Bourbon Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole

This magnificent French toast casserole is made with layers of bread soaked in bourbon-spiked custard. The bread is covered with cinnamon-spiced cooked apples and finished with a brown sugar oat topping.

Do you ever get an idea in your head and think to yourself: That sounds crazy. But then, upon thinking about further, you’re like: But is it crazy in a good way? Yes, I believe it is! And then you just run with it to see what happens.

That is this recipe friends. This decadent French toast casserole is a combination of my apple crisp recipe with the base for my overnight French toast bake. Sounds crazy? It is. CRAZY good, that is! The finished casserole features layers of sourdough bread soaked in sweet bourbon custard. Tender stewed apples are spooned on top, then covered with a crunchy brown sugar oat topping.

And best of all? This impressive breakfast casserole is easy to make. Assemble the layers on a Saturday and then dig into a glorious slice of French toast on Sunday morning. Just add maple syrup and whipped cream!

What’s in this French Toast Bake?

This French toast casserole breaks down into three layers: you’ve got the french toast layer, the apple layer, and the oat topping layer. Here’s what you’ll need for each layer along with my notes for substitutions as needed:

French Toast Layer

  • Butter – Unsalted.
  • Bread – I recommend using a crusty sourdough or French bread.
  • Eggs – This recipe lets you use up 8 eggs. Score!
  • Milk – I used whole milk but any kind of milk will work.
  • Brown sugar – Light or dark brown sugar, either one is fine.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Bourbon – I used Black Flannel bourbon. Use your favorite brand.

Apple Filling

  • Butter – Unsalted.
  • Apples – It is important that they are thin, thick slices wont soften enough. You can use any kind of apple that you have on hand, but if you want the slices to hold their shape use a firmer apple like Granny Smith.
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Water

Oat Crisp Topping

  • Quick-cooking rolled oats – Don’t use old fashioned rolled oats, they are not the same thing and require a different cooking time.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • Brown sugar – Light or dark.
  • Butter – Unsalted.

Assembling this French Toast Casserole

Putting this beauty together involves a few simple steps (all of them outlined in more detail in the recipe card at the end of this post):

  1. Cook the apples. Do this first so that they are ready to spoon on top of the bread.
  2. Make the oat topping. This should also be done before assembling the French toast.
  3. Make the custard. This just involves mixing the ingredients in a bowl. Have the kids do it!
  4. Assemble the layers. Add the cubed bread pieces to your baking dish, pour the custard on top, then ladle the cooked apples over the bread and custard. Finish by sprinkling the oat topping all over everything.
  5. Chill. Cover with saran wrap and chill the casserole overnight.
  6. Bake. The next morning bake your French toast!

How Do I Check For Doneness?

You can check to see if your casserole is done by gently cutting into it. You shouldn’t see any runny liquid. If your French toast is browning too quickly but the custard is not set, you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil to give the custard more time to cook without over-browning the dish.

Pouring maple syrup on a slice of baked french toast breakfast casserole

Tips for Success

  • Slice the apples thinly. It is important that the apple slices are not too thick or they won’t soften enough.
  • Press the casserole into the baking dish. When you cover your French toast with saran wrap to chill overnight, gently but firmly press the casserole into the baking dish with your hands. This will help the bread absorb more of the custard overnight.
  • Let it cool. This breakfast casserole needs to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. It will be quite hot when it comes out of the oven and also puffy. It needs the cool time to settle. It’s also easier to get a pretty slice like the ones you see here after the casserole has cooled a bit.

Serving Suggestions

Serve thick slices of this French toast casserole with generous amounts of maple syrup and whipped cream. You can also sprinkle fresh blueberries, blackberries, or strawberry slices on top for an added pop of color and flavor. If you want to get really decadent you can even drizzle some salted caramel on top!

A slice of french toast casserole drenched in maple syrup

Frequently Asked Questions

Does overnight French toast get soggy?

The bread in your French toast will absorb much of the custard while it sits in the fridge overnight, so it is important to use a thick, crusty bread or stale bread. This kind of bread can absorb more liquid without losing its structural integrity.

Does bread have to be stale for French toast?

It does not have to be stale if it is a thick and crusty bread. If you are using a softer bread like challah or brioche, then I recommend cubing the bread and leaving it out overnight to dry and become stale. You can also dry out the bread in a 300F oven. Just spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toast them for about 5 minutes until they dry out.

What’s the best bread to use for French toast?

For overnight French toast recipes, I like to use sourdough bread or French bread. These are sturdier loaves of bread that hold their shape well while soaking in the custard. When I’m making regular French toast that’s cooked on the stovetop, then I prefer to use challah or brioche.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Let the casserole cool completely, then cover tightly with saran wrap or transfer to airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Reheat the French toast in slices. Cut out the amount you want to eat, splitting large slices into smaller pieces so that it is easier for the insides to heat through. Zap in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for about 1 min 30 seconds to 2 min. The reheating time will depend on how much French toast you are trying to reheat at once.

If you want to crisp up the top again, you can place the slices in an oven heated to 350F for about 4-5 minutes after you have warmed them in the microwave. (Trying to reheat the French toast slices just in the oven tends to dry them out, in my experience.)

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Bourbon Apple Crisp Overnight French Toast Casserole

A slice of baked french toast apple casserole on a plate with whipped cream
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This magnificent French toast casserole is made with layers of bread soaked in bourbon-spiked custard. The bread is covered with cinnamon-spiced cooked apples and finished with a brown sugar oat topping.

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 8 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 9 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

French Toast

  • 2 tablespoons butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Apple Filling

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 5 apples, peeled and thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water

Crisp Topping

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

Make the Apple Filling

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, sliced apples, cinnamon and water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples have softened, about 8 minutes.

Make the Crisp Topping

Melt the butter. I prefer using a saucepan over low heat but you can also melt it in the microwave.

Mix the dry ingredients. While the butter is melting, in another medium bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients well.

Combine dry ingredients with the butter. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix to combine with a spoon, until you have a coarse crumbly mixture and no bits of dry flour are visible.

Assemble the French Toast

Prep your baking dish. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Prepare the bread. Cut the bread into 1-2 inch cubes and add to your pan.

Make the custard. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and nutmeg. Pour over the bread.

Add the cooked apples. Spread the cooked apples evenly on top of the bread and custard.

Add the topping. Spread the oat topping evenly over the apples

Chill. Cover tightly with saran wrap and press down on the casserole with your hands to make sure the bread, apples, and crumble topping are packed into the casserole dish. This helps the bread absorb the most custard. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake the Next Morning

In the morning, preheat your oven to 350F. Take the casserole out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap.

Bake. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes. Until the custard is set and the crumble topping has a lovely light golden color. You can check this by gently cutting into the casserole. You shouldn’t see any runny liquid. The casserole will puff up during baking then settle once you take it out of the oven.

Cool. When done, allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Serve. Then scoop out individual portions and serve with maple syrup and whipped cream.

Keywords: breakfast casserole, overnight french toast, french toast bake

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