This baked french toast casserole with pears and brown sugar is the perfect make ahead breakfast for the holiday season! This casserole is full of holiday flavors from the brown sugared pears and delicious egg custard to the chopped pecans and warm cinnamon spices. Also its super easy to make and so delicious!
So how to you like your french toast? For me, it was always with extra cinnamon!! I was actually surprised when I saw two version of frozen french toast sticks: one with cinnamon and one regular (meaning without cinnamon!) Seriously did not even realize that there were versions of french toast without cinnamon.
Ingredients for French Toast Casserole
- Bread - Best to use stale french bread, cut up in small cube. Brioche or challah loaves are also great options.
- Dairy: Milk & Heavy Cream - you also use half & half instead for the entire recipe.
- Sugar: Brown sugar for the pear and brown sugar filling; Granulated sugar for the french toast custard
- Flavorings: Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon (of course!)
- Salt - Helps to cut through the sweetness of the entire dish
- Toppings: For this recipe, the toppings are actually on the bottom. The brown sugared pears and chopped pecans. You can substitute with other fruits and nuts as well, such as apples, almonds, walnuts, blueberries.
How to Make a French Toast Casserole with Pears
- Prepare the pears. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the brown sugar until the mixture bubbles and the sugar dissolves. Peel and slice the pears and arrange in the baking dish. Drizzle the brown sugar and butter mixture over the sliced pears and add in the pecans.
- Add the bread cubes to the baking dish. Cube your stale bread loaf into about 1 inch pieces. Arrange the bread cubes over the pears and pecans.
- Make the custard. Combine the eggs, milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, sugar and spices. Whisk until combined. Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes.
- Refrigerate. Cover the baking dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
- Bake. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking to get to room temperature. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until golden.
- Serve warm. With powdered sugar and/or maple syrup. I think this recipe is sweet enough and does not require the additional syrup.
Tips on Make Ahead Breakfasts
- Make sure to account for the additional times. In this recipe, there is additional time required to get the casserole back to room temp, for pre-heating the oven and bake time.
- Try to include additional side dishes that are a mix of sweet and savory, warm and cold. Check out these additional brunch recipes for inspiration: Cranberry Glazed Orange Spice Donuts (Baked), Maple Chai Apple Topped Buttermilk Pancakes, Everything Naan Cilantro Cream Cheese, Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Donuts (Baked), Mango Lassi Parfait
French Toast Casserole with Pears
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter unsalted
- 1-2 pears peeled and sliced (about 1-½ cups)
- 4 cups cubed day-old French bread 1-½ inch pieces
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup milk
- 4 eggs large
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Pour the sliced pears mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add the chopped pecans to the dish. Drizzle the butter-brown sugar mixture over the pears and pecans, gently stir to coat.
- Arrange the bread in the baking dish in a single layer over the pears and pecans. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure it’s all covered. Cover the dish and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the dish from the fridge about 30 minutes before you’d like to bake it. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
- Bake the french toast uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.