Overnight Baked French Toast

First of all, today is cause for celebration.  It’s December 21st and the world didn’t come to an end.  Take that Mayans.

christmas morning memories

Right about this time every year we start getting emails and Facebook requests asking us what we serve in our own homes on Christmas morning.  At my house growing up and now with my own little family it’s always been an “overnight meal.”  Everything is made the day before so all that needs to be done on Christmas morning is popping things into the oven.  I have vivid memories of being a kid and running downstairs to see what Santa had delivered. 

After opening a few gifts after that, the oh-so-familiar smell of our traditional Christmas dishes started wafting through the house.  As soon as we could smell it, we knew it was time to take a break from presents and run to the table.   Without exception, we have this Overnight Sausage and Egg Casserole.  It’s usually accompanied by Almond Poppyseed Bread, fresh fruit, and the Overnight Sticky Buns from our first cook book.  Another go-to breakfast dish is this overnight Baked French Toast.  It has all of the sweet and savory flavors of traditional french toast, but in an easy-to-make and serve casserole form.


let’s make it!

Start by cracking a bunch of eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisking in some half and half and some milk.  I use 2 parts half and half to one part milk (whatever I have on hand) but you could also use all whole milk if you’ve got that around.  Or 1 part cream 2 parts milk…you’ve got options.  Just don’t use all skim milk for the liquid, you need to have the fat in there to get a nice creamy custard.

Once that’s smooth, add in a little flavor.  I keep it nice and simple so you can go crazy with the toppings.  Flavor the egg mixture with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

And also a generous spoonful of vanilla.

You can use a number of different breads in this.  A loaf of french bread works great; that’s what I usually use, but feel free to use something like brioche, challah, or any other good french-toasty bread.  You can buy it a day or two ahead of time because slightly dry bread absorbs the liquid really well.  Don’t fret if you have fresh bread though, I often don’t dry out my bread and it works great; I actually like it extra soft like that.  If you’d like to dry out your bread, you can pop it (already chopped) into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Instead of slicing the bread, I like to cut them into large chunks.  Place them all in a buttered casserole dish and then pour the egg mixture evenly over the top.  Use a spatula to very gently toss the bread a little bit, moving the bread from the bottom to the top, and making sure the pieces on top all get dunked.  If your bread is fresh, it will quickly fall apart so be gentle.

I know what you’re thinking.  This looks like bread pudding.  When I was plating this batch to photograph, our friend stopped by.  I served him up a plate and he said, “This looks like bread pudding, why are you calling it french toast?”  My response:  “Because if you put syrup on it and call it french toast, then it becomes a perfectly acceptable breakfast food.”  I’m all about justification when it comes to eating dessert for breakfast.

Alright, cover the baking dish and pop it in the fridge overnight.  We’re also going to mix up a little topping- I just put it in a dish and leave it in the fridge as well and sprinkle it over the dish right before baking in the morning.  It’s brown and white sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little butter.  When it bakes, it creates a nice crunchy-sweet topping and kind of slips in between the cracks of bread.

You can serve this a million and one ways.  It’s great with crumbled bacon and maple syrup, or fresh fruit and whipped cream, or really whatever you feel like dumping on top.

My favorite is a drizzle of melted butter, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and fresh berries.

Since fresh berries are pricey this time of year, frozen work well too.  Just thaw them (and drain if you want) and mix them with a little sugar before serving since frozen berries tend to be tart.

The sweet juicy berries combined with melted butter and syrup is perfect with the warm, soft bread.

Oh, and whipped cream.  Yeah, put some of that on there too.


And you shall have a very merry Christmas indeed!


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Overnight French Toast from Our Best Bites

Overnight Baked French Toast

  • Author: sara wells


This overnight baked French Toast with crunchy brown sugar topping comes together in just a few minutes the night before, then bakes in the morning for an easy, festive breakfast treat!



8 eggs
2 (1 pint) cups half and half
1 cup milk (whatever kind you have on hand)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (a little less if using table salt)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 lb. loaf of French bread
softened butter for greasing baking dish (2-3 tablespoons)

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

For Serving
melted butter
maple syrup
powdered sugar
whipped cream


Crack eggs into large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.  Whisk in half and half and milk.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Set aside.

Use softened butter to butter bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish.  Cut bread into  1 inch chunks and place in dish.  Whisk egg mixture one more time and then pour evenly over bread.  Use a rubber spatula to very gently toss bread, moving bread on bottom to top, and making sure all of the piece on top get dipped in egg mixture.  Spread out evenly, cover dish, and place in fridge overnight.

To make topping, place brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and stir to combine.  Cut cold butter into very small pieces and add to bowl. Use clean hands to break up butter and combine mixture until crumbly.  Cover and place in fridge until morning.

When ready to bake preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove plastic from dish and sprinkle topping evenly over top.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown.  You can stick a knife or skewer in the casserole to make sure the egg mixture is set on the bottom.  *Note I have left a generous baking time window because it varies on ovens and the size of your bread cubes.  I used to cook this closer to 60 minutes at my old house, but in my new convection ovens it’s done closer to 45.  Keep an eye on it and let me know how long yours takes to bake!

Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares.  Drizzle with melted butter and syrup, top with berries, whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar if desired.


  1. Hi,

    I’m not commenting on this dish; but I wanted to say that last night I made the Peppermint Chocolate Fudge Cupcake jars (from the Savoring hte Season’s cookbook)for Christmas gifts AND WOW! They are fantastic! I will definitely be making the chocoalte ganache again just for an ice cream topping too. I used the tip that was given in the book and actually filled the cupcakes with the homemade buttercream frosting and then spread the chocolate ganache on top. Then, I garnished with crushed candy canes and I finished off the gift with a ribbon around the jar. So cute! I’m so happy that I checked this cookbook out from my library and found this website! Thanks and have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Love your new backsplash, Sara! Looks great! I’m partial to it because we have the same tile as our backsplash too (but ours is brown/cream). Love the blue-grey!

  3. Growing up, we always had an overnight egg casserole with ham, onions, green onions, and lots of cheese inside! I think I know the recipe by heart… it was given to my mom by her best girl friend’s mom 🙂 & then we had cinnamon rolls or fresh danishes from my dad’s bakery. So fun to see and hear what other people do… this looks yummy. May make it for Christmas Eve breakfast. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  4. I’ve made this in the crock pot and I”m wondering does this come out soft and gooey or more dry. The one in the crock pot comes out super soft – just like a bread pudding and no one in the family would eat it

    1. It’s like French Toast 🙂 A crock pot would trap a ton of moisture in the pan, oven baking creates kind of a crisp top and tender center without being mushy.

  5. How far in advance can this be put together? Do you think it could be made on Sunday to be baked Tuesday morning??

  6. Thank you! My family is gathering for brunch at my parents on Christmas day. I have not been able to decide what I wanted to take, until seeing your post. This looks amazing! Thanks, again and Merry Christmas!

  7. I was never a big fan of the traditional French toast but I have to say this type appeals to me and yours looks great. Can’t wait to make it for someone!!

  8. Question!!! I have made overnight french toast only one other time. I was SOO excited at the possibility of throwing it together the night before. I was truly disappointed when the middle was GOOEY! As in, not done. Now. I have never had bread pudding. I am not sure if it’s supposed to be that gooey or if my pan was not large enough or if it wasn’t baked long enough? If I baked it any longer, the top would have been hard. The outside parts were delicious, but the majority of the inside was inedible. Any suggestions? I REALLY WANNA MAKE THIS FOR CHRISTMAS MORNING! 😉

    1. Could have been your recipe, your pan, under-baking, I can’t tell ya. All I can tell you is properly cooked and with the right recipe, it shouldn’t and won’t be gooey, soggy or undercooked.

  9. So I really hope that you guys get this even though it is xmas eve – I was wanting to make this for breakfast tomorrow but I currently can’t have dairy. I have a good butter substitute so no problem there and I have lot of substitutes for the milk, my only thing is the half and half. Could I just use more milk in place of the half and half and call it good or would that not work?

  10. This was a hit! I used the Very Cherry Berry frozen mix from Trader Joe’s mixed with a little sugar and it was perfect! Took about an hour in the oven. Thanks!

  11. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. It worked perfectly as written for us (baked for 45 minutes) and my family loved it, especially the wonderful cinnamon sugar crunch of the topping.

  12. We usually have some kind of breakfast casserole Christmas morning so decided to go crazy and try this one for the first time. Baked it nearly an hour, could have done 5 min less but it was fine. Loved the crunchy topping. All the fresh berries were sold out on Christmas eve so I bought a frozen triple berry blend, thawed overnight in the fridge and let them come to room temp in the morning. I drained the juice and thickened it slightly with cornstarch and stirred back into the fruit. Topped casserole with fruit and fresh whipped cream. Everyone enjoyed.

  13. Made this along with the Overnight Sausage & Egg Casserole (which the girls call “egg cake” and is always always a big hit) and cooked it for about 65 minutes (after I started checking around 50 minutes) and it was delightful. I ended up running out of time the night before making the topping, so in the morning I just sprinkled on some Cinnamon Sugar and nutmeg and dotted with cold butter and it turned out great, especially with fruit syrups (My husband loved that it wasn’t overtly sweet unlike cinnamon rolls). Anyway! We loved it and will add to our Christmas and special morning treats. Thanks for the great recipe.

  14. SO yum! I took this to our Christmas brunch and my father in law ate half the pan! It took 45 mins,and I agree- this is bread pudding and not French toast. Still scrumptious, especially with berries and syrup. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

  15. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I made it for Christmas morning. We all loved it, and I ate the leftovers for breakfast today! Thanks for your hard work on this blog and sharing the delicious recipes with everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  16. this was delicious! Baked French toast has become a Christmas morning tradition for us, and this was the best recipe ever. I added some crusty whole grain bread to the mix and gave it a nice hearty texture. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  17. This is not a comment on the post, but just wanted to say my husband bought me your new cookbook for Christmas. I was so excited I just had to hug him! I’m excited to get cooking! I love your blog and am now the proud owner of my first Best Bites cookbook. I’m going to love it, I’m sure.

  18. Oh my gosh – this French Toast was amazing! I followed the recipe exactly, even the choice of toppings. Everyone loved it! This will be a family Christmas Eve tradition, as well as your oven-baked Cranberry Sauce (not together of course…well, maybe!). Thank you for sharing your stories and recipes with all of us!

  19. I made this for Christmas brunch and it was delicious. I did add extra cinnamon to the liquid and I used fresh ground nutmeg. Also, I didn’t soak it overnight, just made it the morning of and let the bread soak up most of the liquid (about 15 mins) and then popped it in the oven. I baked it as instructed and it was delicious!

    I made an unsweetened raspberry puree which I served as a condiment with it. We all ended up drizzling some of the puree on it before adding maple syrup and the contrast of the tart raspberries with the sweetness of the maple syrup was definitely perfect! Thanks, this is going to be a new Christmas tradition!

    1. Update: I made it again but soaked it overnight and I actually liked the texture of the first batch, which I made after only soaking for 15 minutes, more than the batch I soaked overnight. Both were good but baked same day wins for me.

  20. Made it. Loved it. Filing it under “holiday and overnight guest go-to breakfast!” I baked it in my convection oven for 50 minutes and it was perfect. Thank you for yet another hit! I also made the pear pomegranate salad for Christmas dinner–was the perfect complement to a Prime Rib dinner.

    1. Hi Sherrie, did you adjust the temp when baking in your convection oven or keep it as written? I’ve made this several times in a traditional oven but wanted to use the convection oven in our rv this time. Thanks!

  21. Has anyone tried this type of dish with almond or coconut milk? I have one child that can have zero dairy and would love to make this…I have been using rice milk for french toast but the recipe you need the milk fats…any thoughts?

      1. Thanks! I keep canned coconut milk around for coconut rice 🙂 I will use that with rice milk and let you know how it turns out!

  22. Made this for Christmas morning, it was perfect. I added eggnog as a substitute for half and half. It baked up great for me in 45 min. Thanks!

  23. I made this for our Christmas morning breakfast…yummy! It was a hit. The hubby said save that recipe, that is high praise from him. I have loved everything I have made so far from your seasons cookbook and from your blog. LOVE you ladies!!

  24. Hi:

    I used 1 1/2 cups of eggnog (helps with the flavor) and 1 1/2 cups of milk and I also used thick sliced (texas toast) bread – baked it for 40 mins. It turned out fabulous – will become a Christmas morning staple in our house. Thanks for the recipe

  25. I normally make crepes on Christmas morning but I am 36 wks pregnant and wanted less fuss on such a special morning. I made your french toast and it was a hit. Thanks so much for sharing!

  26. I made this for Christmas morning with gluten free bread and soy creamer instead of half and half and it was AMAZING! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  27. I made this on Christmas Day and it was to die for. Everyone loved it. And since I made it the night before, all I had to do was pop it in the oven and get out the syrup. More time to open presents!!

  28. Made this for a ladies brunch- it was a huge hit! Prepping the night before made it so easy too!! Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe, I’ll definitely be making this again. And again. 🙂

  29. Put this bad boy together last night and baked this morning. I cut the recipe in half and baked in an 8 inch dish as we are a family of 3. I started testing out the doneness at 30 minutes and although there was nothing on my skewer, I just wasn’t happy with it yet. Ended up baking for an hour and it still was a bit soft in the middle. Making sure to eat that part with the crispy goodness on top was yummy. The whole family loved this and I will be making it again. Will bake it a bit longer next time. Thanks for the recipe!

  30. We have same dish…anyways, crunchy peanut butter worked really well as a topping. Before you judge it, give it a try, it’ll change your life.

  31. Everyone loved it. Made the dish exactly like it says except the fruit was a little frozen so I popped it in the oven for a few minutes. It was then was an option to add along with whip cream or powder sugar. Will definately make this again.

  32. OMG ! This was great, I tried it thinking I have had something like it before. I needed a dish to fill in for a brunch. Let me say it was the hit at the table. Thanks for this recipe. I will be using it often.

  33. Ive made a version of this before and it was called “French Toast Strata”. Stratas are more acceptable for breakfast/brunch than bread puddings. In my opinion, they are the one and same… although most stratas have cheese involved. However, the recipe I use does make use of cream cheese chunks in it so it gets even creamier when baked (and raisins added too)… I’ll dig up that recipe and pass it on to you guys… (I’m at work now, cleaning up after our Cinco de Mayo celebration at my school! Lol!)

  34. I made this for breakfast this morning and it was delicious! The topping really elevates this dish. I baked mine for 45 minutes and it was perfectly done.

  35. Prepped this last night and baked it up for work this morning — ended up having to cook it for more like 2 hours — not sure if it was the bread I used or what, but ultimately it came out GREAT. Was about an hour late for work, but it was worth it – YUM! Would DEFINITELY do it again.

  36. The French toast looks yummy I tried to print it but it won’t print, the same goes for the ivory soap in microwave it will not print out. Can you help me?

  37. Wow! I made the mistake of making this for company and wished I had made it on a day that I was the only one home so I didn’t have to share. I don’t think I’ll ever mess with regular French toast again!

  38. I made two of these for a brunch party yesterday and they were a huge hit. Everybody wanted the recipe. I whipped up a little more batter (about 4 eggs’ worth) the following morning and added it for extra creaminess. Before baking, I folded in goat cheese, raspberries, and blueberries. I will absolutely be making this again!

  39. I was looking for an Overnight French Toast Recipe that was not too sweet. I followed the directions exactly as given. It was done in 45 min. in my 20 yr. old electric oven. It was a beautiful golden brown and puffy like as souffle’ when I removed it from the oven. The crust was crispy and crunchy. Everyone loved it! I wouldn’t change a thing! I used day old French bread and left it out on the counter to dry out a bit. The vanilla extract in the recipe and the brown sugar topping sets it apart from the other recipes. Everyone loved it. It will be my go to recipe on Christmas morning.

  40. This recipe was amazing. I made it for Christmas morning and my family devoured it. Mine cooked for 60 min and the only thing I changed was adding about a 1/2 cop of chopped walnuts on the top before cooking. It was a nice touch. This will be a new Christmas tradition. It was a wonderful smell while opening gifts.

  41. Could this be made the night before, to be had for breakfast? Just wanted to check if this is supposed to be had warm or cold.

    1. It’s meant to be prepped the night before and baked in the morning. Are you asking if you can bake it the night before? I suppose you could and then reheat it. It’s meant to be eaten warm.

  42. Whoops!! ^^^^. Anyway, I make so many of your dishes and ever comment so I thought I would today! This is in the oven right now as we wait for general conference to start! I also made it a few months ago for my daughters baby blessing brunch and it was SO good! My husband is a total freak about textures and this turne out great. Super crunchy and cooked all the way through! Thank you so so so much for sharing all of these wonderful recipes with us! I’ve made so many and really truly loved them all. 🙂

  43. I just wanted to add that sour cream and mixed berries is a FABULOUS topping for this. Sounds kind of weird, but it’s so good!

  44. I wonder, can you leave this bread pudding in the fridge for more 30 hours? I made it today, but cannot use it for 48 hours. Will it be OK?

  45. GREAT recipe I have like adding toasted pecan to the recipe. Right now now i am trying the recipe with shredded baked sweet potato. I want to try it with blackberries baked in I assume I should dial back cinnamon in the mixture when I use berries.

    The only time the recipe did not come out great was the time I tried to use whole grain French bread , no bueno.

  46. We made this over the weekend and it was fantastic! It was sweet enough we didn’t even need syrup or powdered sugar. Next time I make it, I’m going to try adding apples. Thank you for a great recipe! It’s a keeper. 🙂

  47. This is my go to dish for everything special. Everyone absolutely loves it. I bring it to our precinct on voting days, it’s our Christmas breakfast staple (I make your pumpkin one for Thanksgiving!), it’s a baby shower must and what I make everytime we have guests from out of town. Thank you for this simple, amazing and impressive dish! The ONLY change I make is I use challah bread instead of French.

  48. I made this using Challah bread (toasted in the over for 10 mins at 350 before soaking) and it came out amazing. So easy and delicious. Not soggy at all.

  49. I found this recipe 7 years ago when we were going to our annual family beach trip and I needed ideas to feed 15 people for breakfast! This has become a family favorite and anytime that I make this recipe I have printed copies because I know people will ask for the recipe! Delicious!!

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