This Lighter French Toast Casserole can be stored overnight and cooked fresh in the morning – serve with berries and maple syrup for a delicious make ahead breakfast!
Ingredients in French toast casserole
This simple make-ahead breakfast is a lighter version of the classic French toast casserole. This version still starts with bread as the base. You will need a whole loaf since it is intended to serve eight (it can serve up to 12 if you really push it!). With this recipe, you can serve a crowd without standing over the oven, pan frying each individual piece of toast.
Other ingredients you will need are:
- Maple syrup
- Icing sugar
How to make French toast casserole
This overnight French toast casserole is perfect for a holiday brunch because you can prepare most of it in advance and just finish cooking it the morning you want to serve it. Here's how to make it step-by-step:
- Cut bread into one to two inch cubes.
- Whisk eggs, milk, maple syrup and cinnamon together.
- Add the bread cubes to the liquid and gently toss until they are covered.
- This is the point at which you can stop for meal prep. Continue if you want to make and eat it immediately. If you are preparing it in advance, refrigerate the soaked bread cubes for up to 12 hours or overnight.
- When you are prepared to bake it, put the bread cubes in a greased pan and top with berries.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Add toppings and serve!
What type of bread is best for French toast?
Any bread aisle has hundreds of choices for bread. We all have a favorite for sandwiches or toast. These are the most highly recommended for French toast:
- Brioche – The thickness of this bread makes it a perpetual favorite. It soaks up all the liquid while cooking but still maintains its shape. The outside browns nicely in the oven while the inside is soft and delicate.
- Challah – It’s very similar in texture to brioche so it soaks up the liquid and keeps its shape. It has a buttery flavor, enhancing the taste of the finished baked French toast casserole.
- French bread – This is a great option if you plan to let it soak overnight. The texture is a little more chewy so it’s nearly perfect after a longer soaking time.
If you are having trouble finding any of these, choose a bread that you can buy as an uncut loaf. That way you can make the cubes instead of working with thin slices. Always leave the crust on so your end product has nice crisp edges.
Sandwich bread will get soggy if it sits for too long, so shorten your soaking time if you plan to use that – only 10 minutes tops. You can use it for this recipe though, and that is often the easiest choice! Stale break does keep its shape better, but won’t soak up as much of the liquid.
Making it ahead for overnight
It’s easy to make this dish in advance. Cut the bread and prepare the liquid mixture. Once the bread is in the egg and milk, allow it to soak as long as 12 hours.
You’ll only need about 30 minutes for hands-off cooking before you want to serve this. If you have refrigerated it overnight, it may need another five minutes in the oven to finish cooking.
What to serve with French toast casserole
Other breakfast foods are natural sides for this French toast casserole. Try some of these if you're serving a large crowd – at this point you can divide the servings into 12 portions and then have some extra protein or side dishes available to feed everyone.
- Fresh fruit
- Home fries
If you need to omit the eggs or milk to accommodate allergies or a vegan guest, you can use coconut or almond milk and tofu or a flax egg. Pumpkin puree and mashed bananas are other substitutes you could use for the liquid component of this baked French toast casserole.
If you wanted flavors other than cinnamon, you could use any of these spices:
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Vanilla extract
- Orange or lemon zest
You can even try a cinnamon or raisin bread for a unique twist on this casserole. You could use sourdough bread if you want to balance out the sweetness.
Fresh berries are a healthy and delicious topping idea for this French toast casserole. Some other things you can make available for topping choices include:
- Maple syrup
- Icing sugar
- Lemon curd
- Peanut butter
- Dried cranberries
Storing and reheating
This baked French toast casserole can be stored in the refrigerator for five days.
To reheat, I recommend you take the time to warm it in the toaster oven or conventional oven. The microwave will make it soggy. It will take ten minutes to completely reheat in a 350 F oven.
You can also store leftovers in individual portions in glass meal prep containers and microwave for 1-2 minutes until warmed. It will be soggier than if reheated in the oven, but if you like the softer pieces like I do, then go for it!
Can you freeze French toast casserole?
You can freeze this casserole, but I suggest you do so without the berries. They contain too much water and will soak your bread.
French toast casserole can be frozen for one to two months. You can reheat this directly from frozen in a 350 F oven for 30-40 minutes.
More make ahead breakfast ideas
If you're looking for more easy make ahead breakfasts, I've got you covered with the ideas below! The breakfast casserole is another popular favourite to make for holiday mornings.
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this recipe into your leftovers
- Freeze this recipe sans berries in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Meal prep challenge
If you'd like some more help with meal planning, then you'll love my free 5-day meal prep challenge! It's basically a free course that will teach you how to meal prep and cook healthy meals at home with some PDF bonus materials. Sign up for free below:
Lighter Overnight French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf bread
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- icing sugar, for topping
- maple syrup, for topping
- 1 cup fresh berries, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut bread into 1-2 inch cubes. Set aside.
- Whisk eggs and milk together in a very large bowl until well mixed. Add maple syrup and cinnamon, stirring well. Add in cubes of bread and toss until combined. Let sit for 5 min or up to 12 hours overnight.
- Grease an 9x13 oven safe dish and add bread to it, then drizzle with butter and top with frozen berries. Bake in the oven for 30 min.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with maple syrup and fresh berries. Enjoy!