This Easy Overnight Challah French Toast Casserole is your ticket to a stress-free and impressive morning feast. Prepare it the night before and wake up to a dish that’s as delicious as it is easy. If you’re a fan of unique twists on French toast, you’ll also love our indulgent Brioche French Toast Casserole and playful takes like Captain Crunch and Cinnamon Toast Crunch French Toast. Get ready for breakfasts that are both mouth-watering and memorable!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy to Make: This Challah French Toast Casserole is a breeze to make—prep it the night before and bake it in the morning for a stress-free, delicious breakfast. And hey, if you’re in a rush and need to skip the overnight chill, it turns out just as delicious.
- Kids Love It: It’s like eating dessert for breakfast, so the kiddos will be happy.
- Looks Fancy: Although it’s easy to make, it looks like something from a fancy brunch place.
- Great for Leftovers: If you have any leftovers, they reheat well. Some say it’s even better the next day!
- Multi-Use: It’s not just for breakfast. Have it as a dessert or even a snack.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Unsalted Butter (Softened and Melted): The softened butter greases the pan, ensuring the casserole doesn’t stick. Melted butter adds richness to the bread and helps create a crispy topping.
- Brown Sugar: It sweetens the casserole and melts when baked, creating a deliciously sticky and caramel-like topping that contrasts nicely with the soft interior.
- Ground Cinnamon and Nutmeg: These spices add warmth and depth to the sweetness of the casserole. Cinnamon gives a spicy sweetness, while nutmeg offers a nutty and slightly sweet flavor.
- Kosher Salt: Helps balance out the sweetness and enhances the flavors.
- Challah Bread: This bread is rich and slightly sweet, with a fluffy texture that’s perfect for soaking up the egg and milk mixture without falling apart.
- Whole Milk: It creates a creamy custard base when mixed with eggs. Whole milk makes the dish rich and luscious without being overly heavy.
- Large Eggs: Eggs bind everything together and create a custard-like texture. They help set the casserole as it bakes, giving it a delicate firmness.
- Vanilla Extract: It adds a sweet, floral note that complements the custard and brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
How to make Challah French Toast Casserole
This easy-to-make Challah French Toast Casserole involves layering slices of buttered challah bread sprinkled with a brown sugar spice mixture, then pouring a milk and egg mixture over it before baking. The dish turns golden brown and slightly puffed in about 45 minutes, and you can even prepare it ahead of time for a stress-free, delicious breakfast.
STEP 1: First, take a 13×9-inch baking dish and coat it well with softened butter. Set aside.
STEP 2: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in bowl.
STEP 3: Evenly distribute 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar blend across the bottom of your buttered dish. Lay down 5-6 slices of bread (use the heels of the bread here) in a single layer. Cut slices in half to fit. Brush these slices with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, then sprinkle them with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar mixture.
STEP 4: Layer another 6 slices of bread over the first set, brush them with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the sugar mix.
STEP 6: Stack the last 6 bread slices on top and coat them with the remaining melted butter.
STEP 7: In a separate glass mixing bowl or bowl with a pour spout, whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla until combined.
STEP 8: Pour milk mixture over bread (the bread will not be fully submerged in the milk mixture). Refrigerate for up to 12 hours or bake right away. Prior to baking, sprinkle remaining heaping 3 tablespoons of sugar mixture on top of the bread.
STEP 9: Remove from refrigerator, Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 45 minutes until slightly puffed and golden brown and bubbling around edges.
Just before you dig in, give the casserole a good pour of maple syrup, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and serve with some fresh berries. This is how you do French toast!
Despite its “Overnight” label, I’ve often made this Challah French Toast Casserole the very same day, skipping the fridge time altogether. And you know what? It turns out just as amazing.
Serving and Presentation TIPS:
- Pre-Slice for Convenience: Pre-slice the casserole before serving. This makes it easy for guests to serve themselves.
- Garnish for the Eye: A sprinkle of powdered sugar just before serving adds a touch of elegance. Edible flowers, a sprig of mint, or even some fresh zest can elevate the presentation.
- Add Freshness: Accompany the casserole with a side of fresh berries or a citrus fruit salad to add a vibrant color contrast and a fresh taste to balance the sweetness.
- Syrup on the Side: Serve warm maple syrup on the side in a pourable container so guests can add as much or as little as they like.
- Whipped Cream: Offer a bowl of lightly whipped cream flavored with vanilla or cinnamon for an indulgent topping option.
- Nutty Crunch: A small bowl of chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts gives guests the option to add a bit of crunch.
- Interactive Toppings Bar: Set up a small toppings bar where guests can choose from various options like fruits, nuts, syrups, and whipped cream.
- Brioche: This is very similar to challah. It’s rich and slightly sweet. Brioche is made with lots of butter and eggs, giving it a rich, tender crumb and buttery flavor. Challah also contains eggs but usually has less butter or oil, making it less rich than brioche.
- Italian Bread: It’s less sweet and has a tighter crumb, so the texture might be a bit denser and less rich.
- Texas Toast: Thicker slices will absorb more custard, leading to a heartier casserole.
- 2% Milk: Less fat might make the casserole less creamy, but it will still work.
- Almond Milk: Adds a nutty flavor and is less rich, making the casserole a bit lighter.
- Oat Milk: It’s naturally sweet and creamy, which can add a nice flavor.
- Allspice: This is more pungent and less sweet than cinnamon, with a hint of clove flavor.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: Will give a blend of autumn spices that include cinnamon, adding a complexity to the flavor.
- Allspice: Similar to clove and cinnamon, this will change the flavor profile slightly.
- Cinnamon: It’s sweeter than nutmeg, so the spice flavor will be more pronounced.
- Skipping It: The dish will lack a bit of depth, but it won’t be greatly missed with other spices present.
- Almond Extract: It has a strong flavor, so use less. It will give a marzipan-like flavor.
- Bourbon: This will add a warm, rich flavor that’s especially good with the spices.
- Skipping It: You’ll lose some sweetness and depth of flavor, but the spices will still make it tasty.
- Table Salt: It’s more concentrated, so using less will prevent the casserole from becoming too salty. See the Note in the recipe card.
- Cool Before Storing: Make sure the casserole is completely cool before you put it in the fridge or freezer. This helps to prevent extra moisture, which can make it soggy.
- Refrigerator: Store the casserole in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It can last up to 2-3 days in the fridge.
- Freezer: Prepare the recipe through step 8 (see recipe card) and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue with step 9 (see recipe card). You can freeze the prepared casserole with the brown sugar topping or add it on right before baking, but remember that fresh brown sugar topping always gives the dish a little more texture.
- How to freeze leftovers: You can freeze leftover baked and cooled casserole for up to 3 months. Store the casserole in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic or aluminum foil.
- Individual Portions: If you prefer, you can also cut the casserole into individual portions before storing. This makes it easier to reheat only what you need.
- Label and Date: Always label and date your stored food. This way, you don’t have to guess when it was made or how long it’s been in the freezer.
- From the Fridge: Remove any wrapping and reheat, covered in foil in a preheated 300°F oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
- From the Freezer: Thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat as you would from the fridge. Or, reheat directly from frozen, covered with foil, in a 300°F oven for about 20-30 minutes.
FAQ’s about Challah French Toast Casserole
Wrong Bread Type: Some breads soak up the liquid too quickly, making them mushy. Challah is usually a good choice because it’s dense, but if it’s super fresh, it may also soak up too much liquid.
Insufficient Baking Time: If the casserole hasn’t baked long enough, the liquid won’t have time to set, resulting in a soggy bottom layer.
Too Dense: If you pack the bread slices too tightly into the baking dish, the liquid may not distribute evenly, causing sogginess.
Not Enough Resting Time: Letting the casserole sit before or after baking can help the bread absorb the liquid more evenly and improve texture.
Both are excellent options, and the best one for you really depends on your personal preferences for flavor and texture. Brioche is made with lots of butter and eggs, giving it a rich, tender crumb and buttery flavor. Challah also contains eggs but usually has less butter or oil, making it less rich than brioche.
Challah stands out from your typical white sandwich bread, French bread, or baguette because it’s an enriched bread. It gets its rich texture from added oil and eggs. Its tender and versatile nature makes it a popular choice for various recipes, from traditional ceremonies to modern dishes like French toast casserole.
What to serve with easy Overnight Challah French Toast Casserole
Planning a memorable breakfast or brunch? This dish fits right in with any special occasion—be it Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother’s or Father’s Day, New Year’s, or just a leisurely Sunday morning. Here’s what goes great with it:
- Add this crustless ham and cheese quiche with leeks, to the menu for something savory.
- Basic scrambled eggs or omelets also make good companions.
- Freshen things up with a colorful fruit salad.
- Classic breakfast meats like bacon, sausage, or ham are always a hit.
- A make-ahead cheesy breakfast potato casserole can also pair well.
- And if you’re leaning towards brunch, a strawberry salad could be a delightful addition.
Let me know if you try this easy Overnight Challah French Toast Casserole recipe! Leave a comment, and if your family loves it as much as mine, give it a five-star ⭐️ rating. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive more delicious recipes.
Easy Overnight Challah French Toast Casserole
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup packed (165 grams) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1 1-lb Challah bread loaf sliced into 18 1-inch slices and then cut in half.
- 6 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup for serving.
- Generously butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish (or any 3.5–4-quart) or spray with nonstick spray.
- Whisk brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of brown sugar mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Place 6 bread slices (use bread heels here) in an even layer in bottom of dish. You may need to slice the bread into smaller pieces to create an even layer of bread. Brush bread with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar mixture.
- Place 6 bread slices in single layer over first layer, brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar mixture.
- Place remaining 6 bread slices over previous layer and brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla together until well combined.
- Pour milk mixture over bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the top of the bread with the remaining heaping 3 tablespoons of brown sugar mixture.
- Bake until the custard is set, puffed up, and reaches an internal temperature in the center of 175 to 190ºF (79 to 88ºC), about 45 to 50 minutes. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover the top with foil after about 45 minutes of baking.
- Transfer the casserole to a wire rack and let it cool for 15 minutes. Casserole deflates slightly as it cools.
- Serve warm with powdered sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup, and fresh berries if desired.