Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter

If a crockpot is the equivalent of a set-it-and-forget-it dinner solution, this is the parallel equivalent for breakfast.

I’m an advocate of as little as humanly possible to do in the morning and this is a recipe that even I can pull off when I’m bleary-eyed because the work is done the night before.

And ‘work’ is a very loose term because there’s hardly any involved.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

Coffee is my usual breakfast of champions and the last thing on my mind on a busy weekday morning when I’m making sure shoelaces are double-knotted and hair is un-knotted is making French toast or pancakes. Cereal, without spilling the milk, is all we can muster here and still get out of the house on time. If you’re one of those people who makes French toast on weekday mornings, please come to my house because I need your help.


On weekends I still don’t feel very inspired to make a big breakfast because big breakfasts usually mean big kitchen cleanup and I’d rather just not. Until this French toast came along.

The afternoon or evening before you plan to serve it, make a marinade of melted butter, pumpkin puree, two eggs, cream, sugars, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices including cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cloves, and give it a stir. It’s the best looking and best smelling orange soup out there. I wanted to drink it as a smoothie.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy! To the marinade, add diced pieces of your bread-baking fails. You know, those hard, dense, hockey puck-like loaves of bread that you’ve been making in your bread-baking experiments that for some reason didn’t quite rise as nicely as planned or were as dense as two hundred year old tree trunks. Feel free to use those. Or feel free to use all the good bread you’ve successfully made. I have lots of that too. It’s been a real carbfest and I needed to find a way to use some of it.

Or, simply buy a one-pound loaf of French bread, a crusty baguette, or a hearty bread from your grocer’s deli and slice about 12 ounces of it, about three-quarters of the loaf, into chunky cubes about two-inches in size. Don’t slice the cubes too small because they need to be large enough and have enough surface area that the marinade doesn’t transform them into a mushy mess overnight.

Do not try this with the equivalent of white Wonder bread. The bread needs to be a hearty, dense, substantially-textured loaf. Stale bread is perfectly acceptable and almost preferred because that renders the bread capable of absorbing all the glorious drippy, saucy, sweet pumpkin and cinnamon-spiced marinade without disintegrating.

Toss the bread chunks until they’re all coated and it will seem that the bread is literally drowning in marinade and that there will be no possible way all the liquid will ever be absorbed. Well, bread gets very thirsty overnight and does a marvelous job of drinking up while it waits for you in the covered bowl in your refrigerator until morning when it’s time to bake it.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

In the morning, transfer the drenched bread chunks into a lined 9-by-9-inch pan. I always line my pans with foil to save on cleanup. Making anything other than grapes for breakfast is already taxing enough and the last thing I want to do is stubborn dishes when I can just lift out one piece of foil and pitch it when I’m through.

When the bread pieces are in the pan, lightly smoosh them down with a spatula, making sure there aren’t any pieces with corners that are jutting up significantly higher than the other pieces, as those edges and corners will have a tendency to burn so try to keep everything about the same height. Alternatively, the bread cubes can be packed down tightly and this will turn pull-apart bread into its denser cousin, bread pudding.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

Bake it for about a half hour but don’t overbake it. When it’s done, the surface of the bread will still appear moist and a bit on the juicy side with some glistening surfaces and not all dried out.  The point of marinating meat is to keep it juicy and tender while it cooks and the same goes for the bread. The French toast doesn’t taste nearly as good when it’s been overbaked and becomes too hardened and dry.

While the French toast is baking, make the vanilla maple butter by melting butter, and feel free to use browned butter for an extra layer of flavor. Whisk the melted butter together with maple syrup and vanilla extract, and prior to pouring it over your golden pumpkin-kissed bread chunks, reheat the mixture gently in the microwave for a few seconds if necessary if you like your syrup warmed like I do. The vanilla maple butter makes the already tender and saucy bread chunks even more irresistible.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

Although some may not feel it necessary to add a buttery syrup to this pull-apart bread, everything tastes better drenched with additional butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. You’ll likely never go back to plain Jane maple syrup after trying this syrup because the slight saltiness from the butter rounds out the sweetness from the maple, and combined with the vanilla infusion, it’s just a beautiful thing.

This French toast is everything I could want in French toast. The marinade took about ninety seconds to whisk together and there was no active work at the stovetop flipping French toast over and risking grease burns on my wrists. I avoid frying whenever possible since between the stink and the grease burns on my forearms, nothing good ever comes from it for me.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

What I loved most about this French toast was how moist it was after it had all night to soak up and bathe in the marinade. Dry toast, dry bread, dry desserts, dry anything is never a good situation and this situation was dripping with juicy pumpkin puree, sweet maple syrup, and the brown sugar caramelized while it baked, adding another dimension. Between the maple syrup in the marinade that’s baked into the bread and then the vanilla maple butter that engulfs it after baking, I was in sticky, sweet, maple syrupy heaven.

The warming spices of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cloves complemented the pumpkin and maple and each bite had a distinctive cinnamon-sugar quality, which I loved. I went heavy-handed on the cinnamon so that it wouldn’t get lost in a sea of other competing flavors, but scale it or the pumpkin pie spice back a bit if you’re not as much of a cinnamon fiend as I am.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

One thing I didn’t go heavy-handed on was the eggs. I have seen recipes for overnight bakes that call for a half dozen eggs, or more, and although that’s fine for some people, someone in our house has to watch his cholesterol and I kept the eggs to just two. Plus, I wanted baked French toast, not baked eggs.

The chunky pieces of bread that I could pull apart, one by one, made me reach for one more piece, and one more piece. It’s the French toast equivalent of monkey bread. Keep the napkins handy and embrace the sticky chunks.

Between the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon-sugar, and the sweet perfume of baking pumpkin, my house smelled so fabulous that the family set up camp in the kitchen waiting for this to emerge hot from the oven.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast - Make breakfast the night before & pop it in the oven the next morning! So easy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A marinade of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar, and spices coats chunky cubes of bread overnight. Baking it off the next morning is as simple as pie. Or as simple as pull-apart French Toast. The resulting French toast is moist and tender, and bursting with pumpkin, cinnamon, and fall flavors. The vanilla and butter-infused maple syrup poured over the top makes it even better.
Serves: Makes one 9-by-9-inch pan, about 9 generous pieces
  • For the French Toast
  • about 8 cups bread, diced in 1½- to 2-inch pieces, or about 12 ounces (French bread, a French Baugette, or a crusty and hearty bakery-style bread is necessary; something that can stand up to overnight soaking without disintegrating)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup milk or cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • For the Vanilla Maple Butter (double the batch if you love syrup)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. For the French Toast - In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. I prefer to brown the butter by heating for about 3 minutes on high power until the crackling and popping has subsided, the butter browned and nutty-smelling; being careful not to burn it browning butter tips here. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the eggs.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients to the butter, except for the bread, and whisk until smooth and combined. Add the bread cubes and toss gently to coak. Cover with plastic wrap and place bowl in the refrigerator overnight, or at least two hours so the bread has time to absorb the marinade.
  3. Before baking, preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Transfer bread into baking pan, leaving it fairly loosely piled in the baking pan. Watch any bread corners that are jetting up much higher than the rest of the pieces as they will have a tendency to burn more easily so I push any of them down with a spatula so all pieces are roughly the same height. Scrape out any marinade in the bottom of the bowl and pour that over the bread. Bake for about 30 to 38 minutes, or until golden and browned, the marinade has dried out some, taking care not to overbake as you want this moist and coating does not have to be bone dry on all piece. Serve immediately with a pat of butter, warm maple syrup, a dusting of confectioners' sugar, or vanilla maple butter. Store extra French Toast in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, reheat gently in the microwave prior to serving.
  4. For the Vanilla Maple Butter - In a medium microwave-safe bow, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power; or brown it by heating for about 3 minutes. To the melted butter, add the maple syrup, and whisk vigorously until combined. Heat for about 30 seconds to warm the mixture and add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour over French Toast. Extra syrup may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
To keep vegan, use vegan butter in place of all butter and use two flax eggs in place of the eggs. To keep gluten-free, use a hearty gluten-free bread. Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs.

 Related Recipes

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – Make your own English muffins in this foolproof, no-knead, easy yeast bread that’s great for beginners and first-time breadmakers. You’ll never go back to storebought English muffins and the worst that can happen is you use the leftovers for French toast

Cinnamon Sugar Crust Cream Cheese and Jelly Danish Squares – If you like breakfast pastries, this tastes like an Entenmann’s danish, with a crispy and crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating, and it’s filled with smooth cream cheese and sweet jelly. The squares use a shortcut and are a snap to make

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting – A moist, easy, banana bread, laced with the warming flavors of pumpkin and molasses and the frosting takes the bread into another realm

Cinnamon Bun Pie – Best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made (to date) and they’re ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. I’m working on yeast-based cinnamon rolls

Strawberry Jelly Rolls – These start out as white dinner rolls that I doctored up and baked, and in less than 15 minutes I was eating a warm jelly roll, perfect when you’re short on time but want to make something hot, and you can keep the batch size as small, or large, as necessary

Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze – A cross between a Krispy Kreme donut and a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Yeast-free and easy and although I haven’t tried it in muffin tins, if you don’t have a donut pan, try them as muffins

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) – Between the maple syrup, pumpkin, peanut butter, cranberries, and spices, the scent that emanates from the oven while this bake is extraordinary. Granola is so easy and inexpensive to make at home that I never buy it

Do you have a favorite French Toast recipe? Or monkey bread or pull-apart bread recipe?

Feel free to link up your favorites.

I’m not much of a pancake maker because my last pancake recipe (vegan, GF) was almost 3 years ago but I am feeling so inspired on all things bread-making.

Thanks for the entries in the two giveaways and have a great week!

Trader Joe’s Cookbook Giveaway

LeCreuset Enamaled Cast Iron Skillet Giveaway

117 comments on “Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter”

  1. OH my god, this looks AMAZING!!

  2. Yum yum yum!! I’m also not much of a breakfast person except on weekends and this looks amaaaazing. The perfect way to start any day :-) And I love that it’s make ahead. This would be perfect on Christmas morning! Am I thinking too far ahead?

    • Not at all! I just posted last week that I am already starting holiday cookie baking. Gotta think 6+ weeks ahead as a blogger. Well, I do. That way I can test, trial, and formulate without stressing. Plus we get to eat Xmas cookies in Oct & Nov. :)

  3. Pingback: Pumpkin Recipes

  4. Perfect for guests! I like being able to get up and just have breakfast mostly ready. I think thats why I make so many muffins. This takes it to a whole new level!

  5. While I don’t have any immediate plans to make my first bread, it’s comforting to know that such a beautiful and EASY solution for a possible fail exists. A pumpkiny, juicy, moist, and cinnamon-y solution at that. What a beautiful bake Averie! I’ve been loving all your pumpkin recipes. The whole egg things really stands out to me – I cannot stand baked eggs – I love omelets and the like but baked eggs makes me squirmy – something about the spongey consistency. From the minimal prep time to all of those chunky fall apart pieces, this is one breakfast everyone should consider for the holidays! I am all about ease these days too (hence that easy fudge and bark I made recently.) Who has the time, especially with the holidays coming up?

    PS: I don’t own a crockpot. I know! I’m totally missing out.

    • I own a crockpot but I use it like…once a year, maybe? I’ve lived in my current house 18+ mos and have yet to use it in this house. Ahem. I find it’s actually easier to just make what I want to make in 20 mins on the stovetop than fussing around with it for 6 hrs wondering if my settings are right on a crockpot, but that’s just me.

      And the whole thing about baked eggs – I never understood why some people put in like a half dozen, Ina Garten style, usage of eggs in some recipes. They have their place but 2 or 3 is my max in any one recipe usually :)

  6. wow this looks so good. I am putting on my mealplan for Saturday breakfast!!!

  7. That French toast looks bananas, but I could really go for one of those strawberry jelly rolls with my coffee this morning, too! Lovely photos, as always.

  8. Oh God, this looks amazing! I made a similar pumpkin bread pudding recipe that was dangerously good. Pumpkin and maple syrup are a match made in heaven. Heck, pumpkin with just about anything is a match made in heaven! Great recipe Averie! :)

  9. Yum yum yum! I love that this is an easy night before recipe. I’m a morning person, but fancy breakfast in the morning is sometimes just too much!

  10. So irresistible!! Love the fact that you didn’t make the toast too egg-y. (You’re right, everything does taste better when it’s drenched with extra butter and maple syrup.) :D

  11. My mouth is watering up! I would love to wake up to this french toast…who wouldn’t?! It is a whole lot better than the bowl of cereal that I’m holding right now. :)

  12. I haven’t made French toast in at least 10 years–probably because of the time factor and clean up. I remember my mom making an overnight type of French toast, but the recipe called for big thick slices of bread. I like this because all the little pieces get coated in that yummy marinade! One little note about my loaf of bread. I always add a few tsp. of vital wheat gluten per loaf (Hodgson mills or Bob’s Red Mill). It’s supposed to help in the rising process and the majority of my previous breads had whole wheat flour in them (very heavy), so I do believe it helps. That could be why mine puffed up so well. I’ll try my next loaf without it and see what happens.

    • I have thought about adding VWG to my dough after reading about it for wheat-based loaves. Also bought this new yeast by RedStar called Platinum which is touted as really good for wheat-breads. I havent tried it yet though. And have also been paying closer attn to water temp, knead times, flour amts, really trying to control it all much more. I need to try VWG on my next loaf.

      And like you, I havent made French toast in, oh, about 10 years. Seriously maybe when Scott and I were first married I tried to impress him? But it’s been at least a decade b/c the hassle (and same for pancakes) of the cleanup, cooking time, and all that work on a ‘lazy’ weekend morning. Not happening. But this is foolproof and the foil-lined pan makes cleanup a 1 second activity!

  13. Oh man. Usually I’m pretty content with my yogurt-granola-berry parfait in the AM, but now I’m thinking I need to step it up a notch and whip this up. Holy moly. This blows my dinky parfait outta the water!

  14. My word, lady. I’m eating Stove Top Stuffing for breakfast (don’t look at me like that!) and wishing I had this instead. Seriously, You outdid yourself.

    • I buy 2 boxes of StoveTop per year. My husband LOVES the stuff and I buy 2 before Thanksgiving and dole them out to him and you’d think I’d just made him homemade croissants with hand-churned butter or something :)

  15. Hi Averie! It’s raining up here, can you believe it? Maybe it’s headed down your way next. It’s actually comforting and I’m really excited because the kids have the day off from school so we get to be cozy all day. I’m the same way when it comes to breakfast. I love to bake up a sweet for dessert and bang out a delicious lunch or dinner, but breakfast is just not my thing. If I’m going to make a breakfast treat, then it usually extends into the brunch time arena.

    This pull apart bread looks amazing and so rich and gooey, but in a good way. I unlike you would have to go out and buy the bread, because I still have not attempted any bread making. That is next on my list of things to do this winter. I want to make your English muffin loaf because Eli loves a morning English muffin and he would love that bread. I also love this recipe because it’s virtually a make-ahead breakfast treat! I love the ease and simplicity of it.

    Did you ever think that you would be the baker queen? You have come up with so many amazing recipes lately that you are blowing me away. I love coming to your site everyday to see what you have whipped up.


    • It’s been raining here on and off all weekend. Totally a miserable food-photography weekend, among other reasons. Not a rain fan!

      Thank you for all the sweet compliments, always! And from your cake making to your soup making to popovers, that English muffin bread I posted is nearly foolproof! Just try it…all you have to lose is like 73 cents worth of flour :)

  16. Such a FUN recipe to wake up to!!

  17. This is a beautiful breakfast, Averie!

  18. Oh my…I just died, looking at this recipe. I’m thinking a perfect dish for the upcoming holidays!

  19. I ADORE overnight french toast recipes. I’ve really come to prefer them even over the pan-fried vareity. So moist and flavorful + minimal work in the AM (I even make my muffin batters the night before–like you, I just can’t pull it together that quickly in the morning. Plus, I’m usually starving and don’t want to wait!). This is a perfect brunch recipe too, because no one has to sit and wait for their slice to be ready. So lovely Averie. Your fam is one lucky crew to have you!

  20. This is so unbelievably crazy awesome. I love the crock pot idea – and it’s sparked some other ideas! YUM!

    • Well I actually made it in the oven not a crockpot but I’ve heard of people doing sweet-bakes and sweets in their crockpots but I never use mine! I should dust it off…for some sweets. Sounds better than chili :)

  21. Oh my.. that looks so yumm! Love the color of these toast.

  22. Oh Averie, not only does this recipe look divine (I’m thinking a great Sat/Sun treat) but your photography is amazing! I love your pairing of color, it totally makes the food pop off the plate (and directly into my mouth please!).

  23. OMG. I will be shocked if this doesn’t go viral. Love it!

  24. Holy crap, this looks amazing!! I’m with you… I’d really rather not spend my morning standing in front of the stove flipping french toast. I’m definitely trying this.

    • The mom (or the one cooking the french toast or pancakes) usually doens’t get to relax…b/c right about the time they’re all done, everyone’s done eating, and it’s time to start…all the dishes! None of that with this recipe!

  25. You were right–my heart went a-flutter when I saw this after spending so much time in the kitchen making my own pull-apart breads. I love it when we’re in kitchen sync! I’ve been making mine as a dessert loaf, but pumpkin pull-apart bread a la French toast sounds wonderful.

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