How to Make Perfect French Toast While Camping
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This is the one and only recipe you’ll need to make exceptional French toast on your next camping trip.
French toast is a great camping breakfast, but there’s a surprising number of ways for it go wrong. Too many times, we’ve made French toast that turned out too mushy, too eggy, or too rubbery. For Pete’s sake, it’s French toast! How hard can it be!?
So we took some time to break down the basics and figure out where we could perfect our technique. We discovered there were a couple of critical steps we had been just sort of winging this whole time. After a couple of tests, we’ve outlined what we’ve learned so you can make killer French toast right out of the gates.
The Best Bread for French Toast
The single best way to achieve exceptional French toast at a campsite (or anywhere for that matter) is to use whole loaf bread and slice it yourself. Pre-sliced sandwich bread is just too thin, cook through too quickly, and often results in rubbery French toast.
We recommend picking up a loaf of your favorite bread and cutting it into generous 3/4″-1” thick slices. You will be able to soak up more of the egg-milk mixture, giving you more time to crisp the outsides without overcooking the insides.
If you like your French toast to have a rich, custard-like center, then use a fresh loaf of bread. If you prefer firmer centers, then a day or two old loaves of bread will be best.
Most styles of bread will work, but we often go with sourdough. It is easy to find a whole loaf at most grocery stores and it adds a distinct tangy flavor that pairs nicely with the overall sweetness of the dish. Rustic French loaf, a baguette, or even a pumpernickel will all work as well (although the visual presentation will look different).
Eggs to Milk Ratio
Previously, we’ve played fast and loose with this ratio. It really depended on how many eggs we had on hand. Sometimes one, sometimes four. This gave us wildly inconsistent results.
But after a few kitchen tests, we’ve concluded that 3 eggs to 1 cup of milk is the ideal ratio. Anything less and the mixture is too thin. Anything more and you’re making a Croque Monsieur.
For fresh bread, we found that a 10-second dip on both sides soaked up just the right amount of egg mixture. You want it to be moist throughout, but not totally saturated.
For stale bread, soak the bread slices for up to 20-30 seconds.
Adding vanilla extract, cinnamon, and even a little nutmeg are all good ideas for French Toast, but one critical step we had been leaving out was to add sugar to the mixture.
Not only does the egg-milk-sugar mixture soak into the bread and sweeten it from within, but it produces a crispy caramelized layer on the outside.
In fact, if you sprinkle a little extra sugar on the outside of your bread after you dip it into the mixture, you can get a spectacular golden brown finish on your toast.
Using a well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick pan, you’ll want to cook your French toast over medium heat. Most camp stoves have relatively small burners and we found we were getting a hot spot right in the middle. This resulted in unevenly cooked bread, particularly if we were trying to cook two slices at once. The solution: more butter.
By cooking with more butter in the pan, the heat is more evenly distributed across the surface of the pan. We start with 4 tablespoons of butter and warm it up until just starting to froth. It might seem like a lot at first, but after toasting about eight slices of bread you may want to replenish.
French toast can be a quick and easy camping breakfast. Just follow these basic tips above and the master recipe below and you’ll be on your way to French Toast heaven.
More French toast recipes
- Pumpkin French Toast
- French Toast Sticks
- Stuffed French Toast
- Dutch Oven Baked French Toast
- Vegan Coconut and Banana French Toast
- plus, tons of other camping breakfast ideas!
Perfect French Toast
- ½ lb loaf bread
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, optional
- 4 tablespoons butter for pan
- Maple syrup & berries to top
- Cut the bread into 3/4" - 1” thick slices.
- Beat the eggs first in a bowl large enough to accommodate a slice of the bread. Then add milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and sugar together, until thoroughly mixed.
- Heat 4 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat.
- Dip a slice of bread in the egg and milk mixture and let it soak for about 10 seconds on each side. Let the excess drip off, sprinkle each side with additional sugar, and then fry it in the skillet until golden and crispy on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
- Repeat with the rest of the bread, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
- Serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, and a cup of hot coffee. Enjoy!
Oh my gosh, this looks delicious! I can almost taste it. Thanks for the recipe!
never seen anyone bring a cutting board and nice plates camping before. 😉
Those appear to be modern camping plates, not nice plates. Also, cutting boards are very common with camping these days.
This recipe seems very helpful. I’m going to have to give it a test run, and might use it for a large group event. Thanks for working out the details.
Three years late to the conversation but I wanted to share. I started experimenting with cooking nice meals while camping back in the early 1980s before it became known as glamping. I had different-sized cutting boards, metal plates like those in the pictures above, not to mention Victorinox knives and Dansk silverware, a Dutch oven, high-quality camping pots and pans, and a cast-iron skillet. Also accompanying us was a broad range of spices and herbs, and of course, the food! Cooking took place at base camp, and if we were going to head out on a trek, the basics were fixed up at base camp, packed in a small bag along with the spices, backpacking stoves and utensils necessary, and assembled wherever we stayed the night. Someone would be assigned to carry the kitchen/food supplies, and their necessities were divided among the rest of us to carry. So much fun!
We just cooked this recipe up (at home) and it’s awesome; thanks for the great breakfast!
If you make it as a casserole in a Dutch oven, everyone gets hot French toast at the same time. Cooking two pieces at a time with no way to keep cooked pieces hot is not a recipe for success, though campers will be happy with even cold French toast. But no reason to do that. Dutch oven is far less work. No standing and flipping, etc.
The whole purpose of camping is to be together. So why do so many recipes on this website create meals that are only hot for one or two people, and the cook has to cook and cook and cook one or two people’s breakfasts, and then the next and then the next. That’s not camping.
Adapt these recipes for Dutch oven cooking so everyone can eat TOGETHER and so the cook isn’t relegated to short-order cook duty.
Sorry for the rant. I like the recipes but many make no sense if the group is larger than 2.
Thanks for your suggestions. The majority of our readers camp with a friend or partner (per our reader survey), which is why most of our recipes are scaled for two. Also, there are only two of us. But it sounds like you’ve come up with a good solution for your group size.
Taking this recipe with me for a quick family getaway. Going to try it with hot dog buns since I’m packing those anyway. Thanks!
Let us know how it turns out. We’re no purists. We support innovative at the campground. French Toast Hot Dog Bun fusion. Who knows, it could be a thing.
These are delicious! My husband actually went back for more. 🙂
Tell us how to cook in Dutch oven as casserole, please. Soak the whole loaf, set load in on its edges??? Do you use a lid? Do tell us more?
We haven’t tried this one is a Dutch oven yet, but with the number of requests we’ve gotten about, we’re going to investigate.
We went camping earlier this year (my husband, 5 year old. 3 year old, my mother, and I) at racoon lake in Indiana. We made this for one of our breakfasts meals and they are sooooooooooooooo good. So good that I have saved this for future use in our house and this is the only french toast I make now. Its the literally the best french toast I have ever had. I’ll have to try one of the commenters suggestions and try it with a dutch oven but we had no problem with being together. The picnic tale was next to the fire pit and has they finish we served. We all got one each the first go around and my husband ate a second one. It has been a while since making this (a few months or so) I think we had an issue at first by not letting the bread soak long enough in the egg mixture but we figured it out at home. Also i prefer for eggs yolks than egg whites so we used three egg yolks and two whole eggs. Thank you for such a family favorite recipe
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Sounds like it was hit for the whole family. Using egg yolk is definitely a good idea. We don’t typically when camping because we don’t know what to do with the leftover whites. (Dutch oven Meringue Pie?) But at home, using just the yolks is a nice way to thicken up the mixture.
My children are picky eaters, and they looooooove this recipe. Instead of maple syrup I used a drizzle of honey.
Honey is a nice touch! I would have loved that as a kid (also as an adult!)
This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you for the tips and advice and I’m excited to try this with the family in the mountains this weekend! Your site is awesome!
The BEST french toast in my opinion is using eggnog in place of eggs and milk … it is to die for!
Interesting. We have never thought to try that but it makes perfect sense! We’ll have to pick up some nog the next time we see some. Thanks for the suggestion.
Mason and daughter in law first made them for me on Easter Sunday and I enjoyed them so much , my request for Mother’s Day was French toast again. Thank you and I never thought to add sugar and the nutmeg… that’s a great twist.
So glad you enjoyed this! Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day 🙂 -M
We used this recipe on our last camping trip and loved the results. We kept the bread loaf in the cab of our truck for a couple of days. The recipe was spot on, and delicious! We can’t wait to make it at home with a proper kitchen environment.