Fluffy French Toast Casserole flavored with dried cranberries, orange zest, brown sugar, and vanilla. Assemble in advance and you have an easy and delicious breakfast that everyone will love! RECIPE VIDEO below.
This right here is what you should be diving into Christmas morning. The sweet scents of brown sugar, cinnamon, orange, and vanilla wafting through your home while you sip hot coffee and open gifts in your comfiest jammies. Tell me this is not a picture of perfection?
This site didn’t need another French Toast Casserole recipe (see Traditional, Pumpkin, Apple, Banana). That is, until I tried THIS version. I smelled it, tasted it and swore to myself that I had to get this to you before the end of December. So, here it is – Cranberry Orange French Toast Casserole, just in time for the holiday season.
My family always has French Toast Casserole on Christmas morning. Nearly all the work is done the night before, which means we can enjoy a lazy morning while still enjoying a fabulous breakfast. This version of French Toast Casserole, with the addition of dried cranberries, walnuts and orange zest, makes the perfect holiday breakfast. This recipe is incredibly delicious and ridiculously easy. Here’s how to make it.
How To Make Cranberry Orange French Toast Casserole
- Butter a casserole dish, add cubed french bread and dried cranberries.
- Whisk up a mixture of eggs, milk, half and half, brown sugar, orange zest, and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the bread, cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours).
- Mix up a brown sugar-cinnamon streusel topping.
- Add the topping to the french toast and pop it in the oven.
Here’s a breakdown of the recipe, including tips and optional changes:
- FRENCH BREAD: Pick up a 14-15 oz loaf of French bread. You want it to be a day or two old and just beginning to dry out. A drier bread will soak up all the custard and will not get as mushy as a super soft loaf would.
- DRIED CRANBERRIES: Feel free to swap the dried cranberries for another dried fruit. Raisins or dried cherries would be great, or you can leave them out completely.
- ORANGE ZEST: I love the slight flavor of orange paired with the dried cranberries, brown sugar and vanilla. The orange is subtle, but, if you’re not a huge fan of orange zest, you can reduce the amount of zest or leave it out (I highly recommend trying it). Tip: when removing the zest from the orange, only use the orange part of the skin. Do not grate into the white pith, as this will make it bitter.
- WALNUTS: There are finely chopped walnuts in the streusel topping. You can absolutely leave them out or you can swap them for pecans, which would be equally delicious.
- STREUSEL TOPPING: This is what takes this recipe over the top. DO NOT SKIP IT. A combination brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, flour, and nuts make up this utterly delicious topping. It adds texture to the otherwise soft French toast and it adorns our casserole with its buttery, sweet crumbly-goodness.
- MAKE AHEAD: Obviously, one of the beauties of this recipe is the fact that you can assemble it ahead of time. It can sit in your fridge anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. Although you can assemble it in advance, wait to bake it until you need it. When it’s fresh from the oven, puffed up, piping hot and golden brown, you will want to serve it right away.
One last thing! Totally optional: If you have any cranberry sauce sitting around, gently warm it on the stove top and spoon it over each scoop of French toast. I came up with this brilliant idea after I photographed it, which is why I have no photos of it that way. But, when I serve this Christmas morning, it will definitely be accompanied by some fresh cranberry sauce to bump up the cranberry flavor and add a pop of red (hello, Christmas). Now, go forth and make French Toast Casserole!
NEVER MISS A RECIPE!
Cranberry Orange Walnut French Toast Casserole
- 14-15 oz loaf French bread (preferably a day or two old), cut into cubes
- 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons orange juice
- a few grates of finely grated orange zest
- Grease a 2 1/2 or 3 quart casserole dish. Layer half of the bread cubes and half of the dried cranberries, then add the remaining bread and the remaining cranberries.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Gently stir the bread around so that all pieces are coated in the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts. Add softened butter and stir until well-combined and crumbly (use your hands, if necessary). Cover the topping and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake the french toast.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter the topping over the top of the french toast. Bake, uncovered, for 35-50 minutes, until puffed and cooked through in the center. The bake time will vary based on the depth of your casserole dish.
- Whisk the powdered sugar, juice and zest until well-combined. Adjust the consistency by adding more sugar or more juice, if necessary. Drizzle over the top of the French toast.