Sugar-Crusted French Toast Casserole

Recently, a co-worker hosted a chili cook-off benefit lunch to raise money for his nephew. His nephew has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and is facing a total of at least 16 rounds of chemotherapy. The money raised would assist the family with paying for deductibles and travel costs, which will accumulate fast. I’m happy to say there was a great outpouring of support and a large sum of money was raised to help this young man and his family with their tough road ahead.

Sugar-Crusted French Toast CasseroleAfter the lunch, we were left with a gallon-sized bag of sliced French bread that had gone uneaten. Not wanting to waste it, I started brainstorming. And came to French Toast Casserole. I love the idea of French toast. It’s an elite form of weekend breakfast, served only at special occasions or eaten when dining out. I’m not sure why it’s enjoyed so infrequently–it could be that it’s not exactly health food–but it makes the day seem so much fancier if French toast is on your plate. The down side is that someone has to stand at the griddle frying up slice after slice of that goodness, missing out on ambiance of the occasion. She gets to eat eventually, sure, but she’s usually last, when everyone else has already moved on to something else. It’s a lonely kind of job. Which is where French Toast Casserole comes in.

Sugar-Crusted French Toast Casserole

look at that sugar crust!

French Toast Casserole is really a glorified bread pudding. Soak your bread slices in custard overnight, add a topping, and bake in the morning. It frees you up to enjoy the whole meal with your friends and family and lets you pretend that dessert is breakfast. Works for me! So the morning after the benefit lunch, I brought in a dish of this Sugar-Crusted French Toast Casserole. Because I’m so proud of my co-workers and how wonderfully supportive they are of each other. You can’t ask for a better bunch! Whip this up and serve it to someone special to you. They’ll love it!
Sugar-Crusted French Toast Casserole

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sugar-Crusted French Toast Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 8
  • 1-pound loaf French bread
  • 6 large cage-free eggs
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (Grade B preferred, as it’s more flavorful)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Grease a 9″x13″ baking dish and set aside.
  2. Slice French bread into 1-inch thick slices and arrange in prepared dish.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add the milk, cream, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and whisk for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until frothy.
  5. Pour over the bread slices, coating evenly. There will be a lot extra in the bottom of the dish; this is okay, as it will get absorbed. (I actually took each slice and dipped both sides in the extra before setting them upright again, just to be sure they were well-coated.)
  6. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
  7. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out the dish, uncover, and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Set aside.
  8. In a 3-quart heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat.
  9. Stir in the brown sugar and maple syrup and gently boil until the sugar is (mostly) melted. This will not be a smooth caramel sauce, but that’s okay; you want crystallization when it bakes anyway for that crunchy crust.
  10. Remove from heat and add the vanilla–it will bubble up. Be careful!
  11. Stir in the vanilla, then pour over the prepared bread evenly.
  12. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes.
  13. Serve immediately. No additional syrup necessary.
Recipe Updated 12/18/2014 to adjust proportions of caramel sauce ingredients. Note that sliced brioche substitutes well for the French bread.

If you would like to help out in the fundraising efforts for this young man, there is a GoFundMe page set up to collect donations. Hodgkin Lymphoma, while a very curable form of cancer, still ravages the body. This family will need all the help they can get.

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  1. Oh My! This looks beyond decadent! What the heck, I would throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream on this, throw caution to the wind and enjoy!

    1. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?!

  2. This looks over-the-top delish!! I loved the story behind the recipe, too!

    1. Thank you! I’m so very lucky to work with such a great bunch. What can I say?

  3. I love your description of the lonely chef eating their french toast after everyone else has moved on, lol. That is so true! I’m for sure going to try this casserole the next time I want some french toast (and it’s pretty frequent).

    1. Isn’t that always the way though? Poor mom is left to eat by herself once the prep is all done. I’d rather join in the festivities!

  4. Oh how awesome you guys were able to raise lots of money for the family. I’ve yet to make a french toast casserole. Pinning this because I can see this being a great weekend treat once our little one arrives!

    1. Absolutely! You want quick and easy, and this checks both boxes!

  5. Awesome that the fundraiser was successful. My dad had Hodgkin’s when he was young, but he is well now. Aw yiss, French Toast is the best. I have made bread pudding, but not GLORIFIED bread pudding, haha.

    1. It’s a tough battle, but I’m glad to hear your father fully recovered and is well now! If you’re going to make bread pudding, why not go over the top with it? 🙂

  6. OMG this looks unbelievable! I am so glad I found your blog. Really amazing casserole.

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