You've Been Making French Toast Wrong Your Whole Life

Here's a 5-step guide to French toast perfection.

french toast willmilne / Shutterstock

French Toast is a dish that can elevate a boring breakfast to something elegant and delicious. The combination of egg and toast isn't French, and actually predates the founding of France.

According to Apicius (a collection of Roman cooking recipes from the early fifth century AD), the Romans would soak bread in a milk (and sometimes egg) mixture and then fry it in a pan of oil, calling it Pan Dulcis. In the fifteenth century, a version was eaten in Henry V's court and was known as lost bread or pain perdu (which is what the French call French toast today). 


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If the urban legend surrounding French toast is to be believed, an Albany, New York innkeeper named Joseph French made a batch of the eggy grilled bread in 1724 and advertised them as French's toast because he'd never learned to use an apostrophe "s." Perhaps as an honor to Mr. French, we should rename French toast to French's Toast?

No matter what you call it, many cooks have a problem making a perfect batch every time, with the bread coming out soggy instead of crispy around the edges. When French toast hasn't been cooked properly, its appearance is unappetizing.


How to make French toast so it comes out perfectly every time:

1. Always use the right type of bread

You don't want to use a piece of bread that's too thin, as it needs to have somebody to it to have a good soak in the milk and eggs, or it will start to break down before you can get it to the pan. The best kinds of bread to use are either a dense-crumbled white, eggy challah, or brioche. The drier the bread, the better it will act as a sponge for the custard. If all you have to work with is stale, day-old bread, dry it in a 275-degree oven for approximately ten minutes before the dipping stage.

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2. The ratio of egg and milk must be right

A basic rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 cup of milk and one egg per two-slice serving to avoid that scrambled egg flavor. Another trick is to use only the yolks of the eggs since it's the whites that contain the sulfur compound that gives eggs their egg taste. Also, French toast isn't considered a diet food, so go ahead and use whole-fat dairy.


3. Don't forget the seasonings

Cinnamon and vanilla extract are fairly traditional add-ins to French toast, but don't let that limit you. You can add a little powdered sugar for sweetness (it dissolves well in the custard), brown sugar for more of a caramel flavor, or go big and add a dash of liqueur-like a spiced rum or Grand Marnier. Be careful not to add too much alcohol or you'll overpower the flavor of the custard.

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4. Opt for some oil

When we think of French toast, we think of it classically being cooked in butter. Unfortunately, butter has a low burn point and it's easy to burn your French toast. The solution is to either use oil or a combination of half butter and half neutral vegetable oil. 

5. Go for the good stuff

The syrup is the finishing touch for French toast, so be sure to use real maple syrup, not an imitation. A darker syrup will have a stronger and better taste and will compliment your perfectly cooked triangles.


The next time you want to surprise someone with a delicious and slightly fancy breakfast in bed, present them with some perfectly cooked French toast.

There's nothing sexier than someone who knows how to cook.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day.