Hong Kong-Style French Toast

published May 6, 2024
Hong Kong-Style French Toast Recipe

Stuffed with peanut butter, deep-fried, then drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, this is the best you’ll ever have.

Serves4

Prep10 minutes

Cook5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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condensed milk being poured over French toast
Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Pearl Jones; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

Hong Kong-style French toast isn’t quite like the classic we know and love. A staple menu item in cha chaan tengs  (tea restaurants), it’s stuffed with peanut butter, drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, and finished with a pat of butter for extra richness. You can enjoy it any time of day from breakfast to lunch, or treat yourself to an amazing late-night dessert.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Stuffed = better. You really can’t go wrong with a fried peanut butter sandwich. 
  • Speaking of frying, it’s well worth the effort. The extra crisp exterior contrasts the custardy center in the most delicious way possible. 
  • Sweetened condensed milk adds an irresistible creamy sweetness. 

Key Ingredients in Hong Kong-Style French Toast

  • Bread. Traditionally milk bread is used for its chewy texture and strong structure so the bread doesn’t collapse too much when it’s dipped into the egg mixture. 
  • Sweetened condensed milk. A signature milk product that is used in all cha chaan tengs as a sweetener in Hong Kong Milk Tea or in between two pieces of toast. The sweetened condensed milk adds the necessary sweetness for this recipe since there’s no sugar in the custard.
  • Peanut butter. Cha chaan tengs will use the sweetened kind that doesn’t separate, but natural peanut butter, which is a little more savory, will also taste amazing. 
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

How to Make Hong Kong-Style French Toast

Although it looks impressive, Hong Kong-style french toast is a surprisingly quick and easy recipe to put together. 

  1. Spread peanut butter in between two slices of milk bread. 
  2. Dip the toast into an egg-milk mixture.
  3. Add it straight to hot oil to fry until crispy. 
  4. Top with sweetened condensed milk and a pat of butter. 

Helpful Swaps

  • You can use creamy, crunchy, or natural peanut butter. If using the natural kind, just make sure to give it a good stir first.
  • Swap the peanut butter for Nutella (like the one pictured at the top!). It takes it to a new level of dessert-worthy decadence. 
  • We recommend using milk bread from an Asian bakery, but pain de mie or brioche will work too. We also tested with a supermarket country white bread, which will also work in a pinch. 

Hong Kong-Style French Toast Recipe

Stuffed with peanut butter, deep-fried, then drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, this is the best you’ll ever have.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable

  • 8

    (1/2-inch thick) slices country white sandwich, pan de mie, or milk bread

  • 4 tablespoons

    peanut butter, divided

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons

    whole milk

  • 1

    pinch kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons

    sweetened condensed milk, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 cups neutral oil in a large high-sided or cast-iron skillet (at least 10 inches) over medium-high heat until 350ºF. Meanwhile, assemble the sandwiches and prepare the egg mixture.

  2. Place 4 slices white sandwich or milk bread on a cutting board. Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on each slice, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top each with a second slice of bread to close the sandwiches. Cut the crusts off each sandwich. Place 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons whole milk, and 1 pinch kosher salt in a wide, shallow bowl (such as a pie dish), and whisk until combined.

  3. When the oil is hot, fry 2 at a time: Dip all the sides of each sandwich quickly in the egg mixture (do not let it soak) and place in the hot oil. Fry, flipping halfway through, until deep golden brown all over, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly, then place each sandwich on a plate. Repeat dipping and frying the remaining 2 sandwiches.

  4. Top each French toast with 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Bread: The milk bread that is traditionally used is the milk bread from Asian bakeries. Chinese bakeries often have the square loaf that is already cut for you; Korean bakeries (such as tous les jours) have milk bread that are domed, and both can be used.

If using white sandwich bread, a country white works better than Wonder bread, which is too soft.

Make ahead: Assemble the sandwiches and wrap tightly to prevent it from drying out up to 1 day ahead. Whisk the egg mixture together and refrigerate in an airtight container. Dip and fry when ready to eat.

French toast is best eaten fresh while it is crisp, but can be made ahead and kept warm in a 200ºF oven for up to 1 hour. French toast kept in the oven will not be as crisp.

Storage: Leftover French toast can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through (it will not be as crisp).