Giada De Laurentiis’ Brilliant Trick Has Forever Changed How I Make French Toast

published Apr 25, 2024
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

French toast is a breakfast staple — it’s right up there with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. There are a ton of different ways to make French toast: You can stuff it with fruit, add some seasonal spices, make it into a casserole, or even go savory. As someone who’s been developing recipes for years, I felt like I had tried every iteration of French toast. That is, until I came across a video shared by the one and only Giada De Laurentiis that calls for using olive oil instead of butter to fry the toast. 

I love olive oil and basically never use any other cooking oil in my home. Replacing the traditional butter with extra-virgin olive oil took my brain to a place of whole-new French toast possibilities. I just had to try it for myself. Here’s how it went.

How to Make Giada’s Olive Oil French Toast

  1. Preheat the oven and make the custard.  This French toast is finished in the oven, so preheat to 400°F to start. Cut your bread into nice, thick slices. Choose your bread wisely here. It should be sturdy enough to handle soaking with a tight crumb. I opted for challah, as that’s what’s used in the video. The video doesn’t reference a specific recipe, so I turned to our very own tried and true recipe for French toast. Feel free to use your favorite ratio of eggs to dairy, as the innovation here is about the fat you’re cooking it in, rather than the French toast itself. Though I will say, keeping the custard relatively simple helps the olive oil flavor shine through.
  2. Soak the bread and fry the toast. Next you need to give the bread a good soak in the custard. This is also a good time to preheat your pan. I used a cast-iron skillet, but a stainless steel one (like she uses in the video) would work just as well. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to the preheated pan. Cook the toast until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side.
  3. Finish in the oven. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until cooked through, which was about 5 minutes for me.
  4. Drizzle and serve. Transfer the toast to a serving plate. Top with fresh or macerated berries and drizzle with some more olive oil. Serve immediately. 
Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

My Honest Review of Giada’s Olive Oil French Toast

I’m a fan! While I was immediately intrigued by this little innovation, I must admit I was also skeptical. Butter is a pretty key ingredient in French toast. It brings richness and fat, and besides, what’s breakfast without butter? But olive oil is also pretty rich tasting, and though it doesn’t have the creamy flavor that dairy brings, a good quality olive oil brings its own robust, floral flavor to the party.

I am a noted savory breakfast person who will take an egg over a pancake (or French toast) any day. Which is why this take on French toast worked so well for me. I associate olive oil with savory flavors, so while this French toast wasn’t specifically a savory version ( I used a traditional sweetened custard and challah bread, which is lightly sweet), it did walk the line between sweet and savory in a great way. 

Using the olive oil as a replacement for maple syrup as the “finishing syrup” solidified the whole dish for me. You get the hit of sugar from the custard and the berries, but not the super sticky sweetness of maple syrup. Maple syrup and butter make great bedfellows, but my new breakfast flavor combo is berries and EVOO. Maybe I’ll try it on pancakes next …

Credit: Andrea Rivera Wawrzyn

Tips for Making Giada’s Olive Oil French Toast

  • Choose the right olive oil. This dish is relatively simple, so the flavor of the olive oil is front and center. Opt for an olive oil with a smooth, pleasant flavor all on its own. If you wouldn’t dip bread in it, don’t use it here. And yes, you can get good quality, flavorful olive oil from the grocery store.
  • Get creative with the toppings. I opted for fresh raspberries here, but try macerated berries for extra sweetness (if that’s your thing) or a flavored cream (as shown in the original video). You can also lean into savory and try a little grated Parm and fresh herbs.