French Toast (Pain Perdu)

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My Pain Perdu recipe is a classic New Orleans French toast loaded with cinnamon and nutmeg flavor that will leave your tastebud’s second lining during breakfast or brunch.

French Toast (Pain Perdu)

My cooking journey started around 8 years old after I learned how to make a cheese omelette. After I mastered that, the second thing I ever made by myself was pain perdu (french toast). I vividly remember grabbing a chair to reach the cinnamon my dad kept in his closet. Don’t ask me why he kept it there, but it was a cool dark spot.

I didn’t use a recipe; I just knew how to make pain perdu. I needed day ol’bread, sugar, eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I beat those eggs like a French chef and impressed myself with how incredible it was.

I’m going to teach you the proper technique to make an incredibly appetizing french toast for breakfast every time you get the craving.

I had a friend who tried several recipes online and said none of them reminded her of the kind her grandmother used to make when she was a kid.

I sent her this recipe, and she said, “OMG, Kenneth! That was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!”

Let’s geaux!

Pain Perdu on a plate

Is pain perdu french toast?

Yes and no; let me explain. As we know it in the United States, French toast is made with thick slices of white or brioche bread, sugar, cinnamon, and milk. It’s then cooked in a hot skillet on both sides until golden brown.

The thing that separates pain perdu, a.k.a. lost bread, is that you use day ol’ bread (leftover stale bread from the day before); you only use French bread. Which is crispy, light, and airy and perfect for soaking up custards. The technique is the same as making French toast, but the original French toast is Pain perdu.

Key Ingredients

Before you start whipping up this sweet french toast recipe, look at this list of ingredients to make sure you have everything you need.

Bread

For a classic pain perdu, you will need French bread, but since it’s easier to find, I used brioche slices for this recipe.

Whole Milk

You want the full creaminess and flavor that whole milk provides.

Eggs

Four large eggs are needed to get the right creaminess for the egg custard.

Sugar

All you need is white granulated sugar.

Warm Spices

Most recipes only call for cinnamon, but I use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Unsalted Butter

Always use unsalted butter for cooking. Salted butter is for spreading on toast or biscuits.

Vanilla Extract

A little bit adds a great flavor to the French toast that’ll be noticeable if you don’t add it.

Pain Perdu on a plate

How to make Pain Perdu recipe?

The technique for making french toast is all in the bread; you must have dried bread, so it soaks up the custard but don’t worry, I’m going to give you some tips on how you can use fresh bread if you’re in a pinch of time.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, kosher salt, and vanilla extract until large bubble form. 

Soak the bread in the egg mixture for about 10 seconds. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, and cook toast for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side. Reduce your heat if the skillet is smoking aggressively. Serve warm with room-temperature unsalted butter, maple syrup, and fresh fruit or dust with powdered sugar.

Overhead shot of pain perdu

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks

Here are a few notes to remember while preparing a delicious batch of french toast.

  • Most sliced bread will not get stale like French bread does 1-2 days after being exposed to the air. Here are a few options for making stale bread at home.
  • 1) The night before, place your bread slices in a cold oven on the racks. You want both sides to dry out. That’s why we’re not putting them on a baking sheet.
  • 2) You can place them in a warm 200°F oven for 5 minutes until the bread is hard.
  • 3) Place in the toaster on low heat for 20-30 seconds, be careful that you don’t make toast.
  • French Baguette, Challah, Italian bread, Ciabatta, or your favorite bread will work for french toast. Cut thick slices about 3/4 inch thick.
  • Yes, gluten-free bread will work too.
  • Feel free to use any milk in your fridge instead of whole milk.
  • Have fun during the fall season, and use apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Make sure you beat enough air into the custard. Once you see large bubbles, you’re done.
  • You can bake the pain perdu in a 400°F oven in a buttered baking pan for about 20 minutes. Make sure the bread is in a single layer.
Close up of pain perdu
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wide shot of pain perdu and orange juice

How to store french toast?

French toast is best eaten immediately, but it will remain fresh in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge. 

Keep them in a freezer-safe container and freeze them for 2 months. 

Reheat the pain perdu in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or in a toaster oven for 2 minutes.

Pain Perdu with Syrup Pour

More Classic New Orleans Recipes

Here are some more of my hometown favorites and a little lagniappe (a little extra)!

Latest Recipe Video:

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Before You Begin

Here are my steps for getting organized before I start anything.

Step 1: Pull all the pain perdu ingredients and tools on the counter.

Step 2: Measure everything out into individual bowls.

Step 3: Follow the recipe and get ready for the best New Orleans-style French Toast you’ve ever had.

If you’re looking for a quick trip to New Orleans, this french toast recipe is perfect! It’s an easy breakfast to make and super delicious. I would love to hear your thoughts on this recipe, so please leave a comment and a star rating below.

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Pain Perdu with Syrup Pour

French Toast (Pain Perdu)

Kenneth Temple
My Pain Perdu recipe is a classic New Orleans French toast loaded with cinnamon and nutmeg that’s sure to be a hit for breakfast.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine Cajun, Creole, New Orleans
Servings 4 persons
Calories 766 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 slices brioche lightly toasted
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • maple syrup

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, kosher salt, and vanilla. Soak the bread in the mixture for about 10 seconds.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter, and cook french toast for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side.
  • Serve warm with butter, syrup, and fresh fruit or dust with powdered sugar.

Notes

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks
Here are a few notes to remember while preparing a delicious batch of french toast.
  • Most sliced bread will not get stale like French bread does 1-2 days after being exposed to the air. Here are a few options for making stale bread at home.
  • 1) The night before, place your bread slices in a cold oven on the racks. You want both sides to dry out. That’s why we’re not putting them on a baking sheet.
  • 2) You can place them in a warm 200°F oven for 5 minutes until the bread is hard.
  • 3) Place in the toaster on low heat for 20-30 seconds, be careful that you don’t make toast.
  • French Baguette, Challah, Italian bread, Ciabbata, or your favorite bread will work for french toast. Cut thick slices about 3/4 inch thick.
  • Yes, gluten-free bread will work too.
  • Feel free to use any milk in your fridge instead of whole milk.
  • Have fun during the fall season, and use apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Make sure you beat enough air into the custard. Once you see large bubbles, you’re done.
  • You can bake the pain perdu in a 400°F oven in a buttered baking pan for about 20 minutes. Make sure the bread is in a single layer.
Storage:
French toast is best eaten immediately, but it will remain fresh in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge. 
Keep them in a freezer-safe container and freeze them for 3 months. 
Reheat the pain perdu in the microwave for 15-20 seconds or in a toaster oven for 2 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 766kcalCarbohydrates: 87gProtein: 17gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 340mgSodium: 493mgPotassium: 209mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 55gVitamin A: 1513IUVitamin C: 0.04mgCalcium: 189mgIron: 2mg
Keyword french toast recipe, pain perdu recipe, original french toast, pain perdu
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