Looking for an easy, delicious oven baked french toast recipe that’s not too sweet? This make ahead french toast is savory and sweet, tossed with cooked breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese, fresh apples and cranberries plus a cinnamon flecked egg custard. Serve the sausage apple french toast with a bit of warm maple syrup. It’s perfect for weekend brunch entertaining or for Christmas morning while you’re opening presents.
I know what you’re thinking. Sausage — in french toast? With apples and cranberries? It sounds like a cross between Thanksgiving stuffing and a traditional oven baked french toast, right? Well, in a way, it is. I’ve used those familiar holiday flavors and given them a little twist. Instead of a cloyingly sweet oven french toast, this one has a balanced harmony of flavors. As it was baking, the only comments I heard was, “when’s it gonna be ready?” Trust me, you’re gonna want to make this one.
Ingredients for make ahead french toast
- Day Old Bread
- Cheddar Cheese
- Brown Sugar
You’ll love this make ahead oven baked french toast for weekend entertaining and holidays. Everything can be assembled the day before, then covered and refrigerated until you’re ready to bake (that’s my kind of no fuss breakfast).
Browning sausage for filling
- Start by browning the breakfast sausage in a large skillet then adding the onions and stirring until they’ve softened and become slightly translucent.
- Add the cranberries and apples and cook until the apples start to soften and the fresh cranberries begin to burst.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheddar cheese. Set aside.
Cheddar cheese and apples are one of my favorite pairings, however, in this oven french toast the cheddar cheese acts as a supporting cast member. It’s not dominant and doesn’t become stringy or gooey in the oven baked casserole. It adds another umami element without making the dish salty.
You can use any type of bread for the sausage apple french toast, but it’s best if it’s STALE. I bought my loaf 2 days before assembling this casserole to give it time to firm up. On the day I assembled the casserole, I trim the crusts from the bread and cut it into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces.
If your bread is fresh, not stale:
If you have a fresh loaf, you can cut it into small cubes and place it on a baking sheet. Bake it at 300°, for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will dry out the bread and give it more structure.
Best types of bread for make ahead french toast
Look for sturdy, hearty breads from the bakery such as:
- Italian Bread
- Whole Wheat
- French Boule
Assembling the filling
- Add the sausage and apple mixture to the cubed bread and toss until evenly combined.
- Set aside and assemble the custard.
The easy custard comes together in a snap, in fact, if you’ve got little helpers, this would be a great step to get them involved in. There’s a fair amount of cinnamon in the custard which gives the oven baked french toast its characteristic aroma. You’ll notice it while it’s baking.
Making the custard
- Add the eggs to a large bowl and whisk until frothy.
- Stir in the milk, brown sugar and cinnamon and whisk to combine.
Assembling the casserole
- Spray a casserole dish with vegetable spray.
- Fill the casserole with the bread and sausage filling.
- Gently pour the cinnamon custard mixture over the bread.
- Press your clean hands down gently on the bread mixture to “help” it soak up a little custard.
- Cover and refrigerate.
Baking French toast casserole
- The next day take the casserole out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for about 30-45 minutes before baking so it can come to room temperature.
- Place the oven french toast casserole in the center of the oven and bake for about half of the recommended time.
- Check the top to see if it’s browning too quickly. If it’s starting to get too dark, rest a piece of aluminum foil over the top. This will prevent more browning, but the casserole will continue to cook and set.
- When the sausage apple french toast is done, let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
You’re gonna love the crispy, jagged crown on this oven french toast and the soft, eggy interior. The crumbled sausage, sage and onion add a mild savory element that pairs so well with the bits of tart cranberry and sweet apple. The cinnamon and brown sugar custard give every bite a taste of the holidays. Served with warm maple syrup, this make ahead french toast is a delicious weekend treat.
More easy breakfast casseroles:
- Sweet Potato Apple Breakfast Strata
- Ham Egg and Cheese Casserole from Greg at My Wife Can Cook
- Hatch Chile Breakfast Strata
- Apple French Toast Bake via Sarah at Champagne Tastes
- Spinach and Mushroom Breakfast Strata
- Sausage Cranberry Breakfast Strata via Dawn at Girl Heart Food
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Sweet and Savory French Toast
For bread pudding
- 1 lb breakfast sausage such as Jimmy Dean
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 apples peeled, cored, seeded and diced
- 1 cup cranberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage finely chopped
- 4-5 cups day old french bread crusts removed, cut in one-inch cubes
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese grated
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage, breaking it up into small bits with the back of a fork. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Drain most of the excess fat from the pan.
- Add apples, sage, and cranberries. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until the apples start to soften and the fresh cranberries start to burst.
- Remove the sausage mixture from the heat and stir in the cheese.
- Place bread in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture and toss to combine.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, brown sugar and cinnamon. Whisk together.
- Spray a large casserole dish with vegetable spray. Add the sausage mixture. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sausage. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the casserole with tin foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue cooking for an additional 30-45 minutes or until set. Allow bread pudding to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with maple syrup on the side.
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