Quick French Toast Casserole with Strawberry Lemon Sauce

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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French Toast Casserole:

Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

1/3 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

4 large eggs 

2 cups half-and-half 

6 cups 1-inch-cubed challah bread (about half of a 1-pound loaf) 

Strawberry Lemon Sauce:

1 pound ripe strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 

1/3 cup maple syrup 

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice


Special equipment:
a 6- to 8-quart Instant Pot® multi-cooker; a 6-inch springform pan or 7-inch round cake pan
  1. For the French toast casserole: Set a trivet in a 6- to 8-quart Instant Pot® and add 1 cup water to the pot. Spray a 6-inch springform pan or 7-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and eggs in a medium bowl. Add the half-and-half and whisk to combine well.
  3. Press the bread into a large bowl, then pour the custard mixture all over. Press the bread firmly to submerge. Stir with a spoon, then pour the bread and custard mixture into the prepared cake pan. Place the pan on the trivet in the Instant Pot® and pressure cook on high for 30 minutes. Release the valve to depressurize the pot, then remove the pan. Let stand 10 minutes before either removing the sides of the springform pan or inverting the casserole onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature with the strawberry lemon sauce.
  4. For the strawberry lemon sauce: Put the strawberries in a medium saucepan and toss them with the cornstarch. Add the maple syrup and lemon juice (reserve the zest). Bring to a brisk simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the temperature to keep it at a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are somewhat broken down and the liquid is thick and syrupy, about 12 minutes. Add the lemon zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cook’s Note

The French toast casserole can be cut into wedges and kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Pan-fry in butter or microwave to reheat. The strawberry lemon sauce can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.