Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

There is perhaps no better occasion for an off-the-charts, blowout breakfast feast than Christmas morning. You’ve spent weeks decorating, making lists, buying gifts and wrapping. And in a flash, much like the letdown after waiting an hour in line to ride a 2-minute roller coaster, it’s over. The gifts have been opened and there is wrapping paper strewn about all over the floor. How fabulous to then meander into the kitchen and be able to sit down to a decadent, celebratory breakfast that took almost zero time in the morning? Ahh, the beauty of the make-ahead breakfast casserole. Today and tomorrow are dedicated to making your Christmas morning meal extra-special this year!

This French toast casserole is the epitome of indulgent, and I absolutely love it. Embrace it – Christmas only comes once a year!

You can assemble the casserole the day before, and the next morning all you need to do is top it with the praline topping (which takes less than 10 minutes to make) and then pop it into the oven. If you get your timing right, you can get it into the oven and then by the time you’re done opening presents, it will be ready and you can sit down to a beautiful, hot breakfast.

Do you have any Christmas breakfast traditions at your house?

One year ago: Mini Cheesecake Cookies
Four years ago: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash of salt

For the Praline Topping:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Generously butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.

2. Slice the French bread into 20 one-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in the baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour the mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Make the Praline Topping: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well, using a pastry blended or your fingertips.

6. Spread the praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

(Recipe adapted from Paula Deen)

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66 Responses to “Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping”

  1. Katrina on December 22, 2011 at 12:07 am

    This is delicious looking! I am in love with french toast, so any excuse to change it up brightens my day!!…for realz.

    Reply

  2. Ryan on December 22, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Oh my goodness, this looks incredible. I may eat the whole pan if I make this. And I think I’m okay with that :P SO delicious looking!

    Reply

  3. Melanie on December 22, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Oooo! Christmas morning here we come!

    Reply

    • Melanie on December 23rd, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      I have to add that I found your post for breakfast sausage, egg & cheese casserole today. Looks like I am making two prepare ahead yummies for Christmas this year!

      Thanks for all your hard work!

      Reply

  4. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen on December 22, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Yummmm. I love French Toast casserole. I made one last weekend, but just with a crumb topping. I wish I’d had the recipe for the praline topping then! It looks awesome!

    Reply

  5. CouponClippingCook on December 22, 2011 at 2:28 am

    This sounds sooo good….a great way to start off the day. Would for sure need to have seconds.

    Reply

  6. Choc Chip Uru on December 22, 2011 at 3:13 am

    This sweet casserole is making me drool – I want this on christmas, eve, morn and on new years too!

    Reply

  7. Krissy @ Krissy's Creations on December 22, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I have been SO wanting to make a baked french toast! This recipe looks like the perfect start :)

    Reply

  8. Blog is the New Black on December 22, 2011 at 5:04 am

    I made this recently and it’s one of the BEST things ever. EVER! :)

    Reply

  9. linda on December 22, 2011 at 6:41 am

    this sounds delish! cannot wait to try!
    have a great day!!!

    Reply

  10. Lori on December 22, 2011 at 7:36 am

    My great-grandfather owned a bakery and it would not be Christmas without his stollen. It’s not really Christmas for me until they come out of the oven!

    Reply

  11. Penny Wolf on December 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Holy Cow! For me that praline topping is the keeper and the fact that you bake it.
    I may switch the half and half out with the eggnog. Thank you for sharing this find.

    Our tradition for Christmas breakfast is walnut cinnamon rolls and grapefruits.
    As we age, the grapefruit has been replaced with an egg breakfast casserole due to (Lipitor) drug interactions.

    Reply

  12. Mallory @forkvsspoon on December 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This is exactly what Christmas morning should taste like!

    Reply

  13. Paula on December 22, 2011 at 8:45 am

    This is beautiful and would certainly give me that boost of energy to get through Christmas Day!

    Reply

  14. leslie on December 22, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Mmmm. I make this every year for Christmas morning! So easy!

    Reply

  15. Mal @ The Chic Geek on December 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I love baked french toast, it’s so nice for when you have company you don’t have to stand at the stove the whole time. This recipe looks so wonderful!

    Reply

  16. Amber, RD on December 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Ooohhh, that looks good! One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a kid was making waffles dying the batter red and green. We had a waffle iron, but for some reason Christmas morning was about the only time we used it.

    Reply

  17. Monika on December 22, 2011 at 9:59 am

    My husband’s aunt made something very similar to this for Easter and it was soooo good. I just emailed her to ask if she will be making it for Christmas Brunch also!

    Reply

  18. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

    This sounds so amazing! I wish I had a slice right now! How do you do it? How do you make all of these wonderful goodies and not get as big as a house? I have such a hard time! I lick the batter, eat the dough, eat the baked good, scoop up some chips, I can’t stop! I’d eat my computer if I knew I could get one taste of your baked french toast! Do you eat everything you make?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 26th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I do eat some of everything I make, but not every last bite. I do a lot of sharing with family, my boyfriend, many times my mom will ask to take things to work for her coworkers, etc. Some things I will freeze for easy desserts later. I basically have an “everything in moderation” approach to eating, and don’t really overdo it on any one thing.

      Reply

  19. Viviane Bauquet Farre on December 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Delicious! The bread looks so puffy and pleasant. This would make for a wonderful breakfast with some genuine maple syrup.

    Reply

  20. Aimee Carter on December 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I always make an apple french toast casserole and a shrimp and grits casserole for Christmas morning. You have inspired me to change up my french toast casserole. Thanks!

    If you want to make the shrimp and grits, this is the recipe I use, but this has far too much salt for me. I use the sodium free chicken broth instead. Also, if you like heat skip all the salt and pepper altogether and use the same portions of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning or drop in a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce. It’s so good. Double the recipe, everyone will eat seconds or thirds. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cheesy-shrimp-and-grits-casserole-10000000522445/

    Reply

  21. Lacy on December 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

    OMG this looks SO good!! We have some sort of french toast every yr for Christmas breakfast, must just have to try this one out this yr. Yum!

    Reply

  22. MOMables on December 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

    We usually do some simple, classic monkey bread for Christmas morning, but I’m sensing a change in holiday tradition this year! YUM!

    Reply

  23. Ally on December 22, 2011 at 11:48 am

    As always… beautiful job, Michelle!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com

    Reply

  24. Angela on December 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Oh my goodness! This looks divine! I might have to add this to our Traditions list! :)

    Reply

  25. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on December 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    ahhhh I LOVE french toast! This looks amazing!

    Reply

  26. Steph@stephsbitebybite on December 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Bookmarking this right now! I am so making this for Christmas morning! Sounds so delicious!!

    Reply

  27. Jen at The Three Little Piglets on December 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    We are serious munchers in my house – seems we never really do the same thing twice, but you can bet there will always be some scones floating around!

    Reply

  28. Angela W. on December 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    We have Orange Rolls on Christmas morning. When I was a kid they came out of a can, then I discovered Rhodes made them, now I make my own. But this casserole sounds good for New Year’s Day morning!!

    Reply

  29. Abigail Griffin on December 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    This sounds great! I usually make egg nog french toast for xmas morning breakfast, but a make ahead casserole sounds like a wonderful idea! I think I’ll try this and use egg nog instead of half and half to see if it mixes the best of our usual tradition with your amazing recipe. Thanks!

    Reply

  30. The Doll Baker on December 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I make this for Christmas morning every year. Try it with Challah Bread- it’s really good! ♥

    Reply

  31. Allyssa @ First Sweet Taste on December 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Yum! We normally have cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning, but I might have to make this instead!

    Reply

  32. Cathy on December 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I have made this French Toast recipe twice.
    Both times everyone absolutely loved it – while it is very rich, it is a great choice for a special breakfast/brunch. That it can be made the night before is also a real positive.

    Reply

  33. Emily (The Culinary Couple) on December 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I’ve made this recipe several times, and I LOVE it! Though on Christmas morning, my mom always makes an egg and cheese casserole with apple muffins.

    Reply

  34. Ann on December 23, 2011 at 1:19 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! Our breakfast tradition at our house is Eggs Benedict! It’s our favorite – and it’s a lovely thing to have when we wake up….then nothing until dinner!

    Reply

  35. KiriW. on December 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Oh my, anything with a praline topping is devoured by me in seconds! Looks fantastic!

    Reply

  36. katsbynp on December 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    This looks absolutely amazing..will definitely try on Christmas morning!!!

    Reply

  37. Jane Cato on December 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Getting ready to make this right now for Christmas Eve morning. Thank you for the inspiration, encouragement, and information!

    Reply

  38. Newlywed Foodie on December 24, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Planning to serve this as our Christmas morning dish! :) My husband can’t wait to eat it! Thanks for the idea!

    Reply

  39. Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything} on December 24, 2011 at 8:20 am

    i love french toast casserole and it’s a must around Christmas in our house. Yours looks amazing!
    Merry Christmas!

    Reply

  40. Gary on December 26, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Put this in the oven when present opening was well underway Christmas morning. A REALLY BIG HIT and the perfect way to not miss any of the fun. I’m to the point where I’m in need of a food blog intervention, but yours is a very consistent source of great ideas. Thanks.

    Reply

  41. Skyler on December 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I made this same recipe that I found from Paula Deen but instead of the half & half I used eggnog & it was absolutely amazing & everybody loved it!

    Reply

  42. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie on December 28, 2011 at 10:47 am

    My stomach just demanded this, but the thought of getting out of my sweatpants and going outside into the cold to the grocery store is not appealing. But this casserole oh how it is very much so appealing!

    Reply

  43. Anna on December 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    This looks so much better than stand-over-the-frying-pan French Toast…I think I’ll be trying this for New Years brunch!

    Reply

  44. Tammy on December 30, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I made this recipe for Christmas this year, and my family LOVED it! They’ll ask for it again, I’m sure!!

    Reply

  45. Jenn on December 31, 2011 at 5:09 am

    this is an awesome recipe. i’m so gonna try it! btw, what can i use as a substitute for half and half and corn syrup? (if there’re any)

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 3rd, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Jenn, For the half & half you can substitute half whole milk and half cream. For the corn syrup I think you could probably eliminate it and still be okay.

      Reply

  46. Rachel on December 31, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I made this for Christmas eve brunch for my family- it was sooooo amazingly good! Even some of our pickier family members were raving about it. I unfortunately used a baking dish that was just a tad to short and some of the liquid bubbled over…. which made for a smokey Christmas eve mess, but really is it Christmas without a smokey kitchen? :) Thank you so much for sharing this one and if anyone is considering making this – be smarter than me and use the proper pan. :)

    Reply

  47. Rachel on December 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Ps: Because my husband is danish he insisted that we serve it with fresh whipped cream – which beyond the unnecessary calories was AMAZING! :)

    Reply

  48. Carin on January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Do you think this recipe would work with egg bread instead? It’s all I have in my kitchen right now.

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 3rd, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Yes, absolutely!

      Reply

  49. Soni on January 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Oh I love French Toasts and this just takes it to another level altogether!Bookmarked!

    Reply

  50. Ellen on February 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Hello! I was wondering, Does the amount of time this soaks over night need to be a certain amount? I wont be able to make this until late at night, after 11pm, to be prepared for early the next day (6-7am). Should I prepare it earlier in the afternoon or will it even matter? This recipe is great I can’t wait to try it! thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 12th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Ellen, You will be just fine preparing it at 11pm and baking it up early the next morning. I think about 5-6 hours is a good minimum soak time.

      Reply

  51. Stephanie on February 12, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Hi Michelle! Instead of half and half, do you think I could use buttermilk? That’s all I have in my fridge right now… Unless I use a French vanilla creamer! Haha! Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 12th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Hi Stephanie, I definitely would not use buttermilk here. It will really alter the flavor of the dish (buttermilk has so much tang), and it has a much, much thicker consistency than half-and-half.

      Reply

  52. Kristen on May 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    OMG! You are a goddess!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe!!! I went away with 5 girlfriends that I’ve known since junior high….we are now in our mid-40′s, so that’s a long time ago! Anyway, I signed up to be in charge of breakfast… I made this casserole and a savory one, so all flavor bases were covered. This was such a hit! We had enough of both casseroles for breakfast the 2nd morning….and everyone was very excited about that. I passed the recipe along and can’t wait for the next time to make it!!!

    P.S. I did feel a bit like Paula Deen with the butter though, but it was SO worth it!!!

    Reply

  53. Navar on December 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I made this for a ladies brunch last weekend and served it with Poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice). They were both a big hit! Thanks for the great rec. I agree the butter was a bit much. I had a pool of butter on the top of mine– I think you might easily cut 1/4 to 1/2 the butter in the topping.

    Reply

  54. Kelly on January 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I made this for our Christmas morning breakfast and it came out great. My husband and our 3 year old really enjoyed it. It’s very sweet! I love sweet things but for some reason, after we added the syrup it was a bit much for me so early in the morning. lol I will most likely make this one again for another special occasion or holiday. I may consider leaving out the praline topping on half of the bake and see if I enjoy it more that way.. I figure it’s worth a shot.

    Reply

  55. Rob Long on May 22, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Hi Michelle, this sounds awesome! Unfortunately my wife has an aversion to soggy bread! Does it bake long enough to dry the bread, or does it still come out a bit soppy?

    Thanks a bunch for all the great food ideas :-)

    Rob

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Hi Rob, This isn’t soggy, but the bread doesn’t dry out. It has the consistency of custard.

      Reply

  56. Barb F on April 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Really good!!! Made for brunch today and the pan was cleaned and guests were caught scraping the sides and bottom for more. I used Challah bread that was slightly dry and I think it held together well. Also used ground pecans so it was like a paste I spread on the top. Very successful recipe.

    Reply

  57. Julie on April 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Is there anything you can replace the nuts with? I’m serving this to an allergy aware crowd and I don’t want to seem insensitive.

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 29th, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Hi Julie, I would just omit them, unless you want to use something liked dried fruit.

      Reply

  58. Natalie on June 22, 2014 at 11:37 am

    As I was about to finish typing this into my iPad recipe app I realized it was the same one as Paula Deene and then it was mentioned at the bottom of recipe. I have made this previously with no problem cutting the eggs to 5 or 6 and the butter in half in the ingredients…just wanted you all to know that…

    Reply

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