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Brioche French Toast Casserole reinvents traditional breakfast flavors with a touch of elegance. Imagine waking up to the aroma of a soft, custardy fusion of French toast and bread pudding baked to golden perfection. This recipe takes a familiar comfort food and turns it into a lavish casserole that’s not just delicious but also easy to prepare. With just 15 minutes of prep and a rest in the refrigerator (ideally overnight), it’s perfect for leisurely weekend mornings, holiday breakfasts, or a special brunch treat, impressing with minimal effort.
The star of the dish is the brioche bread, soaking up a rich custard, infused with vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of maple syrup. As it bakes, the center becomes soft and creamy, while the top layer of cinnamon sugar turns into a crispy, golden crust. Preparing this dish in advance means you’ll have less to do in the morning, giving you more time to enjoy your coffee and company. It’s adaptable too – top it with fresh berries, whipped cream, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar to cater to everyone’s tastes at the table.
Table of Contents
Brioche French Toast Casserole Ingredients
For the Casserole:
- Butter: Either salted or unsalted butter work well for greasing the dish. It should be at room temperature for easy spreading.
- Brioche Bread: Day-old brioche is perfect as it soaks up the custard well without becoming overly soggy.
- Milk: Use fresh whole milk for a richer custard base.
- Half and Half: This adds a luxurious creaminess to the dish.
- Eggs: Fresh, large eggs are ideal.
- Maple Syrup: Choose real maple syrup for its natural sweetness and depth of flavor.
- Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation versions for the best flavor.
- Ground Cinnamon: Choose cinnamon with a strong, sweet aroma for a fresh and potent flavor.
- Fine Sea Salt: A pinch enhances and balances the sweet flavors of the other ingredients.
For the Topping:
- Granulated Sugar: This will caramelize on top, creating an irresistible crust.
- Ground Cinnamon: Adds a second layer of warm spice in the topping, complementing the cinnamon in the casserole.
- Butter: Melted butter drizzled over the top before baking helps the sugar and cinnamon caramelize for a rich, golden finish.
- Bread Alternatives: Buttery brioche bread is the namesake of this recipe, but challah or thick-sliced, sturdy white bread would also work well for a different texture.
- Sweetener Swaps: Replace maple syrup with honey or agave syrup for a different kind of sweetness.
- Flavorful Extracts: Experiment with almond or rum extract instead of vanilla for a distinctive twist.
- Fruit Infusion: Add a layer of sliced bananas or apples between the brioche pieces for a fruity touch.
- Extra Indulgence: Mix in chocolate chips, nuts like chopped walnuts or pecans or dried fruit like raisins to enhance sweetness and texture.
- Decadent Toppings: Top with toasted coconut flakes or a drizzle of caramel sauce for an unexpected finish.
5 Recipe Tips
- Evenly Soak the Bread: Pour the custard mixture evenly over the brioche pieces to avoid dry spots. Gently press down with a spatula to soak every piece.
- Avoid Overcrowding the Dish: Arrange the brioche pieces loosely in the baking dish. Overcrowding can lead to uneven baking and a soggy texture.
- Let It Rest: After assembling, let the casserole rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, ideally, overnight. This step is crucial for the bread to fully absorb the egg-milk blend.
- Check for Doneness Correctly: The casserole is done when it is puffed up, golden brown, and set in the middle. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
- Serve Immediately: For the best texture, serve the casserole warm from the oven. As it sits, the texture can become more dense.
How to Store and Reheat
To store leftover casserole, let it cool to room temperature then cover tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the covered casserole in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until heated through. Or freeze leftovers in a tightly covered, freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven as directed.
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How to Make Brioche French Toast Casserole
Cut brioche slices into approximately 1 ½-inch squares and arrange them in an even layer in a greased baking dish. Whisk together milk, half and half, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large pitcher or bowl. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread cubes, pressing down to ensure all pieces are soaked. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate, allowing the bread to fully absorb the custard, ideally overnight.
Before baking, let the casserole stand at room temperature for ~30 minutes. Then, melt butter and combine sugar with cinnamon in separate bowls. Preheat the oven, drizzle melted butter over the casserole, and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Bake until the casserole is puffed up, golden brown, and set in the center. Let it stand for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then serve hot with your choice of toppings.
Brioche French Toast Casserole
For the Casserole:
- butter for greasing baking dish, plus more for drizzling over casserole
- 1 pound loaf brioche bread day old and cut into 1-inch thick slices, (see recipe note #1)
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups half and half
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or more to taste
- pinch fine sea salt
For the Topping:
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter
- maple syrup
- lightly sweetened whipped cream
- fresh blueberries or raspberries
- chopped pecans or walnuts
- powdered sugar
- dried cranberries or dried cherries
- Butter a 13" x 9" inch baking dish.
- Stack brioche slices and cut into ~1 1/2-inch squares; spread in an even layer in prepared baking dish.
- In a large measuring pitcher (or bowl – a pitcher makes it easy to pour), whisk together milk, half and half, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
- Pour milk mixture evenly over bread and press bread down to help absorb custard (no dry pieces of bread should remain). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight to allow custard to completely saturate bread. If refrigerated overnight, remove from refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes before baking.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 °F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Drizzle melted butter evenly over casserole and sprinkle all over with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Bake 35-40 minutes until puffed, golden brown and set in the center. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Serve hot with desired toppings.
- Nutrition information does not include optional toppings.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.