How to Make French Toast Without a Recipe

September  9, 2013

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw gives us the ratio to make any French toast -- with what you have in your pantry.

French Toast from Food52

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It's late, you're home, and you're hungry. Your front door feels really far away. You have some stale bread, some eggs, and some dairy.

Or: It's Sunday morning, and your kids are shrieking, and you want to cook something -- something quick! -- that will get them all starry-eyed and quiet and happy.

Or: You're tired of salads and roasted vegetables and even meat and fish and you want something soothing, something easy, and something decidedly un-seasonal for dinner.

In all these cases, and many more: make French toast.

Go check -- you have everything you need. Now, read on!

How to Make French Toast Without a Recipe

1. Get out a pie pan -- it's the best soaking vessel for your bread -- and add your dairy and eggs (I use around 3 egg yolks for every one-and-a-half cups dairy). Use milk, use half and half, use cream, use a combination.

Whisk in around 1 tablespoon of sugar, agave, honey, whatever (or don't!) and any flavorings you'd like -- vanilla extract (or better: scraped vanilla bean) is always a great call, but feel free to go crazy.

French Toast from Food52


2. Slice up your day-old bread -- I'm a fan of brioche or challah -- and let it soak in the mixture for fifteen seconds on each side (thirty seconds in total). Make sure your bread is somewhat stale; it will soak up all that good stuff without falling apart.

Once it's out of the bath, let your bread rest on a baking sheet for around two minutes to allow for even custard-soakage within.

French toast from Food52


3. Melt some butter in a pan. Once it's nice and runny... 

Melting butter from Food52


4. ...get those slices in there! Fry until golden brown on one side, and then flip. Get that other side brown, and, if you're me, drizzle some maple syrup on, right there in the pan. The warmth will get it evenly distributed -- and slightly caramelized.

French Toast from Food5


5. Get your toast onto a plate, drizzle with more syrup, and eat. Quickly. Now.

French toast from Food52

Now, what to serve with that French toast? Try these:

The perfect fried egg
Spicy Basil Bloody Marys
Homemade Merguez

How do you make your French toast?


Nancy M. March 27, 2015
Why would anyone need a recipe for french toast?
Bubbawubba G. March 21, 2015
"How to Make French Toast Without a Recipe" ? I opened it and low and behold.... a recipe? Let's see, ingredients, quantities and directions, yup, that's a recipe! I don't get it.
Sharon January 29, 2015
I made this with coconut milk. The sauce was wonderful. I didn't get the curds with coconut milk but that certainly was not a deal breaker. I'll make this again and use packaged chicken (drumsticks, thighs, breasts). What a fragrant dish!
NotMeMon January 25, 2015
I agree with most ... I use thick-sliced (3/4") homemade bread (my Panasonic breadmaker makes a slice that is about 4"x7"), soak it in the fluid mixture (I use almond extract and grate some fresh-ground nutmeg - yummy), then put on a Corning "plate and a half), two slices per layer, separated by cling wrap ... refrigerate overnight (no, it doesn't get soggy nor fall apart!!), then pan-fry until golden ... use pure maple syrup and enjoy!!
Darvel S. January 16, 2015
Eggnog is a wonderful addition also! :-)
Jacque January 5, 2015
I have made French toast since 7 or 8 years old. This is the first recipe I've seen. I always used 1 egg for every 2 slices of stale bread. Adding a Teaspoon of sugar. Mix with a fork. Add a teaspoon of vanilla for every 2 or 3 eggs. Stir and add milk until it looks right but is not thin. Soak bread on both sides. Stop soaking while you can still transfer bread to skillet without it falling apart. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and fry until slightly crispy and brown. I've always loved it plain but some of the children liked syrup or fruit preserves on it.
liz C. December 28, 2014
Being from Kentucky, bourbon is always a great addition to everything. I add bourbon, bourbon barrel vanilla extract and orange zest to my custard. A nice handful of toasted pecans and maple syrup finish the dish.
Cathy B. December 23, 2014
I make my strictly with whole beaten eggs - yummy and less fuss!
alia March 6, 2014
here is recipe I found gives fuller custard french toast which I prefer (most versions I find dry):

Pain Perdu
4 servings


1 cup/250 ml milk, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 slices baguette
1 egg

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for caramelizing
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more if needed
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Cherries and blackberries, for serving


Stir together the milk and vanilla in a shallow dish. Soak the bread slices in the milk mixture for about 5 minutes, turning once so that they absorb the milk evenly.

Beat the egg with the sugar and pour onto a plate.

Heat the butter in a skillet until sizzling. Take the bread from the milk, holding it above the bowl to drain slightly. Dip into the egg mixture to coat both sides, then drop into the sizzling butter and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.

At the last minute, sprinkle the tops with a little extra sugar and "broil" with a blowtorch (or place them on a baking sheet under the broiler until the sugar, melts, bubbles and turns golden).

Divide the bread among serving plates. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dribbling of fresh, ripe cherries and blackberries that have been sauteed in butter and sugar and possibly flamed.
© Recipe courtesy Laura Calder

Diana B. February 17, 2014
one and a half cups of dairy? I have never used that much, ever. That seems totally unnecessary to me. I can see why you have LOTS left over.
Yolanda B. November 24, 2013
I do Italian bread on the cheap and splurge with almond milk - its delicioso!
NJB November 15, 2013
I love using Challah bread dipped into eggnog...
I_Fortuna October 31, 2013
I take the leftover batter, add flour and save it for a dessert crepe in the morning. Easy breakfast. I like mine eggy.
djgibboni September 19, 2013
Really? People use a recipe for French toast?
thedomesticb September 16, 2013
Something that has always bothered me about making french toast is throwing away the milky, eggy mixture goodness. Are there any brilliant ways to re-use the dairy bath after soaking the bread?
Moe R. September 16, 2013
After I put the slices in the pan, I drizzle the leftover liquid onto the surface, just a bit. But really, it's a total of 25 cents worth of stuff, hardly worth saving.

In the past, I have used it to make kind of a scrambled egg but it's not very good.
[email protected] September 15, 2013
It's a question, gave proportions for milk to egg....but what about the bread? How many slices of bread for the three egg ratio?
Jeremy P. September 15, 2013
There was a deli in Phoenix that used to cut the challah corner in a diagonal and then fry the pieces. Amazingly not healthy and amazing at the same time.
Janice D. September 15, 2013
That's about how I've done it for over 50 years. The main difference I use a dry griddle, just like when I make pancakes.
@JuliaMoskin September 15, 2013
Why only egg yolks?
DrGaellon September 15, 2013
I like mine a bit eggier; I use about 1/2 cup dairy to two eggs. I also dry the bread out in a cool oven (250F) for 15-20 minutes. Stale bread is NOT dry; the water is bound into starch crystals, but is still there, so stale bread doesn't absorb the royale as well as truly dry bread. And savory French toast (add some Parmesan cheese and chopped oregano) is amazing.