Dip into the best skillet French toast recipe.
A simple, classic challah French toast recipe that combines challah bread, sweet vanilla custard, and a hot skillet for the French toast breakfast you deserve.
Meet This Skillet Challah French Toast Recipe
I love French toast. Most of the time.
At its best, French toast can be a perfect stack of sweet, custardy fried bread that tastes as satisfying as any breakfast you’ve ever eaten.
At its worst, French toast can taste bland, gummy, and/or burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.
This pan-fried challah French toast recipe is the best kind. Rich challah bread gets dipped into a sweet vanilla custard and then pan fried in a skillet until golden brown. The custard is sweetened with brown sugar and vanilla, and made rich with eggs, egg yolks, and cream.
This challah French toast isn’t messing around. It’s rich, lightly sweet, and absolutely perfect.
The Importance of a Good, Day-Old Challah Bread
Challah is a braided white bread enriched with eggs, oil, and a bit of sugar or other sweetener, such as honey. This creates a soft, rich-but-light bread.
This recipe calls for day-old challah. You want to use day old instead of fresh bread because it will become a little more firm and dry. This allows the bread to absorb the custard without becoming too delicate or mushy.
If you buy your challah on the same day you need it, you can stale bread quickly. Here’s how:
- Slice the bread. Arrange it in a single layer on a cooling rack set over a half-sheet pan.
- Bake at 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes or so.
Can I Substitute Other Bread for Challah for French Toast?
You can use a thick-cut sandwich bread or baguette as a substitute, but I highly recommend using a loaf of challah because of the richness and flavor.
I love artisan bread, but I recommend against using a very crusty bread. A hard crust will not soften enough, and will make the French toast taste a little tough around the edges.
Is French Toast the Same as Pain Perdu?
What we English-speaking countries call French toast, the French (and some French-influenced regions like New Orleans) call pain perdu.
Pain perdu translates to “lost bread.” So called because pain perdu was made from day-old, or “lost,” bread, pain perdu put stale bread to good use and avoid waste.
French pain perdu typically gets made with day-old baguette, but these rules are not hard and fast.
How to Make This Skillet Challah French Toast Recipe
This French toast recipe is fairly straightforward, but there are a few tips and techniques to get right.
Here are the steps:
- Slice the bread into 1-inch slices. You should have about 6 to 8 slices total.
- Scald the cream, milk, vanilla, salt, and brown sugar. You just need to heat it enough for the sugar to completely dissolve.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks. Add the milk mixture into the eggs in several additions, whisking each time.
- Pour the custard into a shallow dish, like a casserole pan. Dip the bread slices in the mixture; coat on both sides. Do not let them soak too long or they will get mushy.
- Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Keep the slices warm in the oven until ready to serve.
If you love a good skillet challah French toast recipe, you’ll also love these indulgent breakfast dishes:
- Sticky Bun French Toast Casserole
- Leek and Goat Cheese Tart
- Sheet Pan Blueberry Pancakes
- Sour Cream Crumb Cake
The Best Skillet Challah French Toast
- 1 loaf day-old loaf of challah bread (a 1 pound loaf or so)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk (not skim; low-fat is fine)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch cinnamon, optional
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus more for serving
- maple syrup, butter, and confectioner's sugar, to serve
- Slice the day-old challah bread into 1" thick slices. You should have about 6 to 8 slices total. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon (if using) until warm, whisking frequently. Remove from heat.TIP: You just need to heat it enough for the sugar to completely dissolve. This means warm, not hot. If it is too hot, you risk cooking the eggs in the next step.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks. Add the milk mixture into the eggs in several additions, whisking each time. Pour the custard into a shallow dish, such as a casserole pan.
- Dip the first round of bread slices in the custard mixture. Coat on both sides, letting the slices soak for about 1 minute per side. TIP: Do not let the bread slices soak too long or they will get mushy. I like to soak and pan fry the bread in stages.
- Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the first few slices of custard-soaked bread to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes per side, give or take, until puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a plate and place it in the oven to keep warm.Butter the skillet with the remaining butter and repeat with the remaining bread and custard. TIP: As the skillet continues to absorb heat, you may want to lower the burner to medium low if I seems too hot. You want the French toast to cook through without the exterior turning dark.
- Serve with butter, maple syrup, a dusting of powdered sugar, and maybe some fresh berries.