flavors, like cinnamon, maple, and sweet custard, all soaked into toasted, buttery challah. Orange liqueur adds a subtle note of freshness that cuts through the richness of the bread and custard, and glazed walnuts studded throughout add extra pops of sweetness and crunch. The cornflake topping stays crispy after baking, adding another irresistible texture dimension. 

This French toast casserole is perfect for slathering with sweet maple syrup and topping with fresh berries. And since there’s no need to fuss with individual french toasts in a skillet, this casserole recipe makes a winning dish to serve for a larger group at a or gathering. It gets the job done all in one baking dish, and it’s guaranteed to please the crowd.

Learn how to make French toast casserole, and impress your family and guests with an incredible homemade breakfast with minimal effort.

Ingredients for French Toast Casserole

To make French toast casserole, you’ll need:

  • Challah bread: This egg bread is richer than standard sandwich bread, making it ideal for an application like a dense French toast casserole
  • Eggs: The base of the custard the bread will soak in.
  • Half-and-half: Add richness to the egg custard.
  • Light brown sugar: For sweetness and a hint of caramel flavor.
  • Vanilla extract: Warms up the entire dish’s flavor and adds dimension.
  • Maple syrup: It’s not a breakfast of without maple syrup.
  • Orange liqueur: Like Grand Marnier. It adds a subtle fresh note amid the other rich ingredients, but it’s optional, or you can use orange juice instead.
  • Cinnamon: Warm and comforting, cinnamon is a wonderful spice for this breakfast casserole. Feel free to add other favorites, like nutmeg or cardamom.
  • Salt: A bit of salt balances all the sweetness.
  • Glazed walnuts: Look for glazed walnuts in the snack aisle amid the other flavor nuts. Or substitute with your favorite brand. Pecans would work well, too.
  • Cooking spray: To coat the baking dish so the bread pieces won’t stick.

To make the cornflake topping, you’ll need:

  • Cornflakes cereal: This cereal stays crispy and crunchy after baking, giving the casserole great texture.
  • All-purpose flour: Helps form the streusel-like topping.
  • Glazed walnuts: Adds more texture to the casserole. Substitute with other nuts or even candied pecans for a fun twist.
  • Light brown sugar: Adds sweetness and depth with caramel-like flavors.
  • Unsalted butter: Adds richness to the topping.
  • Kosher salt: A pinch will make the other ingredients taste sweeter.

For serving, you’ll need maple syrup and fresh berries (or other toppings as you prefer). 

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey

How To Make French Toast Casserole

You’ll need just 25 minutes of hands-on time with this casserole. The rest of the time is reserved for soaking the bread in the egg mixture and of course baking. Here’s a brief outline of the process; the full recipe is further below:

  • Step 1. Toast the bread: After cutting the challah into cubes, lightly toast them in a low-temp (about 250°F) oven until just lightly browning and crispy. Then cool completely.
  • Step 2. Make egg mixture: Combine the eggs, half-and-half, and other ingredients for the custard-like egg mixture in a large bowl.
  • Step 3. Soak the bread: Stir the bread cubes and walnuts into the egg mixture, and let sit so the bread can soak up the liquid.
  • Step 4. Make cornflake topping: In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the cornflake topping.
  • Step 5. Bake: Spoon the bread mixture into a prepared baking dish, and top the bread with the cornflake topping. Bake until golden brown. Rotate the pan and add aluminum foil if needed to prevent browning.
  • Step 6. Serve: Let the casserole sit for about 10 minutes after baking is complete. It will deflate slightly. Serve warm with berries and maple syrup or any preferred topping.

Should You Let Bread Dry Out for French Toast Casserole? 

Stale bread is better than fresh bread when it comes to preparing French toast and French toast casserole. When it’s slightly more dry, it can better soak up the custard and hold its shape rather than getting too soggy. If you’re working with fresh bread, toasting the bread slightly as we do in this recipe will help quickly speed up that drying out process.

Can You Make French Toast Casserole Ahead?

Yes, you can. Prepare the French toast casserole all the way through Step 4, but adding the bread mixture to the baking dish. Then cover it and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to bake, pull the casserole from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before adding the cornflake topping and finishing the recipe. (If you’re baking the casserole while it is still cold, plan to bake longer than the recipe calls for.)

French Toast Casserole Recipe Tips

We asked the Southern Living Test Kitchen to share a few tips they learned while developing this recipe. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Make cutting easier: Always cut bread with a serrated knife, or tear it with your hands; a regular chef’s knife will squash the bread during slicing. 
  • Avoid burned spots: Rotating the pan halfway through cooking helps the top more evenly brown. 
  • Dry out the bread: Buy the bread a few days in advance, cube it, and let sit at room temperature, uncovered, to dry out for two days. This step eliminates the need to bake the bread before using it.
  • Try other breads: Substitute the challah in this recipe for French bread, sourdough, brioche, or another type you prefer.

How To Serve French Toast Casserole

Serve with berries, maple syrup, and milk. This would also be a crowd-pleasing to serve alongside .

More Great French Toast Recipes

If you need more ways to enjoy French toast, we have a few ideas:

Editorial contributions by .

Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey

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