Boozy Caramel French Toast Casserole
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
This boozy French toast casserole with a caramel bottom makes the perfect company-for-brunch dish.
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 Karen, who got it from…you get the idea.
This French toast casserole makes a perfect company-for-brunch dish because you can assemble it the night before, let it sit in the fridge overnight, and then just pop it in the oven in the morning when you’re ready to eat. Don’t worry if you forget to plan ahead; it can be baked soon after assembling if need be.
Ingredients For Boozy Caramel French Toast Casserole
I use broiche bread to make my French toast casserole. Brioche is a lightly sweetened yeast bread enriched with lots of butter and eggs. You can find it in the bakery of most large supermarkets; if for some reason you can’t find it, challah makes an excellent substitute.
Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored liqueur. It adds depth of flavor and subtle orange flavor that pairs nicely with the orange zest and caramel. If you’d like to omit the booze, go ahead and replace it with more half and half.
How To Make Boozy Caramel French Toast Casserole
Begin with the caramel. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and one tablespoon of water.
Melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth.
Pour the caramel into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Remove the crust on the brioche and into 1½-in slices. Arrange the bread on top of caramel, making sure entire base is well covered.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, orange zest and salt until well combined.
Pour evenly over bread. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
When you’re ready to eat, bake the French toast casserole, uncovered, until puffed and golden, 40-50 minutes.
Let cool a few minutes (it will deflate) and then serve immediately. The caramel will harden up as it cools, so it’s important to serve this dish hot.
More French Toast Recipes
Boozy Caramel French Toast Casserole
This boozy French toast casserole with a caramel bottom makes the perfect company-for-brunch dish.
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1⅓ lbs brioche (you'll likely need two loaves but you won't use it all)
- 5 large eggs
- 1½ cups half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar, corn syrup, and one tablespoon of water, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.
- Slice off the crusts from the brioche (it doesn't need to be perfect). Cut the bread into 1½-in thick slices. Arrange the bread slices on top of caramel, making sure the entire base of the pan is covered.
- 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 20 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Bake, uncovered, in the middle of the oven until puffed and golden, 40-50 minutes. Let cool a few minutes (it will deflate), then serve immediately. The caramel base hardens up as it cools, so it's important to serve hot.
- Per serving (705 servings)
- Fat: 32 g
- Saturated fat: 17 g
- Carbohydrates: 84 g
- Sugar: 37 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 17 g
- Sodium: 578 mg
- Cholesterol: 269 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Hi Jenn! I’m planning on making this for Christmas brunch. I already have a bottle of dark corn syrup that I’d like to make use of if at all possible. Do you think it would work, or be too overpowering?
Hi Caroline, I think it’d work. Please lmk how it turns out!
Jenn, thank you so much for your quick reply! It came out great. The caramel was somewhat chewy, not sure if that was because of the dark syrup or if yours is like that as well. Either way, it was a huge hit! I’ll be making it again for sure. Thanks again!
I am serving a very flavorful savory sausage/cheddar strata for Christmas breakfast. Do you think this would pair well with that? Sweet vs. savory?
Yes, definitely. Enjoy!
This was a hit with my family. I substituted the challah with brioche which is all my store carried. Tasted wonderful. Served with bacon/ sausage and maple syrup. An easy recipe to make. Thank you Jen for sharing this one. You are an amazing chef.
I’ve made this several times and everyone loves it. I follow the recipe exactly and it’s perfect every time. No need to change it!
Can’t wait to try this. I make my own Challah, do you think a 1 1/2 lb loaf will suffice here ? Would it be better to use day old or freshly baked? Thanks so much for all of your fabulous, dependable recipes, all are clearly written and always excellent! 😄
Hi Chrissy, A standard challah is about 1 lb so you should have plenty (and you probably won’t need all of it). Day-old will work well, but it honestly doesn’t make much of a difference here. Glad you’re enjoying the recipes!
I made this Thanksgiving morning and it was divine. Everyone else thought so because it didn’t last very long. I loved the orange flavor in the dish, it was just enough and not overpowering at all. And let’s not forget that buttery caramel bottom that added the right amount of sweetness. Heaven! As always, Thank you Jenn for your amazing recipes.
This has become a go-to recipe for my family. Depending on what we have on hand, we have substituted brioche for challah, and orange juice for Grand Marnier, both with excellent results. Serve with bacon and fresh fruit for an irresistible Sunday brunch!
The recipe does not include the amount of caramel or instructions showing placing the bread on caramel.
Hi Patricia, you may be confused because the recipe doesn’t require packaged caramel, but rather you’re making it with the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Hope that clarifies!
Hi, Can this be made without corn syrup?
Hi Lora, you’d need to substitute the corn syrup with something else; Lyle’s Golden Syrup would work well.
absolutely delicious! A crowd pleaser.
Family loved it. It was very easy to make and it turned out lovely. No need for syrup though we did add a little whipped cream when serving.
Made this for my brother’s brunch and it was a hit! Added nutmeg and cinammon to my egg base and left out the alcohol and it was delish! The only problem with this dish is how quickly the caramel hardens….seconds were caramel-less which was a shame. Otherwise tasty and great as a make-ahead dish.
So this has become my go-to breakfast recipe when company is here for the last 2 years now! I’ve made it with and without the alcohol, kids love it. The only thing that I would say is wrong is that mine never seems to puff, but it always looks and tastes great!
My family adores this recipe! From the smallest to the largest member. This recipe is the epitome of decadent. It’s also a great reason to visit Great Harvest Bread Co., for their challah and other yummy treat samples. I like to substitute the zest from Cutie tangerines for traditional orange. It really amps up the flavor profile! Love your recipes!
Hi Jenn, I scaled this recipe to 1/2 and followed the instructions, but it didn’t turn out as expected. The toast didn’t puff at all after 50 min of baking, and cooked in what seemed like a butter bath. Once cool, the caramel never hardened but stayed soft like toffee and got mostly absorbed by the toast. It was also quite heavy. Any idea what went wrong? Should I have waited for the sugar to melt into a complete clear caramel? Mine stayed smooth but opaque like toffee. The liquid came up to 2/3 of the bread slices; should it have covered all the way to the top? I also think I might have turned the Convection bake on. Could that have something to do with it? I’ve tried quite a few of your recipes and all were a success, so I’m thinking I did something wrong here.
Hi Tina, that’s a real headscratcher; I’m not certain what may have gone wrong here. Any chance you used margarine instead of butter?
This french toast is decadent and delicious. It’s my daughter’s absolute favorite. On special occasions, we make this and chilaquiles to balance the sweetness of this dish. I do not like orange flavors so I substitute Bailey’s for the Grand Marnier and leave out the zest. I have yet to meet someone who does not LOVE this french toast. And it’s not difficult to make either (but totally looks it!).
I’m excited to make this for Easter brunch tomorrow. I could not find challah bread. Could I use ciabatta as a substitute?
Hi Crystal, I may be getting back to you too late, but I would recommend either brioche or a Hawaiian loaf instead.
I have leftover pannetone from Christmas in my freezer. Would that work as a substitute for the challah?
Hi Mary, I’ve never had pannetone, so I can’t say for sure. I googled it, though, and there are a lot of pannetone French toast recipes, so it may be worth a try (but do it at your own risk :)!
Amazing!!! Great way to impress your family or guests.
I did add 2 tbsp. maple syrup to bottom mixture to keep the mixture soft as I had a straggler coming to brunch – this worked great.
Due to poor planning, I used really fresh french bread with crusts and only had time for 2 hour soak before cooking. Which did work for me. Next time, I will soak it over night and compare the results.
Served with breakfast sausages and it disappeared very quickly when served to four adults.
I made this for Breakfast as we had about 6 people here to help put up my new green house, The directions said your caramel sauce would harden so I substituted Dulce De Leche I had made from boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk (In the closed cans) Since people were not all arriving together, I set out some candied pecans and some candied Bacon so guest could sprinkle it over theirs to add a little texture it was a huge hit!!
Can I substitute maple syrup for corn syrup?
Hi Jane, Maple syrup wouldn’t work here, but you could use Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead.
Great recipe, glad i found it.
However I added cinnamon and nutmeg in batter and drizzled caramel and sprinkled powdered sugar before serving and daughter made a compote to topping
Hi Jenn: Would I be able to halve this recipe and bake it in an 8 x 8 ” pan?
Yep, that should work fine Kathy. Enjoy!
This recipe is amazing! It was extremely easy and straight forward to make, and I loved that I could do it all ahead of time, leading to very little clean up after serving it. I was originally concerned as my challah had gotten squished in the grocery bag, but it wound up being fine. Overall, the dish was a little on the sweet/rich side, but I loved it. Could even be served as a dessert bread pudding! Can’t wait to make this again!
I did this again for guests over Thanksgiving weekend minus the alcohol and each time, it’s always a big hit.
I used the Trader Joe’s challah rolls
http://www.traderjoesfan.com/component/mtree/products/bakery/handbraided-challah and baked them in my http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/le-creuset-heritage-stoneware-rectangular-covered-casserole/?pkey=e%7Cle%2Bcreuset%7C145%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C22&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH
It was perfect.
The bread I got was big enough to feed a crowd, sliced it thicker so it fits in the rectangular baker = perfection!!!
hi! making this on saturday, but I just want to confirm that an overnight soak won’t make it too soggy. My guests are coming at noon on saturday and I am afraid if i do this around 8pm the night before it will be. thoughts?
No Casey, It shouldn’t be soggy; the soaking allows the bread to fully absorb the egg mixture. Hope everyone enjoys!
Awesome! Just prepped it (my gosh it looks amazing!)! Can’t wait to pop this in the oven tomorrow! Thank you!
One of my guests: ‘this is literally the best French toast I have ever had in my life!’
A friend made this for my daughter’s post wedding brunch and it was a big hit. Now it’s a Christmas morning must have. We used whole wheat croissants cut in half instead of challah bread and it was perfect!
This was yummy but it didn’t puff up at all. So it tasted better that it looked. What did I do wrong? Thanks!
Hi Lisa, Try cooking it a bit longer next time. I find it puffs up right at the very end.
Hi Jenn! I’m making your drunken caramel French toast for tomorrow’s Easter brunch. Your recipe says you make it the night before. Can I make it this morning or will it become too soggy in the refrigerator for that long? By the way, I have made so many of you recipes and everyone loves them! Your site is beautiful and so well organized. You make each recipe foolproof! Thank you!
Hi Patti, I think it should be fine to make it this morning. So glad you’re enjoying all the recipes and Happy Easter!
Hi! I’m making the Drunken Caramel French Toast and the Spinach and Cheese Strata. Can the French Toast be baked at 325 like the strata? You mention that the reason for the lower temp is to add creaminess, so I don’t want to lose this. How much longer for the French Toast at 325? Thanks!
Hi Iesa, I’d give it an extra 15 minutes or so.
I was looking for a recipe that would provide an alternative to the traditional French toast. This hit the mark. I made this for Christmas breakfast and it was a huge hit with everyone. I would definitely make this again, even if just for the hubby and I. I loved the flavor. I didn’t use the Grand Marnier, so I added in fresh orange juice. It added such a great flavor. Thumbs up!
The whole family was at our home this Christmas. I was looking for something I could make ahead for breakfast on the day after Christmas. Made this and everyone LOVED it. Following suggestions, I served it with lots of bacon and a big bowl of creamy scrambled eggs. Will definitely make again.
It was sooo perfect – served it for breakfast on the 1st of January – everyone loved it. It tastes like a homemade luxurious pastry coming right from the oven and it is so easy to make. And no fuss in the morning. Jenn, thanks a lot. I adore your site and this recipe is again a triumph. Happy holidays and all the best to you and your loved ones!
This had all the makings of another excellent recipe from you.
I baked in a glass pyrex dish and am wondering if this would cause the caramel to burn? The top was perfect but the bottom burnt and stuck to pan. Thanks for your input as I would like to try again,
Sorry you had trouble, Cheryl. Happy to help troubleshoot – was the caramel actually burnt or just hard?
Thanks so much for the quick reply. I would say it was both burnt and hard. We do want to try again as everything we have made here has been a consistent five star.
Cheryl, Next time try lowering the heat to 325°F and check for doneness at 35-40 minutes; also, be sure to serve hot while the caramel is still soft. Hope that solves the issue. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it again.
Thank you so much for your suggestion! Doing that and adding two T of maple syrup as another person suggested resulted in perfection.
to make sure the caramel didn’t set too hard I just added a Couple of tablespoons of real vermont maple Syrup to the caramel mixture before adding to the bottom of the dish. Seconds were no problem!!!
Hi Jenn, I’m pulling out your winning recipes that have become standard Christmas fare for breakfast and dinner in our home. Please remind me why I need to remove crust from Challah bread in your drunken French toast recipe. Best season greetings to you and your family. Cathy
Hi Cathy, If you’d prefer not to have the crust on the bread, you can simply slice it off. Hope you enjoy!
Oops, sorry Cathy, I misunderstood! I prefer to remove the crust for a more delicate texture throughout but it’s not absolutely necessary.
Would it be possible to eliminate the caramel bottom – to decrease the sugar content?
While the caramel adds a lot to the recipe, I do think you could eliminate it.
I’ve made various forms of baked French toast over the years & none have wowed me until this one. It’s just the right combo of flavors & I would never have thought I would like the orange in it so much. The challah makes it just the right consistency (not too mushy ). This one is going in the table Christmas morning- thanks!
this sounds like it would taste wonderful…is it as easy to make as it sounds?
Yes Anita, it’s quite easy (and a definite crowd pleaser :).
Just loved it!
And with all the prep done the night before makes for a real easy morning breakfast. One question though, as mentioned by a previous poster, once the caramel mixture cools a little it sets up real hard. Would there be a way to make the sauce so it would not harden.
There’s not really a different way to make the sauce to avoid that. I would just make sure to keep the dish warm while your serving. (Perhaps you could keep it covered and on the warm setting in your oven.)
what is half and half.
Half-and-half is a blend of equal parts whole milk and light cream.
I’ve made this for the past couple of years at Christmas… it’s been a huge hit! I think the challah makes this perfect! I like to top servings with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. We usually make eggs and sausage to balance out the sweetness level.
My local store does not carry challah or brioche. Would an Italian loaf or Hawaiian loaf suffice? I could make a loaf of challah but would prefer a store bought loaf for this dish.
Hi Mindy, Yes, either would be fine. Definitely no need to make a homemade loaf!
I m anxious to try this. Is there anything else to use other than corn syrup? I never use it in my recipes any longer.
Hi Catherine, You could use Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Please lmk how it turns out 🙂
I agree. I was distressed to see it listed. I found a substitution rule, though:
“You can replace 1 cup of light corn syrup with 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water or other liquid used in the recipe.”
Obviously adjust portion.
I’m trying to figure out what a large loaf of challah would classify as…How many slices of challah are required? Do I just cover the bottom or do I layer it? Thank you so much for all the delicious recipes!
Hi Aileen, I don’t recall how many slices I used to make this dish, but one standard challah should be enough — you just cover the bottom of the dish. (If you’re a little short, you can always fill in with sandwich bread.) Hope that helps!
The marriage of Grand Marnier and caramel was heavenly.
Mine didn’t puff up as nicely as yours, but it was still the best breakfast/brunch casserole I have ever served. A real crowd pleaser.
Thanks again, Jenn. Yo gave me another “go-to” recipe. And one that can be made ahead is so appreciated.
This recipe looks amazing, but I am not a fan of orange flavoring. I’m sure I can omit the orange zest, but do you have a suggestion for a replacement for the Grand Marnier? Thank you so much. Our family enjoys your recipes often!
Hi Jamie, Yes, fine to omit the orange zest — rum would be delicious 🙂
How does the French toast turn out if you completely bake the day before and warm the next morning?How long would you suggest reheating it?
I know some French Toast recipes ask for the bread to be “day old” to have a crunchy outside and soft inside. Does it matter for this recipe as well? Or can I use bread bought same day? Thank you! This looks wonderful and I am looking forward to making it for Easter!
Hi Brie, Same day bread is fine — either way it will be delicious 🙂
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 🙂
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!