This baked cream cheese french toast casserole is stuffed with sweet cream cheese and topped with a brown sugar crumble topping. It’s a wonderful recipe for a brunch or breakfast gathering because you can prep the casserole the night before.
- 1 (12-14 ounce) loaf french bread, sourdough bread, or challah*
- 8 ounces (224g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
- 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar (do not leave out)
- 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 (41g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- optional: maple syrup and/or confectioners’ sugar for topping
- Grease a 9×13 inch or any 3-4 quart oven-safe dish 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 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. (I like to make sure some cream cheese is still exposed on top just for looks.) Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and remaining vanilla together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and up to 24 hours. Overnight is best.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove pan from the refrigerator.
- Prepare the crumb 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 evenly 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. Drizzle with optional maple syrup or dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.
- Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prep the dish through step 3 up to 24 hours in advance. (See step 3.) You can also prepare the crumb topping 1-2 days in advance, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator. Sprinkle over the soaked bread immediately before baking. To freeze, prepare the recipe through step 3 and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue with step 4. You can freeze the prepared casserole with the crumb topping or add it on right before baking, but keep in mind that fresh crumb topping always gives the dish a little more texture. You can also freeze the leftover baked and cooled casserole for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, and then reheat to your liking in the microwave or cover and bake in a 300°F (149°C) until warm throughout, at least 20 minutes.
- Bread: Day-old, crusty bread is perfect for french toast casseroles. Slice and cut it into 1-inch cubes and let it sit out uncovered all day. You’ll have about 12 cups of cubed bread– a little more or less is fine.
- 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 use and 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 shorter, around 30-35 minutes.
- Can I add berries? Some readers have added blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries sprinkled throughout the casserole. Feel free to scatter 1 cup of fresh berries over the spoonfuls of cream cheese before topping with the remaining bread cubes. I do not recommend frozen berries.
Keywords: overnight french toast casserole, cream cheese french toast casserole