The Best Bread for Making French Toast

There are a few golden rules you should follow. #1: Don’t use pre-sliced bread.

February 22, 2022

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Photo by: hiroyuki nakai

hiroyuki nakai

By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

Heath is a culinary editor at Food Network.

Because French toast is largely, well, toast, your bread selection is important. The bread needs to stand up in flavor and structure to the rich, sweet batter. It must saturate thoroughly but not fall apart. Read on for how to pick the best bread, and if you want a detailed guide on how to make French toast, check out our story How to Make French Toast Perfectly.

1: Buy a Whole Loaf of Bread

No one wants a thin, meagre slice of French toast, so skip the pre-sliced bags of bread. Instead, buy a whole loaf and slice it yourself: 3/4-inch-thick slices hit the sweet spot between luxurious but still thin enough to soak up the batter in a timely manner.

2: Use Slightly Stale Bread

Bread that’s a least a day old soaks up batter extra-well, yet still maintains its structure and won’t fall apart. This means that you can really saturate the bread through-and-through so it tastes really custardy. Plus, using up stale bread is a great way to put food waste to work. If all you have is fresh bread, toast those slices at 300 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Close-up of slices of bread on cutting board in kitchen


Close-up of slices of bread on cutting board in kitchen

Photo by: Grace Cary/Getty Images

Grace Cary/Getty Images

3: For Classic French Toast, Use Soft Sandwich Bread

Opt for soft brown or white bread with a thin crust. For example, Food Network Kitchen’s The Best French Toast recipe alls for pain de mie. Plain bread doesn’t look or sound fancy, but when it’s stale, it soaks up batter like magic. Sometimes simple is best.

The Best French Toast

Our favorite bread for making French toast is pain de mie for its neutral flavor and spongey texture, which helps it absorb the egg mixture without falling apart. It's sometimes hard to find, so you can substitute brioche for a richer and more decadent toast or challah for an all-purpose choice.

Brioche bread with some slices


Brioche bread with some slices

Photo by: Isabel Alcalá/Getty Images

Isabel Alcalá/Getty Images

4: For Fluffy, Custardy French Toast, Use an Egg-Based Bread

Use brioche or challah. These egg-based breads have a high butter content, meaning their crumb is tender and rich but light. In other words, they’re an ideal foundation for super decadent yet airy French toast.

Brioche French Toast

Wake up for Robert Irvine's classic French Toast recipe, a sweet start to the day made extra special with brioche and spices. Here’s a pro tip: Make sure you don’t over-soak the bread. Fully submerge it in the batter for only a few seconds and let any excess drip off before cooking.

A sliced loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread.


A sliced loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread.

Photo by: janetleerhodes/Getty Images

janetleerhodes/Getty Images

5: For French Toast with Structure, Use Sourdough

Sourdough bread is a great option, but because this bread is naturally firmer, fresh (not stale) sourdough is ideal. Make sure you soak sourdough in the batter until it’s saturated, which will take longer than it takes softer breads. Once it is saturated, the resulting French toast will be tangy and complex.

Caramelized Sourdough French Toast

This sourdough recipe soaks bread for 15 whole minutes in to ensure it's fully softened and custardy.

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