Hello, friends! If you know me at all, you know that Brunch, specifically when it includes any form of french toast, is near and dear to my heart. Of course, almost everyone can whip up a standard french toast on the griddle, and don’t get me wrong, there is always a time and place for that, but y’all…french toast casseroles are where it’s at! My first attempt at a french toast casserole was an apple cinnamon version that has sort of become my specialty. A few years ago, I added to my repertoire with this Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole. It’s not overly sweet, but still loaded with bright flavor and is an elevated twist on a classic. I serve it almost every time we have friends over and it’s always a hit!
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying…
- I am not a food blogger. Just a regular mama of a lot of kiddos who happens to have a few good recipes up her to sleeve to feed the masses. And while I am a professional photographer, sometimes I’m too lazy to get the real camera out while I’m cooking, so don’t judge my iPhone photos, friends. They get the job done.
- There are a handful of affiliate links used below. All the thoughts and opinions are my own and when you buy through my links, I get a small commission that allows me to keep cooking french toast for my growing family.
Whew, glad we got that out of the way. On to the good stuff. I really don’t want to bore you with all of the details of how to make this if you’re just a skip over it all and read the recipe kind of person (I’m totally that way), so feel free to jump ahead if that’s you.
First, you’ll need to gather all the ingredients that make this dish a success like Brioche, fresh strawberries, cream cheese, and a whole lot of eggs and milk! Grab a 9×13″ baking dish while you’re at it. I don’t grease my pan, but you can if you’d like.
I start by tearing the Brioche into small pieces. If you prefer a prettier casserole, you can slice the bread into even squares. I don’t care that much, and I usually just let the kids have at it. I can focus on the next steps and they think they’re master chefs.
While the Brioche is getting broken, I quarter the strawberries and toss them into the baking dish. I use about a pound of fresh strawberries, but you can always add more or less based on your family’s preferences!
The best part of this Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole are the dollops of cream cheese sprinkled throughout. They help give the dish a creamy consistency and are the perfect combo of tart and sweet. Add one full block of softened cream cheese to your stand mixer (I’m still obsessed with mine!) or a mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer. If you cube it before mixing, it will help your cream cheese mixture combine more easily. Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1.5 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the cream cheese and beat until smooth and creamy. It should look almost like thick buttercream (I forgot to take a photo of it all mixed up).
Next, you’re going to make the custard. A good custard is what takes a french toast casserole to the next level. It keeps the dish from getting overly dry and gives it a rich, soft texture. I use 1 dozen eggs and 2 cups of milk for the base of my custard! Combine them all into a large mixing bowl. We use the OXO mixing bowls and love them. Smitty’s mama gave us a whole kitchen’s worth of OXO supplies as a wedding gift and every single thing she bought us has lasted 11 years with very little wear showing on them. That’s crazy to me! Obviously, they’ve become even more special to us since she passed away, and while I know they’re just kitchen utensils, it does make cooking with them just a little bit sweeter.
To the egg and milk mixture, I also add a splash of vanilla and a tsp of cinnamon. We like cinnamon around here, so I rarely measure it out. I just eyeball it for what feels right, you know? Whisk it all together until air bubbles start to form. This is when you know it’s gonna be good! And again, totally didn’t take photos of the custard fully assembled. I told you I wasn’t a food blogger. There’s video of it down below if you want to see what it looks like.
Once you’ve got the perfect custard waiting patiently to be poured out, scoop up that delicious cream cheese mixture you just made, you-kitchen-boss-you, and drop it onto the casserole in quarter-ish sized dollops. We’re not going for perfection here, people. Just be sure to tuck some under the top layer of Brioche as well so the whole casserole feels that cream cheese lovin.’ Finally, pour your custard over the entire thing and let the break soak it up. I typically squish all the bread and strawberries and cream cheese into the custard to make sure it’s all fully covered. Don’t be afraid to get in there!
At this point, you can either pop your gorgeous Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole into the oven or cover it and let it sit and soak overnight. I’ve personally never done this because my family has the patience of a gnat when it comes to brunch foods, so we always cook right away. If you do decide to prep ahead of time, it might be a good idea to let your bread sit out and get a little crustier before making. I’m sure it will be delicious no matter what though. I’m pretty sure it’s a fail-proof recipe, which is exactly how we like it around here!
Bake the casserole at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the top starts to get golden brown. Pull it out of the oven, admire your french toast masterpiece for just a moment, then dig in and enjoy! This dish typically serves 6-8 people, but don’t be surprised if you don’t wind up with any leftovers since it’s just that good.
If you make this recipe, let me know! I’d love to know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment to share if you enjoyed it! P.S. OXO is on sale at Zulily right now! If you need to update your kitchen supplies, OXO is the best!