This luscious Mixed Berry French Toast Bake is an easy make-ahead breakfast that features soft and fluffy french toast, a crispy cinnamon streusel topping with sweet strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to finish it off. Regular old French toast has got nothing on this french toast casserole! Gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free with low carb, paleo, keto, vegan and grain-free options.
The Berry French Toast Casserole of Your Dreams
Want to wow your family on Easter Morning or Mother’s Day. This mixed berry breakfast casserole will take your breath away. Whenever there’s a plate of French toast at the table, our family can’t help reaching for an extra portion or two. The soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture and the sweet flavor of the warm syrup-soaked bread? Downright addicting. In case you’re seeking affirmation, French toast is totally acceptable to enjoy as a main course.
This mixed berry breakfast bake is easy to make in the morning or a night ahead, and it can be customized to include your favorite French toast fixings. The creamy, strawberry-studded filling coupled with the crispy brown sugar streusel takes this family-favorite treat over the edge into pure French toast heaven!
What You’ll Need
Let’s break down our ingredients between each component of the casserole. For the exact amounts you’ll need, see the recipe card near the end of this post.
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
- Gluten-Free 1-1 All-Purpose Flour: This helps hold the ingredients together while also creating that crumbly streusel texture. You can sub with fine almond flour or regular all purpose flour as needed.
- Coconut Sugar: You can sub with Lakanto Golden Monk Fruit sweetener, Swerve Brown or regular brown sugar.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Unsalted Vegan Butter: Keep your butter cold and cut it into small cubes before you add it to the streusel. Sub with regular unsalted butter if you’re not dairy-free.
French Toast Filling
- Day-Old Bread: Cut into 1-inch cubes with the ends of the loaf discarded. Gluten-free, grain-free, keto or paleo if needed. We like AWG Bakery’s Everyday Loaves or BaseCulture’s Grain-Free SourDough bread which are all paleo, low carb and keto-friendly. We found using thick sourdough bread slices produced the best results.
- Softened Dairy-Free Cream Cheese: You can leave this out if you’d like (or use low-fat cream cheese instead). We like Miyokos.
- Pure Maple Syrup: Or raw, unfiltered honey.
- Coconut sugar: You can sub with Lakanto Golden Monk Fruit sweetener, Swerve Brown or regular brown sugar.
- Mixed berries: Either fresh or frozen mixed berries will work. If berries are in season, we highly recommend sticking with fresh ones.
- Eggs: We have not tried this but you are free to sub any egg substitute as needed such as Just Egg or Flax Eggs to make this French Toast Bake vegan.
- Almond Milk: This is what we use, but you can reach for any kind of milk you have on hand.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Pure Vanilla Extract
What Kind of Bread is Best?
We prefer to make our French toast with an artisan-style French or sourdough loaf. This kind of bread is great at getting soft and moist without becoming soggy. Even so, it’s still very important to let it get a little bit stale before you use it in your casserole.
If you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten, you can make this dish with the gluten-free bread of your choice. Stick with something that’s hearty enough to soak up the egg custard without getting mushy. We like AWG Bakery’s Everyday Loaves or BaseCulture’s Grain-Free SourDough bread which are paleo, low carb and keto-friendly. And don’t forget to substitute the all-purpose flour in the streusel for a 1:1 gluten-free alternative, gluten-free oat flour or superfine almond flour.
How to Make Mixed Berry French Toast Bake
This crave-worthy French toast casserole is a piece of cake to prepare. You can soak the bread in the maple custard for as little as one hour and still get amazing results!
Make the Streusel
- Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine the flour, coconut sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl.
- Cut in Butter & Chill: Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the cubed butter into the combined dry ingredients. Set the mixture aside in the fridge.
Prepare the Filing & Bake
- Grease Baking Dish: Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or 2.5-quart casserole dish.
- Arrange Half of the Bread Cubes: Arrange half of the day-old bread cubes in the bottom of the pan.
- Combine Cream Cheese & Maple Syrup: Add the cream cheese to a small bowl along with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Mix until they’re well combined, then drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the bread, followed by half of the berries. If you’re omitting the cream cheese, simply top the cubes of bread with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and half of the berries.
- Evenly add Remaining Bread: Evenly disperse the remaining bread cubes on top of the berry layer.
- Make Custard: Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, remaining maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl or measuring beaker.
- Pour Over Bread: Pour the custard evenly over the bread cubes. Press the bread down a bit as needed to help it absorb the liquid.
- Toss in Remaining Berries & Streusel: Sprinkle the remaining berries evenly over the bread, followed by the brown sugar streusel.
- Cover & Chill: Cover the pan with foil and allow the casserole to chill in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 1 hour.
- Heat Oven: When you’re ready to bake the casserole, remove your baking dish from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350°F. Keep the foil cover on the baking dish.
- Cook: Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for another 23-26 minutes, or until it gets fluffy and golden.
- Remove From Heat: Remove your casserole from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Serve it warm with more syrup, extra fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, and/or a berry compote if you’re making one.
Tips for Success
Look over these helpful suggestions and get ready to whip up some seriously tasty French toast.
- Dry Out That Bread: We like to cube our bread and spread it out on an uncovered baking sheet about 12-24 hours before we start on this casserole. If you forget to dry it out ahead of time, you can bake the cubes at 350°F for 20-30 minutes instead.
- Use Pure Maple Syrup: “Breakfast syrup” is used to refer to an inauthentic pancake sauce that’s basically just high-fructose corn syrup. Make sure you’re using pure maple syrup for the best flavor and nutrition.
- Include the Cream Cheese for Extra Richness: While the cream cheese layer is completely optional, it really does elevate this dish. If decadence is what you’re looking for, you don’t want to leave it out.
We’ve touched on some different topping options, but what about the French toast itself? All of these variations are more than worth a try:
- Blueberry French Toast Bake: Blueberries and almonds go together like sunshine and the beach. Try topping each blueberry layer with a sprinkle of slivered almonds or a drizzle of almond butter. Perfection!
- Strawberry French Toast Casserole: Feel free to replace the layers of berries with a layer of strawberries. You’ll end up with a strawberry masterpiece!
- Chocolate Blueberry Baked French Toast: We like adding dark chocolate to pretty much any sweet dish. If you can relate, go ahead and dress up this casserole with a layer of mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top of the finished French toast if desired.
From scrambled eggs to country sausage, any savory breakfast dish is sure to complement this sweet strawberry casserole in such a satisfying way. Kick things up a notch by making a batch of Avocado Egg Cups or Spinach & Sausage Egg Muffins. If you want to keep it sweet, this Easy Fruit Salad is an equally well-suited accompaniment.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Leftover French toast bake should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge (let it cool completely before you store it). Enjoy it within 2-3 days for the best results.
Reheat large portions in a covered baking dish at 350°F until the casserole is warmed through (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, microwave individual servings for 30-45 seconds at a time. In either case, add a little bit of maple syrup to re-moisten the bread before reheating.
Warm up the compote in a skillet over low heat or microwave it for 20 seconds at a time, stirring frequently/between each interval.
Can I Freeze Baked French Toast?
Sure! Just be sure to use a freezer-safe casserole dish and hold off on making the compote.
Let your finished casserole cool completely, then wrap it in a tight layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of heavy-duty foil. Freeze the casserole for up to 3 months, thawing it out in the fridge before you reheat it. Once it’s baked, make the compote and serve.
More Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas
Want more tempting breakfasts you can make in advance? Stop searching and save the following recipes.
This luscious Mixed Berry French Toast Bake is an easy make-ahead breakfast that features soft and fluffy french toast, a crispy cinnamon streusel topping with sweet berries to finish it off. Regular old French toast has got nothing on this french toast casserole! Gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free with low carb, paleo, keto, vegan and grain-free options.
- 1 16-ounce 450 g loaf loaf of French bread or sourdough bread , day old bread works best; cut into 1-inch cubes with the ends discarded. Gluten-free, grain-free, keto or paleo if needed. We like AWG Bakery's Everyday Loaves or BaseCulture’s Grain-Free SourDough bread.
- 1/2 cup softened dairy-free or regular cream cheese , optional. We like Miyokos. Leave out if preferred or sub with regular cream cheese if not dairy-free.
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey , divided (can also swap in your favorite sugar free Maple Syrup or Sukrin Syrup for low carb)
- 1-1/2 - 2 cups mixed berries , divided. Either fresh or frozen mixed berries will work. If berries are in season, we highly recommend sticking with fresh ones. For frozen berries, thaw, drain and pat dry first.
- 6 large eggs , we have not tried this but you are free to sub any egg substitute as needed such as Just Egg or Flax Eggs to make this French Toast Bake vegan.
- 1-1/4 cups milk , we used almond milk.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour , can substitute with 1-1 gluten-free all purpose flour, gluten-free oat flour or superfine almond flour.
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar or coconut sugar , you can sub with Lakanto Golden Monk Fruit sweetener, Swerve Brown or any brown sugar substitute.
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter , cold and cubed. For dairy-free, we like Miyokos.
- maple syrup
- fresh berries
- whipped cream
- powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Set aside in the fridge.
Lightly grease a 9x9-inch square baking dish or 2.5-quart casserole dish.
In a medium bowl, mix the softened cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Arrange half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Drop spoonfuls of the softened cream cheese over the bread and top with half of the berries.
- Layer with remaining bread cubes on top.
In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, maple syrup (add brown sugar here if using) and vanilla.
Pour evenly over bread cubes. Press the bread cubes slightly down to absorb the milk/egg mixture.
Top evenly with remaining berries. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the berries. Cover pan with foil. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
When ready to bake, remove french toast from the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 23-26 minutes or until fluffy and golden.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with syrup and additional toppings if desired.
- To Store: Refrigerate cooled casserole in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
- To Reheat: Reheat large portions in a covered baking dish at 350°F until casserole is warmed through (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, microwave individual servings for 30-45 seconds at a time. In either case, add a drizzle of maple syrup before reheating.
- To Freeze: Use a freezer-safe casserole dish and hold off on making compote. Wrap cooled casserole in a tight layer of plastic wrap and a layer of heavy-duty foil. Freeze for up to 3 months, thawing in the fridge before reheating. Once baked, make compote and serve.