French toast is served! These tips and tricks will help you prepare the most delicious French toast every single time.
There’s nothing better than French toast—at any time of the day.
Called “pain perdu” or lost bread in French, this dish is a wonderful way to take stale, days-old bread and a handful of eggs along with a few pantry ingredients and turn them into the most delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner; with savory or sweet toppings.
And yet, for something as simple as slices of bread dipped in an egg mixture and fried in a pan, French toast can be notoriously difficult to prepare! If you cook your French toast too little, it will turn out soggy and can make you sick. If you cook it too long, it will be burnt and taste unappealingly acrid.
To help you get this delicate dish right, let’s talk about the right—and wrong—technique for preparing it. Be warned, though: After you’re done reading this, you and your family will have a hard time not wanting to make and eat it the whole day, every day!
How to Prepare French Toast
Whether you’re an experienced cook or just starting out, simply follow these seven steps and you will make the most delicious French toast you and your family have ever eaten!
Step 1: Prepare the egg mixture:
Break eggs into a shallow bowl. Add whole milk, salt, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla powder. Whisk together until the salt and sugar crystals have dissolved completely and the batter becomes uniform.
Step 2: Soak the bread slices properly:
Soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture. The trick is to soak them long enough—not too little, nor too long. For instructions on how to get this right, see “How Long Do You Soak the Bread?” below.
Step 3: Whip out your frypan:
Whip out a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or stainless steel sauté pan. Alternatively, if you want to use as little butter as possible, use a ceramic or non-stick frying pan.
Step 4: Heat over medium heat, but not higher:
Heat the pan over medium. It’s important not to turn the heat up too high. If the heat is high, the French toast will burn on the outside while coming out undercooked (and therefore unsafe to eat) on the inside.
Step 5: Add butter, then wait for it to melt and stop bubbling:
Cut a large piece of butter off the end of the stick, then add it to the pan and let it melt. When the butter is no longer bubbling, which means that most of the water has evaporated from it, it’s ready to cook in.
Step 6: Fry the slices of bread on both sides:
Lay as many slices as will fit snugly in the pan and fry in hot butter until golden brown, for at least 30 seconds. Turn to the other side and brown. Repeat as many times as you need for as many slices as you’ve prepped.
Step 7: Serve with your toppings of choice:
Transfer the cooked French toast to a warm plate and serve with your toppings of choice. When in doubt, garnish with powdered sugar and serve alongside maple syrup and fresh forest fruits or bananas and pecans.
Psst! Traditionally, French toast is a sweet dish. But it works just as well with savory toppings, like browned bacon or breakfast sausage, melted gouda or cheddar cheese, roast cocktail tomatoes, and/or sautéed mushrooms.
How Long Do You Soak the Bread?
One of the most common mistakes in preparing French toast is not soaking the bread in the batter for enough time before frying it up in the pan. The result? Well, the French toast is dry and leather-like, and not decadent and custardy, in the middle.
Danielle Walsh, Assistant Web Editor at Bon Appétit, recommends soaking your bread for at least 15-20 minutes.
Of course, like the cooking time given by the author in a recipe, this is just an approximation.
Exactly how long to soak your bread for French toast depends on its thickness. Thinner slices will need a shorter soak, while thicker slices will need a longer soak.
Regardless, the rule of thumb is always the same: You should soak the bread long enough for it to become soft and moist in the middle, but not so long that it can no longer hold its shape and falls apart. It takes a bit of practice to get there, trust me, but the result is absolutely worth it!
How Do You Know If French Toast Is Cooked Through?
The pleasures of masterfully prepared French toast are many.
The interior is fluffy and custardy, while the exterior is crispy and, thanks to the hundreds of flavors resulting from the Maillard reaction, deliciously rich.
To prepare French toast masterfully, you need three things: practice, patience, and lots of trial and error—especially if you haven’t attended culinary school (as I sure haven’t).
So how do you, as a home cook, know that your French toast is cooked just right?
Undercooked French toast has a pale yellow color that’s not that different from the color of scrambled eggs. The egg mixture is still moist and sometimes dripping—and the bread has little to not crispiness when bitten into.
French toast cooked just right has a golden brown color, like caramel. The egg mixture has cooked and set. The bread is creamy and custardy on the inside, but not in any way moist, and tender and crispy on the outside.
Overcooked French toast is burnt French toast. Instead of it having a golden brown color, it’s blackened. Eat it, and it will leave a burnt residue in the mouth and an unpleasant acrid taste on the palate.
Is Undercooked French Toast Bad for You?
I hate to be the one to break it to you and all, but it definitely isn’t good for you.
Raw and undercooked eggs can harbor Salmonella, a dangerous pathogen, especially to infants and young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, says the USDA.
French toast—eggs being the main ingredient and all—is no exception.
To make your French toast as safe as it can be, fry it up for 30 seconds on each side, which gives it that crispy, golden brown crust, then slide it into a 200°F (90°C) oven for 10 minutes, which cooks it through and kills the bacteria in it.
The proper technique for preparing French toast comes down to this: Whisk eggs and a few pantry ingredients together in a bowl, then fry for 30 seconds in a medium-heat pan with plenty of butter.