Crispy Salt and Pepper French Toast

By • October 4, 2010 72 Comments

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Author Notes: Savoury, crispy French toast. Salty, with a heavy kick of black pepper. This was one of my favorite Sunday breakfasts growing up, the smell of the toasts frying up a scent memory that still takes me back.

This fried bread I grew up eating, called khara pao (khara means “spicy”), is South Asia’s answer to French toast, typically served with a kicked-up tomato ketchup. My family was partial to black pepper, but I’ve seen turmeric, chili powder, cayenne and even cumin added. And South Asia’s not the only one that goes the savoury route. In other cultures, they do similar-style “eggy toasts” – Italy’s has mozzarella and tomato sauce, Russia’s is simple salt, egg and milk, and Hungary serves theirs with onions, tomatoes, ketchup and even mayonnaise…

This version is so ridiculously easy to make, and requires ingredients we all usually have on hand. I’m a savoury brunch person myself, and this is such a delicious alternative to the sweet version. The crispy, salty, pepper-heavy toast dipped in a cool, spicy, slightly sweet, tomato-ey ketchup is a truly heavenly combination that will quickly move into your go-to, I-have-leftover-bread-and-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it rotation. Breakfast or even as a mid-afternoon snack – enjoy! - aliyaleekong

Food52 Review: Aliyaleekong may have grown up eating this savory french toast, but for those of us who weren't so lucky, here's her easy recipe that might just make you turn your back on sweet french toast forever. It still pairs well with eggs and bacon, but (dare we say it?) this french toast would also make a mean Monte Cristo. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4 to 6

French Toast:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
  • vegetable oil
  • butter
  • 8 (1/2") slices day-old bread*, cut on the diagonal


  • Ketchup
  • Sriracha
  1. In a bowl or baking dish, beat together eggs with half-and-half, salt, pepper, green onions, and cilantro.
  2. Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and add a tablespoon or two of butter for taste.
  3. Dip the bread triangles into the egg batter, drain off any excess, and place straight into the hot pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side – you want to develop a golden-brown color and the texture should be crispier than traditional French toast. Place cooked toasts on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together ketchup and hot sauce to your desired heat tolerance.
  5. Serve toasts warm with a side of the spicy ketchup.
  6. *I like to use a country or pullman loaf for this. You want it to stand up to the egg batter and not get mushy, so I always go for a day-old loaf.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

More Great Recipes: Bread|Breakfast|Rice & Grains|Breakfast & Brunch|Entrees

Topics: Breakfast

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Comments (72) Questions (2)


8 months ago Cathy Barzo kind of French toast - just bread dipped in eggs (no cream/milk). I'm from a Hungarian background and we always ate our French toast with Ketchup. I like using Heinz's hot and spicy ketchup and of course salt the toast. Try telling that to an American/Canadian and they usually say 'oohh' and have a pained look on their face. My response is that it's eggs and bread so it makes perfect sense! I often eat this for a easy, quick supper.


10 months ago catherine

half and half to me is semi skimmed milk


8 months ago Mark Frisk

Half and half is half whole milk, half cream. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk have less fat than whole milk. Either would not be right for this review, which calls for dairy with higher cat content.


about 1 year ago Keka De

this is the way we've always eaten "french toast" at home! :-)
i guess a lot got lost in translation!


over 1 year ago Louise Yoxall

Never mind I should have read the previous comments I'm a not wit!


over 1 year ago Louise Yoxall

Can somebody tell me what half and half is please


over 1 year ago Nicole

I served this alongside some homemade soup and it was perfect for dunking. I had dill and chives on hand instead of scallions and cilntro and it was delicious, though I found it to be heavy and could only eat 1/2 slice. We ended up reheating the rest for breakfast the next day. Yum!


over 1 year ago bozon

I think this would be very tasty with banana ketchup


almost 2 years ago Ria Booth

Thank you drbabs and Leah for your helpful comments. I'll try the half whole milk and half cream, and perhaps the soya milk later too. Thanks so much. Kia ora.


almost 2 years ago Ria Booth

Sounds delicious and I shall try it but whatever is half-and-half - is it a commercial product, or perhaps half butter and half margarine, or half butter and half oil.
Ria, New Zealand


almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Ria, in the US, half-and-half is half milk and half heavy cream. You can use all whole milk or light cream in its place.


almost 2 years ago Leah

Think soymilk would work too?


almost 2 years ago

Oh my goodness... savory French Toast, I can just see the Chef's in France turning over - until they try it. Excellent and thanks!


almost 2 years ago Doreen Csutoros

Growing up, we used to all this "egg toast." My dad and I were never fans of syrup. You just brought back so many wonderful memories, thank you!! Will try adding the cilantro.


about 2 years ago starvingfoodie

I've never had the slightest interest in syrupy sweet and eggy French toast. As a kid, my bro and dad shared that joy alone. Ironically, now my fave desserts are those of the eggy, custardy persuasion. Go figure. But THIS, this is the answer - savory AND kicked up, times TWO even. And scallions? Stop, you had me at sriracha ketchup. Brunch list status achieved. Well done.


over 2 years ago LoveAgent7

Savory French Toast, great idea!


about 3 years ago John Hablinski

My dear old sainted mother made a savory French Toast sans green onions and cilantro. She served it buttered. I was horrified the first time I ordered French Toast in a restaurant and it was sweet. Yuck. I suppose it is another version of the mayonnaise/salad dressing debate where the right choice is whatever your mother served. It’s mayo for me and don’t you dare get close to my watermelon with that salt shaker. If you put salt on it prepare to wear it as a hat. I’m going to give the onions & cilantro a try but I think I’ll stick with that good ol’ artery clogging real butter. Mmmmmm!
Oh yeah, as it happened the Cooks Country TV program had an episode on which they made French Toast (the sweet junk) today. They did make a couple of suggestions which I think just might improve the product. They suggested using Challah and they also suggested you dry the bread in a warm oven for a few minutes. They said day old or air dried bread still contain water crystals which rehydrate when frying which makes the bread mushy. John


about 1 year ago JohnL

Challah makes awesome French toast. I got a Williams-Sonoma recipe for Challah made in the bread machine that makes it easy. Store bought Challah is kind of pricey. And not nearly as good. I remember the first time I had French toast. I was a small child living in Tokyo in the 50's and one of the neighbors gave me a little piece. I ran home and raved about it to my mother, and she learned to make it for me. I'm in the sweet camp, but this sounds interesting, too.


over 3 years ago daisybrain

Since I don't see any comments questioning the amount of black pepper I guess I'll just go for it.


over 3 years ago Lincoln87

My grandmother always made French Toast similar to this..minus the cilantro..I like mine with Cheez Whiz on the side...


over 3 years ago susanna moraldi

I finally got around making this. I enjoy the flavors, but it didn't come out crispy, it was more the usual consistency of french toast. Maybe I didn't use enough oil?


over 3 years ago nzle

This was so, so delicious -- I ended up scrambling the last of the egg wash dip and serving it alongside the toast. Delicious!


over 3 years ago SwtMahmah76

I absolutely can't wait to try this later this week!


over 3 years ago Miachef

I tried the recipe this morning...although I love the flavors, the toast came out a bit chewy....any ideas what I did wrong? The spicy ketchup saved it...but want to try it again. Any suggestions for correcting the "chewiness" would be appreciated...thanks!