Sometimes the most basic recipes can be the most demanding. Take French toast; it’s just old bread soaked in eggs, right? While this breakfast staple has relatively simple steps, it can actually be quite tricky to master.
I learned this fact firsthand. Back in college, I wanted to impress my boyfriend with a special homemade breakfast. His request? You guessed it—French toast. He told me it was a comfort food he had all the time when he was growing up. So, no pressure.
I soaked the bread, slapped some butter into a pan and crossed my fingers, hoping the toast would live up to his high expectations. I wanted French toast perfection. A beautiful masterpiece on a plate. Bread that was crispy and brown on the outside and custard-like in the middle. Instead, I slumped soggy, half-burnt squares onto our plates.
Since then, I’ve made it my mission to learn how to make the perfect French toast. No more soggy bread for this gal! With help from our Food Editor, Peggy Woodward, we’ve uncovered an easy French toast recipe that even beginners can master.
How to Make Easy French Toast
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 12 slices day-old sandwich bread
- Maple syrup or cinnamon sugar
- You can use any type of milk you have on hand-even heavy cream. Avoiding dairy? Almond, soy, coconut and cashew milk are all good substitutes.
- To mix up the flavor, swap out sugar for honey or maple syrup.
- Experiment with different types of extract, like almond, coconut or orange.
Step 1: Mix ingredients in a shallow bowl
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Begin by constructing a French toast assembly line. Take out your bread and set it aside. Then, grab a shallow bowl that can fit one or two slices. To make a milky custard, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Be sure the eggs are entirely whisked, with no sign of separate whites or yolks.
Preheat a greased griddle over medium heat.
Editor’s tip: For extra flavor, sprinkle seasonings like cinnamon or nutmeg on top of the custard before you dip the bread.
Step 2: Soak the bread
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Dip the bread into its eggy bath, using one hand to immerse it. Allow for it to soak for around half a minute on each side. This is what gives the toast its creamy middle. Let any excess drip off.
Step 3: Cook until golden brown
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It’s time to get cooking! Place the soaked bread on a well-greased griddle and cook until the bottom turns golden brown. (You can lift a corner to take a peek.) Then flip the toast and repeat. Once both sides are cooked to your liking, your pièce de résistance is ready to serve.
Finish it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Editor’s tip: Need to make a big batch? Set the oven to its lowest setting and house the toast inside. This will keep it warm as you prepare the rest.
Common French Toast Questions:
What Kind of Bread Works Best for French Toast?
When it comes to French toast, fresher doesn’t always mean better. In fact, the French call this dish pain perdu, which translates to “lost bread.” Use day-old bread that’s sturdy and slightly stale. This way it’ll soak up the custard without becoming soggy.
If you only have fresh bread on hand, you can dry your slices out a bit by lightly toasting them. You can do this by popping them in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes, giving them a flip halfway through. Make sure they’re not getting much color on the slices, you’re aiming for dryness, not toastiness.
Why Is My French Toast Soggy?
There are a few reasons why your French toast might turn out soggy. The first we covered in the question above: your bread could be too fresh. Another culprit could be leaving your bread to soak in the custard mix for too long. You should only let your bread soak for about 30 seconds on each side.
You could also be cooking your French toast on too high of heat. This chars the outside of the toast without properly cooking it through, leaving you with a soggy slice. Keep your griddle or skillet at medium heat for the best results.
Can I Make My French Toast Custard Ahead of Time?
It’s not the best idea. Your custard can start to separate and leave you with fried egg-like spots on your French toast. Also, eggs are prone to picking up scents and flavors from the fridge when they’re out of the shells, so your custard could taste off. If you need to free up some time in the morning, go with this overnight French toast recipe for something hands-off.
How to Make it Your Own
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Here are some ways you can customize your French toast:
- Go savory. Don’t like sweets for breakfast? Make your French toast savory instead. Omit the sugar and extract, then serve it with a few sausage patties and scrambled eggs. Better yet, get some inspiration from this bacon-packed recipe.
- Play with spice. I love adding spice to the egg mixture. Ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are classics, but you can get creative with lemon zest, anise, cardamom or whatever else your spice cabinet has to spare.
- Add some crunch. Create more texture by topping your toast with crunchy add-ons. This Nutty French Toast recipe bakes on chopped walnuts, but just about any other nut would work well, too.
- Use a different type of bread. With this basic recipe, you can make French toast with any type of bread. Go for whole wheat, sourdough or a crusty artisan loaf. This creative recipe goes above and beyond, creating French toast from premade blueberry muffins. Yum!
- Load up the toppings: Much like waffles and their wide range of toppings, French toast can be the foundation for your wildest creations. Top it with peanut butter and jelly, fresh fruit and powdered sugar or smother it in marshmallow fluff—the possibilities are endless.
How to Store French Toast
If you have any leftovers, French toast can be best kept by storing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Reheat leftovers by toasting them in a skillet with butter or giving them a zap in the microwave for about a minute.
Freezing can let you keep your French toast much longer. To do so, allow your French toast to cool completely, then place them in an airtight container with waxed or parchment paper between any layers of toast. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat frozen French toast by placing the slices on a baking sheet. Bake them at 425° for 8 minutes, then flip the slices and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and heated through.
What Sides Should I Serve with French Toast?
We’ll be honest, you can serve just about any breakfast favorite with French toast! Some great options include bacon or sausage, fresh berries or melon, hashbrowns or a couple of eggs. The sky’s the limit!
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