Lazy Oven French Toast

Serves 6 to 8

Basically a strata, this dish is composed of layers of eggs, milk, and bread, plus your choice of flavorings. Stratas can be sweet, enhanced with chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or booze (that’s for another book, though), or savory, layered with cheese, ham, and so on. This one cooks up much like a French toast casserole. The title of the recipe implies that your oven is lazy, which of course is ridiculous. Rather, it’s the perfect brunch dish for a lazy weekend morning because everything can be assembled the night before and transferred in the morning from the fridge to the oven.

So much easier than individual slices of French toast.

So much easier than individual slices of French toast.

  • Butter or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish
  • 4 cups milk (see Note)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more maple syrup for serving (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 large loaf challah bread, preferably slightly stale, 
sliced 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick (see the Cooking Tip)
  • 3⁄4 cups cup whole raisins, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts (optional)
  • Fresh fruit such as berries, sliced peaches or pears, and/or confectioners’ sugar, for serving

1. Grease a 13 by 9–inch baking dish with butter or spray it with cooking spray.

2. Place the milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-size bowl and whisk to mix well. Set the milk mixture aside.

3. Arrange half of the slices of bread in the prepared baking dish, cutting the bread so that it fits in a solid layer. Pour half of the milk mixture over the bread, then evenly distribute about half of any dried fruit or nuts, if using, on top.

4. Repeat, creating a second layer of bread and then pouring the rest of the milk mixture on top and distributing the rest of the fruit or nuts over the bread. Lightly press the bread down into the liquid.

5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. The bread will have absorbed almost all of the milk mixture. Uncover the baking dish and if there are dryer looking pieces on top, take them off and carefully tuck them underneath the bread on the bottom so that the more milk-soaked pieces are now on top (this is messy but it all works out in the baking). Note that any dried fruit sitting on the top of the French toast will get pretty chewy when baked and nuts on top will get toasty; the fruit and nuts that are tucked into the French toast will be softer, so disperse the fruit and nuts as you see fit.

6. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

7. Bake the French toast, uncovered, until it is puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

8. Let the French toast sit for 5 minutes to firm up a bit, then cut it into squares and serve it hot with your choice of maple syrup, fresh fruit, and/or confectioners’ sugar.

Cooking Tip:

Use slightly stale bread for this recipe; because it is a bit dry, it will absorb the milk and egg custard better. If your bread is fresh, you can slice it and let it sit out for several hours or a day to dry slightly, or even toast it very lightly.
Make Ahead:

The ultimate make ahead dish, a strata has to be prepared about eight hours before it’s cooked. So an overnight rest in the fridge makes sense. Leftovers do reheat nicely in the microwave or oven.

What the Kids Can Do:

They can help put together pretty much the whole French toast, although you’ll have to decide if they are old enough to help slice the bread. Kids can also pick and choose whatever dried fruits or nuts they like to go in the casserole.


This is luxurious made with whole milk, but 2 percent or 1 percent milk works fine. Conversely, for an even more decadent dish you can replace one of the cups of milk with a cup of cream or half-and-half if you like.

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11 thoughts on “Lazy Oven French Toast”

  1. Whitney says:

    this recipe did not work. while the top of my bread was golden and puffy, it was also hard as a rock, the bottom was so mushy i could not eat it. I put it on for ANOTHER 30 minutes and it was still inedible. i tried to fix it on my skillet, didn’t work. thumbs down in my opinion.

    1. I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve not heard anything like this before, and I’ve made it myself a whole lot of times! Wonder what happened.

      1. anne cortes says:

        does it make any difference if you use glass baking dish or metal?

        1. Glass might take a bit longer!

    2. Cat says:

      Sounds like you accidentally turned on the broiler element instead of the regular baking element. Otherwise can’t think of a reason for the top to have been so overcooked

      1. that does sound like it might have been the cause!

  2. Cat says:

    I decided to try this out for Christmas morning this year, using pannetone and slices of banana. It was a hit!! It’s being adopted as a Christmas tradition from now on!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. that sounds brilliant!

  3. Joey says:

    I also had trouble getting the inside done without burning the top. I used a glass baking dish and after 35 minutes the top was almost burned and the inside was still liquid. I turned the heat down for about 10 more minutes with not much luck and ended up microwaving for 7 minutes on high. It ended up OK, but I might try with a little lower heat and a metal dish next time.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      Different ovens and different pans definitely affect things….I have used glass plenty of times with no issues, but sorry you had issues. Hopefully the metal pan solves the problems.

  4. WillyC says:

    I’ve made this many, many times and it is a huge hit – the key is to flip the toast right after you take it out of the fridge, then drain most (not all) of the excess liquid. After cooking half the time, flip again to brown the ther side – comes out crisp on both sides and perfectly done on the middle

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