Let’s hear it for French toast! The best French toast is seared golden on the outside, tender in the middle, lightly sweet and deliciously custard-y. This French toast recipe meets all of those qualifications with flying colors.
This recipe bypasses all of the common French toast downfalls. Perhaps your previous attempts have yielded soggy, falling apart, eggy toast—never again! I’ve studied French toast techniques and this recipe will not let you down.
French toast, known as pain perdu in France, is one of many brilliant uses for stale bread. It’s true that French toast turns out best when made with stale bread. However, you can absolutely make French toast if your bread is still fresh. The trick is to quickly dehydrate sliced bread in the oven so your French bread doesn’t turn out too soggy—I’ll walk you through this step below.
This French toast is perfect for a special brunch at home. Make some for Mom tomorrow? (Here are more Mother’s Day recipes.) The recipe is simple enough to make on a regular weekend as well. Let’s make some!
French Toast Ingredients
So many options here! My favorite bread for French toast is a fluffy locally made whole grain sourdough. Challah or brioche will yield extra indulgent, fancy restaurant-style French toast. Sandwich bread works as well—ideally thick cut, but regular slices will be fine.
Whole milk is ideal here because it yields rich results. Two percent milk will work as well. Or try a thick non-dairy milk, like homemade cashew milk or Forager’s brand cashew milk.
That’s right, we’re using the yolks only. Egg whites are responsible for the sulfurous, “eggy” flavor that sometimes overpowers French toast. I learned this tip from America’s Test Kitchen, and it’s true!
Uses for leftover egg whites: You’ll have three leftover egg whites, which you can turn into a single-serving egg white scramble, or add five more eggs to make four servings of scrambled eggs.
We’ll mix melted butter directly into the custard. This way, the butter permeates the bread for extra richness and nutty, seared butter flavor. We do not need to butter the skillet while we’re cooking the French toast, as butter tends to burn against the skillet. There’s plenty within the batter, even if you’re cooking on stainless steel or cast iron.
Real maple syrup naturally sweetens our batter. You can also use brown sugar. Two tablespoons of sweetener yields lightly sweet French toast. Serve your toast with additional maple syrup so everyone can make their French toast as sweet as they’d like.
One whole tablespoon of vanilla extract really makes this French toast taste like a treat. Don’t worry, it’s not too much.
Cinnamon & Salt
Ground cinnamon is the perfect complement to the vanilla custard, and salt amplifies all of the other flavors.
How to Make French Toast
You’ll find the full recipe below. Here are three key tips before you get started:
1) Stale bread is key.
If your bread is soft and fresh, it will be difficult to work with and will produce soggy French toast. We don’t want that! You can easily dehydrate sliced bread at a low oven temperature (300 degrees Fahrenheit) in under 15 minutes. See step one for details.
2) Soak to a depth of 1/4-inch.
Simply dunking your bread in custard will yield dry, spotty results, and soaking the bread too long will yield soggy, floppy slices. Stale bread needs a minute or three to absorb some of the mixture. Pour the custard into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and you can float multiple slices at once.
The key is to let the slices rest until the custard has soaked in to a depth of about 1/4-inch, then flip and repeat for the other side. Ideally, you want a thin layer of unsoaked bread in the middle, which helps retain the bread’s structure.
3) Work in batches.
French toast really isn’t fussy to make if you have a system in place, and it’s even easier if you have a kitchen helper. Soak a batch of bread as described above, then transfer the soaked bread to a rimmed baking sheet while you preheat the skillet or griddle.
Cook up your first batch, then start soaking the next batch. Or, if you have a helper, they can work on soaking the next batch while you’re cooking.
Watch How to Make French Toast
French Toast Serving Suggestions
Always serve with additional maple syrup. Add any of these optional toppings:
- Fresh berries, like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or sliced strawberries
- Berry compote
- Sliced ripe bananas
- Pats of butter
- Whipped cream or Greek yogurt
- Dollop of nut butter, like almond butter or pecan butter or peanut butter
- Sprinkle of powdered sugar
French toast is lovely with:
- Bellinis, when peaches are in season
- Frittatas, breakfast casserole or scrambled eggs for additional protein
More Sweet Breakfast Treats
These wholesome breakfast recipes taste like a treat:
- Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
- Cinnamon Toast Breakfast Quinoa
- Easy Gluten Free Oat Waffles
- Healthy Blueberry Muffins
- Vegan Banana Nut Scones
- Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
View all breakfast recipes here.
Please let me know how your French toast turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Foolproof French Toast
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8 to 12 slices 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French
- Diet: Vegetarian
Learn how to make the best French toast at home! This foolproof recipe yields French toast that’s fluffy, tender, lightly sweet and golden brown. This recipe yields 8 large or 12 medium slices of French toast (4 servings).
- 1 medium loaf of bread* (about 16 ounces, see step 1)
- 1 ½ cups whole milk**
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- For serving: Maple syrup, butter, fresh berries or berry compote, whipped cream or Greek yogurt, sprinkle of powdered sugar…
- Cut your bread into ¾-inch thick slices, to yield about 8 large or 12 medium slices of bread. If your bread is stale, move onto the next step. If your bread is fresh and soft, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the sliced bread onto a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with an oven-safe cooling rack (if you have one) and bake for 8 minutes. If the bread still feels soft and squishy on the bottom sides, flip them and bake for an additional 4 to 8 minutes. We’re aiming for “stale bread” texture, not crispy toast. Set aside to cool.
- Gently warm the milk in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop, just until it’s warmer than room temperature (otherwise, the melted butter will clump on impact). Set aside.
- Separate the yolks from three eggs, reserving the whites for another use if desired. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well blended. Add the warmed milk, melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until blended. Pour the mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
- If you’re using an electric skillet, preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit now. Place the sliced bread in the egg mixture, working with one side at a time. Once the bottom sides have absorbed egg mixture to a depth of about ¼-inch, flip each slice and repeat for the other side. Transfer the soaked slices to your prepared baking sheet.
- Whisk the egg mixture once again to redistribute the cinnamon. Repeat with the remaining slices, whisking the mixture between batches.
- If you are not using an electric skillet, heat a skillet (ideally cast iron) or griddle over medium-low heat. You’re ready to start cooking the bread once a drop of water sizzles on contact with the hot surface. Note that we will not be using any butter or cooking spray to cook the toast—there’s enough butter in the batter already.
- Once your cooking surface is sufficiently preheated, start cooking! Gently transfer a slice(s) to the skillet and cook until the underside is nicely golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and repeat with the other side, then transfer the toast to a clean cooling rack or serving platter. As time goes on, dial the heat down if your toast becomes too golden on the outside before the inside cooks through. Repeat with remaining French toast (if you have extra bread and batter left, you could cook a few extra slices).
- Serve French toast on plates with desired garnishes. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated.
*Bread suggestions: I love to use fluffy whole grain sourdough, which offers some light nutty flavor. Challah, brioche or a wide loaf of French bread or even sandwich bread (ideally thick cut) will all work well.
**Milk options: Whole milk is ideal. You could use 2 percent milk for less rich results. Or try a thick non-dairy milk, like homemade cashew milk or Forager’s brand cashew milk.
Make it dairy free: Use a thick non-dairy milk, like homemade cashew milk or Forager’s brand cashew milk. Though I haven’t tried, I believe you could successfully replace the butter with melted coconut oil or vegan butter.
French toast is a favorite childhood food! My mother used stale white French bread that made cute little oval toasts. Since maple syrup was unknown to her growing up in Austria she sprinkled powdered sugar on top which looks so pretty on the golden but crispy and browned toasts. I want some now! Thanks, Kate for the great tips and a too neglected food!
How fun, Heide! I love nostalgic family food stories. Your mom’s version sounds marvelous. Hope you enjoy this one!
532 calories, 15 grams of sugar, etc. etc. I believe in sweets now and again but this is not even kind to anyone. I love many of your recipes but find this one repulsive. Be part of the solution not part of the problem in the obesity that thrives in our country. Zero stars.
Hi Jane, those nutrition facts are for a generous portion. I believe you wouldn’t find a smaller “accent” portion so offensive, which is probably how I would enjoy it myself. I made this recipe with my favorite whole grain sourdough and it offers a surprising amount of protein even with regular sourdough. I feel that this recipe fits within my catalog of wholesome breakfasts and I’m sorry that you disagree.
Kate, you are awesome! I love your blog and your recipes. Balance is key. Thank you for making a positive impact on me, my family, and many others.
Thank you, Kelly! Completely agree that balance is everything and thank you for your kind note.
Thank you for your amazing, wholesome, balanced recipes. Everything I’ve tried on your blog and cookbook have been amazing. Your recipes have made me love vegetables when I always thought I hated them! I can’t wait to try this French toast this weekend.
Yay for enjoying vegetables! Thank you so much, Laura. Have a great day!
Bloody amazing; using just yolks makes all of the difference. Your recipes are simply the best.
My dad cooked, ( pastry chef,) at a Boston Harbour restaurant at the end of the Great Depression.. Hudson Bay Baked Beans, French Toast, German Chocolate Cake, and Pumpkin Pie were their specialties; boasting a ” secret ingredient.” It was a combo of freshly ground nutmeg and freshly ground pepper; very little nutmeg and a large, large pinch of pepper. Their scrambled eggs recipe: 6 whole eggs + 6 yolks, 12 tbl heavy cream, ( I use home made Organic Almond Cream,) + a squeeze of onion juice, and of course a generous pinch of pepper, prepared in a double boiler; the water must not touch the upper pot. When the mixture reaches a dull appearance beat with a hand egg beater producing light clouds of egg. Sorry, this is your gig; got carried away. Oddly, the nutmeg Pepper combo zips up deer meat roast, too. Kind of a , ” spice all,” from cinnamon cookies to meats.
Thank you, Eryl! So glad you enjoyed the French toast. Sounds like your dad was a fantastic chef. I love his secret ingredients! Now I’m craving pumpkin pie in May. :)
I’d like to thank you for all the inspiration and recipes. I’ve based some of my meals off of what I find on your blog, and it always turns out great! In fact, I was inspired to start my own food blog. Currently, I’m using Googles’ Blogger, but I would like to purchase my own domain. Do you happen to have any tips on how to go about doing this? Thank you so much.
Awesome! Congrats on your new blog, JD. I have a detailed page on how to start a food blog. Hope you find it helpful!
I’d really love to try to make this vegan! I figured I could use soy milk and/or silk heavy cream in place of the milk. What would you suggest I use in place of the egg yolks? I was thinking aquafaba… but I think aquafaba usually replaces egg whites, not egg yolks. Thank you!!
Hey Sara! That’s a really good question and I’m afraid making this recipe vegan would be highly experimental. I just noticed that Minimalist Baker posted a vegan French toast recipe if you want to check that out!
OMG the French toast was AMAZING of course all your recipes are:-)
Hooray! Thank you so much, Linda. :)
I have thoroughly enjoyed whipping this up twice in one week; the second go-around my significant other was also thrilled with how it turned out when I made it for our Sunday morning pre-hike brunch! Each time I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and very basic, sliced whole wheat sandwich bread – since those were what was on hand – with excellent results. I topped it with fresh strawberries from my garden, sliced white peaches from his yard, and sliced almonds. We both noticed that even before adding the fruit/nut combo we didn’t feel the need to top it with much maple syrup, because the flavor and texture is so wonderful. Thank you, thank you! This is truly foolproof and such a special treat. ☺️
I’m delighted you love is, Marla! Thank you for your review.
We are vegan so we used 1 1/3 cups unsweetened soy milk plus 1/3 cup of Just Egg instead of whole milk and yolks, and soy/vegan margarine instead of butter. The yolks emulsify and add fat, so could also substitute with lecithin, banana, or flax meal but the above ingredients worked for us. A little gummy but that is how French toast seems to me anyway, so it could be me. Worked better to dip and cook quickly before it soaked all the way through. Tasty.
If you have heart disease or are watching your cholesterol for any reason, you save over 550 mg of cholesterol in this recipe by removing the yolks.
Thank you for sharing your substitutions! Glad to hear it worked out for you.
Oh my goodness this took our French toast to a whole new level. What great tips!! With 4 kids who love breakfast foods this was fun to add to our other breakfast items we had for a Mother’s Day brunch. I love all your recipes!
Hooray! Thank you so much for letting me know, Ginger.
What an absolutely fantastic post!
Thanks for posting this. I’ll be sharing it!
Another perfect recipe! This was such fun to make for a special Father’s Day treat. Thank you for sharing this festive breakfast favorite!
I looked here first when I decided it was time to improve my French toast game and was not disappointed. Not only have I made this like 4 times in three weeks, I’ve also become a prophet of the Cookie & Kate FT Method, preaching it to all who will listen. They all think they “know how to make French toast”, until I set them on the C&K path. Seriously though, this recipe is AMAZING.
Thank you, Rose!
OK I totally need to make this using egg yolks only makes total sense
My question is, can I do this ahead of time and do a baked version??
Hi! This recipe is best as written. It’s not meant to be baked.
Long time follower first review! I feel compelled because I made this on a whim at 6:30am with a foggy brain and a toddler literally hanging off my leg. I cut the recipe in half and made due with what I had… half and half and almond milk, cheap wheat bread, missed the tip on heating the milk and my butter turned to hardened flecks…and it still came out almost perfect and totally delicious!! 5 stars all the way. This will be the only French toast recipe I’ll ever use. Thanks as always for the great and trusted recipes! I know anything I make from your blog will always be good.
I’m glad you and your family enjoyed them! Thank for following and your review.
Tgr second time around,, we cut the milk in half and used the whole eggs and that really helped the French toast not to be soggy. Everyone loved it!
I followed your recipe and even dried out my bread but still came out with soggy bread. I used brioche. Any advice?
Hi Natalie, I’m sorry to hear that. How long did you have it on the stovetop and temperature?
There are lots of food blogger like this But the best food recipe ” Foolproof French Toast” is yours. Thanks for giving me this wonderful blog. I will try to make it like you.
There are lots of food blogger like this But the best food recipe “Foolproof French Toast” is yours. Thanks for giving me this wonderful blog. I will try to make it like you.
I hope you love it! Let me know what you think when you try it.