Irish Whiskey Is the Secret to Even Better French Toast

updated Feb 29, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

If you think that your bottle of Irish whiskey is only suitable for an after-dinner drink, you might be missing out. Whiskey’s warm, earthy flavor can add a dash of sophistication to any number of recipes. Every spring I pay honor to my Celtic roots by adding a splash of Irish whiskey to everything from coffee to cake. It’s also delicious in pan sauces, and you can adult-up dessert by putting a splash in the next time you make homemade whipped cream. But there’s one recipe in particular that is infinitely better when you add a few tablespoons of the liquor: French toast.

Credit: Josef Sowa

Why French Toast Is Better with Irish Whiskey

The first time I added booze to the custard of a French toast casserole — and didn’t just drizzle it atop an anglaise — was when I reviewed Chrissy Teigen’s over-the-top, Frosted Flakes-flecked spiced rum French toast. Yes, there’s a lot going on in her recipe, but what really stood out for me was the way the rum lent a dark caramel flavor without the boozy burn. I started experimenting, and found my own sweet spot giving breakfast an Irish twist with a few tablespoons of Jameson’s (a very worthy drink all on its own) into the custard of my favorite French toast.

The rich oak and sweet caramel flavors of your typical Irish whiskey add a depth to baked French toast that you won’t soon forget. These custard-soaked casseroles are like an a.m. variety of those bread puddings doused with sweet bourbon sauce found down in New Orleans. Since Bourbon and Irish whiskey are spirit world siblings, the substitute just makes sense.

How Much Whiskey to Add to Your French Toast

Interested in adding Irish whiskey to your breakfast bake? Here are a few guidelines for adding flavor without going over the limit. The first time you add Irish whiskey to a recipe start with a small amount, adjusting with each additional bake. Because booze bonds to both fat and water molecules and is intense in its flavor, increase the amount you pour incrementally.

Also note that residual amounts of alcohol remain even after baking or cooking with alcohol. How much remains depends on a number of factors including the amount you use, the baking time and temperature, and even the size of the baking dish.

A good rule of thumb is to use the amount of vanilla called for in the custard as a starting point. I like to include both vanilla and whiskey in equal proportion since their flavors compliment one another. And, if your French toast casserole is studded with nuts, another option is to soak them in Irish whiskey for 10 minutes.

Your turn: Do you cook with whiskey? What’s your favorite way to use it?