Want an easy brunch dish that’s impressive enough to serve on a holiday? This overnight French toast casserole recipe has entered the chat. Assemble it prior to Christmas morning, Mother’s Day—or any time you expect an early wave of guests. The next day, roll out of bed, brush the top with melted butter, slide it into the oven, and settle down with your coffee.
We recommend using challah, brioche, or Pullman over more crusty French bread or sourdough for a tender bread-pudding-like casserole. We like fat slices here (à la actual French toast) instead of bread cubes to differentiate it from that carby, custardy dessert. We also like the pairing of cinnamon with warm, floral cardamom here, but if you don’t have any, a dash of vanilla extract will do just fine.
If you’re an early riser, you can prep the casserole the same day you plan to serve it—but it does need at least 2 hours in the fridge, so don’t rush it. The milk mixture needs time to fully hydrate the bread in order to develop sweet, crispy (not dry) edges in the oven, and a puffy, custardy (not soggy) interior.
The best way to serve a baked French toast casserole is on a buffet with lots of toppings. We’re partial to tangy crème fraîche and maple syrup, but you could put out a blueberry compote and salty butter pecans, caramelized apples and whipped cream, a batch of poached eggs and chili crisp, or simply dust it with powdered sugar and call it a day.
If you’re hosting a large party, add another breakfast casserole to your menu, like a cheesy egg bake with sausage, or go with any of our best breakfast recipes instead.