This Bourbon French Toast Casserole is an indulgent brunch casserole with the delicious flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. Topped with a rich and gooey bourbon caramel sauce, it is a show-stopping recipe that is perfect for any brunch!
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Every year on Christmas Eve I make two casseroles: This Bourbon French Toast Casserole and a Sausage Green Chile Casserole. Combined, they take about 20 minutes to put together. They sit in the refrigerator overnight, and then it is like an extra gift on Christmas morning. Just before we open our presents, I slide both of the casseroles into the oven. We slice up the oranges that my kids always get in their stockings, and breakfast is done!
This casserole is perfect for Christmas morning, New Year's brunch, or any time when you want something that is easy, yet impressive.
What You Need to Make Bourbon French Toast Casserole
This casserole tastes like something you have slaved over for hours, but it is really so simple to make! There are three parts to the dish:
- Crusty bread, sliced thick
- Custard made from milk, half and half, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon
- Bourbon caramel sauce that has brown sugar, butter, and bourbon
What Kind of Bread Works Best?
French toast casserole needs a dense bread with a good crust. If you use regular bread it will just end up a soggy mess. My favorite bread for this is a classic French bread (after all, this is French toast), but a loaf of Italian bread, sourdough, or challah would also work very well.
In a pinch, you can buy pre-sliced bread, but it really works best if the bread is a little thicker than how they cut it at the store. I use slices that are about an inch thick.
How to Make Vanilla Custard
- The vanilla custard is so simple to make! Just whisk all of the ingredients together until the eggs are completely incorporated with the milk.
- The cinnamon will rise to the top. That's totally okay!
- Pack the bread tightly into a 9x13 pan. When you think you have packed as much in as you can, squeeze in a couple of more pieces.
- Pour the custard evenly over the bread.
- Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Caramelized Bourbon Brown Sugar Sauce
- This bourbon brown sugar sauce is what really sets this recipe apart from all of the other French toast casserole recipes out there. It is buttery and caramelly, with an undertone of warm bourbon. As much as I try to resist, I always find myself grabbing a spoon for a quick taste while I make it. Quality control. (Wink.)
- This sauce can be made while the oven is preheating. Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan until they are bubbling, then remove from the heat and add in the bourbon.
- Pour over the top of the casserole before baking.
French Toast Variations
I love this Bourbon French Toast Casserole just as it is, but if you are looking to mix it up, there are many wonderful variations that you can make.
Pecan - Sprinkle ½ cup of chopped pecans over the top of your casserole before baking.
Apple - Slice 3 large apples. When making the sauce, melt the butter and add the apples and brown sugar. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until apples, are softened. When making this version, I like to add the cinnamon to the apple mixture instead of in the custard. Spoon apples over the bread before baking.
Orange - Replace the half and half with a cup of orange juice, and add 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the custard.
Frequently Asked Questions
The benefit of letting the casserole sit for at least 2 hours is that the custard soaks completely into the bread. But if you don't have time to wait, the dish will still be delicious! The texture may just be a little uneven.
The bourbon can be omitted, if you prefer. No other changes need to be made to the recipe.
Other Breakfast Recipes You Might Enjoy
- Buttermilk Spice Muffins
- Gooey Butter Cake
- Applesauce Pumpkin Bread
- Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Bourbon French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf French bread (16 oz)
- 6 eggs
- 1 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 ⅓ cups brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Grease or butter a 9x13 baking dish.
- Slice the bread into 1-inch thick slices. Arrange bread in the baking dish, packing in tightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, half and half, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour over the top of the bread. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- While oven is preheating, combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and mix in the bourbon.
- Pour over the top of the casserole, then bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.