For many people, French toast can be their go-to option for breakfast or brunch.
Think about it. The battered toast has a brown, crispy outside covering a creamy inside that you can eat with various sweet and salty toppings! Plus, it has a rich, nutty flavor thanks to the butter.
All the above reasons can prompt you to crave French toast. So, you enter the kitchen, ready to make that delicious breakfast, only to find out you’re short on butter.
Fortunately, that’s an easy problem to fix. Continue reading this article to learn how to make French toast without butter. Let’s go!
While adding butter can take your French toast to a new level, you can still make a delicious battered toast without it.
Typically, people fry French toast in butter to get that crispy, golden brown layer. Plus, browning butter adds a nutty flavor to the toast.
Aside from sizzling, you can top cooked French toast with butter for added richness.
Now, what makes butter produce that nuttiness and browning in French toast? That has to do with the amino acids and sugars found in it.
As you might know, butter is a mainly fat dairy product. However, it contains small amounts of proteins and milk sugars.
When you brown butter, carbonyl compounds in sugars react with the amino acids—a process known as the Maillard reaction. As a result, it forms new compounds that produce a delicious taste and distinctive color.
So, to make French toast without butter, you need to find substitutes to not only fry the toast in but also add value to the taste.
Oil, shortening, margarine, and ghee are all fat substitutes you can use to make butterless French toast. For a non-fat option, you can cook the battered bread in a non-stick pan.
Let’s discuss each option in further detail!
Sure, oil alone won’t add that buttery richness that some people savor. Plus, you can’t drizzle oil on toast.
However, cooking oils can provide even better crispiness.
That’s because oil doesn’t contain water or milk residues like butter. When heated, these milk solids burn fast and ruin the taste of your French toast even before it cooks well.
Conversely, most cooking oils have a high smoking point. A perk that allows you to fry food without worrying about burnt fat.
To narrow down the endless options, opt for healthy oils that can add a nutty flavor to the fried toast—if that’s your preference.
Oils are either saturated or unsaturated fats. The long debate over which fat type is healthier never ceases.
Generally, liquid oils contain a high amount of unsaturated fats. These fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, lower bad cholesterol, and help you absorb some essential vitamins—all of which can boost your heart health!
Examples of unsaturated oils to use when making French toast include:
- Refined avocado oil (for a higher smoking point)
- Nut oils, like refined sesame oil, macadamia, and peanut oil for a nutty tang and aroma.
- Canola oil (if you want a flavorless option).
Conversely, saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and you’ll mostly find them in animal products. Only a few plant-based oils, like coconut and palm, are mainly saturated.
For decades, saturated fats have been considered unhealthy; however, moderation is key.
The saturated fat you get from a greasy burger isn’t the same as grass-fed butter or coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil is full of nutrients and can provide your body with many health benefits.
Plus, refined coconut oil has a high smoking point, making it a great choice to crisp French toast.
Unlike butter, shortening is 100% fat. That’s what makes it non-spreadable at room temperature and gives it a high smoking point.
People usually use shortening to get a flaky texture in baking. Plus, it makes a good fat option for deep frying, thanks to its ability to withstand high temperatures.
What’s more, shortening is made of vegetable oil. As a result, it lacks flavor. That can be a perk, as it offers the flexibility to cover your French toast with sweet and savory toppings.
That said, there are some health concerns with shortening.
Since it’s the result of the hydrogenation process, shortening can contain trans fat. On that note, you should avoid trans fats at all costs, as they can be troublesome to your heart health.
3 – Use Margarine
Margarine is widely known as a butter alternative. Not only can you use margarine to brown French toast, but you can also spread it on top.
Generally, margarine can contain animal fat, vegetable oil, or a mixture of both.
Again, plant-based margarine is a product of hydrogenation.
As a result, you can expect to find harmful fats in this butter alternative. That’s especially true the more solid the margarine is.
When picking margarine, opt for an animal-based one or a product with animal fat in the mix.
If you can’t find animal fat margarine, try to pick those with a soft or liquid texture—since they contain less trans fat.
Ghee is your second-best option for making French toast instead of butter. Why? Well, because ghee is butter, just a more refined version.
As mentioned earlier, butter contains solids that burn quickly. To overcome that problem, butter simmers at low heat until the residues separate from the butterfat.
The resulting product is ghee, which has a better smoking point than butter. Unlike butter, ghee can be a bit granular, so you can’t spread it on French toast.
However, clarified butter is fat-rich. As a result, it can give a buttery flavor, even when you don’t cover your toast with ghee.
You can use a non-stick pan to avoid the hassle of finding a butter substitute altogether.
Plus, it’s an excellent option if you’re not a fan of the greasy aftertaste you can get from cooking with fat. Not to mention, a non-stick pan is probably the most available alternative since these cookwares are a staple in every kitchen.
Even if you like some fat in your toast, you can still use a non-stick pan for cooking French toast. Just add heavy cream to the batter to give the bread a rich, dairy flavor like butter.
So, how to make French toast without butter?
All you need to do is find another fat substitute, like oil, shortening, margarine, or ghee.
Out of the mentioned options, ghee will give you the closest results to butter. Oil, on the other hand, can make French toast crispier.
Margarine and shortening are similar in the way they’re produced. Both usually result from hydrogenated vegetable oil, which brings about many health concerns.
In addition, the former fat products lack flavor. So they won’t add nuttiness to your French toast.
You can also directly cook French toast in a non-stick pan if you don’t want to use fat. Ultimately, the butter alternative you choose comes down to your preference.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.