Crispy Salt and Pepper French Toast

October  4, 2010
6 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Savory, 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 savory 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 savory 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!

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Crispy Salt and Pepper French Toast
  • For the 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-inch) slices day-old bread*, cut on the diagonal
  • For the sauce:
  • 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Adrienne Lopata
    Adrienne Lopata
  • Cody E.
    Cody E.
  • Jacqueline  Howard
    Jacqueline Howard
  • Karin Hansen
    Karin Hansen
  • Christina
Chef, Author - Exotic Table: Flavors, Inspiration & Recipes from Around the World to Your Kitchen, Mom to a chickadee ?

86 Reviews

Jessamin November 8, 2020
This is wonderful and will probably eclipse sweet toast consumption in my household. If you have sambal on hand, equal parts sambal and honey makes a lovely pepper-jelly-ish sauce to go with.
Adrienne L. December 22, 2019
Fantastic! Make sure to watch the toasting carefully, the first few slices was a little too crispy (ok, fine, blackened). Loved the use of scallions and cilantro, will use even more next time. One note, I used wheat bread which didn't turn out too well, will definitely use the white/French bread next time.
Cody E. November 21, 2018
This is a great savory version of french toast. Definitely adult! We had this for a hygge (hue-guh) with friends and family and the adults went ga-ga for it, the kids were not so thrilled... ha, ha! But I would, for sure, make this again!
Jacqueline H. December 7, 2017
In the U.K it's called eggy bread. Tried and tested favourite! It can be fancy, plain. Whatever you have to hand takes your fancy. Wonderful hangover cure too.
Karin H. November 13, 2017
Just made this with some slices of day(s)-old olive loaf - a huge success! This is going into my rotation for sure!
Isabella October 27, 2017
A great way to heat up leftovers is to use your toaster!! Both the sweet and savory versions come out hot and crispy!
Christina October 18, 2016
Does this reheat well? I made a batch last night and have some left over. And would you recommend reheating it in the oven, microwave, or in a pan on the stove? Thanks!
Threemoons July 29, 2016
Made this for myself with 2 eggs, two slices of bread. Used milk, garlic, shallot, and scallion greens along with salt and pepper. Threw in a little dried oregano at the last minute on a whim. Also made the sauce. Fantastic. Will definitely make again.
DizzyElle July 26, 2016
We have always had savory French Toasts at home. The savory ones were called Bombay Toast. Home version would also include finely chopped green chilies for some extra heat. Had versions with finely grated Dhakai cheese which is a semi hard salty local cheese of Bangladesh in the egg batter along with the usual chilli, cilantro, chopped shallots, spring onion, salt n pepper.
Erin P. March 27, 2016
Savory french toast! I absolutely love this idea. I'm going to have to make it with my gluten free sandwich bread recipe!
Cathy B. December 31, 2014 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.
catherine October 20, 2014
half and half to me is semi skimmed milk
Mark F. December 26, 2014
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.
Amy S. February 19, 2017
Alternatively: mix milk w/ internet. Cat content will go through the roof.
adrienne September 20, 2018
Good one Amy
Keka D. June 9, 2014
this is the way we've always eaten "french toast" at home! :-)
i guess a lot got lost in translation!
Louise Y. March 10, 2014
Never mind I should have read the previous comments I'm a not wit!
Louise Y. March 10, 2014
Can somebody tell me what half and half is please
Nicole February 10, 2014
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!
Threemoons July 29, 2016
Oooh! I bet this would be killer with tomato soup!
bozon January 27, 2014
I think this would be very tasty with banana ketchup
Ria B. November 7, 2013
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.
Ria B. September 17, 2013
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
drbabs September 17, 2013
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.
Leah November 7, 2013
Think soymilk would work too? September 10, 2013
Oh my goodness... savory French Toast, I can just see the Chef's in France turning over - until they try it. Excellent and thanks!