For anyone who enjoys basic french toast, this indulgent overnight baked cream cheese french toast casserole is certainly a revelation.
Happy weekending, friends! I know most of you are baking holiday cookies, candies, and treats this weekend but I want to share a Christmas morning recipe idea with you. Or, really, breakfast for any day. It doesn’t even have to be special.
You don’t need an excuse to make baked french toast casserole. Especially when it’s stuffed with cream cheese and dripping in maple syrup.
Can I get an amen? Just look at this eye candy.
I’ve been working on a few new breakfast recipes this past week and I’m thrilled to share this one with you. Not only is it the ultimate breakfast comfort food born to please even the pickiest eaters, french toast casserole is actually incredibly simple. And something you can prep at night to make the following morning a breeze.
The most important ingredient in any overnight french toast casserole is the bread. Don’t skimp here. Flimsy white sliced bread won’t do you any favors and the casserole usually ends up tasting soggy and lacking texture. Rather, go for a fancy beauty like challah bread. French toast made with challah bread tastes 4873% better than french toast made with any other bread. Trust me on that– I did the math.
When you have the bread you need, make sure you let it sit out for a few hours to get a little stale. Like stuffing, french toast casserole is BEST when the quality bread you’re using is somewhat stale. I always just buy a loaf of challah at my regular grocery store in the bakery aisle, then let it sit out for the day on the counter. Then I’m ready to prep the baked french toast casserole in the evening.
To make this casserole extra special and, let’s face it, threaten our current pant size– I add cream cheese. Beat cream cheese with some confectioners’ sugar and a dash of vanilla, then add spoonfuls to the casserole: layer half of the bread chunks into your casserole dish, then random spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture, followed by the rest of the bread chunks. The reason I mix a little sugar and flavor with the cream cheese is because without it, the dish just had random savory non-melted chunks of cream cheese which were good (of course), but not very… pleasant.
If you know what I mean.
Poured on top of the bread and cream cheese mixture is a fabulously thick and rich custard sauce made from eggs, whole milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Use whole milk for the richest taste and texture. If you really want to elevate things on a whole other level, use half-and-half or cream. My mouth is watering and yoga pants are crying at the thought.
Now, it’s time to let things sit overnight in the refrigerator. This is when all the magic happens: when Santa comes down the chimney AND when the crusty bread soaks up the cinnamon spiced egg custard. You can leave the prepared french toast casserole in the refrigerator anywhere from overnight down to 3-4 hours. I find the longer the bread soaks, the tastier the casserole. So, go to sleep. It will be amazing.
The next morning, top the casserole with streusel. The streusel is, without a doubt, the best part. Made from equal parts brown sugar and flour, a dose of cinnamon, and cold cold cold butter. Emphasis on the cold!
Place the casserole into the oven and prepare to take in the heavenly scent of cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, cream cheese, and bread. Is there really a better combination on earth? Wait. Don’t answer that. I’m looking at you, chocolate peanut butter no-bakes.
When the casserole is done, it’s time to dig into all those layers. Texture, flavor, mouthfuls of sweet cream cheese in between each and every crevice of bread. Now THIS is french toast done right. Just look at that melted brown sugar streusel!!
Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. Have fun baking, cooking, making memories this weekend!
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This easy recipe for baked cream cheese french toast casserole hits the spot in the morning and you can prepare it the night before!
- 1 (12-14 ounce) loaf french bread, sourdough bread, or challah*
- 8 ounces (224g) brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
- 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar (don’t leave it out, trust me)
- 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract, divided
- 8 large eggs
- 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup (133g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (69g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (42g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- optional: fresh fruit, maple syrup, and/or confectioners’ sugar for topping
- Grease a 9×13 pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Slice then cut the bread into cubes, about 1 inch in size. Spread half of the cubes into the prepared baking pan. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the room temperature (not cold!) cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract until combined. Drop random spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on top of the bread. Layer the remaining bread cubes on top of cream cheese. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and remaining vanilla together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Pour over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator for 3 hours – overnight. Overnight is best.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove pan from the refrigerator.
- Prepare the topping: Whisk the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Sprinkle the topping over the soaked bread.
- Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top. I usually bake it for 45 minutes because I like it softer. Serve immediately. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Prepare the topping in advance, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator. Sprinkle over the soaked bread before baking. For freezing, prepare the recipe through step 4 (without preheating the oven) and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bake as directed.
- Bread: Day-old, crusty bread is perfect for french toast casseroles. I prefer challah bread. I slice it up and let it sit out all day. You’ll wind up with about 12 cups of cubed bread. A little more or less is OK.
- Cream Cheese: Since the cream cheese is only mixed with a little sugar and vanilla, make sure you are using quality cream cheese that tastes good. I love full fat Philadelphia brand brick-style cream cheese for this dish.
- Half Recipe: This recipe can easily be halved in an 8 or 9-inch baking pan. The bake time will be slightly less, around 30-35 minutes.
Keywords: overnight french toast casserole, french toast casserole
More make-ahead breakfast recipe inspiration:
Melt-in-your-mouth overnight maple cinnamon rolls (TRY THESE.)
Definitely try my classic overnight cinnamon rolls, too.
And just like today’s recipe, my unbelievable blueberry french toast casserole.