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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.
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.
Why You’ll Love This French Toast Casserole Recipe
- Easy. You won’t need any complicated ingredients or fancy techniques to make this recipe.
- Made ahead. This casserole is made the night before it’s perfect for anytime you want to have something a little extra for breakfast without a lot of fuss.
- Decadent. Every bite of this casserole is bursting with tender apples, warming spices, softened bread and crunchy crisp topping. It’s the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
Here’s a quick look at some of the ingredients with my notes. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for a full list and ingredient amounts.
- 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.
- Bread – I recommend using a crusty sourdough or French bread. Check out my post on the best bread for French toast for more ideas.
- Milk – I used whole milk but any kind of milk will work.
- Brown sugar – Light or dark brown sugar, either one is fine.
- Bourbon – I used Black Flannel bourbon. Use your favorite brand.
- Quick-cooking rolled oats – Don’t use old fashioned rolled oats, they are not the same thing and require a different cooking time.
- If you only have old-fashioned oats, you can make your own quick oats by briefly pulsing old-fashioned oats in a food processor, just until the pieces have broken down a bit. 2-3 pulses should do it.
Assembling Your 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):
- Cook the apples. Do this first so that they are ready to spoon on top of the bread.
- Make the oat topping. This should also be done before assembling the French toast.
- Make the custard. This just involves mixing the ingredients in a bowl. Have the kids do it!
- 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.
- Chill. Cover with saran wrap and chill the casserole overnight.
- 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.
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.
How to Store
- Store in the fridge: 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.
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 for about 1 min 30 seconds to 2 min.
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.)
More Ways to Make French Toast
Bourbon Apple Crisp Overnight French Toast Casserole
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 5 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons butter, for greasing the baking dish
- 1 loaf crusty sourdough , or French bread
- 8 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
Make the Apple Filling
- Cook the apples. 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.