Gluten free French toast made with thick slices of brioche soaked in a simple custard and fried in butter, coated in caramelized sugar, has the perfect texture inside and out.
I’m finding myself almost desperate for you to understand what the texture of this gluten free French toast is. There’s a crisp-tender, sugary crust on one side, and the fluffiest center.
A mixture of eggs and milk, along with some sugar, salt, and just the right amount of just the right flour blend is used as a soaking custard. And this method ensures that the bread soaks it all up, so the inside tastes like actual custard.
The ultimate comfort food. And you can even make it ahead!
What type of gluten free bread is best for French toast
To make French toast, the ideal bread is one that is tender but sturdy, sliced thickly, and doesn’t have any competing flavors. I don’t want nuts and seeds in my French toast bread, if I can avoid them.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t make French toast with pretty much any bread that was all I had. As easy as this recipe is, I probably wouldn’t go through the bother of soaking and frying it with a more delicate slice. It would just fall apart during soaking.
You need bread that you can soak. I used our recipe for gluten free brioche bread (actually, technically the photos and video were made using the recipe from my third cookbook, Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, but the one on the blog (linked in the recipe) is basically just as good.
Why I like brioche bread for French toast
Brioche is incredibly tender, but with a relatively tight crumb, so it holds the custard without disintegrating. It’s also highly enriched already, meaning that it’s made with plenty of butter, eggs, and milk, so it clearly wants to be made into French toast.
If you’re using a more moist slice with a more open crumb, let it sit out and go stale first. If you don’t have the patience for all that, though, toast it first in the toaster or the oven.
Can you use store bought bread?
Yes, of course you can. There are so many really good types of packaged gluten free bread brands out there these days. If you can, select thicker slices with a smaller crumb.
Just don’t try to use Udi’s. They ruined their bread, it sticks together is gummy. But okay if it’s all you have, use it just let it go stale.
The best custard and method for quick and easy French toast
I’ve made “overnight French toast” by soaking the bread, well, overnight in the refrigerator. It works really well, but it requires a lot of planning.
The method I use here works just as well, and requires no more planning than selecting and preparing your bread. The custard is thicker and richer, since it’s made with not only milk and eggs, but our simplest gluten free flour blend, which thickens without making the mixture at all gummy.
If you use another flour blend, one that contains xanthan gum and is heavier, your custard will be much thicker. That will coat the bread more than soaking into it.
We want the bread to absorb the custard. That way, you’re not frying an egg mixture that’s sitting on top of a slice of bread.
The soaking process is a little more active, since you’ll need to turn the bread over a couple of times. That’s how we encourage it to absorb the custard.
Then, melt butter in a hot skillet (cast iron is best, since it heats so evenly and holds heat so well), and fry on both sides. The key is to allow each side to cook completely before you turn the bread over.
While the first side is frying, sprinkle sugar on the top and let it absorb. Then, carefully turn over the bread and allow it cook on the other side. The sprinkled sugar will caramelize as the bread fries on the second side.
Make ahead tips
You can assemble the bread and custard, separately, before you are ready to cook. Store the bread at room temperature; it’s fine for it to go a little stale, even if it’s brioche), and the custard in the refrigerator if it’s for longer than 30 minutes.
To serve all the French toast at once or prepare it up to 20 minutes ahead of time, place the prepared slices, sugar-side up, on a clean, lined rimmed baking sheet. Keep warm in a 300°F oven until ready to serve.
If you’d like to make everything ahead of time fully, just let the fried pieces of bread cool completely. Wrap them tightly in freezer-safe wrap, and freeze. Defrost at room temperature and refresh in that 300°F oven or toaster oven.
Ingredients and substitutions
For information about ingredients and substitutions with respect to our recipe for brioche bread, please click through and see this same section of that recipe.
There is dairy in multiple parts of this recipe, even aside from the bread. If you are dairy-free, I think you can avoid all of them.
The cow’s milk in the custard can be replaced with your favorite nondairy milk. I recommend a plain, unsweetened almond milk. Most importantly, be sure to use something with fat.
The butter used for frying can be replaced with vegan butter, butter-flavored shortening, or even Earth Balance buttery sticks. They’re quite salty, though.
I’m afraid I wouldn’t know where to begin to replace the eggs in this recipe successfully. They’re essential to the custard that is used to coat the bread before frying it.
To make egg-free gluten free French bread, I think you should search around for a vegan recipe.