Chocolate & Strawberry Baked French Toast

July 7, 2022

If you’re hosting brunch for a crowd, make baked french toast. This version features one of my favorite classic flavor combinations, by using a chocolate chip bread as the base, and smothering each decadent serving in strawberry sauce. Chocolate and strawberry baked french toast… oh hello breakfast!

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There are two things about this recipe that make it really special. First, it’s super quick and easy. Since this baked french toast is made with a finer-crumbed quick bread, there’s no need to long soaking times. And because the oven does most of the hard work, you can easily prep coffees and starters while it bakes.

Second, it feels ultra decadent. That combination of rich chocolate along with sweet and juicy strawberries just transports you into the realm of forbidden treats, but this isn’t really all that sinful. It’s made with whole wheat oatmeal bread, and uses Greek yogurt in the custard. But I won’t tell your guests if you don’t!

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for this chocolate and strawberry baked french toast at your grocery store:

Let’s Make Chocolate & Strawberry Baked French Toast

French toast starts with bread. There’s no way around it, so you’ll definitely want to start there. This recipe was designed to be made with my quick whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip bread, and that’s what I recommend using as your base.

However, feel free to experiment with other options. If you decide to use a different type of quick bread that doesn’t already include chocolate chips, you’ll want to sprinkle a bunch on top before baking. If you use a sourdough or other tougher bread, be sure to let the cubes soak up the custard for an hour in the fridge.

The easiest alternative, if you are not able to bake this bread from scratch, is to use store-bought chocolate chip muffins. No matter what bread you are using, you’ll need to cut it into one-inch cubes.

Since the prep work for this baked french toast is pretty fast, it’s a good idea to preheat your oven before getting too far into it. Also double check that you have a rack in the center.

You’ll need a large and fairly deep casserole pan to bake this in. My preference is a Pyrex 9×3 pan with two-inch sides. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. If they don’t all quite fit, squish them in so they are not overlapping one another.

Prepare the Custard

Set aside your cozy, tucked-in bread for a moment while we put together the custard. This is what will soak into the bread, and soften it as it bakes, while also adding a rich flavor. In a medium bowl, add eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract.

While eggs, milk, and vanilla are all pretty standard in any french toast, the yogurt might surprise you. I like the addition of it here because it helps to provide a little extra tang, which balances out the other sweet flavors in this dish.

If you don’t have Greek yogurt, replacing it with any plain yogurt will work, and so will heavy cream. You could also try using sour cream or creme fraiche for even more of that added tartness.

Whisk the ingredients for the custard together until they are smoothly combined. It’s important to ensure the eggs are broken up especially, so you don’t end up with pockets of gooey yolk or white in your french toast.

Pour the custard over the bread cubes, trying to portion it evenly across the entire pan. You want each cube to be able to fully soak in the liquid, so if you notice any dry spots, you’ll need to do some rearranging. Feel free to flip bread cubes, swap positions, or tilt the pan as needed.

If you have decided to use a different type of bread in this french toast bake that doesn’t include chocolate chips, this is a good time to sprinkle some evenly over the top.

Top with Streusel and Strawberries

Now let’s add a little bit more fun to the top off this breakfast dish.

First, we’re going to make a streusel topping to add some sweetness and texture. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sugar and flour until they are combined. I suggest using white whole wheat flour, since that’s what’s in the bread, but any type of flour will work here.

Next, add in some melted butter that has been cooled slightly. Mix this in to create a wet streusel. My favorite method to do this is to get in there with my hands, but you can also use a spoon or even a large fork. 

Use your fingers to crumble pieces of the streusel over the top of the french toast in the casserole pan. Make sure you are spreading it pretty evenly over the top, so every slice will have that little extra bit of crunch and sweetness.

Finally, arrange the strawberry slices on top. I used pre-sliced frozen strawberries here, but smaller whole or halved berries or even fresh ones will work as well. Again, dot these uniformly on top of the bread cubes.

Now, it’s time to bake!

Finish the Baked French Toast

Place the full casserole pan into the preheated oven, and let it bake for right around forty minutes. This is more time than you’ll need to make the strawberry sauce, so feel free to give yourself a break or mix up some cocktails!

When the baked french toast is ready, it will be solid throughout with no soggy spots. The tops of the bread cubes will brown slightly, and the strawberries will have softened and settled in. The streusel may not darken much, so don’t rely on that as a guide.

Let this cool in the pan for at least five minutes before serving it.

If you are making this in advance, allow the baked french toast to cool down to room temperature. Then cover it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge for a few days. If needed, you can also store individual servings or a partially filled pan for leftovers in the same way.

Before serving, reheat individual pieces in the microwave for about a minute. For a bit more crispness, reheat the entire pan in the oven until it’s warmed through.

How to Make Strawberry Sauce

You didn’t think that handful of strawberries tossed on top before baking was it, right? Well you don’t need to worry about that. Each serving of your french toast will be wonderfully smothered in this sweet strawberry sauce.

This sauce is pretty flexible, and you can use fresh or frozen strawberries in this recipe. Just keep in mind that using whole frozen berries instead of sliced will need a longer cooking time, whereas sliced fresh berries will soften faster. Be sure to keep an eye on your sauce.

To get started, combine the strawberries, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir to combine everything together, and begin cooking over medium heat. Cover the pot and allow the berries to soften for about two minutes.

Continue to cook the sauce for an additional five minutes, uncovered. Stir as needed, and smash the the berries against the sides and bottom of the pot as desired. Then remove it from the heat.

You can make this sauce in advance as well. Store it in a sealed jar or container in the fridge for a few days. Reheat until it has warmed through, but it should not come to a boil. I don’t recommend storing pieces of french toast with the sauce top, as that may lead to soggy toast when reheating.

Put it All Together

Use a thin but sturdy spatula to cut the french toast into twelve servings. Then scoop portions into individual dishes, and spoon the strawberry sauce over the top of each. Garnish with fresh berries, some powdered sugar, or a dollop of freshly whipped cream if desired.

If you like chocolate covered strawberries, you’ll love this chocolate and strawberry baked french toast for an indulgent and easy brunch for a couple or a crowd!

How to Serve Chocolate & Strawberry Baked French Toast

Meet your new go-to dish for your next brunch party. You can serve this as a first course, followed by something summery and savory, like a tomato and avocado omelet. Or make your french toast the star following a strawberry caprese salad or sundried tomato scones.

Of course, you’ll want to highlight these sweet, fruity, and rich flavors with the perfect cocktail. Try serving a round of raspberry margaritas for a color match. For non-drinkers, a zero-proof strawberry shrub julep is an excellent choice, or try an iced pomegranate mocha for the coffee lovers.

Because it’s so decadent, I could also definitely see this chocolate and strawberry baked french toast being served as a dessert. I’d probably just rebrand it as a bread pudding! Pair it with some equally indulgent cocktails, like a chocolate old fashioned or birthday cake martini. For a zero proof option, serve alongside chai white hot chocolate.

More Strawberry Selections

Other Chocolate Treats to Try

Chocolate & Strawberry Baked French Toast

A sweet and decadent choice for brunch, this french toast casserole is made with chocolate chip bread, and smothered in a sweet strawberry sauce.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 438kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 Loaf Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bread cut into 1-inch cubes, see note
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • ½ Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • ½ Cup Chocolate Chips optional, required if using a bread without chocolate chips

Streusel Topping

  • 3 Tbsp White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 5-10 Slices of Strawberry fresh or frozen

Strawberry Sauce

  • 2 cups Sliced frozen strawberries see note for fresh or not sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Instructions

Baked French Toast

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.
  • Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer in a 9x13 casserole dish with at least 2-inch sides. If they don't all quite fit, squish them in so they are in a single layer.
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, and vanilla until smooth. Then evenly pour over the bread cubes. If using, sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar for the streusel topping until combined. Add the melted butter, and use your hands to combined into a wet streusel. Crumble evenly over the top of the casserole. Then arrange the strawberry slices on top.
  • Bake for 35-45 min, until solid throughout and not soggy, and the tops of the bread should be slightly browned. The streusel will not darken much. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
  • Use a thin but sturdy spatula to cut the french toast in 12 servings. Scoop portions into individual dishes.

Strawberry Sauce

  • In small saucepan, combine the frozen strawberries, water, and sugar, and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, covered for 2 minutes to soften the berries.
  • Continue to cook uncovered, stirring and smashing the berries for another 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  • Spoon the strawberry topping over the individual servings of baked french toast. Garnish with fresh berries, powdered sugar, and/or freshly whipped cream if desired.

Notes

  • Ingredients: 
    • Oatmeal chocolate chip bread: This recipe was designed to be made with my whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip quick bread, but you can use any type of quick bread or chocolate chip muffins instead.
    • Strawberries: You can use fresh or frozen strawberries in this recipe, for both topping the french toast and for the sauce. In the sauce, whole frozen berries will need longer to cook, whereas sliced fresh berries will soften faster.
  • Make ahead tips: 
    • Allow the baked french toast to cool to room temperature and then cover tightly and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat individual pieces in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
    • Store the strawberry sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat until warmed through. 
    • Storing pieces of french toast with the sauce may lead to soggy toast when reheated.
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