Overnight French toast casserole is an easy, make-ahead breakfast dish. Cubed bread and pecans are soaked in a cinnamon custard and baked to perfection in the oven.
There's nothing better than an easy, make-ahead breakfast. This overnight French toast casserole can be assembled the night before, then popped in the oven first thing in the morning.
Like a French toast bread pudding, day-old bread cubes are soaked in a mixture of sugar, eggs, and milk, then baked in the oven until golden brown and crispy on top. Cinnamon, maple syrup, and pecans add cozy flavor and crunch.
Serve this breakfast casserole for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter morning, or a weekend breakfast for a crowd. The leftovers also freeze beautifully and reheat well when thawed!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Bread - Any crusty, day-old bread works well in this recipe. I recommend a loaf of French bread, Italian bread, or sourdough bread. Rich, eggy bread like brioche is too soft and moist to soak up the custard properly. Standard sandwich bread is also too soft for this recipe. If you've got a moist, fresh bread on hand that you'd like to use, it needs to be dried out in the oven first by baking in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Milk - This recipe works with any milk you have on hand - 2%, whole, almond milk, etc. Whatever your milk preference, it will work in this recipe.
- Eggs - Eggs are the base of the custard and a must to make French toast casserole.
- Cinnamon - Adds a cozy, warm flavor to the casserole. Cinnamon could be substituted with similar spice blends, like pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, or chai spice if desired.
- Vanilla extract - Adds flavor to the casserole.
- Pecans - Can be omitted if desired, but I enjoy the added crunch and flavor. Walnuts are another great option.
- Salt - Enhances the flavor of the casserole and helps balance the sweetness.
- Brown sugar - Adds sweetness and a caramelized flavor.
- Maple syrup - Adds a warm sweetness to the casserole. You'll want some extra for serving as well.
Tips and tricks
Grease your baking dish - Don't forget to lightly grease your 9x13 pan before adding your cubed bread. Otherwise, the casserole can stick to the sides of the pan.
Use a dry, crusty bread - Fresh, soft sandwich bread will not work in this recipe. If you only have a soft, moist bread on hand, dry it out in the oven beforehand. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, cube your bread and spread it onto a sheet pan, then bake for 20-30 minutes, or until dry.
Allow your casserole to rest - Once your casserole is assembled, you'll want to cover with foil and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight. I highly recommend allowing your casserole to rest overnight so the bread has a chance to soak up the custard mixture. If you don't have time to make your casserole the day before, I recommend allowing it to rest for at least an hour before baking.
Frequently asked questions
Any crusty bread works well because it soaks up the custard mixture while resting. A loaf of day-old French bread, Italian bread, or sourdough are my go-to's for this recipe.
Using fresh and/or soft bread can result in a soggy casserole due to the extra moisture. I highly recommend using a thick, crusty bread if at all possible. If you have fresh bread on hand: cube it, spread onto a baking sheet, and bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes to dry out your bread slightly.
This casserole keeps well and leftovers can be reheated the next day. If reheating a cooked casserole, place in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for up to 30 minutes, or until warm. Individual portions can also be microwaved.
To freeze leftovers (or an entire baked casserole), allow your casserole to come to room temperature, then tightly seal with two layers of foil. You can also freeze individual portions for easy reheating later on. Move your frozen casserole from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before to allow to thaw. Then, follow reheating instructions for leftovers above.
Soggy casserole can happen if it's not baked for long enough, if the casserole wasn't allowed to set beforehand, or moist bread was used in the recipe. Dry, crusty bread is best because it soaks up the egg mixture while it sits.
Overnight French Toast Casserole
- 16 ounces cubed crusty bread, day-old sourdough or French bread is best
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 8 large eggs
- 16 ounces milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Generously grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter. Add cubed bread and chopped pecans in an even layer.
- In a large bowl, add eggs, milk, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk to combine. Pour egg mixture slowly over cubed bread.
- Cover casserole with foil and refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is preheating, remove casserole from refrigerator to rest at room temperature.
- Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for another 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through in the middle. If needed, use a toothpick to test the center of your casserole - eggs should be set, not runny.
- Serve your casserole warm with maple syrup or powdered sugar on top.
- Using fresh bread can result in a soggy casserole due to the extra moisture. If you have fresh bread on hand: cube it, spread onto a baking sheet, and bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20-30 minutes to dry out your bread slightly.
- To freeze leftovers, allow your casserole to come to room temperature, then tightly seal individual portions (or entire casserole) with two layers of foil.
- Move frozen casserole from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before reheating to allow to thaw.
- To reheat leftovers: place casserole in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for up to 30 minutes, or until warm. Individual portions can also be microwaved.