Drunken Caramel French Toast

French toast 7

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 :)

French toast 5

What makes it so good? Well, just consider what’s in it: golden caramel, buttery challah and custard spiked with Grand Marnier. 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.

French toast 4

French toast 6

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

French toast

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

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.
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  • Amy L

    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.

  • Seriously, brilliant. Excuse me while I bookmark this!

  • K.L.

    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.

  • Denise

    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.

  • Patti

    A wonderfully easy & decadently delicious recipe. Huge hit at a recent brunch I hosted. You are a culinary genius!!!

  • Esther

    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!

  • bre lish

    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!

    • Michele B

      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. :)

  • 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!

  • Jen

    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?

  • 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!

  • Jorge Millen

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

  • Claudia Nicholson

    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.

  • Lori O.

    I’m putting this on the menu for Saturday Morning. :)

  • Roni

    This is just amazing. I make it every time I have guestst for brunch :)

  • Judee

    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!

  • Reed

    Will try this Saturday. My husband cooks for a local B&B on weekends — this looks very promising!

  • Jan

    needing to try this very soon!!! Sounds delicious!

  • Randi

    This looks amazing!

  • Jennifer Skibins

    Scrumptious. This disappeared immediately! I think it could be a dessert.

  • Amy

    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!

  • Cindi

    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.

  • Tessa

    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!

  • Annie Cowing

    a must have, but not until next week’s budget! ha ha

  • Stefani

    Love this! Definitely a go-to when I have company in town!

  • teresa

    I am trying this on the weekend. It looks foolproof!

  • Andee

    I’m going to have to try this one after my husband and I get back from our honeymoon. Sounds like a great breakfast!

  • Jenniffer Hernandez

    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. :)

  • Ada Howe

    mmmm…. yum! this looks so good. it reminds me of a creme brulee styled french toast. can’t wait to try and make it!

  • Lazendra Hairston

    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.

  • 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

    • Jenn

      Hi Julie, I think that would work just fine. Hope you like it!

  • mindy t

    Made this as a birthday party breakfast and everyone loved it.

  • Carissa

    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!

  • Patty

    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.

  • Laurie

    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! ****

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Katzzz

    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

    Oh, the first time I made this I use Amoretto instead….and it was ddddelicious!!

  • Barbara J

    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 !

  • patricia Barna

    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!

  • MsLola

    This big hit on valentine’s day!

  • Elaine

    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

    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.

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