This mixed berries & cream cheese French toast casserole combines juicy berries, silky cream cheese, and challah bread all soaked with a rich brown-sugared egg custard. This impressive breakfast or brunch dish is altogether creamy, soft, crisp, and comforting, and the best part is that prep work is EASY!
Less Work, More Reward
What I love most about French toast casseroles, and why I bake them so often, is the low maintenance factor. You’re not standing over the stove and cooking French toast for the whole family. Instead, you’re layering bread and egg in a pan and baking it. And, most notably, you can do most of the prep (which is minimal to begin with!) the night before.
This means more time with guests/family/your coffee and less time working in the kitchen. Soon enough, breakfast will be ready. And BONUS: your kitchen will smell like you were baking all morning. How sneaky of you!
I published this recipe in 2018 using only strawberries—and it’s fabulous prepared that way—however, it’s usually a bigger hit when I use a medley of berries and I want to show you how I do it. (You can successfully use frozen berries now too, see Notes.) This dish is what everyone loves about blueberry French toast casserole and cream cheese French toast casserole combined in 1 dish: lots of berries, lots of texture, and lots of cream cheese.
Note: Both of those French toast casseroles have a streusel topping and I usually skip it here, but feel free to add it!
This Berries & Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole Is:
- Lovely for spring and summer gatherings, including Mother’s Day & Father’s Day
- Custard-y on the bottom
- Crisp on top
- Filled with pockets of creaminess and berries
- Not soggy. I repeat: not soggy!
Above all else, it’s easy, impressive, and enjoyable… all the things that brunch should be.
3 Major Success Tips
- START WITH GOOD BREAD. Texture is the goal and using good bread will help you get there. By “good,” I mean a bread with substance, flavor, and texture such as challah, sourdough, or a fancy brioche loaf. Flimsy sliced bread won’t do you any favors and the casserole usually ends up tasting flat and soggy. Your efforts will be wasted. (Bonus… try this with artisan homemade bread or croissant bread. YUM!)
- MAKE SURE THE BREAD IS A BIT STALE. No matter which type of bread you use, make sure it’s a little crusty and stale. Slice and cut the bread into chunks and then let it sit out, uncovered, so it loses a little moisture and can hold onto the egg custard. The more egg custard the bread can absorb, the less soggy the French toast casserole will taste. If you don’t have time for this, I have a tip for you coming up.
- A LITTLE SUGAR IN THE CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE. The cream cheese mixture is 3 ingredients: cream cheese, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar. The reason I mix a little sugar and vanilla with the cream cheese is because without it, we’ll have random savory non-melted chunks of cream cheese in the dish. I explained this in my regular cream cheese French toast casserole recipe. It was good, but not very pleasant!
What if I Don’t Have Time to Let the Bread Get Stale?
Neither do I. Or I simply forget and then it’s time to prep the dish and I have very moist, soft bread that won’t absorb any of the egg custard mixture. To fix this, spread the chunks of bread on a lined baking sheet and toast in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes. This is exactly what I do when making sausage & herb stuffing and breakfast strata.
Here’s the basic process: To assemble, layer chunks of bread, dollops of the cream cheese mixture, and mixed berries together. Pour an egg custard all over the top and then cover and refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours or overnight:
Bake it all the next morning and serve it warm.
The best pan to use for this berries & cream French toast casserole is a 9×13-inch or 3–4-quart oven-safe dish. I usually use (affiliate links) this glass pan or the pictured red ruffled baking dish, which comes in a set with other sizes—definitely a splurge, but I’ve found the quality to be excellent and they’re absolutely gorgeous.
Serving Your Berry French Toast Feast!
A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar and/or a light drizzle of maple syrup finishes the berries & cream cheese French toast casserole. This is a creamy and lush berry breakfast masterpiece, and it pairs nicely with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and/or a fresh fruit salad.
And for more berry goodness, you can serve the French toast with this strawberry topping. 🙂
Additional Favorite Brunch Recipes:
- Cinnamon Rolls (only 1 rise)
- Chocolate Muffins (always a big hit)
- Breakfast Pastries (using a shortcut homemade dough)
This recipe yields a creamy, fresh, and deliciously textured berries & cream French toast casserole. Prep it ahead so you have a quick and warm breakfast in the morning.
- 1 (12–14-ounce) loaf French bread, sourdough bread, or challah*
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
- 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
- 2 cups (280–300g) fresh mixed berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups (480ml) whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup (133g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- optional for serving: confectioners’ sugar, strawberry topping, and/or maple syrup
- Slice and cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. You should have around 12 cups of cubed bread—a little more or less is fine. For best results, let the bread cubes sit uncovered at room temperature for a few hours (or up to 1 day) to dry out. If you don’t have the time for that, spread the chunks of bread on a lined baking sheet and toast in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes. (Great shortcut!)
- Grease a 9×13-inch or any 3–4-quart oven-safe dish with nonstick spray. Spread half of the bread 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. Top with most of the berries (reserve a few berries for the top, for looks) and then the remaining bread cubes. Place any reserved berries on top. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and remaining vanilla extract together until combined. 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.
- Bake uncovered for 45–55 minutes or until golden brown on top. I usually bake it for 45 minutes because I like it softer. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, top with strawberry topping, and/or drizzle with maple syrup. 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 4 up to 24 hours in advance. (See step 4.) To freeze, prepare the recipe through step 4 and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue with step 5. 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 with foil and bake in a 300°F (149°C) until warm throughout, at least 20 minutes.
- 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.
- Bread: Day-old, crusty bread is perfect for French toast casseroles. Slice and cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and let it sit out uncovered all day as instructed in step 1.
- Fresh Berries: Fresh berries are ideal because frozen will leak their juices prior to baking the casserole. If necessary, you can use frozen berries, but thaw them first and then pat dry. I usually use blueberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries. You can use one or all of those, and/or add raspberries too. Keep the total amount to 2 cups/280–300g.
- 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.
- Can I add a crumb/streusel topping? Yes, absolutely. You can use the same topping from this plain cream cheese French toast casserole.
Keywords: berry French toast casserole