Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

Ever have a craving that just won’t go away? These last few days, I had a hankering for orange zested and vanilla scented thick, custardy slices of challah French toast. I gave myself a few days for the cravings to dissipate, but by the 4th day, it was time to find some challah.

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

Fortunately, it seems as though every large American grocery store carries challah or brioche these days. You don’t need fancy or expensive bread for this - after all, we are going to toast, soak, and fry this all up. Yum.

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

This recipe makes enough French toast for 6 people. If you’re looking to scale down, I suggest 2 eggs plus 1/2 cup of milk for every two slices of challah cut 1-inch-thick. If you do make the whole batch, leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

I like to fry the challah slices in butter because I think it adds more flavor, but feel free to substitute oil instead. If you do use only butter, be careful to not burn or brown the butter - it might lead to blackened and undercooked French toast instead of golden brown, crispy, and custardy toast.

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

Serves 6; Adapted from The Food Network


  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg        

  • Zest of one orange, freshly zested

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or neutral flavored oil), for cooking

  • Maple syrup, for serving

  • Fresh berries or compote, for serving, optional 


  • Baking sheet (for toasting the slices)

  • 9 by 13-inch baking dish (for soaking the slices)

  • Large skillet (non-stick or cast-iron for cooking the slices)


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Cut the challah into 1-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast the slices (flipping halfway) for 10-15 minutes until crispy on both sides. Remove from oven, and let cool.

  2. Make the custard: To the 9 by 13-inch baking dish, add the eggs, milk, maple syrup (or honey), vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest. Whisk until fully combined – there should be no streaks of egg.  

  3. Arrange the challah slices, in a single layer, into the custard (fit in as many slices as possible). Soak for 5 minutes (flipping once halfway).

  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Once the butter sizzles, add the challah slices. Cook until each side is golden-brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining slices (adding more butter as necessary). Serve warm with maple syrup and/or fruit compote.

Note: If making a large batch, you can keep the French toast warm by arranging the cooked slices on a baking sheet, and placing it in a warm oven (250°F). Leftover French toast will keep in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container.

Challah French Toast with Orange Zest & Vanilla

If you try any of my recipes, share on Instagram by using the hashtag #afsanaliza & tagging me at @afsana so I can see your creations ~