French toast is a simple enough recipe. But to make it AMAZING takes paying attention to a few key components.
How to Make PERFECT French Toast
Here’s all the tips you need to make French toast your family will be begging you for every Sunday morning.
What’s the best bread to use for French toast?
This is the most important part of any amazing French toast! Whatever bread you use, make sure it’s sliced about 3/4-inch thick to achieve that pillowy interior but caramelized exterior.
Personally, my absolute go-to is good quality Challah bread. Not all grocery store Challah bread is created equally, so take a look at the ingredient label to see if the ingredients are simple. If there’s a bunch of weird additives and food like substances, it probably won’t do your French toast many favors.
My second favorite type of bread would be Brioche. It’s even richer than Challah which can be too much for some people in the morning.
My third favorite would be thick cut Texas toast bread. It’s sturdy enough to hold up to the custard batter coating and frying.
Why use egg yolks and whole eggs for French toast?
You’ll see in this recipe I call for 3 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks. The egg whites are what contain those distinct sulfur compounds that make things tasty “eggy.” So by reducing the whole eggs and bumping up the egg yolks we’re getting enough moisture and richness but not creating French toast that basically tastes like scrambled eggs.
Be sure to soak your French toast for enough time!
Let the slices of bread relax in the custard mixture for at least a few minutes. If you like French toast that has more of a texture of bread pudding, let it soak for even longer, up to 15 minutes.
How to prevent soggy French toast?
The story goes that French toast, or Pain Perdu, was invented to use up day-old bread. Well we now live in a modern society where most bread is manufactured in a way to prevent staling so day-old bread is a different kind of concept.
However, that nearly stale bread is what makes for the best French toast that remains light and fluffy instead of becoming soggy from the richness of the egg-and-milk mixture.
So I took a tip from Cooks Illustrated and slightly “dry out” the bread in a very low oven while preparing the remaining ingredients. This allows the bread to soak in just the right amount of custard to be rich and fluffy without getting weighed down.
So if you use the right kind of bread, dry it out slightly, and then follow the tips in the next heading below you’ll be sure to have perfect French toast!
How to make crispy French toast?
When I say crispy, I mean caramelized and golden at the edges while still light and fluffy inside. I find this comes down to frying technique.
I like to use a combination of butter and oil to fry my French toast in. The butter provides flavor and the milk solids help to create caramelization. However, oftentimes using only butter can lead the French toast to getting burnt on the exterior and undercooked on the interior. That’s because those milk solids can brown very quickly. So the combination of butter + oil is the perfect solution.
A small amount of brown sugar in the batter also helps to create those caramelized lacey exteriors.
You’ll want to make sure to stay around medium heat when frying French toast for the exact same reason. Too low and you won’t get any caramelization and you’ll end up with limp sad slices. Too high and you’ll get toast that’s burnt on the outside and soggy on the inside.
How do I make flavorful French toast?
I love to use a hint of orange zest and vanilla to round out the flavors of my French toast. Feel free to omit the orange zest if you prefer or add a splash of Grand Marnier instead. You can also use a sprinkle of cinnamon!
The other key ingredient is high quality vanilla extract. You’ll also want to use quality milk and eggs. I usually go for pasture-raised.
Lastly, be sure to use real maple syrup for serving! It makes such a difference.
Can French toast be made ahead of time?
You can keep slices of cooked French toast warm in a low oven for up to 1 hour. I find French toast is best served soon after it’s made. If you need to make it ahead of time you might be better off with a casserole style recipe like this Lemon Blueberry Overnight French Toast.
I remember my dad used to make us French toast on weekend mornings every once in a while. Those days were such a treat! They might be the reason why I prefer French toast over pancakes to this day.
He always said his secret to great French toast was using copious amounts of vanilla. I don’t disagree!