The full ingredient list and instructions are at the bottom of this post, but there’s important information in the text to help you make the perfect Strawberry French Toast Casserole you’ll want to read before you scroll!Telling you I like French Toast would be a crazy understatement. I LOVE it! And judging by the love you’re always giving my Strawberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast? You’re into it just as much as I am. So I decided you need a version that will make your life a little easier, too. Enter: Strawberry French Toast Casserole! And wow, I know. This would have been so perfect for Mother’s Day. But since it’s actually mama day today and, ahem, you have to kind of refrigerate this sweet beast overnight… Pin it for next year? Sorry 😬 I’m not actually even home for Mother’s Day today, as I’m traveling back from a work conference in Utah. Just take me home to my babies, please! Anyways, let’s talk about our French Toast Bake. Let me fill you in on all the details.
How to make Strawberry French Toast Casserole with Cream Cheese:I’m in love with this recipe, it’s perfect for a special brunch. If you’re looking for a more whole food centered French toast casserole, take a look at my berries and cream French toast bake. (I like both a lot, but sometimes I feel more like brunch decadence and sometimes I feel more like let’s make a French toast bake for dinner but I really crave whole grains and stuff so let’s do a more rustic one.)
- milk (whatever milk you like best)
- ground cinnamon
- maple syrup or brown sugar, or both – but you don’t need a sweetener at all if you’re more into medium sweet breakfasts
- vanilla extract
- bread (I made my own no knead French bread and let it sit on the counter overnight to dry out a bit, it was basically heaven)
- fresh strawberries (it also works awesomely with blueberries or raspberries – I even have recipes for a plain blueberry French toast casserole and a crockpot raspberry chocolate French toast bake!)
- cream cheese or a mix of cream cheese and Greek yogurt. I like mixing with Greek yogurt because I like the taste better. But either works.
- streusel topping (totally not optional)
A few foolproof tips to make the best Strawberry French Toast Casserole of your life:
Making the egg mixtureThis is actually a very simple thing, but I do want to stress two things I always do wrong, no matter how much I try to follow a recipe. It’s an impatience issue 😉 First and foremost, use a measuring jug that’s large enough for some vigorous whisking. Trust me. You’ll regret grabbing that small one just because it’s in the front of the cabinet. And secondly, don’t be lazy with the whisking. You want the eggs all beaten up and mixed in with the milk. Otherwise you’ll have scrambled egg in your casserole. And this is definitely not of those “two-in-one” deals where you want this to happen. Whisk well.
Cubing the breadSometimes I find it tricky when recipes tell me to cube bread, because I have no clue what size cubes. And if you’re giving me an inch cube measurement? Honestly, my brain cannot process that while I’m juggling two kids and a serrated knife. Best practice here is to go small enough so the cubes are bite sized, but not so small that you don’t have to cut them up for a toddler. If you really want to bother yourself with an inch measurement, go about 1 inch. But please be kind to your sanity and don’t actually measure.
Layering the CasseroleIt’s super simple. Lightly grease a casserole dish and add half of the bread to the bottom. Then drop the cream cheese in dollops all over the bread and scatter the sliced strawberries on top. THEN add 1/3 of the egg mixture, just to make sure the bottom layer of bread gets enough liquid to get all soaked and yummy. Add the remaining bread on top and pour the rest of the egg mixture over. You probably have to squish it all down a little to make sure all the bread cubes are covered with some liquid.
Chilling the casseroleYou have to chill the casserole so that the bread can soak up all the egg mix. If you don’t, you’ll end up with more like bread cubes baked into custard, if that makes sense? A soaked French Toast Casserole is big and puffy and bakes up really nicely. You can get away with ~2 hours, but best is always overnight. Secret: You can probably even get away with 10-15 minutes, if your bread is very spongy… BUT it will never be as good as when it has the chance to chill overnight.
Making the streuselHere’s a fun fact: I would marry streusel if I could. I do only use it on French Toast casseroles for special occasions (like Mother’s Day, sob sob), but I love it. And on my cinnamon crunch banana bread because why not. And apparently on banana crumb muffins and pumpkin bread and OKAY, I love streusel. It’s super easy to make. You just mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon well in a small bowl. Then you add the cold butter and kind of just rub it in with your fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Easy peasy. You can make the streusel ahead as well and keep it in the fridge overnight, no problem.
Baking the casseroleI mean, no brainer. Preheat oven, shove casserole in oven, bake. Done and dusted 😉 I’ll advise you to give the casserole a 10 minute rest on your countertop after baking, to allow the strawberry juices to soak back into the bread as well. But I know it’s hard to wait… It’s worth it, though. What I’ll often do is take a small scoop out right when I remove it from the oven and THEN let it rest. That way it has something like an air vent where all the trapped steam can escape, so you don’t end up with a soggy bake. Did I really just talk that much about a Strawberry French Toast Casserole? Oh well, told you I love it 😉
Grab the recipe here:
Strawberry French Toast Casserole with Cream Cheese
- 5 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup maple syrup OR brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 16 oz French bread cubed
- 2/3 cup cream cheese softened (you can also use light cream cheese, OR 1/2 cream cheese and 1/2 Greek yogurt)
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/3 cup white flour
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons cold butter cubed
- To serve
- Extra strawberries and maple syrup
- Make the egg mixture: Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, sweetener and vanilla together in a measuring cup.
- Layer the casserole: Place half of the bread in a 9x11 inch casserole dish. Top with the cream cheese and the strawberries. Pour over 1/3 of the egg mixture. Top with the remaining bread and egg mixture, making sure all bread cubes are soaked in the egg.
- Chill the casserole: Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least two hours, better overnight.
- Make the streusel: Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel in a medium bowl. rub in the butter with your fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Once you're ready to bake the French Toast Casserole, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes, or until set.
- Allow the bake to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.