This overnight brioche French toast casserole is the ultimate brunch for a crowd! With sticky pecans, fluffy brioche bread, and warm spices, it’s a huge crowd-pleaser for brunch parties or the holidays. As a bonus, this casserole is super simple and make-ahead. Just mix it up and bake it in the morning while you sip your coffee!

Syrup drizzling over a slice of overnight brioche French toast casserole on a grey plate next to grey cups of coffee, a white pan of casserole, and a white linen on a wood table.

French toast casserole always screams “Christmas” or “Easter” or “hangover brunch with friends thanking pre-party Sara for thinking ahead”. You know, celebration stuff.

Basically, no matter what event we’re hosting, baked French toast always seems to make an appearance at my family’s get-togethers. So this year, I decided to make my own version to serve with pesto veggie breakfast casserole and brown butter banana coffee cake.

And, because you know I love a sticky bun situation, I added some caramelized nuts for crunch and good measure. This casserole is decadent, rich, cozy, and perfect with a cup of coffee. (And maybe an Ibuprofen. 😅)

Recipe details

Back when I was in pastry school, we used to make loaves upon loaves of brioche. Like, more brioche than anyone could ever eat. So after a while, we got creative with using leftovers and French toast was my fave! Brioche makes the casserole light and fluffy in the middle with caramelized, crisp edges. So good!

  • This casserole is super simple and make-ahead.
  • The sticky pecans give the French toast monkey bread vibes!
  • Everyone loves this casserole – it’s one of my go-tos for a crowd.
  • Make this French toast for holidays, parties, & get-togethers!

What is brioche?

Brioche is a type of French bread that’s made with enriched dough – a.k.a. a dough made with eggs, sugar, and butter. Thanks to these ingredients, the crumb is super rich, tender, and fluffy. It’s amazing in French toast because it adds to the custardy texture.

The ingredient list

A white platter of brioche on a white counter next to butter, a whisk, and white and brown bowls of syrup, pecans, bourbon, vanilla, spices, salt, eggs, milk, and brown sugar.
  • Brioche – you can use either store-bought or homemade brioche. Find it in the bakery or bread aisle of the grocery store.
  • Pecans – to add some crunch and extra texture to the French toast! You can use whole pecans or pre-chopped.
  • Unsalted butter – to add a toasty, caramelized flavor, we’ll be browning the butter.
  • Brown sugar – you can use either dark or light brown sugar. The brown sugar will make the pecans nice and sticky.
  • Maple syrup – make sure you’re using 100% pure maple syrup for the best flavor. You’ll need some for the pecans and for drizzling!
  • Salt – a bit of Kosher salt will offset the sweetness of the sticky pecans. I use Morton’s Kosher salt.
  • Eggs – the eggs make up the base of the custard so it’s thicker and richer.
  • Milk – we’ll use whole milk to thin out the custard and add moisture to the French toast.
  • Vanilla extract – for a little extra flavor! Make sure you’re using 100% pure vanilla extract.
  • Bourbon – this is optional but I like adding a splash of bourbon to complement the sticky pecans!
  • Spices – a dash of cinnamon and cardamom makes this casserole extra cozy.

Pro tip!

For French toast that’s custardy (but not soggy), make sure you’re using stale bread. Just slice the bread and let it dry out for a day or so before making the casserole.

Ingredient variations

  • Bread – feel free to use Challah, sourdough, or another soft white bread.
  • Nuts – walnuts, almonds, or a mix of nuts would be delicious too!
  • Milk – for richer French toast, use half-and-half instead of whole milk.
  • Alcohol – you can also use a splash of dark rum or orange liqueur.
  • Spices – any warm spices will work. Nutmeg, ginger, or even homemade apple pie spice!
  • Nut-free – just leave out the nuts and use the caramel on its own.

How to make this French toast

Six steps to making sticky pecans. In photo 1, a white pan is filled with melted butter. In photo 2, the butter is browned. In photo 3, the pan has brown sugar and syrup in it. In photo 4, the mixture is simmering. In photo 5, pecans are added to the pan. In photo 6, the sticky pecans are mixed.

Sticky pecans

  1. Start by melting the butter in a pan. Cook the butter, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty and has brown bits on the bottom.
  2. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and a bit of salt. Simmer the caramel for 1-2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Then, add the pecans. Cook them for a minute or so until the pecans are coated and sticky.
Six steps to making custard. In photo 1, a white bowl of eggs on a white counter. in photo 2, the eggs are whisked. In photo 3, the bowl has milk in it. In photo 4, the bowl has spices and vanilla. In photo 5, the custard is mixed. In photo 6, a piece of bread is in the custard.

Spiced custard

  1. To make the custard, start by whisking the eggs until they’re nice and smooth. Then, stir in the milk.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, bourbon, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Whisk until it’s combined.
  3. Next, dip each piece of bread in the custard for about 10-15 seconds on each side.
Three steps to making brioche French toast casserole. In photo 1, sticky pecans are in a white pan on a white counter. In photo 2, brioche is layered in a casserole dish with custard. In photo 3, the casserole is topped with more sticky pecans.
  1. Spread half of the sticky pecans in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan.
  2. Then, arrange the soaked bread in a shingles pattern in the pan. Pour the remaining custard over the French toast.
  3. Top the toast with the rest of the sticky pecans. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. When you’re ready to bake the French toast, heat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lastly, bake the French toast until the custard is set and the edges are a bit caramelized. Slice and enjoy!

Quick tip

To keep the French toast from coming out soggy, make sure to bake it long enough! The custard should be set but still have a bit of a ‘wobble’ to it. An inserted knife should also come out clean (without any liquid-y custard on it). If the casserole is under-baked, it could end up soggy. If it’s baked for too long, it will be dense.

What if my bread isn’t stale?

You will definitely want to use stale bread or the French toast could end up soggy! You can either use old bread, or you can let it dry on a wire rack overnight. Or, to quickly dry out the bread in a few minutes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
  2. Place the slices of bread directly on the baking rack.
  3. Then, bake the bread for 20-30 minutes until it’s completely dry but not toasted.

Serving ideas

This baked brioche French toast is a meal in itself, but I also like to serve it with some sides to round everything out. Here are some of my favorites!

  • Serve the toast with fruit like blueberries, strawberries, or caramelized apples.
  • Top the French toast with butter, maple syrup, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
  • For a savory option, try adding a side of fried eggs, bacon, and/or sausage.
  • Serve crispy hashbrowns, breakfast potatoes, or fruit salad on the side.
  • Don’t forget a cup of coffee, tea, mimosas, orange juice, or Irish coffees!

Pro tip

If you’re throwing a brunch party, set up a French toast bar! Add bowls of fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are my favorite!), scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, whipped cream, maple syrup, and other toppings you like. Then, your guests can customize their own French toast!

A white pan of brioche French toast casserole with pecans on a wood table next to a brown plate of pecans and a beige linen.

Storing, make-ahead, & reheating

To store the leftover French toast, place the slices in an airtight container or cover the pan with foil. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. This recipe is also make-ahead because it needs to chill overnight! But, I don’t recommend chilling the French toast for more than 1 day or it might end up soggy.

To reheat the French toast, you can microwave the slices for 1-1 1/2 minutes. Or, if you’re reheating large amounts, cover the pan with foil and bake it at 350°F (177°C) for 20-30 minutes until it’s heated through.

I don’t recommend freezing overnight French toast casserole. The custard doesn’t freeze very well and the texture will be off.

Helpful tools

A grey plate with brioche French toast casserole on a wood table next to grey mugs of coffee and a brown plate of pecans.

Tips & tricks

  • Stale bread is the key to good French toast! Bread that is dried out will soak up more custard without falling apart.
  • Cut the brioche into thick slices, about 3/4-1 inch thick. If the bread is too thin, it will fall apart when you dip it in the custard.
  • The bread is fully soaked when it feels wet but not soggy. Make sure you coat both sides of the bread with custard!
  • If the French toast starts to get too browned on top, tent it with tinfoil. The edges should be caramelized but not crunchy or burnt.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use other types of bread?

Yes! Feel free to use sourdough, French bread, Challah, buttermilk bread, or a good-quality white bread. I like making baked French toast with brioche because it’s light and fluffy with caramelized edges. But you can try other breads for different flavors and textures!

How do I keep the French toast from being soggy?

To prevent soggy French toast, first make sure that your bread is stale! If it’s fresh, the bread might soak up too much custard and fall apart. You also want to make sure to bake the casserole long enough. The custard should be set but still a bit wobbly.

How long should the bread soak in the custard?

This will totally depend on the thickness and softness of your bread. For some heartier breads, like sourdough, it will need to soak longer. But since we’re using brioche in this recipe, it will only need about 10-15 seconds per side. The bread is nice and soaked when it feels wet but isn’t falling apart!

Do I have to chill the casserole overnight?

Nope! If you want to serve the casserole same-day, you can chill the French toast for as little as 1-2 hours.

A white pan of pecan brioche French toast casserole on a wood table next to a beige linen and brown plate of pecans.

If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!


5 from 1 vote

Brioche French Toast Casserole with Pecans

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
This overnight brioche French toast casserole is the ultimate brunch for a crowd! With sticky pecans, fluffy brioche bread, and warm spices, it's a huge crowd-pleaser for brunch parties or the holidays. As a bonus, this casserole is super simple and make-ahead. Just mix it up and bake it in the morning while you sip your coffee!

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of stale brioche bread (1 1/4 pounds/567 grams)
  • 2 cups roughly chopped pecans (212 grams)
  • 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter (100 grams)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (105 grams)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving (114 grams)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (360 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • Butter, powdered sugar, & berries, for serving

Instructions 

  • First, grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Then, slice the brioche into thick, 3/4-1 inch slices. If the bread isn't stale, bake the slices directly on an oven rack at 200°F (93°C) for 20-30 minutes until the bread is very dry but not toasted.
  • Next, heat a large skillet over medium. Add the pecans and toast them, stirring often, until they're golden and smell nutty, about 2-3 minutes. Pour the toasted nuts into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.
  • Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the butter, stirring frequently. At first it will simmer and foam up. Keep stirring for about 4-5 minutes until the butter smells caramelized and has brown bits on the bottom.
  • Once the butter is browned, add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook it until the caramel is thickened and the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Add the pecans and stir for another 1-2 minutes until the pecans are glazed. Spread half of the sticky pecans in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish.
  • In a large shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, whole milk, vanilla extract, bourbon (if using), cinnamon, cardamom, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt until smooth.
  • Soak the bread slices for 10-15 seconds per side until the bread is wet but not falling apart. Arrange the slices of bread in two rows, alternating them back and forth in a shingles pattern. Pour any remaining custard over the bread. Then, spoon the other half of the sticky pecans over the French toast.
  • Cover the dish with a lid or tinfoil. Refrigerate the casserole for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • When you're ready to bake the French toast, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes until the edges are caramelized and the custard is set but just a bit wobbly. (If the French toast starts to get too browned, tent it with tinfoil.)
  • Let the French toast casserole sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Then, slice and serve with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, berries, or other toppings you like. Enjoy!

Notes

Stale bread is the key to good French toast! Bread that is dried out will soak up more custard without falling apart.
Cut the brioche into thick slices, about 3/4-1 inch thick. If the bread is too thin, it will fall apart when you dip it in the custard.
The bread is fully soaked when it feels wet but not soggy. Make sure you coat both sides of the bread with custard!
To keep the French toast from coming out soggy, make sure to bake it long enough. The custard should be set but still have a bit of a ‘wobble’ to it. An inserted knife should also come out clean (without any liquid-y custard on it). If the casserole is under-baked, it could end up soggy. If it’s baked for too long, it will be dense.
If you’re throwing a brunch party, set up a French toast bar! Add bowls of fruit (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are my favorite!), scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, whipped cream, maple syrup, and other toppings you like. Then, everyone can customize their own French toast!
 
Cuisine: American
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 444kcal, Carbohydrates: 21.6g, Protein: 9.2g, Fat: 36.6g, Saturated Fat: 9.7g, Cholesterol: 168mg, Sodium: 215mg, Potassium: 221mg, Fiber: 2.9g, Sugar: 11.1g, Calcium: 78mg, Iron: 2mg
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xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day – You Bet I Stare by Banes World