boozy baked french toast

“Jocelyn, come over. I’m making baked French toast for Dave and I.”

“I’m too hung over. I’m dying.”

“Bailey’s French toast will cure anything.”

“I can’t do it. I can’t handle daylight and outdoors yet.”

“Just call a car service. You’ll be here in 30 minutes. Come on, you know you want to.”

“I’ll never make it. It’s too far.”

“Do you want me to call for you?”

“No, I’ll have Jacqui make me French toast instead. How do you make it?”

“Milk, eggs, bread, sugar…”

“Oh my god! Jacquelyn!” Jocelyn starts banging on her sleeping roommate’s door. “We have eggs! We have milk! We have bread! Why aren’t you making me French toast? Debbie’s making Dave French toast!”

Jacquelyn locked the door and hid under the covers.

“You people are terrible friends,” said Jocelyn. “And you both owe me French toast.”

perfect use for the grocery aisle stuff

In her quintessential Jocelyn manner, seven years later the girl still likes to remind me that I owe her the French toast she was too hungover to cross the East River to get, so when she invited us over for champagne and tree-trimming this afternoon, I finally caved to her ridiculousness and baked some up. I mean, it’s not like I was complaining or anything; this stuff is the best.

And the easiest! Seriously, take one loaf of your choice of bread — I’ve made it with everything from Balthazar buttery brioche to Wonder bread and it’s always delicious — lay it out in one, two or three layers a well-buttered baking dish, pour an egg/milk custard over, flavored with your favorite blend of booze, extracts, zests, nuts, dried fruit — you name it — and then bake it for about half an hour. That’s it. That’s all there is. More bread pudding than classic French toast, you can even cut back the calories with lower fat milk or jack up the richness by buttering each slice of bread before arranging them in the pan.

a finished product

Yet, the absolute best thing about this approach to French toast, and the reason I was drawn to it in the first place is that in making it the night before, it’s the perfect guests-for-brunch food as you have none of that standing over a pan cooking individual portions mess while people wonder where their host is, and really no work to do at all on the day of. Except, say, get your butt to where you’re going or risk waiting seven years to get your fill. That part’s all you.

we approved

Boozy Baked French Toast

1 loaf supermarket Challah bread in 1-inch slices, no need for the super-fancy stuff here
3 cups whole milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Your choice of flavorings: I use 3 tablespoons Bailey’s and 3 tablespoons Cointreau, but Frangelico (hazelnut), Chambord (raspberry), Creme de Cassis (black currant) Grand Marnier or just a teaspoon or two of vanilla or almond extract can do the trick. You can bump up a citrus flavor with a teaspoon of zest, add a half-cup of chopped nuts such as almond slivers or pecans between layers or on top or a similar amount of raisins or other dried fruits.

1. Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with salted (my choice) or unsalted butter.
2. Arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan. I always cut one slice into smaller pieces to fill in gaps, especially when using braided Challah. If using a thinner-sliced bread, you might wish for more layers, though I find that over three, even baking can be difficult. If you are using any fillings of fruit or nuts, this is the time to get them between the layers or sprinkled atop.
3. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and booze or flavorings of your choice and pour over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
4. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.
5. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden. This will take longer if you have additional layers.
6. Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar or all of the above.

Serves 6 as main course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

182 comments on boozy baked french toast

  1. Hahaha! I’ve heard that story so many times. It reminds me of another Jocelyn story. One morning when Jocelyn was living with us between her California and NYC years, our dad accidentally set something on the stove on fire. OK, that “something” were dog bones fried up with bacon (we spoil our dog a lot) and I screamed up the stairs “Someone help! The kitchen is filled with smoke and there’s a fire!” To which Jocelyn replied “I’m sleeping! Why are you being so loud??” I guess we all have our priorities.

  2. This looks yummy, only problem in my house (well, there’s two really) is that I don’t know that feeding my 12 yo booze laden breakfast would really be very responsible, and my hubby a) doesn’t eat eggs or anything ‘eggy’ and b) doesn’t drink a drop of alcohol

    So IF i ever make it, and that’s a big ‘IF’ it would be like normal baked french toast and then I would just say to hubby ‘make your own breakfast, me and G are chowin’ down!”

    i love the jocelyn story and i don’t even know her, but in college had a few experiences like that

  3. I just love your blog!

    This looks like another keeper of a recipe! I have a French Toast recipe that my friends beg me to make, but it’s the “stand over the stove and your friends wonder where your host is” version. This way I can participate in the fun too instead of slaving over a the stove the entire time.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe and the funny story!

  4. Aha ha aha hahahah OMG. Finally. I mean honestly, who calls a hung over person and tells them they are making French Toast on the Upper East Side? That is just mean. And the Upper East Side? Seriously, you may as well have been calling me from Wyoming. Thats far! Thanks for the toast. I actually ate a pice off the kitchen counter this morning. I know, I am disgusting, but hey it was still good! Yum.

  5. Oh and I almost forgot. I ended up calling a car service that day–requesting a car only with tinted windows. To take me through the Drive-Thru at McDonalds. I even bought the driver a Happy Meal. aha ah aha h a

  6. deb

    Lauren – That’s beautiful. We need to have a dual roast of Joc next year for her next 29th birthday.

    Kate – You can totally cut out the booze, though it bakes off, I know when I was a kid I couldn’t stand even the hint of a taste of alcohol. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

    Jocelyn – I lived on Avenue B at the time, which was a $7 cab ride back in the day to Williamsburg. You actually made it to the UES ones. I almost forgot the McD’s part, only the best part of the story. What ever happened to Vinnie?

  7. Jezzie

    Ok, I was having the most delicious deja vu when I began to read this, then I’m all, “I knew it!…this was one of my favorite archive entries and the one that made me love Joc’s rock star persona, when later she orders a car for mickie d’s and the buys the driver a sammy.Y’all are fun, and funny, and great “city” girlz! Just let me know when you need me to chip in for the therapy, you earned every penny entertaining me! lolz.

  8. Jessica

    I love this story – Joc is my hero (particularly for the McD part, which is still my favorite part of the story). I have fond memories of this story from the first time you ever posted about it. Glad she finally got her french toast, though I don’t think I’ll make it. The dutch pancakes put me off eggs for a while.

  9. This is a recipe I’ll have to prepare during the holidays – I love having a very lazy breakfast on those days!

    I like the idea of it being baked, so I can put the dish in the oven and watch TV in the meantime – very lazy indeed!

  10. Ok, I’ve never thought of adding booze to my bread and butter pudding, but I’ve got some half-empty bottles of cream liqueur in my cupboard, so this might just be the dessert for this weekend:)

  11. Another thing to do to this is add a layer of apples braised in butter underneath – or even just applesauce if you’re lazy. Then you could use Calvados or dark rum for the booze. Something like this is usually our Christmas breakfast.

  12. MissV


    Here in the hinterlands of the northern Midwest, we don’t have “supermarket Challah”. But we do have lefse! Perhaps if I soaked that with a little aquavit and eggs, then baked it and drizzled it with lingonberry jam, I could call it Norwegian Toast?

    Okay, maybe not…

  13. Hey Deb. Just wanted to tell you my family made this last night (sans liquor) and we devoured it this morning. Even me, only five days post tonsillectomy! Everyone loved it, and my mom is excited to invite friends over and make it for a brunch in their newly remodeled house.

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. heather

    I made this recipe over the holidays and my hubby thought it was the mutt’s nuts (his words). The only thing changed was the liquor (I used amaretto). Delicious! Thank you.

  15. onlyconnect

    I’m not sure what I did wrong here, but I had 2 or 3 possible deviations that could have caused this to fail for me. I only had an 8 by 11 pan, so I used that, and I only had enough bread for a complete bottom layer and an almost-but-not-quite-complete top layer. (Used an entire loaf of challah.) Also I wound up soaking the bread in the fridge for about 15 hours — could that have been too much? The result was soggy on the bottom and a bit burned on the top and I had to pitch it. This was just a backup dish for me at a brunch I was hosting so it wasn’t the end of the world, but I do wonder what I did wrong. It sounded and looked yummy here!

  16. Kelly

    Huzzah!! Thanks for opening the comments again. I prepared this last night and baked it this morning for breakfast. I only had 1 cup of whole milk, so I used what I had left. Which, as I mentioned in my other post, was 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of buttermilk. I’ve always been wanting more uses for buttermilk, because I love the scent like crazy and the tart flavor it adds to all my family’s traditional foods (biscuits, fried chicken). I am checking out the buttermilk ice cream this summer for sure.

    Anyway, I had half a loaf of vienna bread that I actually had to saw into pieces it was so hard. After soaking overnight though it was soft as warm butter and baked like a charm. It was a little wet, but I am pretty sure that’s because I had less bread than the recipe called for–but I didn’t mind. I liked to gooey. The best part though is that that cup of buttermilk in the mix really made it taste like it had cream cheese in the mixture. It was fabulous! I am so making this again, and definitely with the buttermilk, though I want to try it without the buttermilk too.

    Thanks for this recipe!!

  17. Mrs. Q.

    We tried this a few weekends ago and, sadly, it didn’t go so well. In other ‘overnight’ french toast recipes I’ve tried,there are many more eggs/a higher ratio of eggs to milk. After making Paula Deans’ heart-attack-on-a-plate recipe, I was glad to try one with less eggs and no cream. But the result for me was a horribly soggy french toast– we kept popping back in the oven for more time, but it never seemed to develop that ‘set’ cooked custard center. We ate the edges and had to throw the rest. I also used Portuguese sweet bread instead of the challah, because that’s easier to find in these parts, so perhaps that was part of the problem? Sigh.

  18. Jendorf

    Tasted great-but I have a question. . .was this supposed to be baked covered? I knew to take off the plastic wrap before baking (pretty obvious!), but the top layer came out very dry. . .I wonder if it is supposed to be covered with foil?

    Otherwise delicious! We served it with macerated strawberries and powdered sugar this am, and my kiddos gobbled it up!

  19. Heidi in DF

    So excited to make this for a Halloween brunchy gathering this weekend. Here in Mexico City this is the season of pan de muerto, made for the Mexican rough equivalent of All Saints and All Souls days (bread of the dead…creepy sounding but mighty tasty) and I am going to try it with that. It’s a slightly sweet bread with a hint of anise and/or orange flavor. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

  20. Heidi in DF

    I made this using pan de muerto and it turned out quite well topped with my dad’s version of cranberry orange relish. And the little bit of leftovers have been even better in the past coupla days (like Jendorf’s above, mine came out of the oven with the top a little on the dry side, too)…or maybe I’m partial to being able to grab a slab of french toast for my breakfast on a work day.

  21. Hillary

    Deb, I am new to this blog and absolutely love it. I am interested in making this for Christmas day brunch. The recipe I have used in the past never quite sets up and is soggy. I think adding the flavorings is great – and I do love Baileys! Do you recommend using old, stale bread? Or do you use fresh bread?

    1. deb

      You can use either. Stale bread absorbs better. If you are concerned about sogginess, spreading it thinner (perhaps over two pans instead of one) would create more edges, less thickness that needs to be cooked through.

  22. Stephanie

    I just made this for a breakfast-for-dinner party and it was DELICIOUS! I substituted coconut milk because of a dairy allergy but no one noticed because it was still rich and yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. Melissa

    Mom and I just made this for breakfast yesterday, delicious! I even took a piece of the leftovers to work with me and heated it up in the microwave, it’s just as good the second time around!

  24. Jean Marie

    I need something for Christmas morning and have an excess of panettone (hostess gifts for snowed-out parties). I’ll bet that would work with this recipe but Grand Marnier would probably be better than Baileys with the fruity bread. Thanks, as always, for a great idea, Deb!

  25. I made this for Christmas breakfast today and it was delicious and easy. I used 3 Tbsp Baileys and 1 tsp vanilla and the Bailey’s flavor wasn’t very strong. So I would definitely buy another liquor next time or just add more Bailey’s. The loaf of challah I had wasn’t enough for 2 full layers but the bread still absorbed all of the milk mixture and baked fine. Will definitely make again

  26. Claire

    I made this last night to bake up for lunch today but I have the stomach flu and can’t deal with it. Anyone know if I can freeze it (‘raw’) to bake at a future time? Thanks!

  27. Hello Deb! I’ve been snooping around your blog for months now, and it’s seriously one of my favorite things to read, both because I love your writing and because I love your photographs (good pictures of food get me every time). However. If you can believe it, this French toast is the FIRST of your recipes that I’ve ever made. (Wouldn’t you think someone who obsesses over food blogs would occasionally try out a recipe?) Despite slight modifications and a burned bottom and the limitations of my toaster oven (I don’t have a real oven!!,) this was wonderful. Thanks so much. I’m getting ambitious now, and eyeing a couple other recipes for tomorrow…

  28. Melissa in Mississippi

    Made this for our family for Christmas morning! I put slivered almonds and golden raisins in between the layers. It is just as good microwaved 3 days later!

  29. Claire

    if anyone was curious I flash froze my french toast for a day, let it defrost and it was great this morning. Additionally, I only had Splenda on my hands, no sugar and that didn’t seem to affect it at all.

  30. Jenny

    I made this for Christmas brunch because I have two small children and Christmas morning does not allow time for cooking and OH MY GOODNESS it was soo good. I made it with amaretto and vanilla extract and it was fabulous served up with some fruit and a side of bacon. I will definately be adding this to my breakfast go-to list.

  31. Jaime

    It did not work for me. Should I have cooked it covered? I had extremely fluffy bread, that was way undercooked beneath the top layer, and that top layer was close to burning. Suggestions?

  32. Jody

    We made this last night for dinner and it was such a hit!! My 4 year old son helped me make it and was SO proud of how yummy it was. So easy and so versitile. Thank you!!

  33. Tanya

    It didn’t work for us either and I was so sure it would! The bottom was still under-cooked and top was nice and brown. I placed some foil over it and put it back in the oven and it dried out but not nearly like what I think it should be. Of course that did not stop us from eating it. I used shredded coconut, baileys and vanilla extract and it was good just wished it wasn’t so wet. Thanks for the recipe!

  34. Andrea

    Hi Deb (: I just finished making this but didn’t put refrigerate it yet because I was wondering what was the maximum amount of hours for refrigeration was? Thanks!

  35. Heather

    This is a phenomenally fail safe and delicious recipe. On both occasions, I’ve cubed my challah in large squares, but thanks to the delicious custard, it all comes back together with a perfect crisp exterior. Definitely more of a bread pudding, which works for me. And it looks beautiful dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Thanks so much for sharing the yumminess!

  36. Sophie

    Deb, this is really the best. Thanks for such an awesome recipe! My sister and I host an after-Christmas breakfast-for-dinner party every year and we’re always looking for something delicious that can feed a crowd, and impress, and be done ahead! This was a total winner. With the fridge too full, I set the pans out on my balcony (40 degrees!) to set and they baked to perfection. Two giant pans were quickly finished off by our guests… I will make this again and again! Thanks for making us look good by the way. We served this with Bon Appetit’s Spinach, Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper Torta Rustica, homemade bloody marys and orange juice and a green salad. Delicious!

  37. Em

    This was great. i made for some college friends who cam into town and they asked me to make for dinner too. It is so much easier than my favorite french toast casserole recipe. As much as I am not a fan of the butter queen Paula Dean, she has an amazing french toast recipe with a praline topping. It is a combination of bread pudding and french toast. It is a must try.

  38. Sandra Elsen

    this smells delicious baking in my oven- only wish there was more bread in my house- only had 5 pieces! my husband got to it before me. now anticipation is killing me.

  39. Annie

    I cooked this again yesterday, and it was even better the second time around. I was generous with the cinnamon & sugar between layers, and I think that was key. I also used a smaller pan so the mixture really covered the bread before I put it in the fridge… this was especially key in the top layer not drying out when I cooked it (which I felt happened last time).

    I had leftovers and it was even wonderful reheated the next day.

    I think the cinnamon & sugar were the extra something it needed for me.

  40. Lance

    Made a great Mother’s Day brunch! Substituted two cups of skim & 1 cup half-and-half for the whole milk. Seemed a bit moister than yours, but still excellent.

  41. Teddi

    Lets not forget, all the “booze” will be baked out so I have no problems making this for my kids. Vanilla and other extracts are also “booze” and we give them to our kids all the time in cookies, cakes, etc. I cant wait to try this one out tomarrow morning!

  42. Beth Beth

    Making this tomorrow morning for my Big Gay Brunch. Happy Pride, everyone! Hope it goes well. Either way, mimosas and Bloody Marys…

  43. Charlotte

    @Beth Beth, I’m doing the same thing — although, admittedly, I’m not heading into the city tomorrow for the festival. Still, Happy Pride!

  44. SDeHaven

    I made this over the weekend for my visiting friend. I actually had leftover challah bread that I’d made earlier in the week, it made the dish even more delish. I did have to cut the recipe in half (only 2 of us), but it worked out beautifully as I had medium eggs on hand (79 cents for a dozen – I couldn’t say no). I still used 2 tbsp baileys + 1 tsp almond extract w some crushed almond in the bread. It baked in about 22 minutes in the middle of the oven, but was goldenly scrumptious. Thank you for this recipe and helping me give my friend a beautiful meal.

  45. Alicia1lily

    I made this for a reunion weekend get together. It was such a smashing hit! I used grangala and vanilla. This will be a go-to recipe for any special function. Thank you for all of the lovely recipes.

  46. Anne

    This was excellent. I used skim milk, egg beaters and 3T of Grand Marnier and put cinnamon, sugar and crushed walnuts in between the layers and on top. My husband who is not easily impressed by food (“It’s all just food…”) and not a huge fan of french toast or bread pudding exclaimed “Best thing ever!” got seconds and insisted that I make this next time people stay the night at our house. I could taste the Grand Marnier a perfect amount, not too strong just a hint in the background. I would have no problem serving this to children as it did not have a strong alcohol taste at all, just sort of citrus-y, and I am sure any potency it might have had is baked out. Thanks for the great recipe, will be printing this one out for my collection!

  47. Anne

    PS. I used a loaf of crusty Ciabatta bread for the bread, cut the slices about 3/4 inch thick and used 2 layers so the pan was filled almost to the top. I think using a crusty bread (or letting regular bread dry out a little before using), and using enough of it, might be a good key to not ending up with too-soggy toast.

  48. I made this today and it was incredible. I used bolillos from the local Mexican market instead of challah (cheaper!) and sprinkled muscovado sugar and dried Montmorency cherries between the layers. I added 3 TBS of thick cut marmalade to the egg mixture, used 4 TBS 12 year old single malt whiskey and 2 tsp of bourbon vanilla. Delicious. The only problem is that it did come out pretty moist – I think I may bake it longer and a bit cooler, like 375 for 45 minutes, will have to play with that. The whiskey set against the cherries and orange was just… wow.

    This, we will have again.

  49. Jenny D

    I am new here and so inspired by your site that my husband is starting to become a “smitten kitchen widow”. So sad for him, but I will not be moved!! You truly have a gift and I am so glad that you are brave enough to share your culinary adventures with everyone by having this site.

    Had this for breakfast this morning, and made it with Bailey’s and Cointreau as suggested. I used a loaf of Whole Wheat Walnut Cranberry bread, and added a tsp or two of fine orange zest to the egg mixture. Garnished with fresh mint sprigs, slices of supremed oranges, and a hint of powdered sugar. It was…so…good….THANK YOU!! Christmas morning breakfast plans are taking shape as we speak!

  50. Vonada

    Our Thanksgiving starts early as we have family visiting from other states – We stay up all evening playing catch up and everyone is cooking (it’s a good thing); while I play board games with the children (no sugar please). It was decided prior to their arrival breakfast would be dinner. The Boozy Baked French Toast was a hit! The Challah bread did not make a two layer (one must be flexible), two loaves next time. The toast started to burn the top (oh well let’s put some loose foil on top for damage control). I decided on the kid friendly version and it was delish~ Even my son tried to snob it (of course I said nothing when he had a second helping (smile). Life is good when everyone is happy eating. I served it with a fruit salad with a choice of your “Baked Eggs” as well and yes it was all delish. Thanks Deb! You are my new “Rock Star” and yes I refer many to your site. HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

  51. Hillary

    This was a smash hit for our post-holiday party brunch today! I used Kahlua and Irish Creme, it was great. Next time I’ll cover it with some foil about halfway through cooking. Thanks for the recipe!

  52. Elyse

    I made this recipe with leftovers from making the challah recipe and it was great! Thanks for providing a use for the leftovers!

  53. I’ve made this several times, and it has always turned out amazing, but my boyfriend doesn’t like the texture, so I’ve started flipping it halfway through the soaking process and it bakes a lot more evenly, in my experience. The way I did it was to make it early afternoon, flip it before bed (I literally place another dish the same size on top and then flip it upside down), and then bake the next morning per the recipe. I’ve also had problems with the center not cooking fully while the top is crusty even while covered, like other comments have noted, and I’ve noticed that this method also helps balance out any inconsistencies with oven heat.

  54. Samantha

    I love french toast and I love adding booze to my breakfast yummies – however, I learned the hard way that when you mix Kahlua or any other booze into french toast, it becomes a sticky, smokey mess when it meets the pan. I just made this to bring to a friend’s Valentine’s Day Brunch and it was a huge hit. My oven is small and temperamental so I baked it covered for 25 min and uncovered for 10 and it came out perfectly! I also took someone else’s advice to do some sort of build in syrup at the bottom of the pan – I decided on a butter/brown sugar/maple syrup caramel sauce that I poured in the dish before layering the challah – genius!

  55. I’m probably being paranoid, but…is this fine to serve to a pregnant woman? I mean, does the booze cook off and leave just the flavor? (I know some people say that minimal alcohol is all right during pregnancy, but I believe this person is abstaining from all alcohol and I want to respect that…at her baby shower.) Thanks!

  56. Fanya

    Hmm…not as tasty as I thought (or at least not as to my liking as other recipes).

    I was dead wrong to think supermarket challah bread is going to have any resemblance to freshly homemade challah bread, so I used this recipe to use the bread up. One loaf of bread was barely enough to produce 2 layers of 1/2-1in thick on a 9 by 13 pan. The top taste like toast and bottom bread pudding. hmm….well, at least it makes the supposedly not stale supermarket challah edible. Guess I will put in the hard work and make challah from your recipe next time I want to eat challah.

  57. Nearly five years after you post this and it turns into the perfect Fathers’ Day breakfast. I actually did not fully read the recipe until the morning of, however, and it soaked for about 12 minutes instead of 12 hours, but it was delicious nonetheless. Next time I will do the full overnight. I am looking forward to having people over for brunch now, this takes away all of the morning stress!

  58. This recipe is amazing and totally foolproof. I made two pans this past weekend for 20+ and it was plenty (among other dishes). I used vanilla for flavoring and sprinkled slivered almonds on top and cinnamon and sugar between the layers. And served with my favorite maple butter recipe from Clinton Street. It is super easy and delicious and the leftovers (if you have any) are tasty too. My new favorite!

  59. Carrie Watters

    OK, so I’m a bit late on this, but wanted to add that this is AMAZING! Granted, we only made it about one hour before it went into the oven, but it was perfect! Also, I added (per other reviews) some cinnamon and sugar to both layers in addition to about three tbsps of Bailey’s. Deeeeeeeeelicious, thanks!

  60. Annie

    Made this for six for brunch this morning. Used vanilla soy milk and Earth Balance for the lactards (me), and a mix of Desarrono (amaretto liquor) and Grand Marnier for the liquor— the requisite 6 tablespoons, but felt like I could definitely have ramped up the booze since the taste was hard to detect. Added an extra egg since the original batter with the soy milk looked thin, two different types of bread— a cinnamon apple loaf as a solid bottom layer and a rustic raisin loaf on the top, and the result was absolutely beautiful, perfect, and delicious. Really freaking good. Garnished with fresh berries, side of bacon, and peach nectar bellinis for a festive meal. Thanks for the recipe— perfect for hosting!

  61. kelly

    I made this for a group of friends coming over for brunch– delicious! I packed it full of raisins and sliced almonds, and everyone fell in love with how flavorful and creative it was. Huge hit, going to make it again for my family this weekend.

  62. Amanda

    I have two of these puppies in the fridge right now, waiting to be baked up for Christmas Eve brunch and the Bronco game. The first is an egg nog and Baileys and the second is cranberries and orange zest with Frangelico. I cannot tell you how excited I am try them out!

  63. Arlo

    it’s “I’m making baked French toast for Dave and *me,” not “I’m making baked French toast for Dave and I.” you wouldn’t say “I’m making baked French toast for I,” right?

    1. Amy

      Great recipe! Thanks! We like it for Easter Breakfast.
      Hi Arli! I was just about to make a grammar comment when I saw yours. This is a pet peeve of mine as it seems no one knows how to use “so and so and I” ( always when your are the subject ( at the beginning of the sentence) and “so and so and me” when you are the object of the sentence ( at the end). It’s simple really. After you and I have been irritatingly grammatical, I’ll make some French Toast for my grandkids and me.

  64. Amy C.

    This was great! I used challah. Because my bread was still fresh, I sliced it and put it into a 200 degree oven until it dried out. I then buttered the top side of the bottom layer and dipped it in cinnamon & sugar (and put less sugar in the egg batter). I had about a half cup of extra egg whites, so threw those in too. I baked mine for a longer time at a lower temperature, because I had something else in the oven that needed to be cooked at a lower temp. It was perfect, and looked pretty much like the photo the top wasn’t dried out or burned. Best of all, everyone loved it. Thanks for another great recipe!

  65. Rachel R

    Prepared this last night and left a note for my early rising husband to bake. Not a perfect collaboration because it came out too cooked on the top, edges and bottom. He is not one to adjust the instructions so my advice to others is to cut the time on the kitchen timer significantly and check to make sure the dish is not cooking too quickly. No worries, the kids ate the insides and the crusts will go to my neighbor’s hens. Breakfast innovation accomplished!

  66. Nina

    Baked french toast is definitely far superior to the individual pan style. My Banana French Toast version consists of making a butter/cinnamon/brown sugar mix and thickly coating the bottom of the baking dish, and then covering it in sliced bananas. The custard soaked bread goes on top and then usually a sprinkle of nuts. As it cooks, the bananas will actually caramalize and depending on how much butter/sugar mix you put on, you have a built in syrup! Tastes great with bacon and I have received rave reviews from everyone! Love the blog and loved meeting you in Vancouver! (PS: I figured out my yeast question that I asked you)

  67. Ariella

    We just made this with the small amount that was left from last night’s fig, olive oil honey challah….I have dreamed of making overnight soaked French toast for years and it was perfect!!! Thank you!

  68. beth

    made this for brunch for 15 people! i was generous with the cinnamon/sugar between the layers and i think that made a difference. i only used vanilla for flavor. i baked 2 pans (9×13) — first covered with foil for 15 minutes, then i turned and switched the pans and baked for another 20 minutes or so uncovered. it was delicious–one person said it was the best french toast they’d ever had. thanks!

  69. Beth @ The Furry Bird

    Sourdough, Grand Marnier, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Brunch for 10 ladies. Not a crumb left. It blew my mind.

    1. deb

      Michelle — Maybe. It might get a little mushy. A bread with yeast will hold up better. (Or did you mean latke-like fritters? I was picturing a cake-like pancake batter.)

  70. Nicole

    Tried this last week with honey roasted sliced almonds and fresh gala apples, and for 20 minutes all I heard from my husband and his parents were moans of pleasure!

    On a sidenote, I hadn’t realized this was one of yours when I made it–I originally found this recipe on the “Just Another Foodie” blog, tried it, loved it, and just tonight stumbled upon this one, nearly verbatim to the other, but timestamped 4 years earlier. Bookmarks: updated.

  71. cari

    omg i f’ing love you. of COURSE when i search bailey’s french toast bread pudding (a creation i was thinking of making from scratch for hubby’s first father’s day) you come through for me. can’t wait til sunday!

  72. I’m not a sweet breakfast person, but seeking a make-ahead recipe for a brunch we recently hosted, my roommate and I settled on this one. Absolutely dee-licious! Now I need an excuse to host another brunch. :)

  73. Daphne

    I was so excited to make this, Then I began reading all of the comments.. got to the end and read your last comment belittling your fans… ugh, is right. Won’t be back! THX!

    1. deb

      Daphne — No, probably not my most patient moment, but we all have off days. I’ve left 9,370 responses to 189,000 comments on this site to date; the above (which was sarcasm, hardly the stuff of major offenses) is an extreme rarity.

  74. Laura

    Worked out great for me even though I’d already eaten almost half the loaf of challah… used vanilla extract, cinnamon, sliced almonds and dried cherries.

  75. Colleen

    Cannot wait to make this for the mister and myself! Since it’s just the two of us and I have an 8×8 pan, how would you recommend cutting the recipe; should I halve it? Thanks for the inspiration!!

  76. Chris

    Made this for brunch last sunday with the booze and toasted chopped walnuts. It puffed up beautifully and tasted great with carmelized brown sugar syrup. And no fussing over the stove!

  77. Margaret B

    Can anyone tell me how much, by wieght, is a “supermarket” Challah? I can find lots of loaves locally, but all are different sizes. Thanks for the help. Excited to try this recipe!

  78. Bunmi

    Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for this recipe! I served it with the spinach quiche and some other dishes at my first easter brunch and they were a hit!!! And then I had left over quiche with a glass of red wine for dinner :)

    Your recipes are so dependable and my family has had some great meals from this website! Thanks again :)

  79. Mike

    I’m doing your Boozy French toast and your Spinach Gruyere Strata. One goes in at 350 degrees and one goes in at 450 degrees. Any suggestion on timing or temp adjustment so that I can serve them both together? I’m thinking I should I do the Strata first, take it out and cover in foil to keep warm. Then put in the French Toast so I can serve it immediately so as not to lose puffiness. Any thoughts?

  80. Kelly

    I successfully made this in AZ with challah. I’ve tried twice home in WA and both times the top has burned and bottom is soggy. I’m at a loss.

  81. Kelly

    Nope, similar altitude. I tried again today – cut the milk back to 2 cups (since I don’t like it as soggy) and covered with foil. It seemed to work except we ran out of foil and didn’t have quite enough to cover. Foil is definitely the trick, just like lasagna I guess. Can take it off for last 5 min to brown the top. I hope the daycare teachers like it!

  82. RZH

    I make this nearly every time I host brunch, usually with all Baileys. I find that I need to flip the top layer of bread in the morning and add the topping then, in order for the bread to be evenly soaked. What an unbelievable find!!

  83. Tracey

    Made this finally and my 17 yr old son loved it. So much so, he ate half of the pan and claimed all leftovers.I did use 4 eggs instead of 3, and patted the challah bread down to ensure the mixture soaked up well. I baked covered tightly and it was perfect.

  84. Lauren

    Mine is in the fridge waiting for go time. Added a half cup of pumpkin since I was torn between this recipe and the pumpkin bread pudding. Also added pecans, maple syrup instead of white sugar, and Baileys. 6 gfs coming over tomorrow, thanks also for your brunch strategy article! Coffee bar, grapefruit cocktails, zucchini frittata, sliced oranges with cardamom and pomegranate seeds, and an arugula prosciutto salad!

  85. Michelle

    I want to make this for an afternoon party. Is it better to make the night before & do a long soak or in the early morning with a shorter soak? I’m basically curious about min & max recommended refrigerated soak times.

    1. deb

      Michelle — Totally flexible. Work with your schedule. An hour is enough to get it pretty soaked with most breads. After that, the longer, the more pudding-y when it’s done.

  86. Katie

    I have made this twice with hardly any soaking time, maybe 10 minutes. I cut back the amount of milk by about a cup and used crusty french bread. baked for 15 minutes at 400 with no foil, then covered for another 15 minutes. it came out great.

  87. Charisse

    Once again I have made a recipe of yours and it was amazing. We made this for a brunch we hosted for friends. We used cognac and cinnamon swirl bread. It was absolutely the talk of the brunch.

    Thank you.

  88. Gina

    Deb my love, do you know if this delightful old recipe of yours will freeze will, before or after baking? Thanks so much. Store was out of challah (boo Nonblizzard Juno) so I got some beautiful brioche, I think it will work ok :)

  89. Made this French toast for my wife’s birthday breakfast and adored it! Used Chabatta bread and made it the night before as suggested. Had on hand some very fine 16yr Lagavulin Scotch so tossed in 3TBSP of that, as well as the fine suggestion from a commenter above to use some marmalade in the egg mixture. Also added some dried cherries in between the layers and sprinkled with raw sugar and cinnamon. Baked at 425 uncovered for 15 then covered for 15 but found it was still very squishy at the bottom and somewhat on the top. However, my oven has been known to be off on temps sometimes. Left it in for another 15 minutes uncovered. When I went to serve I flipped the pieces over and found them to be far too wet still to serve. I transferred them into a square glass casserole dish, bottom side up, and finished them off under the broiler in my toaster oven. Results were fantastic. The peet aroma and taste of the scotch blended with the cherry and orange notes quite perfectly. No need for maple syrup at all since the flavors were simply devine as is. I think next time I will flip the layers half way through their fridge rest and also drain off the excess egg mixture before putting it in the oven. This might result in a more french toast experience instead of the bread pudding effect. Either way, I will be making these again!

  90. Mimi (another one :)

    I had this for today’s breakfast – prepared it last night. the supermarket “butter brioche” was much too soft for this… and it took almost 50 min to cook it through, although I had only 2 layers. In the end I took off the top layer of brioche and put it in a separate pan so that it could set completely.

    It tasted good, and looked *glorious* when I took it out of the oven, but the texture was much too soft – not the recipe’s fault, but that of the supermarket bread :(

    Next time I’ll try it with a sturdier bread, maybe even ciabatta.

  91. Dani P.

    I made this for a brunch with friends years ago and it was a total hit! I used Cointreau and everyone kept asking what was in it. I think it’s such a great addition and adds that extra something to elevate normal french toast. I’m making again for my family’s Christmas brunch tomorrow. Thanks for the good ideas as always!

  92. Jan

    Just here to say that I just finished preparing this at my mother-in-law’s house for brunch tomorrow (we’re visiting for the holidays). I said I would make brunch, and she laughed and said, are you making your challah french toast from your smitten-woman? Ha! Why, yes, I am! It is my go-to recipe for any kid-friendly brunch. I have probably made it 20 times now. I have auditioned other baked french toasts, various bread puddings, strata’s, etc, and this one wins every time (plus, its hands-down the simplest to make!). Another win for the Smitten Kitchen!

  93. Cheryl

    Just got this set up for tomorrow, but using eggnog (non-alcoholic) in place of the milk, omitting the sugar, and adding a generous amount of nutmeg. Crossing fingers…

  94. Tiernan

    I baked up a mini-version of this. 2 servings in a 3 cup Pyrex. What a perfect way to use the last third of a baguette we can never seem to get through before it’s too hard to be any good.

  95. Emily

    I just did this for a big wedding shower brunch with great success. After reading some reviews about it being a little soggy or not setting up properly, I changed the recipe a little to follow my usual stovetop french toast liquid ratio (3 eggs per cup of dairy, and I used half milk and half cream). I used vanilla extract, and sprinkled a little cinnamon on each layer. I went out of my way to make sure both layers were really thoroughly drenched in the mixture (turning over slices, mixing up an extra egg’s worth of filling and pouring it on dry spots, etc.) It poufed up gorgeously in the oven and was custardy and beautiful. I’ve done about 3 large brunch parties now by following the gospel of smitten kitchen (everything made the day before and baked in a casserole dish or heated on a baking tray the morning of) and i am such a convert! Deb, you are the best.

  96. Alice K.

    Excellent! Made this last night, and had an easy time feeding guests this morning. Deb was right, though: generously grease the baking pan! I didn’t do it well enough, and the bread stuck. Next time, I’ll grease with abandon! It was fluffy and delicious.

  97. Negin

    Made this for the first time today, and the bottom layer came out super wet while the top layer nearly burned. Flavors were good though. May try again and either flip the layers halfway through or cover with foil?

      1. Heather

        I believe a lower temperature for longer is what has been suggested. I would also make sure that the bread, especially the top portions, are submerged in the custard mixture before refrigerating.

  98. Mike Thornbury

    I was looking at the loaf of white death taking up freezer space and this got my creative juices flowing.

    We don’t get fresh milk, or cream, so it was a packet of dried milk powder, a cup of fresh coconut cream from the lady up the road (who has invested in the special machine necessary), some of the delightful small bananas from the roadside shack that taste nothing like those bland things you get in supermarkets, some vanilla, eggs from our chickens, cinnamon and a generous dash of single malt.

    We do have ice cream, which was what we had already ngside.

    We’ll be having this again, maybe in another guise as it’s such a great way to use up leftovers.

    1. jjjeanie

      none of my business, of course, but sooo curious—where are you? (I don’t think I could live happily without dairy, but maybe I’d just melt ice cream for my fix!)

      1. Mike Thornbury

        Brunei, on Borneo.

        We can get milk, but it’s reconstituted from powder at the factory or imported uht.

        You get used to not using it. Besides, coconut milk in recipes is great.

        I make yoghurt from powdered milk and it’s pretty good, but you can only reuse the bug a few times and it stops being effective. With a small tub of natural yoghurt costing nearly $10, it’s an occasional treat.

        And don’t get me started about cheese! :)

  99. Isabella

    I made this along with your Spinach and Cheese Strata for a Holiday Brunch this past Sunday. What a hit! I’d already made the Strata before, so I was confident with that, but I was a little worried that the French Toast would turn to mush. Well, it was wonderful and everyone raved. My non-cooking sister in law wanted the recipe so she can make it for Christmas. I made mine with Grand Marnier and orange zest. I was insecure about overnight French Toast, which I didn’t want to be too sweet, and this was the winner. I’m so happy with it! Thank you!

  100. I made this using bourbon as I didn’t have Kahlua on had and it was great! I also added some vanilla to the egg and milk mixture. I completely forgot to grease the pan beforehand so right after coming out ofnthr oven I scraped the sides and bottom with a spatula. If you made the same mistake as me don’t worry I got it pretty well unglued from the pan. Really good and great for a crowd.

    If you’re using fresh bread I recommend baking for an hour to make sure it’s fully dried out and won’t be mushy after baking. You could also cut the bread in pieces and leave uncovered for a day if you have the time.

  101. Novia

    This is one of my go-to recipes for Saturday morning breakfast. Today I tried it with coconut milk because we have a guest who is dairy-free. I used the canned, full-fat milk and the flavor was divine alongside lemon zest and vanilla extract (wished I had some rum on hand). However, because the custard mix was so heavy, the bread was softer and more soggy than I like. It was more the consistency of bread pudding. If I try again with coconut milk, I may use a half-cup less or combine full-fat with light.

  102. Heather Watkins

    Do you squish the bread down in the pan prior to pouring in the custard mixture? From the photos the bread didn’t look as if it was an inch thick each slice. I made it the other day and it didn’t cook in the allotted time so I am trying to trouble shoot. It was DELICIOUS after I flipped the entire thing over and kept cooking it.

  103. jetecoeur

    Can you make this with fake milk? I’ve tried and it didn’t really work. Should I use less than suggested for real milk? Any help greatly appreciated!

  104. Georgette


    We has short notice that a cousin who was visiting Phoenix from NYC was going to visit us today. French Toast seemed like a good idea. I tried your site and found the Boozy Baked FT recipe and am inspired to write to say thank you once again for having such an amazing positive impact on our lives – I used 1/2 milk and 1/2 heavy cream (that’s all that was on hand) and Greek Tsourekia from the freezer. Whipped it up at midnight and served it at 11 am. Everyone loved it!

  105. Amy

    Hi Deb! Trying this for Christmas morning
    Will you clarify for me the amts of the alcohol?

    are the chamboard, creme de cassis, etc meant to be exchanged for the cointreau so u have 3T baileys plus 3T of one of those?

    or just 6T total for the booze, whatever kind i want? maybe i am overthinking this.
    Thank tou!!!

  106. Lucy Candib

    Dear Deb,
    I love your cookbooks and your care in measurement therefore was surprised to find either a typo or a pasting error in the weight measurement for potatoes in Fingerling Vinaigrette with sieved eggs and pickled celery, page 59 in Smitten.
    It says “1 pound (905 grams) fingerling potatoes”
    BUT 1 pound is about 455 grams, and 905 grams is more like 1 KILO!!
    so which is it? One pound or one Kilo??
    lucy candib, admirer,

    1. deb

      It should be one pound. I’m sorry — I can’t believe we hadn’t caught that. Here are other errors in the book; looks like we missed 1 pound = 905 grams thing more than once.

  107. Britt

    I made this and used 3 T Kahlua and 3 T Frangelico. I used a loaf of brioche from Aldi and it was delicious. I loved how easy and hands off it was! Rave reviews from the girls at Galentine’s Brunch. Don’t forget the cinnamon and sugar on top! Next time I may try a maple sugar mix.

  108. Nicole

    I love this recipe and make it all the time – it never fails to be a total crowd pleaser! I had the thought to make it in a bundt pan, turn it out, and slice it. Do you have any immediate thoughts or warnings against that? I’m assuming it will need to bake longer. Think that will be prohibitive? I’m also concerned about the collapse that inevitably happens 5 mins after I take it out of the oven.

    Side note: this recipe is PERFECT for relatively quick breakfast on mornings when we need something hearty (e.g., before we hit the ski slopes). I wake up and put it in over before I get dressed and by the time I wake the kids and they get their clothes on, it’s ready to go. It serves and cleans up in a breeze.

    1. deb

      My only trick for seeing if something like this is baked through is to stick a skinny knife in and twist it — if you don’t see any milk or loose custard flowing in, it’s baked through. Good luck! Bundt sounds very pretty.

  109. Andrea Pack

    Can I make this 1 day ahead? How long can it stay in the fridge getting custard-a-fied? Could I bake a day a head and then warm up in the oven?

  110. Jen

    I think the recipe is great until the baking instructions. I suggest a much lower temperature (350-375), longer time and a water bath. Bake it like the bread pudding it is.
    Made it at 375 without the water bath and the bottom was burnt in spots like others. Used lemon juice and zest from two lemons and served with macerated berries.

    1. Lena

      If possible, take it out of the fridge for about a half hour before putting it in the oven.

      But like Deb said, you shouldn’t have a problem taking it from the fridge to oven.

  111. Lesia

    Can I make this with a milk alternative? PLEASE SAY YES??? Which would you recco??? Pls lmk asap, I’m making this for Christmas morning…. xoxoxoxo

  112. katie

    Fantastic. I did two cups of eggnog, one cup of whole milk. I did end up making a bit more mixture and using, maybe say an extra 1/4 cup, because I used 1.5 loaves of brioche bread. I let the bread sit out the night before. Did at 375 degrees for first 35 minutes then about 10 minutes at 410 degrees. Did Bailey’s, brandy and vanilla as the booze ;)

  113. Mary Campbell

    How big is your average supermarket challah? My supermarket has one 16oz and another 22oz. Wondering which size would be the right one for proper ratios?

  114. WhitB

    This was fantastic! Made it for brunch with my extended family and everyone loved it. I used Bailey’s and the flavor was delicious. I also followed a previous comment to bake it at a lower temp for longer (375 for 40-45 minutes).

  115. My daughter swears by this recipe. I grew up with something similar in Malaysia–where we always called it Bombay Toast! I hope to try your recipe but will announce it to all eating as “Bombay Toast”–just to open a few windows on the world! Mahalo.

  116. Amy Cook

    I (finally) made this today with a Brioche that had been in my freezer, stuck to the original directions, and it was perfect! I used a glass 9×13, buttered it well, tucked a thinly-sliced banana between the layers, buttered the top layer, and baked at 425 for 30 minutes. It puffed beautifully, the bottom was browned, then drizzled with a little maple syrup. Will definitely do this one again–so easy, so forgiving, so few ingredients. Thanks, Deb!