This french toast bread pudding is an easy, crowd pleasing breakfast casserole the entire family will love. It’s crispy on the outside, tender and gooey on the inside, with all of the flavor and coziness of traditional french toast, and none of the fuss.
Bonus? It can be prepared entirely in advance, and then transferred to the oven for an easy, no stress brunch entree. The ultimate breakfast casserole for a crowd!
I don’t know about y’all, but Christmas meals in my family are based around some pretty long-standing traditions, and I eagerly look forward to them every year. Christmas Eve is always a potluck, but it’s a predictable one because we all bring the same dishes to the table.
My grandmother prepares a Polish mushroom dumpling soup that kicks off the meal, followed by a buffet table brimming with casserole dishes of lasagna and penne vodka, scratch-made pierogis, antipasta salad, shrimp cocktail, and fish sticks. Yes, fish sticks – because no half-Italian Christmas Eve dinner is complete without fish, and for decades this is all the kids would eat.
Christmas Day brings us a prime rib roast and spiral ham, with mashed potatoes, nut roll, and mom’s carrot cake.
Christmas breakfast, however, isn’t so laden with tradition. We change it up almost every year, which is becoming its own sort of tradition. I’ve volunteered as breakfast chef tribute for at least a decade, and each year begs the question “What crazy thing will Danielle make us this year?”
Before I had kids I’d whip all sorts of fancy dishes, but since the tiny humans made their landing I stick to the basics – monkey bread, dippy eggs, fruit salad, bacon (always bacon).
For this year’s Christmas brunch I’m going full on lazy mom with breakfast casseroles, and I’m sharing both of them with you this week in a very merry double-header.
First up is this french toast bread pudding and it’s basically a Christmas miracle – it’s made with a handful of simple ingredients that can be prepared in advance, takes 5 minutes of actual hands-on time in the morning, and bakes up in about 45 minutes – juuuuuust long enough to open presents, and then tear the house apart during our annual nerf gun war (yep, that’s another tradition too).
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French Toast Bread Pudding Recipe Notes
Raise your hand if you like french toast? A crowd-pleaser, it is.
Raise your hand if you like standing over the stove preparing french toast for a dozen people on Christmas morning? Not so popular, eh? I feel you.
Enter this french toast bread pudding. It’s crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, with all of the sweet, cinnamon, maple flavor of classic french toast…minus the whole slaving-over-the-stove business.
This insanely easy recipe has just a handful of basic ingredients, and can be prepped completely in advance.
You’ll start with a loaf of either brioche or challah bread. Both are excellent choices for their buttery flavor, light and airy texture, and ability to soak up the custard.
I’ve made it with both, and they’re equally tasty. To achieve the best texture for bread pudding, you want to start with dry (not toasted) bread cubes. This ensures the bread soaks up the custard while it rests – it’s the same basic principle as stuffing, and just as delicious.
If you remember, leave the bread on the counter for a day or two uncovered so it can dry out a bit. If you forget, no worries – simply dice it up and pop the bread cubes into a 250* oven for 15 minutes or so to suck out the moisture.
While the bread’s drying out in the oven, prepare the custard. Whisk together some eggs, cream, milk, maple syrup, and spices. I love using maple syrup in place of sugar because it infuses that classic maple flavor throughout every warm, gooey bite.
Spread the bread cubes throughout a buttered casserole dish and then pour the custard over the bread. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to gently smoosh the cubes into the custard, ensuring each one gets its fare share.
Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and then transfer to the fridge for at least 15 minutes, but preferably overnight. I vote for overnight.
The next morning, pop the casserole into the oven and bake for 30 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.
Viola! You’ve got a warm, gooey french toast bread pudding breakfast casserole with basically just 5 minutes of actual work on Christmas morning.
I dust it with powdered sugar before serving to make it just that much more of a special treat, and of course there’s plenty of extra maple syrup at the table for drizzling.
So easy, so delicious. This is Parent of the Year stuff right here.
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French Toast Bread PuddingPrint Recipe Rate This Recipe
- 1 loaf brioche or challah bread diced to 1" cubes
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp softened butter or cooking spray
- 2 c whole milk
- 1 c heavy cream
- 1/2 c maple syrup plus extra for drizzling
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 250*.
- Butter a 9" x 13" casserole dish with the softened butter or lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Dice the bread into 1" cubes and then spread the cubes onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Transfer the bread cubes to the oven to dry out. The cubes are finished when they are firm and dry, but not toasted.
- Remove the bread from the oven and spread the cubes into the prepared casserole dish.
- While the bread is drying out, prepare the custard. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cream, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Pour the custard over the bread cubes. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gently press down on the bread to ensure each one gets coated with the custard.
- Cover the casserole dish with foil and transfer to the fridge. Chill for at least 15 minutes, and up to overnight.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350*.
- Transfer the foil covered casserole dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the bread pudding is golden brown on top and puffed. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes; it will deflate.
- Dust with powdered sugar, and serve warm, drizzled with additional maple syrup. The cooked casserole will keep in the fridge, covered, for an additional 2 days.
Pure Maple Syrup from S and S Maple Camp