Topped with a simple cardamom maple syrup, this easy French Toast Bake recipe is perfect for breakfast and brunch. It features all your favorite French toast flavors in one convenient casserole. Instead of spending your morning flipping bread, you get to enjoy breakfast with your family.
A Baked French Toast Casserole
French toast is one of those dishes that always feels comforting to me. The intoxicating aroma of vanilla and cinnamon fill the kitchen and warms my soul as it mingles with the scent of coffee and sausage frying on the stove. It’s a breakfast I find myself making often, but also one that requires I remain at the stovetop until it’s done.
While sometimes it’s nice to eat in silence as everyone else runs off to play with full bellies, sometimes I want to put breakfast on the table and actually eat with my family. Now that I’ve converted my Vanilla French Toast into this easy baked French toast, I get to have the best of both worlds.
Often, oven baked French toast requires time overnight to chill but fortunately for those of us who decide to make things last minute, this cardamom French toast requires no chill time. Just combine the ingredients, transfer to a casserole dish, and bake. (Though for those of you who do like to plan ahead, you can easily turn this into an overnight French toast bake – details below!)
The addition of cardamom gives this French toast casserole a festive winter twist and while this is easy enough to whip up any time, it’s also special enough for a Christmas breakfast or brunch.
What You’ll Need
This easy French toast casserole is made with your standard French toast ingredients and a simple 4-ingredient cardamom maple syrup.
For the French Toast
- Brioche bread – Other types of bread can be used but brioche is THE gold standard for amazing French toast.
- Milk – Whole milk is best but 2% can be substituted.
- Vanilla extract
- Cardamom – Ground ginger or cinnamon can also be used.
- Baking soda
- Kosher Salt
For the Cardamom Maple Syrup Topping
- Salted Butter – If you are using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor.
- Maple syrup – Pure maple syrup gives the best flavor.
- Cardamom – Adds the warm spiced flavor.
- Orange zest – A touch of citrus pairs nicely with cardamom.
What the best bread to use for French toast?
Personally, I always try use brioche bread to make my French toast and French toast casserole. Brioche is an eggy, butter type of French bread that perfectly compliments the eggy custard that we soak the bread in prior to baking. In general, you want a dense bread that is sturdy and dense that will not turn mushy during baking.
DO NOT use basic sliced white bread. If you can’t find have brioche in the bread aisle, check the bakery section. Whole loaves of French bread and sourdough are good alternatives, and thick sliced Texas toast makes for pretty good French toast too.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- mixing bowls
- cutting board and bread knife
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2 quart casserole dish
- microwave safe dish or small saucepan
How to Make a French Toast Bake
Making an absolutely delicious breakfast has never been this easy. This baked French toast casserole requires just a few minutes of prep work. The hardest part is just waiting for it to finish baking!
- Prepare the bread mixture. Cut the brioche into bread slices, then into one inch bread cubes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to form a custard-like egg mixture. Stir in the bread, making sure to coat completely with the egg mixture. Transfer to the buttered baking dish.
- Make the cardamom maple syrup. Either in a microwave safe bowl or a small saucepan, heat the butter until just melted. Combine melted butter with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle in an even layer over the top of the casserole.
- Bake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown and the center is cooked through.
- Serve. Enjoy with your favorite toppings or fresh fruit.
Convert to an Overnight French Toast Bake
To reduce your workload in the morning even further, make this French toast bake in advance by converting it to an overnight French toast bake. Making it in advance is especially helpful for early mornings and holidays, like Mother’s Day or Christmas morning.
The main change you’ll need to make is using stale bread instead of a fresh loaf. Using day old bread, or letting fresh bread sit out uncovered for a couple hours, will dry it out enough that it will retain its structure after soaking overnight. Prepare the casserole as directed, assembling everything in the pan and drizzling the syrup on top. Instead of baking right away, cover with the lid of your casserole pan or use aluminum foil (single use plastic wrap is NOT necessary), then place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, allow the dish to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes while the oven heats. It’s important to let the pan to warm up before putting it in a hot oven, as a cold pan can warp, crack, or shatter if you move it directly from a cold fridge to a hot oven. Pick up where you left off in the directions, baking as instructed in the recipe.
Tips for Success
Every great recipe is helped along with great tips. Here are some to help you bake the perfect French toast casserole the first time and every time.
- Don’t let the top get charred. If the top is turning too dark but the center is not fully cooked, you can cover the dish with a piece of foil to prevent the top from burning.
- Double check that the center is done. To be sure the center is fully cooked, check with a probe style thermometer (aka a meat thermometer). It should read 160ºF when inserted into the center of the dish.
The easiest way to make this recipe your own is by changing up the supporting flavors. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions.
- Swap out the cardamom. If you don’t have any cardamom handy, you can substitute it with other warming spices. The closest flavor profile would be to use half cinnamon and half ginger, but you can use any combination of warming spices. If you want a premade blend, try it with pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice.
- Trade the citrus. The sweetness of orange really compliments the cardamom, but you can swap it out for lime and get really great results too. If you are trading the cardamom for other spices, you can swap the citrus to something that better compliments or use fancy seasonal varieties like blood oranges or cara cara oranges for a slightly different flavor.
Serve up this French toast bake with your favorite toppings! Classic toppings like powdered sugar and maple syrup are always a great option.
I personally like to add fruit like fresh berries, peaches or bananas to round out my breakfast without going overboard on the sweet stuff.
If you want to get fancy, make a second batch of the cardamom maple syrup to pour over at the table and serve it with some baked cinnamon apples.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
This French toast casserole is best when enjoyed immediately. If you do have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for 2 -3 days, in an airtight container or in the casserole dish covered with foil.
The best way to reheat leftover French toast bake is in the oven. To reheat the entire casserole, cover the top to avoid burning and bake at 350ºF until heated through. I reheat single serve portions in my air fryer oven at 350ºF on the bake setting.
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- 1 loaf brioche bread
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
Cardamom Maple Syrup
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- Cut brioche bread into 1/2" to 1" chunks. Preheat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle. Grease a 2 quart casserole pan with butter or cooking spray.
- In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cardamom, baking soda, and salt. Add in bread and gently stir to coat bread. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and set aside.
- Make the cardamom maple syrup. In a small saucepan or a microwave safe container, heat the butter until just melted. Stir in the maple syrup, cardamom, and orange zest. Drizzle the syrup over the french toast, coating as evenly as possible.
- Bake french toast uncovered at 350º for 40 - 50 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown and the center is cooked through. To double check, a probe thermometer should register 160ºF in the center of the dish.
- Serve with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, maple syrup, or whipped cream.
This French toast bake can be made as an overnight French toast. Prepare the casserole through step 3, with the exception of preheating the oven. Cover the dish with either a casserole lid or aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, allow the dish to sit at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes to warm up while the oven preheats. A refrigerator cold pan can be damaged going directly into a hot oven, glass can shatter and other materials can break or warp. Bake as instructed in the recipe.
If the top of the casserole is turning too dark and the center is fully cooked, cover with a piece of aluminum foil to shield the top from the heat element.
If you don't have cardamom on hand, you can substitute equal parts ground cinnamon and ground ginger, or use all ground cinnamon.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 262mgSodium: 666mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 16g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.
For the step by step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make French Toast Bake Story.