Overnight Oven-Baked French Toast

By Ann Fulton

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Crusty, golden edges and tender insides are the hallmark this irresistible, prep-ahead French toast. And no need to hover over the stove, as the whole batch bakes in the oven.


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.

What is the best bread for French Toast?
Several bread varieties will deliver exceptional French toast. Which you should choose depends on what texture you’re aiming for – or practically speaking, what may be readily available.

  • Challah: An egg-enriched bread, like challah, will be caky with a tender, tight crumb.
  • Brioche or even croissants: Open-textured bread such as these capture more air, so the resulting French toast will be lighter and fluffier.
  • Regular firm white bread: Both classic and convenient, any thick slice of white bread will hold its shape and remain moist after cooking. Plain old white sandwich bread works well; just go for as thick of a slice as possible. Crusty white breads, like sourdough and baguettes, are wonderful options, too, and will retain a pleasantly satisfying chew.

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. It was delicious, although any sturdy bread that will hold up to an overnight soak in the egg mixture may be used.

Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf French, raisin, or other hearty white bread, sliced into 3/4 to 1-inch-thick pieces (see post above for more bread options)
  • 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 white bread as a great option that’s widely available. 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.
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For another easy breakfast option that will make your kitchen smell like the corner bakery, you might enjoy Overnight Sticky Buns:

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  1. Deb

    Made this with some crusty bread I had in the freezer and it was amazing! Everyone raved! I love that it wasn’t loaded with heavy ingredients and also how the edges got crispy. Thank you!

  2. Robin Sarratt

    I’ve been meaning to tell you what a hit this was for our Christmas breakfast! Thanks, Ann! I’m trying the lentil casserole tonight!

  3. Lois Fackler

    Ann…Thank you for the overnight oven baked French Toast recipe…I made it and it was delicious and so easy to make…in fact, I bought two extra loaves of bread and put them in the freezer for later because my bread was seasonal. I used Cranberry Walnut bread I got at Giant Store. When we get the Sunday Newspaper I grab your section and my husband grabs the Sports Section. Big thank you for all the recipes….keep them coming. Lois Fackler retired nurse from LGH

    1. Ann

      Many thanks for the kind words, Lois, and I am thrilled you enjoy the recipe. I bet it was wonderful with the cranberry walnut bread!

  4. jessica

    The Overnight Sticky Buns are definitely a favorite in our house. Will be trying the French toast which looks just as good!