This Pecan Pie French Toast Bake is perfect for holiday breakfast and brunch gatherings! Almost all the prep work can be done in advance!
This is the time of year when I start thinking about comfort food and easy entertaining recipes. There’s usually a bit of crossover there. To be honest, some years I do little to no holiday entertaining, so it’s the comfort food aspect that speaks to me.
We have a small home that isn’t ideal for parties. However, it’s still great to have these recipes in my back pocket for those times when I am feeding a crowd, or when I need to take a festive dish on the road.
Whether it’s comfort food or a holiday entertaining recipe you’re seeking, this Pecan Pie French Toast Bake checks off all the boxes.
I came up with the idea for the topping after getting a craving for my mother’s Sweet Pecan Kugel, which is amazing. I used her topping as a base, but kept the pecans more rustic, since I knew they wouldn’t hold a decorative shape if I added as much gooey topping as I had in mind.
As I thought about the kugel, I realized how much the topping was reminiscent of pecan pie. And now, here we are. Pecan Pie French Toast Casserole. Baked French Toast. Whatever you want to call it… it’s good.
What is a French Toast Bake?
I almost never make traditional French toast anymore. I always make baked French toast because, well, I’m super lazy in the morning. I can barely bring myself to make an egg sandwich sometimes.
Think of this as a French toast casserole that can be completely prepared the night before, and then baked in the morning. All you have to do is throw it in the oven and voila. Breakfast is served.
Looking for more great holiday recipes?
Pecan Pie French Toast Bake
For the topping:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (for greasing the pan)
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup very coarsely chopped and whole pecans
For the filling:
- 9 cups day-old challah or brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (approximately 1 loaf)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup milk (1%, 2% milk or whole)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, preferable Grade A Dark/Grade B
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Optional: 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (see notes)
- Generously grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with the softened butter. Grease everywhere, but focus more on the sides and corners than the bottom.
- Prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar. Pour into the loaf pan, spreading evenly with a spatula. Top evenly with the pecans, gently pressing them into the mixture.
- Add the bread to the loaf pan, gently packing it down as you add more.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar, if using. Slowly pour the mixture into the loaf pan, periodically pressing the bread down as it absorbs the liquid.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap, and place the loaf pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil (this will make cleanup easier if the topping bubbles over). Bake for 60 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan. Carefully flip the loaf pan onto a serving plate and lift up. Spoon any topping that remains in the pan over the French toast. Serve immediately.
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