Holiday EntertainingBreakfastHow to CookGenius RecipesTips & Techniques

A Make-Ahead, Totally Genius Holiday Breakfast Casserole

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Of course make-ahead breakfast casseroles are genius. They let you knock out all the thinking and doing the day before, when you have time and space to putter. And they feed a hungry crowd much more smoothly than flipping fried eggs or rolling omelettes for eight (don’t do it).

Chrissy Teigen’s French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes
Chrissy Teigen’s French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes

The trouble is: In their ingenious practicality, these casseroles can often feel utilitarian at best. They’re a breakfast you can cut into neat rectangles, with none of the dramatic pouf of a Dutch baby or tactile glee of a pull-apart monkey bread.

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This particular casserole, however, is spilling over with glee. It comes from celebrity comfort food lover/known prankster Chrissy Teigen's cookbook Cravings, and she injects some very welcome doses of fun. The most important of these is the topping, which is salted, buttered, toasted Frosted Flakes. You will want to palm this up like trail mix. No surprise Teigen writes, “I am so proud of this dish I could cry.”

This topping takes a cue from the tuna noodle casserole genre of yore, but layers in a modern sensibility that recognizes our sweet breakfasts are better with salt and brown butter and, as it turns out, crunchy, malted Frosted Flakes.

I did my natural foodist due diligence here and it appears that the only unpronounceable ingredients are pretty much just vitamins. But if you prefer an ever more wholesome brand, go nuts—just make sure that the salt and sweet are in good balance, and there’s a bit of fat to help the bits get extra brown and crispy. Or maybe there’s another classic you have a deep affection for: Cracklin’ Oat Bran, Crispix, Life, perhaps? I think Teigen would encourage you to embrace your inner crazed-kid-in-the-cereal-aisle.

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Her second blast of fun is quite a generous amount (ahem, half a cup) of rum. Teigen positions this as a sort of hair of the dog after a rowdy night and—even after a tame one—this booziness is delicious for adults who dig a saucy rum cake or Dark & Stormy (raises glass).

But if you’re serving this to a mixed crowd on Christmas morning—children, nondrinkers, etc.—don’t worry: While it's true that inevitably not every drop of the alcohol will bake out, this recipe has enough other good stuff going that I can verify that it tastes just as good with little or no booze at all. Namely: those classic cozy wintry flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and brown sugar.

And of course, there's the sassy topping. With enough of that, your crowd would probably be happy to eat the presents.

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Chrissy Teigen’s French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes

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Serves 8

The Base

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound French bread (1 large loaf), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup rum (we used Meyer's dark rum—if you're concerned about the alcohol, feel free to reduce, replacing with another liquid like milk)
  • 1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

The Topping

  • 3 cups Frosted Flakes cereal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Go to Recipe

Photos by Bobbi Lin

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to editor/stylist/professional genius-hunter Ali Slagle for this one!