This easy peasy Instant Pot French toast casserole can be made with brioche, challah, or French bread and is drizzled in a delicious cinnamon-kissed custard. To makes things even more irresistible, it's topped with a sweet praline crumble and drizzled with vanilla icing for a cinnamon roll french toast vibe we're head over heels obsessed with!
This recipe works best with stale or dried out bread - see notes below if you need to dry out fresh, fluffy bread to make this tasty french toast casserole!
Prep a 1.5 quart round oven-safe baking dish. Prevent sticking by spraying with cooking spray (avocado oil is my favorite) or rub the inside of the dish with butter. Optional: Cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the dish for extra easy removal. <-- I do this and love it!
Cut bread (crust included) into 1-inch cubes and add to a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest. Add 1/8 tsp of zest for just a hint of flavor and 1/4 tsp for an extra burst of orange flavor. Whisk until blended.
Pour egg mixture over cubed bread and mix to ensure bread is evenly coated. Pour into prepared dish.
To make the praline topping (optional but soooo good) combine the ingredients and mix well using your hands until texture is almost sandy and paste-like. Sprinkle on top of the casserole.
Cover your baking dish with foil (to prevent condensation while cooking) and place the dish on top of a handled trivet. My Instant Pot came with one but if you only have a regular trivet you can make your own handle out of folded sheets aluminum foil! Pour 1 cup of water into the inner pot of the pressure cooker and lower your baking dish into the pot on the trivet.
Lock the lid and set to 28 minutes high pressure. Ensure sure valve is in the sealed position.
While the casserole cooks, make your icing. Using a hand mixer or a whisk and some muscle power, blend together softened cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla and season with a teeny pinch of salt. Blend well and feel free to add an extra 1/4 tsp of vanilla if you'd like extra flavor!
Once the Instant Pot beeps, quick release the pressure by flipping valve to venting position. Remove dish by lifting by the handled trivet using dish towels or gloves (it gets hot) and set aside. Remove foil
For a crisp topping, feel free to place casserole in the oven and broil on HIGH for 3-4 minutes, watching very closely to prevent over-toasting or burning. This is totally optional but it has an awesome texture if you can spare a few extra minutes! Top casserole with icing and dive in with fresh fruit and maple syrup for drizzling.
French toast casserole is best when made with drier, stale bread.
You can leave the bread out on the counter the night before making this dish or cut bread into 1-inch cubes and bake spaced on two baking sheets at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Easy peasy!
The orange zest is optional but adds a little extra flavor to the casserole that I just can't get enough of! It almost ends up tasting like orange cinnamon rolls if you've ever had them!
Nutrition Facts below are estimated before optional icing using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed and enjoy!
Recipe by Peas and Crayons - Instant Pot French Toast Casserole https://peasandcrayons.com/2018/12/instant-pot-french-toast-casserole.html