Olive Oil

Fried Toast & 7 Ways it Can Bring You Joy

March 31, 2015

There are those things we eat, make, read, and gush over that are just too good to keep to ourselves. Here, we resist the urge to use too many exclamation points and let you in on our latest crushes.

Today: The best way to make toast, period. (You won't need a toaster.)

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I get a lot of: "This is the best toast I've ever had". Of course it is. Because I fried it in olive oil. 

The Genius Recipes cookbook, which I spent most of last year working on, was written, naturally, on genius recipe testing leftovers—fried chicken, vegetables of all stripes, things that make sense for dinner. But the book was edited (and edited and edited) on fried toast and cookie cereal, the two most instantaneously comforting meals I know. 

There's not a whole lot to cookie cereal (and if I wrote an article about it, my bosses might make me hand in my badge). But fried toast has been a legitimate improvement to my diet, and it will make yours better too. 

I first learned about the trick when I was hunting recipes for our long-since-retired Family Meal column, and I asked Scarlett Lindeman to share the thrice-boiled technique Roman's uses for beans. I never got into cooking beans that way, but the toast the cooks liked to eat it on has changed my life. 

Without employing a toaster, you can make toast that browns exceptionally evenly and quickly, and frizzles every edge and crevice into what is essentially a very large crouton. The outer edges stiffen with hot crunch; the interior gets chewy and warm. I think the result is so magical because the sizzling oil helps the heat travel further up into the craters of the bread and browns them into the best and most flavorful iteration of themselves (thanks, Maillard reaction!).  

More: 2 other ways to make toast without a toaster.

I started to notice myself frying other things in more olive oil than most people would think prudent. I fry stale pita, fattoush-style, and tortillas for huevos rancheros. When I toast pine nuts or pepitas for salads, I do it in a shimmering pond. They brown handsomely, encased in an shiny copper crust. Then I dump everything in the pan—hot oil and all—over the hardier vegetables in the salad (carrots, kale, tomatoes can take it; Bibb lettuce not so much), which sputter and soften a little before cooling down the oil, which forms the base for my dressing. 

You can vary the amount of oil according to your mood (when you are feeling empty, you'll need a good quarter inch), and you can use any kind of bread you like. I'm partial to a crusty, airy sourdough like She Wolf Bakery's, but there's nothing wrong with plain sandwich bread. The nubby texture of seeded multigrain slices responds well to hot oil, too. To make it: Get the oil hot, add your bread, peek, flip when it's brown, peek again, remove when the other side is brown. This takes something like 3 minutes.

The classic fried toast doesn't need anything but flaky salt, but with these seven variations, you can eat fried toast all the time!

• Make a fried bread panzanella, another idea I stole from Roman's, where they once served theirs with cucumber and pickle chunks and half a crisp roast chicken plunked on top, in the manner of Zuni Café (it's nice to set this much richness against something crisp and acidic).

• Layer it with pumpkin butter or honey or jam.

• Cinnamon fried toast (hat tip: Marian Bull).

• Even I can admit that avocado fried toast is a little much, but it's by no means off the table.

• Add stewed beans or lentils, like the British, and also Roman's. Optional fried egg.

• Top it with Heidi Swanson's pan-fried beans and greens.

• Turn it into a multi-grain breakfast, like Sitka & Spruce in Seattle, where they serve it topped with farro, beans, pumpkin purée, and a poached egg.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Ron K. September 20, 2018
I did a search for fried bread. Have been experimenting with frying in olive oil.
What got me there was baking frozen bread dough where you are supposed to grease a bread pan.
One day while oiling a pan, I went a bit overboard and thought “what the hell” and poured olive oil all over the dough that pretty much went to the bottom.
After baking I first noticed an oily bottom of the loaf. Once I cut a slice and took a bite I realized the bottom crust was very crunchy and golden. I loved the taste and the texture was great!
Patricia W. March 21, 2017
Love this idea. Can't wait to try. Keep the suggestions coming.
Heather March 17, 2017
I use fried toast as a basis for "bruschetta" In the peak of summer, I fry (in EVOO) slices of hearty italian bread that I have rubbed with garlic. The I top it with chopped tomatoes marinated in balsamic with salt pepper and basil. So good. I know it's not the traditional bruscetta but it makes a great summer meal.
Elaine K. March 16, 2017
You can fry it in ghee! No free radicals created and no burnt butter,
A March 16, 2017
Unfortunately when you fry anything in olive oil you ruin the oil and create an oil that is toxic. This is true of most vegetables oils, coconut oil being an exception. However, you can safely fry in butter, as long as you don't burn it. Bread fried in butter is even more delicious! Vegetable oils are safe to consume as long as they are unprocessed by heating, but that eliminates most vegetable oils except those that are cold pressed.
Mona D. March 14, 2017
Growing up, we didn't even have a toaster. My mom made fried toast every morning, and it was delicious.
Farida H. March 14, 2017
My most favourite breakfast: crisply fried bread topped with a beautifully fried egg (or eggs!) fried tomatoes caramelised with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar., all done in butter for the ultimate taste experience!
Rayna B. March 13, 2017
Maggie March 14, 2017
Hardy means robust
Ann H. March 13, 2017
When I was in the UK, the BEST breakfast I had there was butter-fried toast. Imagine beurre noir on your favorite cottage bread. Yum! Yum!
Charles F. November 15, 2015
My mother is a Spaniard and the most basic staple for an anytime meal was fried bread, eggs over medium, bell pepper slices, and chorizo. All in a bath of olive oil. Usually fresh homemade spanish bread has a thick crust and without preservatives is not as long lived; thus frying gives new life and compliments anything you can imagine; sandwiches, croutons, meals, soups and coffee.
Pat E. July 21, 2015
The bacon comment reminded my that my French mother would quick fry our steaks in butter and olive oil ...then fry bread in the drippings once the steaks were removed. We called it "steak bread" and it was to die for. Gotta try that agin soon!
Sally Z. July 21, 2015
mmm...slice a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut edge all over the fried surface of the toast. Sprinkle with salt.
Marian B. June 28, 2015
I just ate this AGAIN!!! With sliced tomatoes on top!!!!!!
Marian B. June 28, 2015
fried toast is the best food that exists
Marian B. June 28, 2015
Dennie F. May 6, 2015
Hmmm...never tried straight olive oil. Have always used salted butter with or without olive oil. Must try a few of your suggests, they sound mouth watering.
Debra A. April 27, 2015
Try coating both sides in butter, then with a teeny bit of brown butter in the pan, fry it up. The caramelization is so delicious. Use salted butter and no need to add any.
DPJ April 2, 2015
When we were children spending our summers at our family cottage at the seaside in Denmark, my brother and I made "toast" (aka fried bread) and "jam". We didn't have a toaster so we improvised; one of us would make "toast" - butter both sides of slices of bread (from the fabulous local bakery) and fry it over medium heat, flip and toast/fry other side - while the other made "jam" - in a bowl, take a basket of fresh raspberries and a spoonful of sugar and mash together with a fork - spoon "jam" over hot "toast" and enjoy.
Leslie S. April 6, 2015
Sounds delicious! And has me wondering how I can get my own seaside cottage in Denmark!
Jan A. July 21, 2015
I find that I don't even need the sugar, just the mashed fruit.
Maedl April 1, 2015
When I was growing up and when we could get away with it, my grandfather and I would throw slices of bread into the cast iron pan my grandmother had used for frying bacon. The bread would fry to a golden, crispy brown in no time. All it needed was a sprinkling of salt--no sea salt back then, just plain Morton’s. If we were really living it up, we would top the fried bread with a dollop of Grandma’s pear jam scented with star anise. Heaven!
Jane R. July 21, 2015
A friend of mine had a family tradition called a bacon roast. They roasted slab bacon on a spit, with a tray of toast under it to catch the drippings. They didn't eat the bacon. Just the toast and drippings. He remembers doing this with his grandfather. Your story reminded me of it.

Donna H. March 15, 2017
How could they NOT EAT THE BACON???
Deanna W. March 31, 2015
Mozza fries ridiculously thick pieces of bread (3+ inches thick) and serves it with burrata. It was life changing.
Marian B. March 31, 2015
So great! So important! So beautiful! So real! also: tomatoes in summer!!! fried eggs always!! i am exploding with joy!!!
Laura K. March 31, 2015
Fry your toast in the fat after you make bacon. It's life-changing.
Laura K. March 31, 2015
(also life-shortening, but hey, what the heck.)