slices of French toast

Just about the best kind of meal is one that impresses your guests both with taste and as a demonstration of your prowess in the kitchen. But the very best meal is one that tastes great, impresses everyone, and was actually super easy to make. Secretly super easy, of course — no need to let your diners see behind the curtain, after all.

That’s certainly what you’re going to get here with this recipe for overnight apple French toast. After all, French toast doesn’t have to be difficult. Chef and recipe developer Jessica Morone says of this unique and flavorful take on French toast. "This recipe is very simple and straightforward," Morone says. "There’s very little you can screw up, even if you aren’t super comfortable in the kitchen."

Now, to be clear, there are a fair number of steps involved in this process. And you do need to plan well ahead if you want to serve this dish. But if you just take everything here step by step, it turns out to be an easy prep the night before, first of all, Then, in the morning, your breakfast making process will consist of pre-heating the oven, baking up a pan of the prepared bread, and then slicing and serving the finished French toast to your waiting diners.

Gather your ingredients for overnight apple French toast

ingredients for overnight French toast

This tasty breakfast or brunch treat requires a decent amount of ingredients, though you may well have some already waiting in your fridge or pantry. The rest is just an easy grocery trip away. For overnight apple French toast, first, secure four large apples. It’s really your call on the type, but the tangier varieties like the Granny Smith apple will balance the sweetness of the sugar very well. You’ll also need butter, brown sugar, water, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. You will also need about 7 pieces of thickly sliced bread that have been cut into quarters. A flavorful but relatively sturdy bread like brioche or challah is best in terms of taste and texture.

And for the record, Morone says that this recipe can be easily converted to a vegan version that eschews dairy products altogether. "Nondairy milk and butter would work totally fine in this recipe," she says.

Prep and cook the apples

cooking apple slices

To start the recipe off, peel and thinly slice the apples. Yes, you can, by all means, use a peeling and slicing device here, though feel free to go the old-fashioned way with a paring knife and some careful attention, of course.

Then, in a large skillet, melt the butter and add the sliced apples to the pan. Cook these slices for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the apples just start to soften.

Next, add in the brown sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the ingredients together, making sure that the apple slices are evenly coated in the spiced, sugary mixture. Cook the apples for another 5 minutes, until the slices have truly softened and the sugar mixture is bubbly.

Add the rest of the ingredients, then let it chill

layering the bread

Now, it’s time to make the custard-like mixture that’s so key to a great French toast. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, making sure that the egg whites and yolks are well mixed. Set it aside for just a moment.

Then, grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Pour the apple mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Top this with the sliced bread, layering the pieces until the apples are completely covered. Now pour the egg mixture over the bread in the baking dish, being sure to coat the bread as evenly as possible.

Next, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or tightly-wrapped foil. Place it in the refrigerator overnight. Yes, this means more time, but rest assured that we’ve now entered a very hands-off portion of the process.

Bake and enjoy

the finished toast

Now for the easy part! When you’re ready to make the dish, preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the French toast for 35 minutes or until the bread has become golden and a bit crispy on top. Take the dish out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Cut and serve, topping with powdered sugar or a bit of maple syrup as desired.

And as for pairing ideas, Morone’s got you covered. "I think savory sides, like bacon or eggs, would be great with this," she says.

If you have any leftovers, they should be good in an airtight, refrigerated container for three days without losing any flavor. "I’m impatient, so I just microwave leftovers," says Morone, "but you can also pop this back in the oven for about 10 minutes so the top gets crisp again."