Challah French Toast

Challah French toast is a classic breakfast treat. It’s fluffy and perfect with maple syrup drizzled on top. Make this recipe for weekend breakfast, weeknight breakfast-for-dinner, or holiday brunch!

A stack of French toast on white plate with blueberries on top.

Say hello to honest-to-goodness, custard-drenched, authentic French toast.

My mom used to make French toast as an occasional breakfast treat while we were growing up, and I always loved and devoured it. Who could resist bread dipped in an egg mixture and browned up in a buttered skillet? Throw on some more butter and syrup, or a sprinkling or powdered sugar, some bacon or sausage, and could there be a better start to a Saturday morning? I would argue not.

This particular French toast recipe, however, is so incredibly decadent, has such a rich flavor, and is perfectly sweet that I would argue the maple syrup COULD (maybe… for some people…) be optional. Crazy, right?!

Cooked French toast on a baking pan.

What’s the best bread for French toast?

Using the right type of bread is key to knowing how to make French toast that is crave-worthy!

For the best classic French toast, use firm, stale bread. This is not the time to use soft sandwich bread.

Two of my favorites are challah and brioche for French toast. Other good choices are firm wheat bread and Italian bread.

Ingredients for French toast prepped on the counter.

French Toast Ingredients

  • Challah bread or other firm bread, like brioche – Cut it into slices about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Whole milk or half & half
  • Egg yolks – Store the leftover egg whites in an airtight container in the fridge. You can use them to make chocolate chip meringue cookies, pavlova, homemade marshmallow creme, or an egg-white omelet.
  • Light brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter – if you only have salted butter, omit the salt from this recipe
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract – all extracts are not equal! For the best flavor, only use pure vanilla extract

Whisking together the custard for French toast.

How to make Challah French Toast

Again, to ensure that the bread soaks up the egg custard completely, keep it out on a cooling rack overnight.

  1. Whisk all of the custard ingredients together in a large bowl. Then, transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch cake pan or rectangular casserole dish.
  2. For best results, cook two slices of bread at a time. Slip the bread into the batter for 20 seconds, then use a spatula to turn the bread over and soak the other side. You want the bread saturated but not falling apart.
  3. Use a spatula to transfer the soaked challah to a baking sheet. Continue to soak two slices of bread at a time until all of the bread is on the baking sheet.
  4. Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. It will foam up at first. When the foaming stops, transfer two slices of French toast to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes, checking the underside occasionally. When it’s golden brown, flip the French toast over and continue cooking until the second side is golden brown.
  5. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Continue cooking 2 pieces at a time, adding more butter for each batch.

Serving tip: It’s best to serve challah French toast right away. If you absolutely must keep it warm, place it on a cooling rack in a 200-degree oven until you’re ready to serve it.

Challah soaking in custard mixture.

Tips on How to Make French Toast Perfectly

  • Bread: Use Challah, brioche or another hearty bread like Italian, sourdough, or a sturdy wheat bread.
  • Take the time to stale the bread overnight: This ensures that the bread is dry enough to soak up the custard mixture without falling apart. If the bread is too soft, it can’t soak up as much custard. As a result, you will lose a lot of flavor. If you forget to set the bread out the night before, don’t panic! Just place the bread in a 300 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. Halfway through, turn the slices of bread over.
  • Don’t turn up the heat: Although it takes a little longer to cook, I promise you, this classic French toast is worth it! The lower heat ensures that the custard cooks all the way through the bread, while also browning the outside. At a higher temperature, the bread browns much too quickly without the inside cooking through. This will cause your French toast to be mushy.
  • Keep it indulgent! I beg of you – please do not try to make this recipe healthier by lowering the fat and/or calories. If you try to use low-fat milk, egg whites instead of yolks, etc., you’ll have some texture issues. More importantly, you will lose so much flavor! Challah French toast is not an everyday meal, but it’s definitely one you want to enjoy to its fullest when you do make it!
  • Serving Suggestions: Butter and maple syrup (classic!), a sprinkle of powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or a fruit compote or syrup.

A stack of French toast with syrup drizzled on top.

So there you have it… the absolute holy grail of French toast recipes. It takes a little bit of pre-planning, but it will take your weekend mornings to another dimension.

Try More Decadent Breakfast Recipes:

If you make this recipe and love it, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much!

Challah French Toast

Servings 4 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
To stale bread 11 hours 20 minutes
Total 12 hours
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

Challah French toast is a classic breakfast treat. It's fluffy and perfect with maple syrup drizzled on top. Make this recipe for weekend breakfast, weeknight breakfast-for-dinner, or holiday brunch!

Ingredients:

  • 8
    slices
    challah bread
    (sliced ½-inch thick)
  • cups
    whole milk
  • 6
    egg yolks
  • 3
    tablespoons
    light brown sugar
  • 2
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (melted)
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 1
    tablespoon
    vanilla extract
  • 2
    tablespoons
    unsalted butter
    (divided (for cooking))

Directions:

  1. Stale the bread by setting it out on a cooling rack uncovered overnight.
  2. Whisk milk, egg yolks, sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer milk mixture to 13x9-inch baking pan.
  3. Working with 3 slices of bread at a time, dip into custard for 20 seconds. Using a spatula turn bread over and soak for another 20 seconds. (Bread should be saturated but not falling apart.) Transfer soaked bread to baking sheet or tray and continue until all bread is soaked.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding ½ tablespoon of butter for each batch. The French toast should be served immediately, but can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven until served.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes:

  • Bread: Use Challah, brioche or another hearty bread like Italian, sourdough, or a sturdy wheat bread.
  • Take the time to stale the bread overnight: This ensures that the bread is dry enough to soak up the custard mixture without falling apart. If the bread is too soft, it can't soak up as much custard. As a result, you will lose a lot of flavor. If you forget to set the bread out the night before, don't panic! Just place the bread in a 300 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. Halfway through, turn the slices of bread over.
  • Don't turn up the heat: Although it takes a little longer to cook, I promise you, this classic French toast is worth it! The lower heat ensures that the custard cooks all the way through the bread, while also browning the outside. At a higher temperature, the bread browns much too quickly without the inside cooking through. This will cause your French toast to be mushy.
  • Keep it indulgent! I beg of you – please do not try to make this recipe healthier by lowering the fat and/or calories. If you try to use low-fat milk, egg whites instead of yolks, etc., you’ll have some texture issues. More importantly, you will lose so much flavor! Challah French toast is not an everyday meal, but it's definitely one you want to enjoy to its fullest when you do make it!
  • Serving Suggestions: Butter and maple syrup (classic!), a sprinkle of powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or a fruit compote or syrup.
  • French Toast Casserole: Looking for a make-ahead option that's perfect for holiday mornings? Try my Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 437kcal
Fat: 23g
Saturated fat: 11g
Cholesterol: 332mg
Sodium: 492mg
Potassium: 264mg
Carbohydrates: 42g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 17g
Protein: 13g
Vitamin A: 885%
Calcium: 223%
Iron: 2.8%

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[Photography by Ari of Well Seasoned]