This baked French toast recipe is a showstopper that will please the masses! Try this easy breakfast casserole with crunchy praline topping today.
Breakfast will never be the same after you try this amazing twist on a beloved classic. Prepare to have your family begging for it every weekend!
Perhaps the best part of this dish (apart from how delicious it is) is that it’s a make-ahead and bake meal. You put it all together the night before, and then top and bake it in the morning. So much less stress than trying to make a big breakfast before you’ve had your coffee!
It’s perfect for special occasions like Christmas or Easter morning. But it’s also an amazing way to wow your overnight guests. Serve this warm, indulgent French toast bake any time you want to turn breakfast up a few notches.
Ingredients for this baked French toast recipe
For the French Toast:
- Heavy cream
- Brown sugar
- Spices: Vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt
For the Praline Topping:
- Brown Sugar
- Chopped Pecans
- Spices: Cinnamon and salt
What kind of bread should I use?
It’s all in the name! This baked French toast casserole is made with… French bread!
It’s easy to find, inexpensive, and hearty enough to hold up to the custard. Just slice and assemble!
If you don’t want to use French bread, you can also use brioche or challah. They are rich and dense enough to not go soggy on you.
A quick note on the bread: Do not use a French baguette, as it is too crusty for this recipe. If you choose to use a richer bread such as brioche or challah, I recommend letting the torn pieces sit out overnight (before assembling) to let it stale or to dry it in the oven, as these are softer breads that won’t hold up as well in the custard.
How to make it:
- Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by greasing it with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- Tear your bread loaf into 1” pieces and place them in the baking dish in an even layer.
- Mix the custard in a large bowl. Do this by gently mixing together the eggs, heavy cream, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. You don’t want to get it bubbly, just well-blended.
- Pour the mixture evenly over your bread. Press down gently with the back of a spoon to ensure all of the bread is submerged.
- Cover with plastic wrap and pop it in the refrigerator for an overnight soak. (If you don’t have room in the fridge to chill a 9×13 baking dish overnight, try my Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding Breakfast Casserole instead!)The next day…
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Make the praline topping by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to make sure it’s combined well.
- Sprinkle the praline mixture evenly over the soaked French toast.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and puffed up.
- Serve hot and enjoy with maple syrup!
Why would baked French toast get soggy?
There are a few different reasons this might happen:
- The Bread — Choosing the wrong type of bread for this recipe could definitely give you a soggy bake. Sandwich bread, for instance, is much too soft and will turn to soup. Stick with dense breads like French, Italian, brioche, or challah.
- Not Enough Rest — The reason you need to let the bake rest overnight is so that the bread can soak up ALL of the custard. If you leave it for only a few minutes or a couple of hours, just the outside soaks it up. That makes it extra soggy outside and dry inside.
- Super-Sized Eggs — If the eggs you’re using are unusually large, it could be too much custard for your bread. Cut back to seven instead of eight.
- Wrong Shaped Pan — If your baking dish is smaller than 9×13, it could funnel all the custard to the bottom rather than allowing an even soak. Similarly, if you’re using a 9×13 but it narrows at the bottom, it could cause the same issue.
As long as you follow the recipe and use the right sized pan, this breakfast bake is bound to be a crowd-pleaser! And it really couldn’t be easier. Just a few minutes of prep and a good night’s sleep, then a quick bake and you’re done!
More Favorite Breakfast Recipes
- Monkey Bread (From Scratch!)
- Fluffy and Crisp Buttermilk Waffles
- Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
- Homemade Pop-Tarts
I hope you’ll put this on your menu for a holiday morning, or the next time you want an extra-special breakfast! If you make it, I’d love if you would take a moment to stop back and share a review below. ENJOY! 😍
Baked French Toast Recipe with Praline Topping
- 1 loaf hearty French or Italian bread about 1 pound
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Topping:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold and cubed
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Prepare the Casserole: Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Tear the loaf of bread into bite-size 1-inch pieces (you should have about 10 to 12 cups) and place in the baking dish in an even layer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, whole milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Evenly pour over the bread pieces in the baking dish. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down on the bread so that it is all submerged in the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Make the Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until only pea-sized pieces remain. Toss in the chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Bake the Casserole: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.
- Sprinkle the topping evenly over the casserole.
- Bake until golden brown and puffed, approximately 40 to 50 minutes (an instant-read thermometer should register at least 165 degrees F when inserted into the center). Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top with powdered sugar and maple syrup for a traditional French toast flavor!
- Bread: Do not use a French baguette, as it is too crusty for this recipe. If you choose to use a richer bread such as brioche or challah, I recommend letting the torn pieces sit out overnight (before assembling) to let it stale or to dry it in the oven, as these are softer breads that won’t hold up as well in the custard.
- Custard: You can replace all of the heavy cream and whole milk with half-and-half if you’d like, or you can use all whole milk for a slightly lighter, albeit less rich, casserole. I do not recommend using low-fat milk in this recipe.
- Nuts: You can substitute different nuts for the pecans in the topping, or omit them altogether.
- Bake Immediately Option: While this is an ideal make-ahead recipe since it should be assembled the day before baking to allow the bread to absorb the custard, you CAN make it the same day, if desired. After pouring the custard over the bread, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before baking. The inside will be less soft, but still delicious!
- Freezing Instructions: This casserole can be baked, cooled completely, refrigerated for at least 2 hours, then frozen. To freeze, cover the pan tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 350-degree oven, covered, until warmed through, about 15 minutes.
Originally published in 2011, this has been updated to include new photos, and an updated (and improved!) recipe based on user feedback. If you wish to make the original recipe, you can find it here.
[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]