Amidst the last minute preparations for Christmas Day, there are a few non-negotiable activities on my calendar every December 24th.

First and foremost, I must wrap the gifts my dad buys for my mom.  To clarify, this annual ritual is not a hardship.  In fact, I secretly love it.

You see, while I am cutting and taping, my dad is crafting witty hints, which he scrawls on adhesive gift tags.  There is much laughing and enjoyable banter while we “work,” and I know my mom is as entertained by his creative clues as I am.

Back home, there is typically a little more wrapping waiting for me, followed by a much-loved Christmas Eve pageant at our church.   After the service, we travel to my in-laws’ house for their annual caroling party with extended family and friends.  These are the things that truly make our Christmas meaningful.

Amidst all the activity, I do like to prepare a special breakfast for Christmas morning.  But finding the time to do this on Christmas–or anytime guests are under roof for that matter–can be a challenge.

Enter Overnight Baked French Toast.  This recipe takes minutes to prep the night before and can be baked when ready to eat.  Served with a side of fresh fruit, this breakfast is sure to make any morning a little merrier.  Leftovers, if there are any, are delicious reheated in the toaster oven.

Overnight Oven-Baked French Toast

Yield: 4-6 servings

Overnight Oven-Baked French Toast

The last time I made this recipe, I used a loaf of cinnamon raisin walnut bread from Thom’s Bread, an artisanal bread stand at Lancaster Central Market. All of Thom’s loaves are absolutely delicious and the perfect size for this recipe, although any sturdy bread that will hold up to a soak in the egg mixture may be used.

  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf French, raisin or other hearty bread, sliced into 3/4 to 1-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Spread one side of each bread slice with butter and arrange, butter side up, in an ungreased, 13×9-inch pan. (If desired, you may first cut the bread slices in half on the diagonal. Depending on the exact number and shape of slices, you may need to put a few of the slices in a smaller second pan so they fit in one layer.)
  2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the bread.
  3. Cover the pan, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the bread from the pan, allowing any excess egg mixture to drip off, and place on a well-greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping after 15-20 minutes, or until golden and slightly crusty. Depending on your oven and the thickness of the bread slices, a few extra minutes may be necessary to cook through middle.
  6. Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup, as desired.


Leftovers are terrific toasted. If you don’t have time for baking in the morning, prep the toast the morning before and cook later in the day. Cool, store in the fridge, and gently reheat in the oven or toaster oven. Cooked French toast freezes well, too, and may be popped in the toaster for a speedy breakfast.

For those with a gluten-free family member or guest, I recommend Udi’s or Scharr’s bread. You can prepare an extra half or quarter recipe, if needed, or simply syphon off a bit of the egg mixture from the main batch. Just make sure to soak and bake the gluten-free bread in separate pans.

For another easy breakfast option that will make your kitchen smell like the corner bakery, you might enjoy Overnight Sticky Buns: