Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
This Strawberry Stuffed French Toast is a sweet way to start any day and is sure to impress your guests at your next brunch! It starts with store-bought brioche that gets soaked in a vanilla and cinnamon custard and is stuffed with a tangy, rich strawberry cream cheese filling.
If you've ever had IHOP stuffed french toast, this make-at-home strawberry cream cheese french toast version is so much better! You'll only need 9 ingredients, most you probably already have on hand.
Surprisingly easy - even though this french toast with cream cheese and strawberries looks like a show-stopper, it's actually really simple to make. You'll only need about an hour from start to finish, and you won't need any special tools or ingredients.
Semi-homemade - no need to make bread from scratch. This is a great use for stale, store-bought brioche or other enriched bread like challah. Have a stale loaf of bread in the pantry? Time to make this strawberry stuffed french toast recipe!
Flavor - strawberries and cream is a classic combination for a reason. The pairing of sweet strawberries and tangy cream cheese in this fruit filled french toast is reminiscent of strawberry cheesecake in breakfast form.
Customizable - you can make this french toast recipe with strawberries, but you can also swap out the components of the filling, the type of bread you use, or the toppings to really make it your own following the same steps.
- Bakery bread. Challah bread is the best option for the stuffed French toast, but a large Italian or French loaf can also be used. Day old or slightly stale bread is best!
- Cream cheese. Full-fat, Philadelphia brand cream cheese is best. The cream cheese should be at a soft, room temperature so the strawberry compote can easily incorporate into it.
- Strawberries. Fresh strawberries are best, but frozen strawberries can also be used for the compote. If folding extra strawberries into the cream cheese filling, fresh should be used.
- Milk. I prefer whole milk for a rich custard, but 2% or skim milk can be used, as well.
- Spices & flavors. Cinnamon and vanilla are used to flavor the custard to soak the bread.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Use equal parts mascarpone in place of the cream cheese for a creamier, less tangy filling. Serve this for a special occasion with an espresso, and if you close your eyes, you can transport yourself to Italy!
- For a faster, fresher version of this strawberry french toast, don't cook the strawberries at all and only use fresh strawberries in the filling.
- Add even more flavor to the filling by using flavored cream cheese. I like to use strawberry, blueberry, or honey walnut cream cheese, but you can play around with your favorite flavors!
- Use blueberries or raspberries instead of the strawberries for another variation on this strawberry filled french toast.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Cook down the chopped strawberries with sugar, then cool.
Two: Mix together the softened cream cheese and cooled strawberry compote until smooth.
Three: Fold in fresh, chopped strawberries for extra texture and fresh flavor.
Four: Slice bakery bread into 2-inch thick slices using a serrated knife.
Hot tip! Take care not to cut the whole way through the sides or bottom of the bread.
Five: Slice a pocket into the bread without slicing through the sides or bottom. Gently open the pocket, careful not to tear it.
Six: Add about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese into the bread pocket, working it the whole way into the sides and bottom.
Seven: Squeeze slightly to close, and remove any cream cheese that squeezes out.
Eight: Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a large, shallow bowl.
Nine: Dip each side of the stuffed French toast into the custard until fully soaked.
Ten: Fry all sides (even the edges) of the French toast in butter over medium heat until golden brown all over. Serve warm with preferred toppings.
- Make sure you don't cut all the way through the bread. You want to cut partially through to make a little pocket for your homemade strawberry cream cheese.
- Slightly stale bread is best for absorbing the liquid. You can leave your bread out on the counter overnight to help get it stale, or if you already have a slightly old loaf in the pantry, it's the perfect time to make this brioche bread french toast!
- Use a shallow, wide bowl for dipping the stuffed french toast into the custard. This helps ensure all of the bread soaks up the liquid and you don't end up with dry spots.
- Since you'll be cooking the french toast in batches, add the fried pieces on a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
Toppings for French Toast
You can really have fun with the toppings for your stuffed french toast! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Butter (I love to use salty butter for a slight contrast to the sweet)
- Maple syrup
- Powdered sugar
- Fresh berries
- Sliced bananas
- Berry sauce
Overnight French Toast
The night before you plan to serve your strawberry cream cheese french toast, slice and stuff your brioche with the cream cheese filling, and then store, covered, in the fridge.
In the morning, place the refrigerated stuffed brioche on the counter for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature. Then dip the toasts in the custard and pan fry.
You can place the fried french toast on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven to finish heating and keep them warm, if needed.
Why doesn't my french toast get crispy?
This could be because there is not enough fat in the pan, it wasn't cooked long enough, or the heat was not high enough.What is the best bread for french toast?
Challah, Italian, or French loaves are best for french toast. They're rich, fluffy, and absorb liquid best. Whole grain is not recommended.How do you know when french toast is done?
When the french toast is nicely browned on each side, the french toast is ready.
While the French toast is best served fresh, store the cooked French toast pieces covered on a plate in the fridge for up to two days.
Re-crisp in a hot pan and add then add to a 300℉ oven for 5-10 minutes so the center re-warms.
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Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
- ▢ 3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries in small bite-sized pieces
- ▢ 3 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
- ▢ 6 oz Cream cheese softened
- ▢ 2 large eggs
- ▢ 1 cup milk
- ▢ 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ▢ 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ▢ 1 large Brioche loaf
- ▢ 2 tablespoons salted butter for frying
- ▢ powdered sugar, maple syrup and strawberries for topping
- Hull and chop the strawberries into small bite-sized pieces.¾ cup chopped fresh strawberries, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Add half of the strawberries and the sugar into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the juices begin to release, the strawberries soften, and the liquid turns into a sticky syrup-like consistency.
- Transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese and cooked strawberries with a rubber spatula until completely smooth. Note: use the spatula to mash down the cream cheese and strawberries to incorporate the two.6 oz Cream cheese
- Fold in the fresh strawberries and set aside.
- In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon and set aside.2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Remove the very ends of the brioche loaf (just a sliver), then cut the brioche loaf into 2-inch slices.1 large Brioche loaf
- Cut a slit into the center, leaving at least 1cm on each side, including the bottom. Use your fingers and knife to gently open the pocket without breaking it.
- Carefully squeeze open the bread, and add in about 2 tablespoons of strawberry cream cheese filling, pushing it down tot the bottom and into the sides. Add a bit more if needed, then gently set it on the counter and pat down. Wipe away any filling that has squeezed out of the opening.. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the butter until melted and bubbly.2 tablespoons salted butter
- Once hot, soak the bread on each side for about 10-15 seconds, until completely soaked and absorbed, then place in the skillet. Repeat with as many slices as can fit into the skillet without overcrowding.
- Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, and about 30 seconds on each end until golden brown. Check the underside periodically to be sure the bread isn’t burning, and flip once it becomes golden.
- If needed, place the fried pieces on a cookie sheet in a 250℉ oven to stay warm as you fry the remaining pieces.
- Top with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and fresh strawberries. Serve hot.powdered sugar, maple syrup and strawberries
- The cooked strawberries can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge to expedite the process.
- While the French toast is best served fresh, store the cooked French toast pieces covered on a plate in the fridge for up to two days. Re-crisp in a hot pan and add then add to a 300℉ oven for 10 minutes so the center re-warms.