French toast was always a staple weekend breakfast food at my house growing up. And luck would have it, it’s almost as easy to make as it is to eat!
What Oil is French Toast Fried in?
French toast is briefly fried on a moderately hot, well-greased griddle or skillet, fried in either butter, a neutral cooking oil, or a combination. You’ll want to use either a neutral oil or butter that won’t mask the vanilla and cinnamon flavor of the traditional batter.
Now that you know what French toast is fried in, are you ready to learn all the secrets to creating the best French toast, with golden crispy edges and a creamy interior, right at home?
Can You Make French Toast with Vegetable Oil?
While French toast is most often cooked in butter, some may prefer to use a neutral oil such as vegetable oil. Personally, I think butter gives the best flavor, but it is more prone to burning. It’s important to keep the heat at medium-low when using butter for that reason. Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s much less likely to burn.
Using a mixture of butter and vegetable oil is the best of both worlds. Adding some oil to butter slows the browning of the butter just enough so that you can be confident the French toast is cooked through when it’s at its ideal golden-brown outside. Whether you use butter, vegetable, or a combination (although especially important when you use butter) you’ll want to wipe the pan and start fresh with each batch of French toast to prevent burning.
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Why Does My French Toast Come Out Soggy?
The most common reason French toast turns out soggy is from adding too much dairy to the batter. When you add too much milk or cream in relation to the eggs, the eggs won’t have a chance to cook, and you’ll end up with soggy, sad-looking French toast.
The optimal French toast ratio is three to four tablespoons dairy for every egg used. You can stray a little bit from this ratio based on personal preference—using a little more dairy results in a creamier interior, while using a higher ratio of eggs will make the French toast firmer, and a bit richer.
Most traditional custards will have a higher dairy ratio, about 1 egg to 1 cup of milk, so using more dairy in your French toast batter will give you a more custard-like filling. However, in the short time that French toast takes to cook, a batter with that much dairy won’t cook and you’ll end up with a soggy center, so be careful not to add too much.
As for the type of dairy to use—whole milk or half-and-half add the perfect amount of richness for me. Skim milk is too thin and heavy cream is a bit too much. If I only have skim milk or cream to choose from, I’ll use half of each. But again, this can be adjusted based on personal preference; the higher the fat content of the dairy, the richer the French toast will turn out.
Adding a little sugar helps browning and crisp up the edges. Just a little goes a long way—especially if you’re topping with syrup, you don’t want it to end up too sweet. And if you add too much sugar, you could be in danger of burning the outsides before the insides are set. As an alternative to sugar, I like to pour a splash of pure maple syrup into the batter. It provides additional maple flavor and also helps with crisping the edges.
What is the Best Bread for French Toast?
There are many bread options that work well for French toast. Dense bread such as sourdough or hearty white lends itself well for soaking up all the custard batter. Rich breads like challah and brioche are great for French toast because they’re made with eggs and butter—both essential ingredients of French toast. French toast made from challah is more common on east coast of the U.S. while the west coast seems to prefer sourdough, reflective of the communities.
I also like cinnamon-raisin bread for French toast, or sliced, day-old cinnamon buns for extra cinnamon flavor throughout! You could also use a wheat bread as a healthier alternative, or gluten-free bread to cater to dietary needs. No matter what type of bread you use, you’ll want slices to be on the thicker side—about a half inch thick at a minimum. If the slices are too thin, they will be too flimsy to hold up to the batter.
How hearty the bread is and how thick your slices are affects how long you should soak the bread for. More delicate challah and soft white sandwich breads require only a quick dip before frying. Sourdough and thick, hearty slices should be soaked for 20-30 seconds to fully absorb the custard. Thicker slices will absorb more custard overall and give you a more custard-like center.
Somewhat stale bread works better for French toast because it’s drier. When bread is dry, it’s able to soak up the egg mixture without disintegrating. If your bread is fresh, you can dry out the slices in the oven on a low heat setting, about 300 degrees at the most—not hot enough to turn the slices brown. You can also leave slices out for a few hours before cooking, or overnight.
You don’t want the bread to be completely dry throughout, but the outside surfaces of the bread should be quite dry for optimal browning and the ability to soak up the custard without turning soggy.
How Do You Know When French Toast is Done?
French toast cooks quickly, and you should be able to tell when French toast is done based on visual cues alone. It does depend somewhat on the thickness of the bread, but typically French toast will take three to four minutes on each side to cook through over medium heat, if you are using standard slices about a half inch to one inch in thickness. When French toast is done, the outsides will be a perfect, even golden-brown, with slightly crisp edges and a soft center.
What Do They Call French Toast in France?
In France, French toast is referred to as pain perdu which translates to “lost bread.” This name refers to the fact that the dish is made from old, stale bread that if not repurposed for French toast would have been thrown away in the trash. Because of its sweetness, pain perdu is considered to be a dessert in France rather than a breakfast food.
French toast is a bit of a misnomer—it’s actually not native to France at all. There is evidence that initial versions of French toast can be traced all the way back to the Roman empire. The dish began to be referred to as “French toast” in England in the 1600s. There’s a great trivia question at your next French toast-centered brunch gathering—bon appetit!
Danielle Walsh, Bon Appetit, The 7 Most Common French Toast Cooking Mistakes
Martha Stewart, Classic French Toast
Dana Velden, The Kitchn, How To Make Great French Toast at Home
Tami Weiser, The Kitchn, How To Make French Toast Even Better than the Diner