This Overnight Vegan French Toast Casserole recipe is the coziest make-ahead breakfast! Bread cubes are soaked and baked in a plant-based custard.
French Toast is a classic breakfast dish. It was originally invented as a way to use up day-old bread, but nowadays is loved for it’s custard texture and buttery flavor.
This Overnight Vegan French Toast Casserole is just as hearty and delicious, but it’s made from totally plant-based ingredients! It’s the coziest make-ahead vegan breakfast – and the perfect vessel for lots and lots of maple syrup 😉
INGREDIENTS FOR BAKED FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
Since french toast is essentially bread, eggs, and dairy, I had to make a few swaps to keep this recipe plant-based. The most difficult challenge was to create the perfect custard texture that thickened in the oven, without it being too heavy or thin. After a few tests, I finally figured out the winning ingredient combination!
I didn’t want to use flax eggs for this recipe, because ground flax still leaves a gritty texture after baking in this recipe. I also think that silken tofu isn’t the best alternative here – it can leave a “tofu” taste, and firms up a little too much. Instead, I used a combination of:
- Chickpea flour: this is my favorite soy-free egg substitute! Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour is a great source of plant-based protein and helps to thicken our custard without being too gooey or thick
- Cashews: not only does this neutral nut add a lovely creaminess to this recipe, but its fiber helps to thicken the custard when it bakes in the oven
- Arrowroot Powder: arrowroot powder or starch is the key to the perfect texture! Chickpea flour alone left the casserole too firm, but this keeps it nice and creamy, without being runny.
The rest of the ingredients for this recipe are pretty straightforward – sourdough bread cubes for the “toast”, maple syrup to naturally sweeten, and some plant-based milk to thin our custard out.
HOW TO MAKE OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST
Our vegan “egg” sauce is made easily in a blender, so no need to burn your arm out with a whisk! I used my Vitamix, but I think if you soak your cashews well you could blend them in a bullet blender, too (or simply use 1/2 cup cashew butter instead).
- Cut the bread and arrange in a baking dish
- Blend the plant-based custard sauce until its smooth and creamy
- Pour the sauce over the bread, cover, and refridgerate overnight
- Top with pecans and vegan butter (for an extra golden top!), then bake until browned and fluffy
- Serve warm and top as desired!
Let me tell you – this casserole smells amazing once it starts to brown in the oven. It’s the perfect smell to wake up to on Christmas morning! I love how the bread soaks up the plant-based custard sauce and puffs up – so it’s creamy and slightly chewy, but still has a crisp top. It’s texture and flavor heaven.
Vegan French Toast Bake is the perfect breakfast or brunch treat, especially around the holidays. This recipe gives you a classic French Toast flavor, but here are a few fun ways to switch it up:
- Berries: adding in fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.) before baking will give the french toast a bubbly, jam-like flavor. You can use frozen fruit as well, but make sure to thaw it first and drain off any excess liquid.
- Chocolate: add up to 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips in with the bread for a chocolate lover’s breakfast dream!
- Spices: you can easily increase the cinnamon for a more intense flavor, but you can also use your favorite spice blend for a fun twist! Pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice (with fresh apples – yum!), or even gingerbread spice blends would work well here.
COOKING TIPS + FAQ:
- What bread is best for french toast? Sourdough is my favorite vegan bread to use because I love its subtle tang and depth of flavor. French bread should work well, too! Either way, the bread is better if it’s a couple of days old and dried out. If that’s not the case you can also bake your bread – see the recipe notes.
- Can I use whole slices instead of chopped bread? Short answer: no. Long answer: I originally tested the recipe this way, because it sure does look cute! But the bread doesn’t lay flat in the baking dish, leaving too-soggy bread bottoms, and way too-dry bread tops. I recommend cubing your bread for even custard distribution and the best texture results.
- Make-Ahead: this recipe is already pretty make-ahead friendly, but you can also blend up the vegan custard earlier in the day. Store it in a jar in the fridge until you are ready to assemble, but be sure to give it a good shake first as the sauce may separate.
If you’re looking for more sweet holiday breakfast recipes, you’ll also love this Whole Wheat Vegan Monkey Bread , these Gingerbread Pancakes, these Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, and this Holiday Spiced Granola!Print
This Overnight Vegan French Toast Casserole recipe is the coziest make-ahead holiday breakfast! Bread cubes get soaked in a creamy plant-based “egg” mixture to create the perfect buttery and custard texture.
- 16 ounce (450 g) loaf of sourdough bread, cubed*
- 3 cups (590 mL) non-dairy milk*
- 1 cup (140 g) raw cashews, soaked*
- 1/2 cup (52 g) chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) grade A maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (54 g) chopped pecans (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cold vegan butter, finely chopped (optional)
- Serving suggestions (optional): fresh berries, powdered sugar, maple syrup, chocolate chips*, etc.
- Prep: Bring out a 9×13” non-stick casserole dish. If your casserole is not nonstick, grease it with vegan butter or cooking spray. Spread the bread cubes evenly along the base of the pan.
- Milk Mixture: add the non-dairy milk, cashews, chickpea flour, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 60 seconds, until a smooth and bubbly mixture forms.
- Soak: Pour the mixture evenly over the bread in the dish, trying to coat every surface to allow for even absorption. Cover the baking dish with foil and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, 8 to 12 hours.
- Bake: Remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator and uncover. Let the dish come to room temperature for about 30 minutes – in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 350F. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the pecans and vegan butter (if using), then place the casserole dish in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. The french toast cubes should puff up and be slightly browned on top. If the casserole starts to get too dark before it is done, tent the baking dish with aluminum foil for the remainder of the bake time.
- Serve: Top as desired, then serve warm; leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Bread: I used a sliced sourdough loaf for this recipe, but french bread will work as well. Softer, fluffy breads like white sandwich bread will get too soggy and fall apart. I believe this recipe could work with Ezekiel or whole wheat bread, but haven’t tried it myself. Bread not dry? Place the cubes on a baking sheet and bake at 215F for 10-15 minutes, until dry.
- Milk: I used a creamy oat milk for this recipe, but soy or cashew milk would also work well. Make sure your milk is nice and creamy, so the final recipe is richer! I would not use store-bought almond milk.
- Cashews: If you forget to soak your cashews ahead of time overnight, you can (1) cover them in boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes, or (2) cover them with water and microwave for 3 minutes, then let sit for 3-5 minutes before draining.
- Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free sandwich loaf instead. Gluten-free bread tends to be a little more tender, so you may need to bake your casserole for an extra 5 to 10 minutes so it is not soggy.
- Nut-Free: use a nut-free milk (soy or oat) and skip the pecans, or replace them with pumpkin seeds
- Other Substitutions: Maple syrup can be replaced with another liquid or granulated sweetener. If your sweetener is dry (ex: brown sugar), make sure it dissolves completely during blending in step 2. Arrowroot powder can be replaced with cornstarch. I have not tested this recipe with a substitute for the chickpea flour, but I imagine 1 cup of Just Egg would work as well – try at your own risk though 😉