5 Ingredients or Fewer

Milk Toast

November 10, 2021
4.5 Stars
Photo by James Ramson
Author Notes

Adapted from M.F.K. Fisher's milk toast recipe. —Sarah E Daniels

Test Kitchen Notes

Sarah E Daniels, who developed this savory milk toast recipe, did a bit of research surrounding this once-popular dish. She had quite a bit more to say about why she loves milk toast, its history, and why you should make it immediately: "Cereal hasn’t always been around to ease our empty stomachs or pacify our indecisive palates. Before the nation fell for these familiar flakes, it fell in love with milk toast.

"A popular dish of the 19th century, milk toast is exactly as the name implies: a marriage of two breakfast standbys, milk and toast, resulting in a something that could be considered the precursor to the cereals we fill our bowls and our bellies with today. It was an obsession for many, and was cited as healing almost all ails, but was realistically heralded because it was easy for the sick and elderly to digest. Unsurprisingly, children were also pretty big fans of what was essentially a bready precursor of today's Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

"Milk toast is a meal of solace. It's homey, warm, and earnest. It's the kind of thing that would welcome a new day or round out a particularly difficult evening. Satisfying in its own right, it's easy to see how this combination of bread and sweet milk once served the same niche as a bowl of cereal does today—and how it's worth bringing back."

Did you grow up having milk toast? Definitely let us know and how it goes when you make your own! —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Milk Toast
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 2
Ingredients
  • 2 thick slices firm, hearty bread (like white or sourdough)
  • 2 cups creamy whole milk
  • Butter, for the toast
  • Cinnamon and granulated sugar or brown sugar, to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Warm 2 bowls. Toast the bread well and generously butter the slices. Cut the toast into cubes and divide between the 2 bowls.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, warm the milk until simmering. Season with the cinnamon and sugar, as desired.
  3. Pour the warm milk over the toast and serve immediately. Eat like cereal.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gibson2011
    Gibson2011
  • Marie Nelson
    Marie Nelson
  • Kimberly J. Kerr-Keller
    Kimberly J. Kerr-Keller
  • Sarah E Daniels
    Sarah E Daniels

8 Reviews

Gibson2011 November 11, 2019
My grandpa grew up in the '40s and said they had milk toast when food was tight. I think he said they just laid a slice of bread in a bowl and poured hot milk over it. Pretty simple.
 
J February 24, 2022
My Grandma used Zweiback and I loved it!
 
Marie N. September 26, 2017
My dad ate left over cornbread with cold buttermilk poured over it & a sprinkle of black pepper. My paternal grandmother used to give us what she called "coffee & bread" which was leftover biscuits crumbled in a heavy glassware tumbler, sprinkled with white sugar, & topped off with hot coffee. It was awesome. Neither of these were quite 'milk toast' but, the concept was the same.
 
GAM June 15, 2016
Oh my goodness!! This brings back such memories!! It was a given that my Mom would make this for me and my siblings when we were sick. We recently lost our Mother so this is bringing back some much needed memories. Thanks!
 
Deb May 22, 2016
I had completely forgotten about milk toast. Oh my gosh! I must be 45 years since I've had it, but I surely do remember it being one of the best things as a child after having been ill. Right or wrong, it was supposed to something that made you feel better and eased you back into eating regularly. Thank you for reminding of this treat :)
 
Nan May 12, 2016
I did too...and got some very strange responses from those who didn't eat it or had heard about it. We actually put salt and pepper on the toast before the milk. A savory-ish twist to this sweeter variety. It really is delicious... Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :-)
 
Author Comment
Sarah E. May 12, 2016
Yes! I've read about versions that employ a more savory spice, or salt & pepper, but my taste buds are skeptical. One day I'll do it!
Glad you liked the recipe, Nan!
 
Kimberly J. May 11, 2016
Used to eat this as a kid in tennessee. Thanks for knocking my head around!