When I go out to brunch, the French toast on the menu always tempts me. What could be more crave-worthy than thick slices of bread marinated in a warmly spiced custard and topped with fresh fruit? I know from experience, though, that eating super-sweet, indulgent French toast at a restaurant is a recipe for a post-brunch food coma.
My solution? Making this recipe at home! I prefer a lighter version, with good bread, eggs, almond milk instead of heavy cream, warming spices, fresh fruit, and pure maple syrup. It’s fresh and every bit as delicious as what I might find out to eat, but I finish brunch feeling good.
My French Toast Recipe Ingredients
- Eggs and almond milk create the custardy base. I like a ¼ cup milk : 1 egg ratio. If you don’t have almond milk on hand, any milk will work.
- Cinnamon & cardamom give it a hint of spice.
- A pinch of sea salt adds that essential savory/sweet balance.
- Thick slabs of challah are my bread of choice. If you can’t find challah, ciabatta is just as good (plus it’s dairy-free). Alternatively, use brioche for a more indulgent breakfast.
- Maple syrup finishes everything with a drizzle of sweetness.
- And a topping of juicy, sweet fresh fruit perfects it.
How to Make French Toast
Making great French toast at home is easy! Here’s how:
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and spices with a pinch of salt.
- Dip each slice of bread into the custardy mixture, making sure both sides are fully coated.
- Let the dipped bread slices rest on a plate or baking sheet for a few minutes before cooking – this way, the batter can soak all the way through!
- Cook for 1 to 3 minutes per side on a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Slices are ready when they’re nicely golden brown.
- Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and enjoy!
My Best French Toast Tips
- Day-old bread is best. Slightly stale bread will guzzle up the custardy batter, which is ideal for making great French toast. But don’t worry! If you’re impatient like me, day-of bread is just fine.
- Cut thick slices! French toast is best when you need a fork and knife to cut into thick, custardy slices. Aim for pieces that are 1-inch thick – you don’t want it to be flimsy.
- Good bread = good French toast. Ideally, you’ll slice the loaf yourself. Be sure to avoid thinly sliced packaged sandwich bread, as it becomes too mushy.
- Rest your bread. As I mentioned above, I’m not the most patient person, so this tip is hard, but essential. Make sure you let your dipped slices sit for 5 minutes before cooking. That way, the egg mixture has time to soak into the bread, which makes for extra-custardy (and extra-good) French toast.
Easy French Toast Recipe Variations
- Spice it how you like it. Cardamom and cinnamon are my go-to choices, but other warming spices like ginger or nutmeg would be equally delicious.
- Zest it up! Add some orange or lemon zest to the batter.
- Vary the fruit with the seasons. I use macerated strawberries and raspberries in this recipe, but you could easily use other berries, cherries, or peaches in their place. In the fall, the stewed apples from this recipe would be delicious, and pomegranates are my #1 choice in the winter.
- Skip the maple. If you don’t keep syrup on hand, try dusting your French toast with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for extra spice.
- Make it vegan! Try this yummy pumpkin version in the fall, or make vegan classic French toast any time of year.
Serving a group? Head over to this recipe for my best French toast bake. Alternatively, baked oatmeal, shakshuka, a frittata, or breakfast casserole are some of my other favorite choices when I’m making brunch for a crowd. Or check out this post for 50 more brunch recipes!
Classic French Toast
Author: Jeanine Donofrio
Recipe type: Breakfast
- 2 cups diced strawberries
- ½ cup frozen raspberries, thawed, with their juices
- pinches of cane sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup almond milk (or any milk)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- pinch of sea salt
- 8 1-inch slices challah bread* (see note)
- coconut oil, for the pan
- maple syrup, for serving
- Make the macerated berries. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, raspberries, and a few pinches of sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes for the berries to soften. Stir before serving.
- Make the french toast. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture and set the soaked bread aside on a large tray or plate.
- Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat and brush with coconut oil. Add the bread slices and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to low as needed to cook thoroughly without burning. Serve with maple syrup and the macerated berries.
*To make dairy-free french toast, use ciabatta bread.