Orange Zest French Toast

This orange zest French toast was inspired by the citrus aromas of my Portuguese sweet bread. Everyone should have a go-to French toast batter for those lazy breakfast days.

Is French toast French?

If you believe wikipedia, the first reference to French toast appeared in the 1st century. Not surprisingly, French toast exists across the world with a variety of other names (e.g. pain perdu, eggy bread).

three slices of bread soaking up the orange zest French toast mixture.

But the “French” in French toast doesn’t refer to the country of France. According to legend, the term French toast arose from a chef named Joseph French who was better at cooking than punctuation. The things you learn.

Tips and tricks for this recipe

The key ingredients to this French toast are, of course, the bread and the orange zest and juice.

What’s the best bread for French toast?

You’ll get the tastiest French toast with an enriched bread. Enriched breads have egg and butter or oil. This Portuguese sweet bread French toast was delicious, but you can also use brioche or this orange raisin challah.

ProTip: Slice your bread slightly thicker, about one half inch, to soak up more of the French toast batter.

Substitutions and variations

If you don’t have oranges, you could zest another citrus fruit, like lemon or grapefruit. Or, if you have orange juice, use about one quarter cup in the mixture to make orange juice French toast.

If you don’t have half-and-half, you can sub anything from milk to heavy cream for the half-and-half. The richness of the mixture will vary accordingly. You can also use almond or another non-dairy milk in this recipe.

Make French toast waffles! Just pop the batter-soaked bread into your waffle iron instead.

waffled french toast on a plate with syrup.

FAQs about this orange zest French toast recipe

I just made a loaf of bread. Can I still make French toast?

Slightly stale bread soaks up the mixture best, but you can make French toast with freshly baked bread. Just toast the slices very slightly to dry it out.

I am having guests for brunch. Can I increase this recipe?

Yes, you can scale up as desired. You will want to keep the French toast slices warm in a 200 degree oven so they are still warm when you serve.

Can French toast be frozen?

Yes. You can keep French toast in the refrigerator for a day or two. Or, if you want to freeze it, lay it on a baking sheet in a single layer in the freezer. Once it has frozen (about 8 to 12 hours), you can put it into a freezer bag. Reheat in an oven or toaster oven.

a plate with two slices of orange zest French toast.

Related recipes

Browse the uglyducklingbakery breakfast archives for other tasty treats like these nutella waffles or oatmeal blackberry muffins.

Love orange? Check out these orange and poppy seed muffins, my orange raisin challah, this chocolate orange cake with chocolate orange ganache, or dehydrated orange slices.

Orange Zest French Toast

5 from 1 vote
Category: Breakfast
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 5 slices
Calories: 247kcal
This orange zest French toast makes a fragrant, citrus French toast batter for your sit-down breakfast mornings.
Print Recipe


  • 5 slices day old bread (e.g. Portuguese sweet bread, challah, or brioche)
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 small orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • butter or neutral vegetable oil (e.g. canola) for frying


  • Slice the bread into slices at least one-half inch thick.
    5 slices day old bread (e.g. Portuguese sweet bread, challah, or brioche)
  • Combine the ingredients for the mixture (eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, and salt) in a large measuring cup (e.g. 4 cup) or small bowl.
    4 eggs, ½ cup half and half, 1 small orange, zested and juiced, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 pinch salt
  • Heat a griddle or cast iron pan over medium low.
  • Use a shallow baking dish just large enough to accomodate the number of bread slices you want to fry at one time (i.e. if your griddle can accomodate three slices in a single layer, use a baking dish that fits three slices soaking at once). Put the bread in the dish and pour half of the mixture over it to soak.
  • Add butter or oil to your griddle/pain. When that is bubbling, carefully remove a slice of bread, letting the excess French toast mixture drain back into the baking dish, and place it on your griddle. Repeat with all of the slices and then add additional slices to your mixture.
    butter or neutral vegetable oil (e.g. canola) for frying
  • Fry the French toast until the first side has browned (about 3 to 5 minutes). Then flip it over with a large spatula and brown the second side (2 to 3 minutes). This time will vary depending on the thickness of your bread and how much mixture it has soaked up. It should be fluffy and not wet inside at all.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup, powdered sugar, and/or jam.


Variations and substitutions: instead of half-and-half, you can substitute cream, milk, or any non-dairy milk.


Calories: 247kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 199mg | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 1mg
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a plate of orange zest French toast cut up and covered in syrup

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