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How to Make French Toast

What’s not to love about battered and fried bread? Especially when there are so many ways to make it! Here’s everything you need to know to whip up fabulous French toast for just about any meal.

Types of French Toast

As far back as the 15th century, Europeans were following recipes for French toast—a.k.a. pain perdu (French for “lost bread”)—a simple dish consisting of stale bread that’s soaked in an egg-and-milk mixture and cooked to a golden brown. That recipe isn’t too far from the French toast we know and love today.

Nowadays, there are myriad ways to prepare this simple dish—and it doesn’t have to be relegated to the breakfast table either. Savory French toast variations, like stuffing it with ham and cheese, are perfect for cozy breakfasts, brunches, lunches, desserts or those special nights when breakfast for dinner is on the menu (hello, brinner!).

What You Need to Make French Toast

Making French toast is simple; in fact, you probably already have everything you need!

  • Bread: Fantastic French toast starts with the right bread. Select bread that is thick enough to stand up to the egg mixture, such as Texas-toast style. The thicker cut allows the bread to soak up the egg without falling apart or becoming too mushy.
     - Many people prefer day-old bread, as stale bread will soak up more of the egg mixture without falling apart.
     - Try mixing things up with French or Italian bread, brioche, sourdough, cinnamon-raisin or banana bread, or whole-grain versions.
     - If you are gluten free or Celiac, there’s no reason you can’t get in on the French toast fun! Experiment with your favorite gluten-free bread varieties.
  • Eggs: Choose medium-size eggs that are nice and fresh. If you are vegan or don’t eat eggs, try some of these vegan egg substitutes. There is also a new product on the market called VeganEgg that is mixed with water to form an egg substitute.
  • Milk or cream: The liquid thins out the egg, allowing it to coat the bread and making it less “eggy.” If you’re allergic to milk or prefer milk alternatives, try soymilk, coconut milk or nut milks such as almond or cashew.
  • Batter extras: Many recipes, especially for classic French toast, call for additions such as nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar or vanilla (see below for more ideas). • Toppings: This is the really fun part! See below for creative topping ideas.
  • Something to grease the griddle: Use butter (watch it closely so it doesn’t burn!), cooking spray or a high heat-friendly oil like vegetable or canola. If you are using a nonstick surface, this step is optional.
  • Equipment: A mixing bowl for batter, cutting board and knife for bread if it’s not already sliced and either an electric skillet or large skillet.
  • Utensils: Whisk or fork to mix batter, heat-safe spatula for flipping the bread.

How to Make French Toast Batter

Making the egg mixture doesn’t stop at beating a few eggs. This is where you add flavor that will infuse the French toast. Make your batter in a mixing bowl that is large enough for you to dip slices of bread in. Make sure the bread is coated on all sides before cooking it so it soaks up the batter and develops a nice crust as it cooks.

For basic French toast, use one egg, ¼ to 1/3 cup milk (depending on desired thickness) and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract for every 2 slices of bread. So, if you were making French toast for four, you would whisk together 4 eggs, 1 to 1/3 cups milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

How to Cook French Toast in a Skillet or Griddle

Cooking French toast in a skillet or griddle can get messy, but it’s worth it! Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375° on your stovetop (or heat skillet over medium heat), lightly oiling or buttering if desired. Once the pan is good and hot, dip the bread in the egg mixture on both sides, make sure it’s coated, and place onto the skillet. Cook until golden brown (2-4 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the bread) on both sides. Remove from the griddle and repeat the process until all of the bread has been cooked.

To make the process less messy, place your batter bowl near the pan, and quickly move the bread from bowl to skillet. You’ll want to flip the toast carefully—batter can splash up and burn you if you do it too fast. Keep slices warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve them up.

Other Ways to Make French Toast

Overnight French Toast: Soaking bread overnight infuses even more flavor and makes French toast extra soft and heavenly. To do this, dip the bread like normal, then place slices in an ungreased pan. Pour any remaining batter over the bread, cover loosely and refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours before cooking the bread. Remember: There are raw eggs in the batter, so ensure that it’s covered and refrigerated properly!

Coated French Toast: Dredge your bread in something crunchy after dipping it in the batter—like crushed French Toast Crunch cereal (um, yum!)—for extra flavor and texture.

Baked French Toast: To avoid slaving over a hot stove or griddle while your guests await their brunch, try making French toast for a crowd in the oven as a bake or casserole!

Slow-Cooker French Toast: Put your slow cooker to use on holidays, or whenever you want an easy French toast recipe for a crowd. Cooking it low and slow lets the bread soak up even more flavor.

Stuffed French Toast: Chocolate, fruit, cream cheese or savory ingredients can all be stuffed inside French toast for extra flavor.

Unique French Toast Shapes

French toast doesn’t have to come in slice form! You can make roll-ups, individual-size French toast cupcakes, French toast sticks (great for kids!) or even go sandwich-style in the form of a Monte Cristo.

French Toast Toppings

Butter and maple syrup are the go-to toppings for simple French toast, although you can mix things up however you like! Think whipped cream, sliced fresh fruit and fruit sauces, sprinkles, jams and preserves, chocolate sauce, caramel, nuts, crushed cereals, granola, marshmallows and coconut flakes. Make regular French toast more festive for holidays or birthdays by using fun, seasonal ingredients like strawberries cut into heart shapes and colorful seasonal sprinkles or candies. 

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