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Bring holiday cheer to your breakfast with overnight eggnog apple french toast. The warm spices with roasted apples, eggnog battered challah, and pecan crumble will make you and your guests swoon.
Watch how to make this
What makes this dish special
Whenever Christmas comes around, I make it my mission to create a special holiday breakfast dish. As special as the holiday dinner is, I believe that brunch is just as important. It sets the mood for the entire day, after all.
This year I'm putting together a very special overnight eggnog apple french toast with pecan streusel. What's great about this recipe is that the entire dish can be made the day before, including the streusel. In fact, it's best if the bread is left to soak in the batter overnight. The following day, just pop the french toast in the oven, and about 40 minutes later, breakfast is served! I can't think of a better way to start the holidays!
- Granny Smith apples: You can use any type of baking apples for the french toast including Fuji, Braeburn, Honey crisp, and Gala apples. I used Granny Smith because the tartness offsets the sweet maple syrup and brown sugar in the syrup.
- Maple syrup: The sweetener is used to flavor the tart apples and as a syrup base for the french toast. You can also substitute it with brown sugar.
- Challah: Although this recipe uses challah for the bread, you can also use brioche for a richer option or French bread.
- Eggnog: The spiced beverage thickens the batter while adding sweetness and richness. If you can't find eggnog, make it at home or use whole milk instead.
- Cinnamon: To add warm spices that compliment the apples, we're incorporating cinnamon along with nutmeg.
- Pecans: The buttery nuts add a crunchy texture to the french toast while adding nutty flavors. You can also use walnuts or almonds instead.
How to make overnight eggnog apple french toast
Step 1: Cook apples
To begin this special holiday french toast, start by preparing the apples. In a large saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. I like to use a nonstick pot or Dutch oven so that the sugar doesn't burn while the apples cook.
Add peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the apples are softened, and the syrup slightly thickens, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and allow the apple mixture to cool slightly.
Feel free to prepare the cooked apples the day before.
Step 2: Prepare french toast
Pour half of the cooked apples with their liquid into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Next, slice a challah loaf or brioche bread into 1-inch thick slices. You can also use French bread or a gluten-free French loaf for a gluten-free version.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggnog with eggs, vanilla extract, and nutmeg until well combined. I used storebought eggnog but you can also use homemade.
Dip each challah slice into the batter, allowing it to soak for about 10 seconds. Arrange the soaked bread slices on top of the apples in the baking dish, slightly shingling the slices. Then, pour the remaining eggnog batter evenly on top.
Spoon the remaining cooked apples on top of the bread. Cover the dish and let it rest in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavors to meld for about 8-12 hours.
Step 3: Bake
The next day, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cover the French toast with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pecan streusel by mixing all-purpose flour with brown sugar, chopped pecans, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in 3 tablespoons of cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. You can also just get down and dirty and use your hands, whichever method is easiest.
After 35 minutes, remove the cover, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and sprinkle the pecan streusel on top of the french toast. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown. Once done, take the French toast out of the oven, and let it cool slightly before serving.
There's so much flavor in this overnight eggnog apple french toast that you don't even need maple syrup (but of course, there's no judgment if you do!). The apples are wonderfully tender with a touch of tartness while the pecan streusel adds a little crunch and the eggnog adds a special touch. After enjoying a slice or two, you know it's going to be a good day.
Frequently asked questions
You can bake the french toast immediately but I recommend baking it for a shorter time to prevent the bread from drying out. Allowing the bread to soak overnight lets it absorb the custard mixture fully, resulting in a moist and flavorful French toast. If you skip this step, the bread won't be as moist and thus, should bake for a shorter time.
Yes, you can assemble individual portions in ramekins or a muffin tin for a personalized touch. You can cut the bread into small chunks rather than leaving them slices and pour the eggnog batter directly on top.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best quality, consume within 2-3 days. To reheat the toast, cover it with foil and heat it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
More holiday brunch ideas
If you love holiday brunch as much as I do, you might want to explore these ideas:
Overnight Eggnog Apple French Toast
Overnight french toast
- ¼ cup butter (57 grams)
- 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
- ⅓ cup brown sugar (67 grams)
- ⅓ cup maple syrup (111 grams)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lb challah or brioche bread
- 2 cups eggnog (500 ml)
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (37 grams)
- ¼ cup brown sugar (50 grams)
- ¼ cup chopped raw pecans (30 grams)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks (42 grams)
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add sliced apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon, stirring to combine. Bring a to simmer and continue to cook until apples are softened and syrup is slightly thickened, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour half of the apples with the liquid in the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
- Slice challah into 1-inch thick slices. In a large bowl, whisk together eggnog, eggs, vanilla, and nutmeg until well combined. Dip challah slices in batter, letting each slice sit in the batter for 10 seconds. Arrange the bread slices on top of the apples in the baking dish. Pour remaining eggnog batter evenly on top of the bread.
- Spoon remaining apples on top of the bread. Cover and let rest in the fridge overnight, about 8-12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Cover the french toast with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make pecan streusel. Mix all-purpose flour with brown sugar, chopped pecans, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in the butter until well combined. The resemble should resemble coarse sand.
- Remove french toast from the oven and remove the cover. Increase oven to 375 degrees F.
- Sprinkle streusel on top and bake for another 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm.