Strawberry French Toast Casserole

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Strawberry french toast casserole is another spring brunch recipe to consider! (25+ Easter recipe ideas are right this way.) We’re combining fresh strawberries with cream cheese, chunks of decadent challah bread, cinnamon, brown sugar, and heaps of homemade strawberry topping. This layered breakfast is creamy, soft, warm, crisp, comforting, and ready for any and all of your spring brunches. 🙂

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. You’re layering bread and egg in a pan and baking it. And, most notably, you’re doing most of the prep (which is minimal to begin with!) the night before. You can wake up groggy eyed and still half asleep to put breakfast in the oven. Or you can spend time with guests and family, Easter egg baskets, snuggled on the couch with your coffee, whatever! instead of working in the kitchen.

Soon enough, breakfast for a crowd will be ready. And BONUS: your kitchen will smell like you were baking all morning. How sneaky of you!

French toast casserole is easy and enjoyable. All things weekend brunch should be.

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

My latest french toast casserole combines what I love about my blueberry french toast casserole and my cream cheese french toast casserole: lots of berries, lots of texture, and lots of cream. I skipped the streusel topping to make room for a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and homemade strawberry sauce topping. The strawberry topping, like the casserole itself, can be prepared ahead of time. It’s basically a homemade strawberry sauce you can use for anything from pound cake and angel food cake to ice cream and pudding parfaits. Last year I served it with small batch cheesecake. Strawberry sauce is quick, versatile, and brings a fresh factor to so many dishes. Try it.

Back to breakfast! This strawberries ‘n’ cream french toast casserole hits every delicious note on the texture scale:

  • custard-y on the bottom
  • pockets of creaminess
  • juicy strawberries
  • crisp on top
  • not soggy. I repeat: not soggy!

Assemble the casserole the night before. To assemble, layer chunks of bread, dollops of a cream cheese mixture, and sliced/chopped strawberries together. Pour an egg custard all over the top, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Use challah bread and cream cheese to make Overnight Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole on sallysbakingaddiction.com

START WITH GOOD BREAD

Texture is our goal and using day-old bread will help us get there. I prefer using challah bread when I make french toast casserole, but sourdough or French bread work just as well. Homemade or store-bought, doesn’t matter. Just make sure the bread has some body. Flimsy white bread won’t get you anywhere. No matter which type of bread you use, make sure it’s a little crusty. Let it sit out on the counter for a day or 2 so it loses a little moisture and can hold onto the egg custard. The more egg custard the bread absorbs, the less soggy the french toast casserole will taste.

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!

Bottom line: don’t leave out the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in the cream cheese mixture.

EGG CUSTARD MIXTURE

The egg custard mixture is 5 ingredients: eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Whisk it all together and pour on top.

Eggs, milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar for Overnight Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Bake it all the next morning and serve it warm. A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar finishes the textured beauty off. A creamy and lush strawberry masterpiece complete with a dusting of snow on top. Sizzle a little bacon and toss together a fruit salad on the side. Breakfast is served!

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Fellow brunch-ers, let’s dig in!

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Strawberry French Toast Casserole

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Creamy, fresh, and custard-y strawberries n cream French toast casserole! Make it ahead the night before for a quick and easy brunch. 


Ingredients

  • 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
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups (480ml) whole milk*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (133g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups (325g) sliced or chopped strawberries
  • optional for serving: confectioners’ sugar, strawberry topping sauce, and/or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Slice and cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread half of the cubes into the prepared baking pan.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until combined. Drop random spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on top of the bread. Top with most of the strawberries (reserve a couple chopped strawberries for the top, for looks) and the remaining bread cubes. Place any reserved strawberries on top. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and remaining vanilla extract together until combined. Pour over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours – overnight. Overnight is best so the bread really soaks up that custard.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove pan from the refrigerator.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top. I usually bake it for 45 minutes because I like it softer. If you notice the top browning too quickly as it bakes, loosely cover the pan with foil.
  6. Serve immediately. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This dish is prepped ahead of time. Get started the night before because the casserole needs to sit in the refrigerator all night (see step 3). For freezing, prepare the recipe through step 3 and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bake as directed. Baked casserole can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and warm up in a 350°F (177°C) for 35 minutes or until warm in the center.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Mixing BowlsWhite Baking Dish | Serving Plates | Custom Stamped Fork
  3. Half Recipe: This french toast casserole recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 or 9-inch baking pan. The bake time will be slightly less, around 30-35 minutes.
  4. Bread: Day-old crusty bread is best 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, doesn’t have to be exact.
  5. Milk: For the best flavor and texture, I prefer using whole milk. You can use any milk, dairy or non, but keep in mind the casserole won’t taste as rich with lower fat or skim milk.
Creamy, fresh, and custard-y Strawberries n Cream French Toast Casserole! Make it ahead the night before! Full recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

64 Comments

  1. This is calling my name. It makes me want breakfast for dinner tonight! I love the strawberries and cream combo. I think it is truly one of my favorites. I will be printing this and maybe scaling it down, because I don’t think I could trust myself around a pan of this size. 🙂

    1. Hey Courtney! I typically halve the recipe since it’s just 2 of us most weekend mornings. Bake in an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan, usually takes about 35 minutes at 350°F (177°C)

      1. Thanks for the tip. I suspected that might work but glad that you confirmed it for me. I cannot wait to try it!

  2. Sally, I’m so happy to see this recipe! I literally was thinking about swapping out strawberries for the blueberries for the blueberry french toast casserole last weekend. Some chocolate sauce on top of this would be quite tasty as well! May you and your family have a blessed Easter!

  3. What is the texture of the bread once cooked? My husband doesn’t like bread pudding. But this looks sooooo good I really want to make it. 

    1. It’s soft underneath (but not really soggy). Crisp on top. Creamy bites of cream cheese. You can always halve the recipe in an 8×8 or 9×9 pan just in case he’s not a huge fan!

  4. Looks sooooo good! My husband loves peaches and cream French toast. Do you think I could use fresh peaches and make an even swap with the strawberries? Peaches have a lot of liquid so I don’t want to make it soggy. 

    1. Hi Andrea! That sounds REALLY good. I would use chopped fresh peaches, but blot them a good bit with paper towels before adding to the casserole.

  5. This looks sooo good! But it reminds me of your recent post on bread pudding and how you didn’t like it that much, and now I’m wondering, what’s the difference between bread pudding and french toast casserole? (they all seem equally delicious to me).

    Also, fun fact, bread pudding is pretty different in my country (Argentina). The bread (crust free) is crumbled or blended with the egg and milk mixture, so it turns out more like a flan with a funny texture. It’s called budín de pan. I have to say I prefer the American version!

    1. Good question 🙂 It’s a texture thing. Bread puddings and french toast casseroles taste much different when they’re made with crusty bread as opposed to fresh and soft bread. Crusty bread yields a crisp texture on top and a softer texture in the center. (Really good that way!) Soft bread usually gives you soggy bread pudding or casserole. There’s really no huge difference between the two, just that one’s usually served for breakfast.

      1. It was delicious! Everyone loved it and now I’m trying to plan a time to bake it again! 

  6. This one is a winner! My guests devoured it. No leftovers for me! Tastes wonderful warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

  7. Delicious! I added about 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and about 1 tsp. vanilla extract to the egg mixture. The French toast itself is not very sweet, so the sweet strawberry sauce compliments this perfectl…

  8. Hi Sally,
    I want to make this recipe, and I just found French Brioche bread. Would it work out?
    Hope you had had a wonderful Easter! 

  9. Hi Sally,

    Just prepped this and put it in the fridge! One question – the store was out of confectioners’ sugar so I had to use use granular in the cream cheese mixture. Will it make a difference? Thanks! 

  10. Hi Sally! This looks amazing and I am so excited to give it a try! I was just browsing your various french toast casserole recipes to decide which one I was going to try and was wondering what your thoughts were on adding the streusel topping to this one? Would there be too much going on with the addition of a streusel topping? Thanks for the incredible recipes!

  11. I just made this for Sunday breakfast for my family, and it turned out amazing! Everyone went back for seconds. Though I was skeptical at first, the cream cheese is the perfect amount of tang to balance this out. I also added a little extra cinnamon, as it is my favorite 🙂
    Also for anyone wondering- served cold without maple syrup cut into nice neat squares this would make a wonderful dessert for a dinner party!

  12. Made this for brunch and wow, was it a hit! I was able to make it the day before and it was so wonderful (and easy) to just stick it in the oven the morning of. Didn’t make the compote but just added lots of sliced strawberries on top. Thanks for a great recipe – will definitely be making it again.

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