Drunken Caramel French Toast

4.5 stars based on 7 votes


Part booze, part French toast, part bread pudding — how could you go wrong? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you already had the recipe because such things (i.e., amazingly good, crowd pleasing, make-ahead, easy recipes) tend to get around. I got it from my friend Gayle, who got it from her friend, Lillian, who got it from…you get the idea :)


What makes it so good? Well, just consider what’s in it: golden caramel, buttery challah and custard spiked with Grand Marnier. Plus, it’s the ideal company-for-brunch dish because you assemble it the night before, let it sit in the fridge overnight, then just pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat.



Right before it’s ready, it puffs up and forms a beautifully golden, cracked-in-the-center crust.


This dish is a showstopper, so bring it straight from the oven to the table, relish all the oohs and aahs, then spoon out generous portions.

Drunken Caramel French Toast

Servings: 6
Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 large challah
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish.
  2. Cut bread into 1½" slices and remove crusts. Arrange bread slices on top of caramel, making sure entire base is well covered (you will use entire loaf).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, orange zest and salt until well combined. Pour evenly over bread. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in the middle of the oven until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool a few minutes (it will deflate), then serve.
  6. Note: I use plain ol’ supermarket challah (no need to buy anything fancy). If you want to play with the recipe, you could use a raisin challah or any other bread that you like.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I made this for Sunday brunch today and it was a BIG HUGE hit. First time my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents came over and I needed something wonderful and this was it. I looked good thanks to you once again. Keep it up and I will look amazing :)

    - Virginia Tate on March 23, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this the night before to serve for a brunch on saturday. It was a tremendous hit! Served with thick applewood bacon and scrambled eggs with avocado and salsa to balance the sweetness in the meal. Mimosas were a perfect complement to the hint of orange in the dish!

    - Gloria on March 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Is it possible to use regular cream instead of half and half? Will it change the recipe much?

    - Michael on January 27, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Michael, Regular cream should work fine.

      - Jenn on January 30, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    WOW. The taste, texture, and presentation is heavenly. I served four grown men (my husband and three brothers-in-law, who were visiting from out of town) and they were still raving over the next couple of days. I loved being able to get this prepared (and so easily) the night before because I enjoy the meal and am much more relaxed not trying to serve, carry on conversation, and get everything cooked and beautifully presented at once. Great brunch dish that pleased all of us! Thank you!

    - Jane W on January 18, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    I made this over Thanksgiving and it received rave reviews. The orange zest really gives it a fresh flavor. I substituted Cointreau for the Grand Marnier.

    - Tari Parmely on December 18, 2014 Reply
  • how do you make perfect scrambled eggs?

    - kathleen burns on December 18, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, To make perfect scrambled eggs, cook them in a butter over very low heat, stirring occasionally.

      - Jenn on December 19, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    The first time i made it I used challah bread and it turned out perfectly. Second time I used white sandwich bread. Big mistake! It turned to mush. Still tasted good though. Don’t skip the hallah or brioche bread, it won’t turn out right. I like to make 1.5x the caramel too. That way it’s got plenty of sauce to go around.

    - Ryan on December 4, 2014 Reply
  • 4 stars

    First, I have to say that the taste was AMAZING.

    I do have to follow that up with the caveat: you have to serve this HOT as the caramel on the bottom of the pan cools and turns into a solid piece fairly quickly. We found it difficult to have seconds – we reheated in the same pan the next day, but it was hard to get the bottom hot enough to melt the caramel without burning the top. I might make a more “traditional” french toast using the custard recipe she has here, and then have the caramel be a separate little dish for drizzling.

    - Sam M. on July 10, 2014 Reply
  • Looks fabulous, but i have little kids to feed. Any suggestions for a non-drunken version??

    - Renee on April 23, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Renee, It’s fine to leave out the booze. Or, if you think your kids would like the orange flavor, you could add a little orange juice instead.

      - Jenn on April 23, 2014 Reply
  • I have make this French toast for Christmas for my family for the past couple of years. Yes, it is in the fridge right now chilling for the morning. It is much anticipated & loved by all. It is a real treat. Thank you for posting this recipe. Happy holidays to you & your family.

    - Elaine on December 24, 2013 Reply
  • I have made this recipe 3 times already and am getting ready to make it again for family visiting. Everyone loves this French toast. I love it because it’s so easy to pop it into the oven in the morning after it sits in the fridge overnight. One glorious pan of decadent deliciousness. Love your recipes.

    - Elaine on March 28, 2013 Reply
  • This big hit on valentine’s day!

    - MsLola on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • This is so so so good! I used Brioche bread, and didn’t use the orange zest (not a fan) other then that it is a very Cozy meal!

    - patricia Barna on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • OmG….I make french toast all the time, but this recipe is totaly out of this world fabulous….made it for out of town visitors….the platter was empty in no time…with lots of mmmm-good comments….this is another winner rerecipe !

    - Barbara J on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Oh, the first time I made this I use Amoretto instead….and it was ddddelicious!!

    - Katzzz on October 9, 2012 Reply
  • Ok…I need everyone to know that this recipe is out of this world amazing!! I’m not exaggerating. I quickly put it together the night before, in the morning I slid it in the oven, put a few slices of bacon on a baking sheet along side it and poored my husband a coffee and myself a tea……and we were able to spend time with our two little girls!!! Now that’s a great recipe!

    - Katzzz on October 9, 2012 Reply
  • This was a big hit at our brunch this morning. Mine didn’t puff out quite like the one in your picture did, but it sure was yummy. I’m glad we had some salty bacon on the side to counteract the sweetness of the french toast; it made a great counterpoint. This is a keeper.

    - Karen on September 30, 2012 Reply
  • I know I’m a little later than the rest of the commenters but I had to pop in and thank you for this recipe! I took this dish to a ladies’ breakfast at church and it was a HIT! Several ladies asked for the recipe and I referred them all to this site. Also, I thought I’d share how I squeezed a dessert out of it: I saved the crusts that I’d cut off the challah bread and let them sit out overnight to go stale. Then I used them to make my family’s favorite bread pudding but I added a layer of this recipe’s caramel on the bottom and added orange zest and Grand Marnier to the custard mixture. FABU! I have a feeling I’ll be making Drunken Caramel Bread Pudding whenever I make the French Toast. And I have a feeling that will be OFTEN!

    - Pippajo on September 23, 2012 Reply
  • OMG!!!
    I’m a caramel addict already and you just gave me another fix!
    Our family makes the rounds at Christmas & everyone starts out here. I make something very similar, without the caramel, . Everyone asks for the French Toast casserole.
    ****Wait until they try THIS recipe! ****

    - Laurie on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Good recipe but I made it a little better by mixing a little cinnamon and sugar together and right before it goes in the over, sprinkle it on the top and dot with a small amount of butter.

    - Patty on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • We had family in town this weekend and I made this to serve for breakfast – it was a hit! Everyone loved it, even the picky ones!

    - Carissa on May 22, 2012 Reply
  • Made this as a birthday party breakfast and everyone loved it.

    - mindy t on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • Wish I had this for Easter. Sounds just too good.
    What do you think about putting this in lg. muffin
    Cups for individual servings. Thanks for a super recipe

    - Julie Hannegan on May 18, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Julie, I think that would work just fine. Hope you like it!

      - Jenn on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • Yummy, I wish I had come across this recipe a few weeks ago when I need a frech toast casserole recipe. I am putting this on my board for next time.

    - Lazendra Hairston on May 17, 2012 Reply
  • mmmm…. yum! this looks so good. it reminds me of a creme brulee styled french toast. can’t wait to try and make it!

    - Ada Howe on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This is delicious! I love the caramelly brown sugar flavor and I’m a freak for a good custardy French toast. I’m in love and will be making this over and over….and over. :)

    - Jenniffer Hernandez on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I’m going to have to try this one after my husband and I get back from our honeymoon. Sounds like a great breakfast!

    - Andee on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I am trying this on the weekend. It looks foolproof!

    - teresa on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • Love this! Definitely a go-to when I have company in town!

    - Stefani on March 3, 2012 Reply
  • a must have, but not until next week’s budget! ha ha

    - Annie Cowing on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • This quickly became my instant go-to recipes for anybody. I’ve “tailored” it for serving kids and adults. Its so easy and makes for a elegant breakfast…or dinner. Yes, it was so good the kids asked for it for dinner! We ended the meal with us hovered around the empty baking dish with spoons eating remaining caramel. Delicious!

    - Tessa on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • The first time I made this one my husband looked for the second dish!!!! Big hit at family camping breakfast…..makes me look so talented thanks I love you for this one.

    - Cindi on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Another one of my go-to recipes when relatives are in town. I make it a night or two before and just pop in the oven. So yummy!

    - Amy on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Scrumptious. This disappeared immediately! I think it could be a dessert.

    - Jennifer Skibins on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This looks amazing!

    - Randi on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • needing to try this very soon!!! Sounds delicious!

    - Jan on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Will try this Saturday. My husband cooks for a local B&B on weekends — this looks very promising!

    - Reed on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is my favorite French Toast – It is also a great gift! I made several at Christmas Time and handed them out so that the familys had Christmas Breakfast ready!

    - Judee on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is just amazing. I make it every time I have guestst for brunch :)

    - Roni on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I’m putting this on the menu for Saturday Morning. :)

    - Lori O. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Wow! This was a great Christmas brunch dish. My daughter has declared it “dangerous”! It is also very easy to put together, especially for something so very delicious.

    - Claudia Nicholson on December 26, 2011 Reply
  • Jorge Millen

    Major thankies for the blog.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

    - Jorge Millen on December 10, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Jen, I’m hesitant to say because I’ve never tried it and all eggnogs are different. You might just use it instead of the cream, and reduce the eggs in the recipe by one or two depending on how “eggy” the eggnog is. Also, if it’s spiked, you may want to omit the Grand Marnier. Hope that helps!

    - Jennifer on December 5, 2011 Reply
  • I’ve made this before and it’s delicious! I’m planning on making it again for Christmas morning. Could I use eggnog in place of the eggs and custard?

    - Jen on December 4, 2011 Reply
  • Sometimes I buy the tiny bottles that they have on airplanes or in hotel mini bars. If you can’t find Grand Marnier, you could also use Triple Sec or Cointreau. You could also just leave it out but then you’d miss out on the boozy orange flavor. Hope that helps!

    - Jennifer on August 10, 2011 Reply
  • This recipe looks amazing, I’m so excited to try it. Is there a substitute for the grand marnier that I could use? I wouldn’t want to buy it just for 3 tablespoons and then have the rest go to waste. Thanks for the recipe!

    - bre lish on August 10, 2011 Reply
    • Hi there!

      Grand Marnier would actually keep pretty much forever, but you couls also go buy a little tiny bottl (think airplane size bottle) from the liquor store for between $3-$5. :)

      - Michele B on August 16, 2012 Reply
  • Oh..my..gosh!! I made this for Mother’s Day morning & it was excellent! I personally am not a huge fan of french toast (guess I have never had any that’s been really good until now)but this was awesome! We even had a little left over & it was fantastic a couple of days later. I will make this for guests for sure & for us frequently! Thank you for yet another outstanding recipe!

    - Esther on May 23, 2011 Reply
  • A wonderfully easy & decadently delicious recipe. Huge hit at a recent brunch I hosted. You are a culinary genius!!!

    - Patti on January 10, 2010 Reply
  • YUM!!! Best french toast casserole I’ve tasted. Made it for company and everyone was asking me for the recipe…always a good sign!! I used raisin challah which was a nice twist….it was even good reheated in the microwave the next day.

    - Denise on November 13, 2009 Reply
  • This recipe is amazing. We literally scraped the pan clean. I thought the hint of orange was just perfect. This will definitely be an entertaining stand-by for me.

    - K.L. on November 10, 2009 Reply
  • Seriously, brilliant. Excuse me while I bookmark this!

    - CinnamonQuill on October 10, 2009 Reply
  • This was a big hit with my husband and brother-in-law yesterday. They ate so much of it, they had to take naps soon after :)
    I had forgotten to stop at the market for the Challah, so I used plain wheat sandwich bread – worked just fine. I also didn’t have a chance to make it the night before, and again, didn’t seem to affect the taste.

    One thing I added before serving: A few maple glazed pecans from your salad recipe.

    - Amy L on October 5, 2009 Reply

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