This Hong Kong-style French toast recipe is a rich and delectable treat that you’ll find in the streets and cafes of Hong Kong! It’s traditionally filled with peanut butter then deep-fried and topped with condensed milk. Nowadays, you’ll be able to find a variety of fillings that include Ovaltine, Nutella, and jam but in my opinion, nothing beats the classic version with peanut butter.
This recipe is my take on the traditional method of preparing Hong Kong French toast. The first time I tried this was in Hong Kong when I visited my relatives. The french toast was fried to golden brown perfection with a generous layer of peanut butter between three slices of bread. It was finally topped off with a knob of butter and a drizzle of condensed milk. And let me tell you… I fell in love with the combination of sweet and savory elements, and I wanted to replicate that same experience in this recipe.
Since I really enjoy the combination of sweet and savory elements in my desserts, I added flakey salt on top of one peanut-buttered layer and drizzled a ton of condensed milk in another layer. While this recipe calls for 3 slices of bread to make one French toast, you can certainly use 2 if you prefer!
Why you’ll love this recipe
If French toast is one of your favorite meals to have, I bet you’ll fall in love with this Hong Kong-style treat. There are many reasons why Hong Kong French Toast will be your new favorite breakfast or brunch item to make at home.
To start, the combination of the creamy and nutty peanut butter coupled with the classic flavors of French toast truly makes this an irresistible meal. The French toast is deep-fried until beautifully golden brown to create contrasting textures of the crispy exterior and the soft, pillowy interior.
Best of all? This recipe is incredibly easy to make! Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or an experienced cook, you’ll be able to whip up this recipe in under 20 minutes!
While this French toast recipe is typically enjoyed for breakfast or brunch, you can even serve this as a decadent dessert option.
How do I prepare Hong Kong French Toast?
Hong Kong French toast is one of my go-to meals because it comes together so easily! To make this recipe, just follow these simple steps below:
Step 1: Prepare the bread
To start, evenly spread the peanut butter on 2 slices of bread. Then, drizzle condensed milk on top of one slice of bread. Add a pinch of flakey salt on top of the other slice of bread.
Step 2: Assemble the bread
Stack the 2 peanut buttered slices of bread on top of each other, then stack it with the last slice of bread on top.
With a serrated knife, cut off the crust and set the toast stack aside.
Step 3: Pre-heat the oil
In a deep pan, add about 1 inch of neutral oil and heat it up to 275 °F (135 °C).
Step 4: Prepare the egg mixture
While the oil is heating up, combine the egg, milk, and salt on a shallow plate. Then, whisk until they’re fully mixed together.
Step 5: Coat the toast
Dip each side of the toast into the egg mixture until all sides are coated and have absorbed all of the egg mixture.
Step 6: Deep fry the toast
Place the toast into the hot oil and dip each side for about 10-15 seconds to seal the toast. Once all sides have been sealed, lay the toast flat on the pan and fry on each side for 1-2 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
To get an even golden brown color, spoon the oil over the toast to fry the top. Once it reaches the desired color, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Step 7: Garnish and serve!
Once the toast has slightly cooled down, place a knob of butter on top and drizzle as much condensed milk as your heart desires. Serve and enjoy!
Cooking Tips for Hong Kong French Toast
To get the crispiest, most delicious Hong Kong French Toast every time, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- For best results, use thick slices of soft white bread, such as milk bread. You can usually find milk bread at your local Asian bakery.
- Feel free to add as much or as little peanut butter to your toast! I personally like my toast extra peanut buttery 🙂
- Soak the bread in the egg custard for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your bread. The bread should be well-soaked to ensure a flavorful center.
- Keep an eye on the temperature of the frying oil. It’s important to maintain the temperature at 275F (135C). If the temperature is too high, it’ll burn the French toast before it is fully cooked. If the temperature is too low, the French toast will soak up the oil, making it greasy.
- While peanut butter and condensed milk are classic fillings, feel free to get creative with the toppings. Some other fillings and toppings include Ovaltine, Nutella, fresh fruits, or even ice cream!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Bread: thick slices of soft white bread are ideal for this recipe, including milk bread or challah bread.
Peanut butter: feel free to use any brand of your favorite peanut butter. Creamy or crunchy both work too!
Egg: eggs are a classic ingredient when making French toast and while it is not the main ingredient, I also recommend using the best quality eggs you can find. It makes all the difference!
Milk: for the most flavorful and decadent result, I recommend using whole milk, half-and-half, heavy cream, or a combination of any three for this recipe. You can also use plant-based milk like cashew milk, almond milk, or oat milk.
Salt: the salt helps to balance out the sweetness in the French toast, giving you a delectable sweet and salty flavor combination.
Condensed milk: the condensed milk adds creaminess and sweetness to the French toast. Feel free to add as much or as little as your heart desires 🙂 I strictly use the Longeivty Brand Condensed Milk and best of all, it comes in a squeeze bottle now!
Neutral oil: any neutral oil will be suitable for frying the French toast, including vegetable, canola, or avocado oil.
Butter: butter is optional for garnish but it’s highly recommended! For a dairy-free substitute, you can use coconut butter, nut butter, or vegan butter.
Flakey salt: flakey salt has a coarser texture allowing you to taste each flake, but you can also use regular salt.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where did French toast come from in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong French Toast, also known as ‘sai do si’ is an iconic dish that emerged in Hong Kong’s vibrant food scene in the 1950s. Due to the influx and influences of Western culture, the people of Hong Kong adopted the beloved breakfast classic and introduced it into local teahouses called ‘cha chaan teng’. From there, the rest is history. Hong Kong French Toast has become a staple in the daily lives of locals, even to this day.
How long should you soak French toast in egg mixture?
The duration for soaking the toast in the egg mixture will depend on the type of bread and thickness. Soaking them for 1 to 2 minutes should be sufficient. If you’re using thinner bread, soak it for a shorter period, and extend the time if you’re using thicker bread. The goal is to let the toast absorb as much of the egg mixture so it will have a delectable custardy texture once you bite into it.
Why is my French toast soggy?
If your French toast turns out brown but not crispy, you might have deep-fried it over low heat or for too long. When this happens, the bread soaks up the oil, making it soggy and greasy. To prevent this, it’s important to keep the temperature of the oil at 275 °F (135 °C). I recommend using a thermometer for the most accurate reading.
Can you cook Hong Kong French Toast in an air fryer?
For a less greasy and mess-free version, you can definitely cook Hong Kong French toast in the air fryer. Start by preheating your air fryer to 400°F (204°C). Make sure to spray the air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray before placing the French toast and spray the top of the French toast as well. Let it air fry for a total of 6 minutes, making sure to flip it halfway through so it cooks evenly on both sides. Once the toast is golden brown and fragrant, remove it from the heat and serve!
Can you store and reheat Hong Kong French Toast?
Yes, you can store Hong Kong French toast in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure to keep them in an airtight container so they stay fresher for longer. Avoid drizzling condensed milk or putting butter on top to prevent the bread from getting soggy if you’re planning to store it. To reheat, just toast the bread in a heated pan or throw it in the oven at 350F until it’s heated through. Once reheated, top with condensed milk, peanut butter, or your favorite toppings and serve!
Looking for more easy and delicious bread recipes?
If you’re looking for more delicious dishes to enjoy with bread, here are my top recommended recipes for you!
1. Brown Sugar Butter Toast – if you’re in a pinch and only have 5 minutes to spare, this delicious brown sugar butter toast recipe will come to your rescue. Only 4 ingredients are needed to make this indulgent and tasty breakfast.
2. Miso Banana Bread – for a unique twist on your regular banana bread, try adding miso paste! Its salty and umami flavors blend well with the sweet notes of bananas, making it the ultimate snack!
3. Healthy Tuna Sandwich – for a filling sandwich that’s packed with nutrients, give my tuna sandwich a try! It’s packed with avocado and a medley of veggies, making it a refreshing on-the-go meal.
4. Gilgeori Toast – for an indulgent sandwich, you’ll want to try this classic Korean street food. It’s also packed with a ton of veggies and complemented with sweet and savory elements. It’s perfect for a quick meal since it only takes 20 minutes to make!
5. Mushroom Steak Burger – if you have a craving for a vegetarian burger, this recipe is for you. The secret is a perfectly grilled Portobello mushroom that’s coated with a layer of spicy mushroom glaze and served with gochujang mayo.
Hong Kong French Toast
- 3 slices of bread preferably white, milk, or challah
- 2-3 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1-2 tbsp condensed milk plus more for garnish
- neutral oil for frying
- knob of butter for garnish
- flakey salt optional
- Evenly spread the peanut butter on two slices of bread. Drizzle some condensed milk on top of one slice of bread. Add a pinch of flakey salt on top of the other.
- Stack the two peanut buttered slices of bread on top of each other. Then top with the last slice of bread.
- Using a serrated knife, cut off the crust then set the toast aside.
- In a deep pan, add about 1 inch of neutral oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 275F/135C.
- While the oil is heating up, combine the egg, milk and salt into a shallow plate. Whisk until fully combined.
- Dip each side of the toast into the egg mixture until all sides are coated and have absorbed all the egg mixture.
- Place the toast into the hot oil and dip each side for about 10-15 seconds to seal the toast. Once all sides have been sealed, lay the toast flat and fry on each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.
- To get the toast evenly golden brown, spoon the oil over the toast while it's frying until it reaches your desired color.- Remove and allow it to slightly cool on a wire rack.
- Serve with a knob of butter and a drizzle of condensed milk.
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