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This overnight French toast casserole recipe is the ultimate hands-off entertaining brunch dish. Set it up the night before Christmas, Mother’s Day, or anytime you have guests coming over and all you’ll have to do in the morning is brush it with butter and bake.

This version is all about creating a rich, custard-y, bread pudding experience balanced by textural pops of crunchy demerara sugar. To get there, we recommend using challah, brioche, or Pullman over more crusty French bread or sourdough bread. Cutting the loaf into wide slices (instead of tearing it into 1-inch cubes) and toasting them on a baking pan until golden and crispy first helps ensure the final baked french toast casserole won’t completely fall apart. For the custard, we went with cinnamon, cardamom, and orange zest for warmth and brightness, but if you prefer your egg mixture with vanilla extract and cinnamon for more cinnamon roll vibes that also works here. To make sure the bread has time to absorb the egg and milk mixture, cover the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least two hours. (If you’re short on time, this classic French toast recipe comes together quickly.)

As the French toast bakes, set out tangy crème fraîche and maple syrup to serve alongside—though powdered sugar or toasted pecans would also go nicely. If you’re hosting a large party, try adding another breakfast casserole (like this cheesy egg bake with sausage) to the menu, or go with any of these crowd-pleasing breakfast recipes instead.


6 servings


1-lb. challah, brioche, or Pullman loaf, sliced 1″ thick


Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan


large eggs

cups heavy cream

cups whole milk

cup (packed) light brown sugar

tsp. ground cinnamon


tsp. ground cardamom


tsp. kosher salt


tsp. finely grated orange zest (optional)


Tbsp. demerara sugar


cup crème fraîche

Maple syrup (for serving)