Pumpkin French Toast Casserole (with brioche)

Breakfast  |  Published Sep 24, 2022  |  Updated Sep 23, 2022  |  By Tawnie

french toast made with pumpkin on a white plate topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel and maple glaze.

If there is one brunch item I’m making on repeat this Fall it’s this Pumpkin French Toast Casserole. It’s like if coffee cake and French toast had a baby, it would be this.

Fall immediately jumps into your kitchen as the warm spices of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, all spice and cardamom swirl through the air when you pop this decadent Pumpkin French Toast Casserole into the oven.

What is it about these Fall spices, especially cinnamon that makes you want to grab a good book, a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and eat anything pumpkin?! For me, these Fall fragrances are the best way to start my day, especially when they are wrapped up in this amazing Pumpkin French Toast Casserole served up for breakfast or brunch.  

french toast in a white casserole dish topped with a brown sugar streusel and pecans and a maple syrup glaze.

The exterior has a crisp golden crust, and the middle is full of an amazing, rich, pumpkin, egg, heavy cream custard. And arguably, the best part of this breakfast casserole is the buttery, brown sugar crumble that is topped with a maple frosting and crunch of pecans. It’s a sweet touch to this indulgent Fall breakfast.

Reasons to love this Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

  • Overnight option! Prep it the night before so it’s ready to bake in the morning.
  • It’s cozy, comforting and will definitely get you in the mood for fall.
  • Easy to make. All you need are a couple of bowls and a casserole dish.
  • It’s low maintenance and and excellent with coffee. Or a pumpkin spice latte.
  • A flexible recipe (use different spices, different bread choices, a different glaze, etc.)
  • Perfect for holiday gatherings
  • It’s sweet, has the best texture and is insanely delicious and addictive.

Ingredient Notes

ingredients to make french toast in small bowls.
  • Brioche: I am in love with using brioche in this recipe. It is the perfect texture, so soft and fluffy and YUM. But, if you don’t have a loaf of brioche, you can choose french bread, sourdough bread or challah. (I talk more about the bread choices and what to look for below).
  • Butter: adding melted butter to the bottom of the casserole dish before laying down the bread cubes adds richness and a crispy texture to the bottom.
  • Eggs: the eggs help to create the creaminess of the pumpkin custard.
  • Heavy cream: Gives you the best flavor and richness of the custard.
  • Whole milk: For the best taste and texture use whole milk, although you can use a lower fat or non-dairy if needed.
  • Additional spices: Pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice and salt.
  • Pumpkin puree: adds the perfect pumpkin flavor to this melt-in-your-mouth casserole. Be sure to use 100% canned pumpkin, and not the pumpkin pie mix which contains spices and sugars.
  • Dark brown sugar: provides a deeper, richer more complex molasses flavor, but you can use light brown sugar if you don’t have dark brown. (Or even a little maple syrup or honey works well too)

Step by Step Directions

french toast in a white casserole dish topped with a brown sugar streusel.
  1. PREP THE BREAD: Cut the brioche into 1-inch bite size cubes. It’s best to use somewhat stale bread to prevent a soggy casserole, so I like to pop in the oven at 300°F for ~10-15 minutes if I don’t have any stale bread lying around.
  2. Add the melted butter to the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
  3. PREP THE CUSTARD: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, milk, all of the spices, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and brown sugar.
  4. ASSEMBLE: Pour the stale bread cubes into casserole.
  5. Pour the egg custard over the bread and gently press the bread down so it’s mostly covered. Cover & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  6. STREUSEL TOPPING: combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or fork (but honestly I just use my hands to do this!) until mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate this too, separate from the casserole.
  7. BAKE: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the streusels on top of the casserole and top with chopped pecans. Bake 35-40 minutes or until the middle is set. Tent with foil if tops get browned at all. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes.
  8. GLAZE: Make the maple glaze and drizzle over casserole and enjoy!
french toast made with pumpkin on a white plate topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel and maple glaze.

Best bread for French Toast

Technically, most breads will work but there are some better options to use.

  • Brioche is a very popular and loved bread to use. It tastes amazing, is soft and fluffy, and soaks up the egg custard perfectly. It’s sweet, buttery and oh-so delicious.
  • French baguette or a crusty sourdough loaf: Thick, yummy French or sourdough bread is a great choice. It’s soft on the inside, sturdy/holds up well, and is chewy. The bread needs to be dry/stale so use the oven method to toast when you’re in a bind or you can leave out on the counter overnight.
    • Pro tip: slightly stale bread is best for making French toast because stale bread absorbs more of the egg mixture than fresh bread will.
  • Challah: also sturdy and an absolutely delicious choice for French toast.
  • Any thick-sliced white bread: think like “Texas toast” bread.
french toast made with pumpkin on a white plate topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel and maple glaze.

Tips and variations

  • Be sure to refrigerate the casserole and the streusel for at least 30 minutes. Then prior to baking sprinkle the streusel crumble on top. This not only helps prevent the casserole from becoming soggy but also helps everything stay cold so the streusel doesn’t overly melt and get lost in the casserole.
  • Prep this and refrigerate the casserole overnight. Just remember to keep the crumble on the side and then put the crumble on the casserole right before you bake it. 
  • For a more colorful topping add dried cranberries, or pomegranate arils (seeds) before serving.
  • Another great topping especially if you love maple and bacon is to top off the casserole with crisp bacon after removing it from the oven.
  • Leave out the pecans or use a different nut like walnuts or sliced almonds.

FAQ

Why is my French Toast Casserole soggy?  

If your casserole is soggy reduce the amount of dairy and be sure you’re using stale bread.

Why does the bread need to be day old or stale?  

Day old or stale  bread is drier and it absorbs more of the egg custard

Why do you need milk in French toast?

Eggs and Milk are essential components to the custard base of French toast. It helps to add moisture to the overall dish.

french toast made with pumpkin on a white plate topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel and maple glaze.

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french toast made with pumpkin on a white plate topped with a brown sugar pecan streusel and maple glaze.
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Pumpkin French Toast Casserole (with brioche)

This Pumpkin French Toast Casserole has everything you're craving this Fall: soft, custardy pumpkin-spiked brioche bread, snuggled beneath a buttery-brown sugar pecan streusel topping and a drizzle of maple glaze. You can make it ahead and pop it in the fridge overnight or assemble it last minute too!
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Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 436kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf (1 lb.) day old brioche bread* cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 recipe pumpkin pie spice mixture*
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the streusel topping

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Maple glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Cut the brioche into 1-inch bite size cubes. It's best to use somewhat stale bread to prevent a soggy casserole, so I like to pop in the oven at 300°F for ~10-15 minutes if I don't have any stale bread lying around.
  • Add the melted butter to the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, milk, heavy cream, all of the spices, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Arrange the stale bread cubes into casserole.
  • Pour the egg custard over the bread and gently press the bread down so it's mostly covered. Cover & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  • Combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or fork (but honestly I just use my hands to do this!) until mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate this too, separate from the casserole.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the casserole and top with chopped pecans. Bake for 35-40minutes or until the middle is set. Tent with foil if tops get browned at all. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes.
  • Make the maple glaze by mixing all ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl until smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup or cream as desired.

Video

Notes

  • Pumpkin Spice recipe: 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cardamom, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. salt. 
  • *If you don’t have a loaf of brioche, you can choose french bread, sourdough bread or challah.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. 
  • Be sure to refrigerate the casserole and the streusel for at least 30 minutes. Then prior to baking sprinkle the streusel crumble on top. This not only helps prevent the casserole from becoming soggy but also helps everything stay cold so the streusel doesn’t overly melt and get lost in the casserole.
  • Prep this and refrigerate the casserole overnight. Just remember to keep the crumble on the side and then put the crumble on the casserole right before you bake it. 
  • Recipe inspired and adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction.
Find Kroll’s Korner on Instagram!Mention @krolls_korner or tag #krollskorner

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 192mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 218mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 4561IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 2mg

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4 Comments
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karen
1 month ago

My streusal topping is not getting crumbly as I mix it with my hands. Like it either has too much flour or not enough butter. Are those measurements correct?

Jane C
2 months ago

I’m sorry if I missed this somewhere, but how much butter- how many tablespoons of melted butter do I pour on the bottom of the casserole dish.

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