Baked Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
A French toast bake is always easier than dipping and cooking individual slices of French toast. Not only is this casserole easier, it’s quite the treat! Today’s baked cream cheese french toast casserole is stuffed with sweet cream cheese and topped with a brown sugar crumble topping. It’s a wonderful recipe for a brunch or breakfast gathering because you can prep the casserole the night before.
The 1st review was from baker Kristen, who says “This. was. phenomenal. I made it for Christmas breakfast, and it was perfect! Multiple people asked me for the recipe! Thanks for sharing!”
Today’s cream cheese French toast casserole is one of my favorite all-in-one, always crowd-pleasing, homerun breakfast recipes. You don’t need an excuse to make it– the dish tastes just as lovely on an ordinary Saturday morning as it does for Christmas brunch. If you’re not into cream cheese, simply leave it out. You could skip the crumb topping, too. Some readers even layer in 1 cup of fresh blueberries for a blueberries & cream version.
As long as you stick with the bread & egg/milk layers, it’ll be a hit.
This Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole Is:
- Totally decadent and indulgent
- Stuffed with sweet cream cheese
- Topped with a crumb cake-like streusel
- Perfect for anyone who loves lots of texture and flavor in each bite
- A delicious Christmas/holiday/special breakfast recipe
- Easy to prepare and feeds a crowd
- A convenient make-ahead brunch option
Three Layers to Love
This isn’t your ordinary bland & soggy breakfast casserole. Rather, there are three glorious texture-packed layers:
- French Toast Bread: Pour a fabulously rich custard sauce made from eggs, whole milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon over thick pieces of bread. Use whole milk for the richest taste and texture. The bread soaks this up, especially if the bread is stale (see next section). The soaking time is longer than it is when making regular individual french toast, so everything gets fabulously flavorful.
- Cream Cheese: To make this casserole extra special, add cream cheese. Combine cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract to make a sweet filling. Make sure you use block style cream cheese– the kind sold in individually wrapped bricks. We’ll layer spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture with the bread to create cream cheese stuffed french toast. It doesn’t get much better for breakfast!
- Crumb Topping: Immediately prior to baking, sprinkle the casserole with a brown sugar cinnamon crumb topping made from brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and cold butter. While optional, I don’t recommend leaving it out because it adds a crisp-crumbly texture.
Success Tips for French Toast Casserole
These success tips also apply to pumpkin French toast casserole, a delicious seasonal twist on today’s recipe.
- Quality Bread. Bread is the main ingredient in any baked french toast casserole, so don’t skimp here. Flimsy sliced bread won’t do you any favors and the casserole usually ends up tasting flat and soggy. Rather, go for a fancy beauty like challah bread. French toast made with challah bread tastes 4873% better than french toast made with any other bread. (I did the math.)
- Stale Bread. When you have the quality bread you need, let it sit out for a few hours to get a little stale. Like whole wheat stuffing or everything bagel breakfast casserole, french toast casserole is best when the bread is somewhat stale.
- Overnight is Best. Assemble the bread/cream cheese/custard layers and then before baking it, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. This time gives the crusty bread a chance to soak up the cinnamon-spiced egg custard. You can leave the prepared french toast casserole in the refrigerator anywhere from 3-4 hours to 24 hours. I find the longer the bread soaks, the tastier the casserole. So, go to sleep. It will be amazing.
In Pictures: How to Make Baked Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
The full printable recipe is below, but let me walk you through the process so you know what to expect when it’s your turn in the kitchen.
As pictured above, spread half of your stale bread cubes into a greased 9×13 inch or any 3-4 quart baking dish. Make the cream cheese filling and drop random spoonfuls on the bread layer:
Layer the remaining bread cubes on top of cream cheese. Make the egg custard mixture. For this you need eggs, whole milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. (Note that cinnamon floats to the top, so that’s why it looks like a lot of cinnamon!)
Pour this over the bread. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the casserole for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Make the crumb topping and sprinkle over the casserole before baking.
Right before serving, drizzle the entire casserole with maple syrup or try a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. This is french toast done right! It’s like French toast, crumb cake, and cheesecake combined. Yes!!
What to Serve with Baked Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
The following suggestions can complete your brunch or breakfast meal, especially if you’re making this dish for Thanksgiving, Easter, mother’s day, father’s day, New Years Day, or any special morning.
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This baked cream cheese french toast casserole is stuffed with sweet cream cheese and topped with a brown sugar crumble topping. It’s a wonderful recipe for a brunch or breakfast gathering because you can prep the casserole the night before.
- 1 (12-14 ounce) loaf french bread, sourdough bread, or challah*
- 8 ounces (224g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
- 2 Tablespoons (15g) confectioners’ sugar (do not leave out)
- 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract, divided
- 8 large eggs
- 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup (133g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (69g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (41g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons (86g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- optional: maple syrup and/or confectioners’ sugar for topping
- Grease a 9×13 inch or any 3-4 quart oven-safe dish with nonstick spray. Slice then cut the bread into cubes, about 1 inch in size. Spread half of the cubes into the prepared baking pan.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the room temperature cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract until combined. Drop random spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on top of the bread. Layer the remaining bread cubes on top of cream cheese. (I like to make sure some cream cheese is still exposed on top just for looks.) Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and remaining vanilla together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and up to 24 hours. Overnight is best.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Remove pan from the refrigerator.
- Prepare the crumb topping: Whisk the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the soaked bread.
- Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top. I usually bake it for 45 minutes because I like it softer. Drizzle with optional maple syrup or dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm.
- Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prep the dish through step 3 up to 24 hours in advance. (See step 3.) You can also prepare the crumb topping 1-2 days in advance, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator. Sprinkle over the soaked bread immediately before baking. To freeze, prepare the recipe through step 3 and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue with step 4. You can freeze the prepared casserole with the crumb topping or add it on right before baking, but keep in mind that fresh crumb topping always gives the dish a little more texture. You can also freeze the leftover baked and cooled casserole for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, and then reheat to your liking in the microwave or cover and bake in a 300°F (149°C) until warm throughout, at least 20 minutes.
- Bread: Day-old, crusty bread is perfect for french toast casseroles. Slice and cut it into 1-inch cubes and let it sit out uncovered all day. You’ll have about 12 cups of cubed bread– a little more or less is fine.
- Cream Cheese: Since the cream cheese is only mixed with a little sugar and vanilla, make sure you are using quality cream cheese that tastes good. I use and love full fat Philadelphia brand brick-style cream cheese for this dish.
- Half Recipe: This recipe can easily be halved in an 8 or 9-inch baking pan. The bake time will be slightly shorter, around 30-35 minutes.
- Can I add berries? Some readers have added blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries sprinkled throughout the casserole. Feel free to scatter 1 cup of fresh berries over the spoonfuls of cream cheese before topping with the remaining bread cubes. I do not recommend frozen berries.
Keywords: overnight french toast casserole, cream cheese french toast casserole