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You can use white sandwich bread, but French toast also works well with other loaves, including brioche, challah, cinnamon-raisin, whole-wheat, French, even sourdough.

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Credit: Jessica Furniss/Southern Living

Recipe Summary

active:
20 mins
total:
20 mins
Servings:
2
Yield:
6 slices
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French toast has morphed into everything from bites to sticks to casseroles, but in our opinion nothing beats the original. This classic French toast recipe creates slice after slice with a browned crust and a fluffy, tender interior. While we call for white bread, you can use almost any type of bread for French toast—and they'll all be great.

Where Is French Toast From?

Unlike the name suggests, French toast is not a strictly French food. It has its roots in Ancient Rome where stale bread was dipped into a milk and egg mixture creating a dish called "Pan Dulcis."

The name "French toast" first appeared in England when a man named Joseph French coined the term in 1724. The concept of avoiding waste in the kitchen isn't new and is still practiced today.

This classic French toast recipe was tested and tested again to guarantee that it hits all the right notes for texture and flavor. It's fluffy and indulgent with just a hint of sweetness.

How to Make French Toast

It's a classic for a reason. French toast is one of the simplest recipes to make, and still manages to be very impressive. You only need six ingredients, a skillet, and less than 20 minutes for the perfect French toast. 

Which Bread Should You Use for French Toast?

This depends on your preference. Some prefer only thicker breads like sourdough, brioche, or challah. These types of bread work well because they are sturdier and hold up well when soaked in the custard. 

But for that classic French toast like your grandma used to make, we recommend plain white bread. And while our grandmothers loved popping by the day-old bread store to grab a loaf a little past its prime, there's a simple trick to get a similar result: Simply lay out your bread slices 10 minutes before you start making your French toast. This will allow the outside of the bread to get a little stale while the inside remains fresh and fluffy. 

French Toast Ingredients

No two people make French toast exactly the same way, but below are the most commonly used ingredients.

Bread
As mentioned above, we love a slightly stale white bread for classic French toast. That little bit of crust helps the bread soak in all that custard. However, you can also use a thicker, crusty bread like sourdough, brioche, or challah. You can also choose a nutrient-dense bread like multigrain or whole-wheat. Each bread type will need more or less time in the custard to get just enough of the egg mixture soaked in without becoming soggy. 

Eggs
You can't have classic French toast without eggs. An egg-free recipe might still taste nice, but it will not have the texture or fluffiness you're craving. The protein in the eggs acts as a binding agent and helps create the crust that keeps all the creaminess inside. We recommend going with large or extra-large eggs. 

Milk
This recipe uses whole milk, but any variety of milk will do. You can use heavy cream, half-and-half, or even non-dairy milks. Extra creamy oat milk is a favorite for French toast. Keep in mind that the higher fat content, the creamier your cooked toast will be. 

Salt
One of the biggest mistakes home cooks make is not using enough salt or avoiding it altogether. A dash of good Kosher salt in the custard brings out all the right flavors for a well-balanced French toast.

Butter
While there are recipes that use margarine or even vegetable oil for French toast, you will get the richest, best-tasting French toast with real unsalted butter. Butter does tend to get smoky if your pan is too hot, so be mindful that your temperature is just right. If you notice it smoking, simply turn down the heat.

Can You Make French Toast the Night Before?

For the best results, classic French toast should not be made ahead of time. If you have a busy morning ahead, try our Overnight Eggnog-French Toast Casserole. It's prepared the night before and then baked the next morning. Make it extra special with our homemade eggnog.

Does French Toast Have Cinnamon?

This debate has been around for a long time. While some swear that French toast must have cinnamon in the custard, others argue that it's not part of the classic flavor profile. The cinnamon will add some spice and warmth to the finished dish. However, you can also substitute similar spices like ginger or nutmeg. We listed it as optional.

How to Store French Toast

For best results, classic French toast should be eaten immediately. However, sometimes leftovers just happen. French toast can be stored in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator for one to two days and reheated in the microwave. It will still be very tasty; the texture just may be a little less toasty.

Tips and Tricks

- Add a splash of vanilla to your egg mixture for some flavor enhancement.
- Whisk your egg mixture until it's light in color for the fluffiest French toast. Any egg that isn't well blended can fry on the toast's crust.
- Substitute brown sugar for a richer, caramel-like flavor.
- If your butter keeps burning, even on medium heat, add a splash of vegetable oil. This increase the smoke point and will fortify the butter to keep it from burning.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, and salt (as well as the optional vanilla extract and cinnamon, if using) in a medium shallow bowl until the mixture is fluffy and light in color.

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  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with one bread slice at a time, soak the bread in the egg mixture for 3 to 4 seconds per side. Don't let the slices sit too long; they will turn soggy and fall apart.

  • Once butter is melted and bubbling, add 3 soaked bread slices to hot pan and cook until golden brown, or about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. (There may be some spots that do not brown; that's normal.)

  • Flip each slice, and cook until gold brown, or about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining butter and egg-soaked bread. Serve hot with toppings of choice.

Tips

If you're working with fresh bread, set out bread slices on a clean surface 10 minutes before you plan to start cooking. Do not stack them. This will allow a nice crust to form on the slices so they don't absorb too much egg mixture.

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