Perfect Baked French Toast
This easy baked French toast casserole is lightly spiced, slightly sweet, perfectly soft in the middle, and has a buttery crisp top. You can make this straight away or make it in advance — even overnight! Jump to the Easy Baked Cinnamon French Toast Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how to make it.
How We Make Baked French Toast From Scratch
I’ve always loved French toast and we’ve even shared a more traditional stovetop French toast recipe on the blog, but this easy baked version has quickly become my favorite. It’s so delicious and is perfect for making in advance or for crowds.
We use quality bread, eggs, a combination of milk and cream for richness, maple syrup and vanilla extract for sweetness, and a combination of warm baking spices to make it extra delicious.
The recipe is straight-forward and is perfect for making ahead of time, which if you are making this to entertain, like say for Thanksgiving morning or for brunch, is perfect! Here’s the basic process:
- Dry out the bread. For the best baked French toast, it’s important that you use either day old bread or that you quickly dry out the bread in the oven before mixing with the other ingredients. This makes sure that the bread absorbs all the liquid and flavors of the French toast, but that it doesn’t turn mushy. (Really fresh bread will turn to mush on you.)
- Make the French toast custard. To make this extra flavorful, rich and a little creamy in the middle, we use quite a few eggs, milk, and cream. If you don’t have cream, milk will do, but keep in mind that the mixture will lose a little of that lovely richness. To flavor the egg mixture, we add maple syrup (I like using pure maple syrup), vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt.
- Dip the bread into the custard. When we first made this recipe, we would simply pour the custard over bread slices that were lined up in a baking dish. That worked, but not all the bread was covered by the custard. That’s why before pouring all the custard over the bread, we quickly dip each slice into it first.
- Add dipped bread to a baking dish and pour over custard. I like lining the bread up so that they look like roof shingles. Then we pour the rest of the custard on top.
- Set aside at least 30 minutes or leave it overnight. For the best French toast, you really want to give the bread a chance to absorb as much of the custard as possible. This should happen within half an hour, but if you are making the French toast ahead of time, you can cover and refrigerate the dish overnight!
- Bake. We bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncover the dish and bake another 10 minutes or until the bread looks puffed and golden brown on top. Before baking the final 10 minutes, we pour melted butter over the top of the bread and sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over, adding a buttery, crisp topping.
Baked French Toast Variations
This French toast casserole is absolutely delicious as written, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few changes you can make so that it is your own. Here are a few suggestions:
- Add dried fruit or nuts: For some more texture and color, add 1/2 cup or so of nuts or dried fruit to the custard before pouring over the bread.
- Add pumpkin puree: For a pumpkin French toast, whisk 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree into the custard. Here’s our baked pumpkin French toast for inspiration.
- Add sliced bananas: After baking for 30 minutes, uncover the casserole dish, and then add the melted butter, sliced bananas, and top with the cinnamon sugar topping. Bake another 10 minutes.
- Add fresh berries: Sprinkle fresh berries over the baked casserole or add them to the casserole dish before baking.
- Make a cheesecake inspired version: Beat 6 ounces of room temperature cream cheese with a little maple syrup until whipped and slightly sweet. Dollop the cream cheese between slices of bread in the casserole dish before baking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make baked French Toast in advance?
Absolutely! You can dry out the bread and prepare the custard mixture a couple days in advance and then mix the two together and bake (just keep the custard covered in the refrigerator). Or you can follow our recipe all the way up to adding the custard mixture to the bread in the casserole dish, cover, refrigerate overnight, and then bake the next day. Leftover French toast stores pretty well, too. Simply reheat in the microwave or oven.
Can I freeze baked French Toast?
Yes! After baking the French toast, let it cool, and then transfer to freezer-safe, airtight containers. Freeze for a month (maybe more). When you are ready to eat it, reheat in the oven or the microwave until warmed through.
What kind of bread should I use?
For the best French toast, use high quality bread, preferably from a local bakery. For French toast with a little more texture, we recommend a bakery-style hearty bread like French bread, sourdough or a rustic loaf. For French toast that’s more soft and buttery in the middle try enriched breads like Brioche or Challah. It’s also best to use day old bread since the bread soaks up the flavors of the custard more easily without becoming mushy. If you don’t have the time to wait, don’t worry, we’ve built in a step to our recipe that dries out the bread anyway.
More Crowd-Friendly Breakfast Recipes
- Make Ahead Ham and Veggie Breakfast Sandwiches — How to make tasty and satisfying breakfast sandwiches with veggies that can be kept in your refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Spiced Apple Dutch Baby Pancake — How to make the best tall, fluffy Dutch baby pancakes with tender spiced apples piled in the middle.
- Ridiculously Good Cinnamon Rolls — These ridiculously good homemade cinnamon rolls bake up to be big, soft, and extra fluffy.
- Quick and Easy Blueberry Muffins — You only need one bowl to make this easy blueberry muffins recipe with blueberries, flour, sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil.
Perfect Baked French Toast
This easy baked French toast casserole is lightly spiced, slightly sweet, perfectly soft in the middle, and has a buttery crisp top. You can make this straight away or make it in advance. For overnight French toast, keep it covered and stored in the refrigerator overnight, and then take out 20 minutes or so before baking in the morning to give it a chance to come closer to room temperature before baking.
You Will Need
1 large day old bread loaf like brioche, challah, crusty sourdough or French bread, see notes
6 whole eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons butter plus more for greasing pan
Optional toppings: Maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and fresh berriesCinnamon Sugar Topping
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Prepare French Toast
- Bake French Toast
Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.
Slice the bread into thick slices (1/2-inch to 1-inch thick). Cut each bread slice in half, making two triangles.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt until combined.
Quickly dip each slice of bread into the milk mixture and place into the baking dish, arranging each slice so that they are angled and overlap slightly (like roof shingles).
When all the bread slices are arranged in the baking dish, pour the remaining milk mixture over the top of the bread. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175C). Bake the French toast, still covered, for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, make the cinnamon sugar topping by stirring 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, uncover the French toast and then slowly pour the melted butter over the top, trying to cover most of the bread slices.
Scatter the cinnamon sugar over the bread, and then bake, uncovered, until the tips of the bread are golden brown and the bread looks puffed, about 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, cut into 8 squares, and serve with your favorite toppings.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Day old or dried out bread is best for this. If your bread still seems fresh, slice it, and then place into a 350F oven for 10 to 15 minutes so that it dries out. You are not looking to brown the bread, only dry it out.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.