Meatless Monday Challenge

Apple Cider French Toast with Sautéed Apples

on October 18, 2023
last updated April 15, 2024
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Indulge in the perfect blend of autumn flavors with crispy Apple Cider French Toast topped with tender sautéed cinnamon sugar apples. Apple cider is used to soak your stale bread in to infuse extra flavor into your French toast and to make the perfect sticky sauteed cinnamon apples!
Apple Cider French toast with cinnamon sugar apples on top.

Looking for the comforting flavors of Fall on your breakfast plate? This Apple Cider French Toast is soft and buttery on the inside, crispy on the outside, and absolutely full of warming Fall flavors.

Plus, this recipe teaches you how to make Sautéed Cinnamon Sugar Apples to serve on top. This festive and delicious French toast recipe is quick and easy to whip up.

In this recipe you will learn how to dip stale bread into apple cider to infuse flavor. You’ll also learn how to make an egg wash and how to perfectly fry French toast for the coveted crispy golden-brown exterior.

Two slices of apple cider French toast plated with sauteed cinnamon apples on top.

French toast is by and large one of my all-time favorite brunch recipes to make. In fact, creating unique French toast recipes was a hobby of mine long before I started sharing my recipes on the internet.

Along with bread pudding, French toast is one of the easiest ways to revamp stale bread, making it one of the most delicious ways to reduce your food waste.

Green tip: Did you know that of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes? It’s always best to avoid food waste as much as you can!

Apple Cider French Toast Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s everything you need for the Apple Cider French Toast:

  • Stale bread. This recipe is specifically designed for stale bread. We first soak it in apple cider for flavor and to help add moisture back into it, then we dip it in egg wash. If you use fresh bread, this process will make the bread too soggy and the French toast will likely fall apart and turn into a mushy mess. If you do want to make this recipe with fresh bread, you will have to dry out the bread in the oven first. More on that later. My favorite types of bread to use in this recipe are classic white bread, Italian sandwich bread, brioche, or challah.
  • Apple cider. The apple cider is used to infuse the stale bread with tons of flavor, but also revitalize it! Note that apple cider and apple juice are not the same. Cider contains more spices. This recipe will work with apple juice, but cider brings much more flavor.
  • Cinnamon. Ground cinnamon is a key ingredient to any French toast, and this one is no different. Adding cinnamon to your egg wash brings Fall flavors to the forefront in this French toast recipe. That being said, apple cider itself already contains cinnamon, so if you don’t have any on hand, you can still make this recipe without it (though it will certainly not be as fragrant).
  • Brown sugar. Either light or brown sugar works well in this recipe. I tested it with both and there is honestly a very negligible difference. I ended up using dark brown sugar for the French toast pictured because it offers up a slightly more golden color. If you have both on hand, go with dark brown sugar, but you will certainly have success with either light or dark in this recipe.
  • Eggs.
  • Milk. Adding milk to the egg wash actually loosens its structure, so you that your bread doesn’t turn out rubbery. Any milk works in this recipe, from skim to whole, or even heavy cream, any dairy milk will do. If you’re using nondairy milk, I recommend using unsweetened and unflavored plant-based milk (though I have made this with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it turned out great!).
  • Butter for frying. The key to perfectly fried French toast is a generous amount of butter. I like to use unsalted butter. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter, as that’s how much I used on average when developing this recipe. You will just continue to add butter as needed while frying your French toast. You may not need all three tablespoons.
All ingredients you need for Apple Cider French Toast including stale bread, cinnamon, apple cider, milk, eggs, brown sugar, and butter.

Here’s what you’ll need if you opt to make the Sautéed Apple Topping:

  • Apple. Any apple variety will work! I’ve tested these with everything from Granny Smith, which are super tart, to Fuji, which are super sweet. My favorite apples for this recipe are Granny Smith and Pink Lady. Since they are more tart, they play really well with the cinnamon and sugar. The apples pictured here are Gala apples. They were on sale so I grabbed them, and they turned out super delicious!
  • Butter. You can use either salted or unsalted butter to sauté your apples. I used salted butter because the added salt brings out the other flavors but use what you have on hand.
  • Apple cider. I decided to use apple cider here because it’s already on hand from making the French toast, but really we just need some liquid to dissolve the cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch in. Alternatively, you could use apple juice or even water in place of the cider.
  • Cinnamon.
  • Brown sugar. Again, you can use light or dark brown sugar with equal success. Given the choice, I would use dark brown sugar again for the color. The flavor difference between the two in this particular recipe is negligible.
  • Cornstarch. The cornstarch here is used to thicken the cinnamon sugar mixture around the apples and help it adhere to each buttery cooked apple slice. Cornstarch starts to thicken sauce once it reached 295°F, so when it’s heated with the apples it makes a thick and sticky topping for the sautéed apples.
All ingredients needed for sautéed apples including butter, cinnamon, apple, apple cider, brown sugar, and cornstarch.

How to Make French Toast with Apple Cider

Soak the Stale Bread in Apple Cider

The best tool for whipping up this unique French toast is a large baking dish. It makes it much easier to soak your bread in both the apple cider and in the egg wash. I use a 9X13 rectangular dish to make this sweet breakfast recipe.

Start by adding the bread to the baking dish. Depending on the size of your bread and your dish, you may need to soak your bread in two rounds. Lay the bread down flat and pour the cider over top.

Flip the bread so that both sides are covered in cider, and then immediately remove and set aside. You do not want the bread to sit and soak. You want it to absorb just enough cider so that the apple flavor is there, but not so much that it gets too soggy.

Again, I’m going to remind you that this recipe is designed for stale bread. Using fresh bread will result in a super-soggy French toast.

Quick tip: If you don’t have any stale bread and you want to make this recipe, you will have to dry out the bread first.

Do so by pre-heating your oven to 300°F and placing the bread directly onto the oven racks for 15 minutes.

Then, remove the bread, and follow the directions just as if you are using stale bread.

Pouring apple cider over stale bread in a baking dish.
Start by pouring the apple cider over your stale bread, then removing the bread and set it aside.

Utilize the Excess Apple Cider

After removing the bread from the cider and setting it aside, you should have a little bit of apple cider left in your baking dish. If for some reason there is none left over, add a splash (1-2 tablespoons) of cider to the dish.

Then, add the cinnamon and brown sugar and use a whisk or fork to stir.

Mixing the cinnamon and sugar into the cider will make it much easier to combine with the egg wash.

Adding cinnamon to cider and whisking before adding eggs to make a French toast egg wash.
Add the cinnamon and sugar to the baking dish with the remaining apple cider and whisk to combine.

Make Your Egg Wash

Once your cinnamon and sugar is combined into the cider, add the eggs and milk to the baking dish. It’s time for your friendly reminder that its always best practice in the kitchen is cracking your egg into a separate dish rather than directly into your recipe.

This just allows you to fish out any eggshells that may fall in and also means if you have a rotten or bloody egg, it won’t waste any ingredients that are already in the dish.

Green tip: Did you know you can compost eggshells? Read more about it in this article about best practices for composting eggshells.

However, I’m the first to admit that I like to live life on the edge 😉 and typically crack them directly into the dish. Just make sure you keep an eye out for any eggshells.

Add the milk in there, too, and use your fork or whisk again to combine. Make sure the mixture is smooth and the egg yolks and whites are well-mixed.

Adding milk to make egg wash for apple cider French toast.
Add the eggs and milk to the apple cider, cinnamon, and sugar mixture and whisk again until smooth.

Get the Butter Hot in the Pan

Before you dunk your cider-soaked bread into the egg wash, get your butter hot in the pan first. You want the process to be seamless, moving from a quick dip in the egg wash directly onto the pan.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a frying pan over medium-high heat and allow the butter to completely melt and get hot. The goal is to hear the bread sizzle as soon as you place it in the hot butter.

Tilt the pan so it is equally coated in hot butter. It should take about 3-5 minutes to heat.

Green tip: Look for organic and palm oil-free butter if you can. Buying organic means you are supporting farms that do not use damaging pesticides and fertilizers, and palm oil production is a huge driver behind deforestation.

Coat the Bread in Egg Wash

Once your butter is hot, you’re ready to coat your apple cider-soaked bread in egg wash. The key to this is to move quickly. We want a quick dip on either side, not a sit and soak.

Grab your bread with two clean hands, and dip it into the egg wash, coating it on both sides. Then, immediately transfer to your pan.

If you’re comfortable frying two at a time, you absolutely can. Just don’t dip your bread into the egg wash until it’s ready to go into the pan.

Cider-soaked bread getting coated in egg wash.
Once you butter is hot in the pan, dunk the cider-soaked bread into the egg wash and coat on both sides.

How to Get Crispy French Toast

Since your butter is already hot in your pan, you should hear that incredible sizzle sound when you place your coated bread in it.

Give it about 5 minutes over medium-high heat before peeking underneath by lifting and tilting the bread with your spatula. If you see that the bottom is golden brown, it’s time to flip it!

Avoid overcrowding your pan to allow enough room for easy flipping and to ensure there’s plenty of bubbly butter to fry each piece in. I usually cook only one or two slices at a time to give me ample room to slide my spatula underneath my bread so you can flip it.

Once you do flip your French toast, let it cook on the second side until golden brown. Again, this should take about 5 minutes over medium-high heat.

You always want there to be a constant, thin layer of melted sizzling butter on the bottom of your pan, so continue to add butter as needed. You may or may not need all 3 tablespoons.

Frying French toast in sizzling butter on the first side.
Fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown and the flip.
Golden brown French toast frying on the second side.
Cook until golden-brown on both sides.

How to Make Sautéed Cinnamon Sugar Apples

Start by Prepping Your Apple

You can truly use any type of apple in this recipe from tart like Granny Smith to super sweet like Fuji. I’ve made this recipe with a variety of apples. My favorite is green apples because I love the contrast of the tart and sweet.

However, Gala apples were on sale, so that’s what I used in the sautéed apples recipe pictured.

Once your apple is cleaned, use a sharp knife to slice it into quarters right around the core. Then, discard the core and you can lay all four pieces of the apple flat on your cutting board.

This makes it easy to thinly slice your apple. Try to keep the apple slices roughly the same thickness so they cook evenly, but they do not have to be perfect by any means.

Apple sliced into quarters around the core.
Start by cutting your apple around the core and laying the pieces flat on your chopping board.
Cored and thinly sliced apple on a cutting board.
Then, you can easily slice the apple thin, making each piece roughly the same thickness.

Sauté Your Apple in Butter to Soften

Once your apple is sliced, add it to a saucepan with the butter over medium heat.

Toss to coat the apples in butter and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occassionally until the apples soften.

Apples cooking in a pan with sizzling butter.
Sauté the sliced apples over medium heat in the butter until the apples are tender.

Whip Up Your Cinnamon Sugar Mixture

Meanwhile, mix up your cinnamon-sugar sauce. Add the apple cider to the bowl with the cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch.

Use a fork or whisk to mix until there are no visible clumps of dry ingredients, and everything is well-combined.

I used apple cider here not only because it’s delicious, but because it’s readily available on hand from using it to soak the French toast. That being said, this sautéed apple recipe also works with apple juice or even water.

Adding apple cider to a bowl to mix up a cinnamon sugar sauce for sauteed apples.
Meanwhile, whisk together the apple cider, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cornstarch.

Sauté Until Your Cinnamon Sugar Sauce Thickens

Once your apples are nice and soft from cooking in the butter, add your cider, cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch mixture directly to the pan with the apples.

Continue to heat over medium and stir to coat. Watch the apples cook and you will see the sauce thicken. Cornstarch starts to thicken sauce once it reaches 295°F (just like in this vanilla sauce for bread pudding recipe!), so continue to heat until it activates.

Stir occasionally and cook until you are happy with the consistency. Then, remove from heat—they’re ready to serve!

Sliced apple cooking in cinnamon sugar sauce.
Add the cider mixture to the pan with the apples and butter and continue to heat until the sauce thickens.

Pan-Fried Apple Cider French Toast with Sautéed Apples Tips and Tricks

Why We Should Always Use Up Stale Bread

It is estimated that 40% of food gets tossed in the United States annually. Of that food that is waster, 50% of the food waste happens in our homes. So, reducing our individual contribution to food waste can really make a difference!

So, we know that food waste is a widespread problem, but why should we really care about food waste?

Of course, there is the obvious economical advantage of actually consuming everything we purchase and the ethical issue that wasting food poses when there are hungry people who desperately need it.

Still, there are still two more reasons from an environmental standpoint that I want to point out to you today: the production process puts a strain on the environment and the waste itself is problematic.

The food industry accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, uses up 25% of our annual global freshwater consumption, and is responsible for the destruction of ecosystems by way of air, water, soil, and noise pollution.

 For all the disruption in the production of food, we should really make the most it!

As for the waste itself, when food is diverted to landfills, it no longer has access to the oxygen it needs to organically break down.

For more details on this subject, check out my article on food waste.

Green tip: It is estimated that a whopping 40% of food gets tossed annually in the United States. Being cognizant of your contribution to waste can make an impact!

Serving Your Autumn French Toast

This Cider French Toast recipe provides you with a secondary recipe for sautéed apples for the perfect topping! It can also be simply served with maple syrup.
And if you’re still seeking more options, here are some of my other favorite French Toast toppings and sides:

Close up of Fall French toast topped with sauteed apples.

How to Properly Store and Reheat French Toast with Apples

French toast will stay fresh for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator after preparing it. You can also freeze prepared French Toast for up to a month!

From the fridge, reheat leftover French toast on a frying pan for about 5 minutes on each side, or until thoroughly re-heated. If it’s frozen, you will likely need about double the amount of time to reheat it on the frying pan.

You can also reheat French toast in the oven at 375°F for 10 minutes from the refrigerator or 15 minutes from the freezer for a more hands off method.

The microwave will also work in a pinch but does tend to change the texture of your bread and can even make it a little soggy or rubbery.

If you have extra egg wash, you can certainly save that, too. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and make more French toast over the next 3 days.

As for the sautéed apples, they will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days or the freezer for up to 6 months. You can reheat them directly in a saucepan or in the microwave, stirring frequently until heated through.

Green tip: Properly storing, reheating, and enjoying your leftovers is another great way to limit your contribution to food waste.

Fall French Toast Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make French Toast not soggy?

The key to French toast that is not soggy is using stale or day-old bread. If you want to make this recipe and your bread is too soft, you can dry it out in the oven before starting the process.

Heat the bread directly on the oven racks at 300°F for 15 minutes until the bread feels as stale bread does!

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Why You Should Make this Apple Cider French Toast with Sautéed Apples

  • It’s festive. Savor the flavors of Fall with this apple cider-infused breakfast!
  • It helps to reduce waste. Breathe new life into your stale bread with this recipe!
  • The texture! The caramelization on the outside gives you a deliciously crispy golden-brown exterior.

If you’re loving this Apple Cider French Toast with Sautéed Apples and want more delicious apple recipes, check out this Apple and Cheddar Quiche and Brie and Apple Grilled Cheese.

Apple Cider French toast with cinnamon sugar apples on top.

Apple Cider French Toast with Sautéed Apples

5 from 2 votes
Marley Goldin
Print Save Rate
Indulge in the perfect blend of autumn flavors with crispy Apple Cider French Toast topped with tender sautéed cinnamon sugar apples.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 slices



Apple Cider French Toast

  • 4 slices stale bread (*see notes, Brioche, Challah, or White bread preferred)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark, I used dark)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (for frying) (you may not need all 3 tablespoons)

Optional Sautéed Cinnamon Sugar Apple Topping

  • 1 large apple of choice (any variety works)
  • 2 tablespoon butter (unsalted or salted, I used salted)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark, I used dark)
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Apple Cider French Toast

  • Add your bread to a large baking dish and pour the apple cider over top. Depending on the size of your baking dish and your bread, you may have to do this in two rounds. Remove the bread quickly and set aside.
    Stale bread soaking in apple cider for moisture and flavor.
  • Add the cinnamon and brown sugar to the baking dish with the leftover apple cider. Use a fork or whisk to combine.
    Apple cider mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar in a baking dish.
  • Add the eggs and milk to the dish with the cinnamon-sugar cider and beat until well-combined.
    Egg wash with apple cider and cinnamon in a baking dish to make French toast.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of butter to a large frying pan over medium heat and allow butter to melt, tilting the pan to coat the bottom with butter.
  • Once your pan is hot and butter is melted, dip cider-soaked bread into the egg wash, one slice at a time, coating both sides and transferring immediately to the hot pan.
    Coating bread in apple cider egg wash.
  • Allow your French Toast to fry for 2-5 minutes before flipping and cooking on the other side. Both sides should be golden brown.
    Frying Fall French toast in butter.
  • Repeat for all 4 slices of bread, adding more butter to the pan as needed. Serve hot with maple syrup or Sautéed Cinnamon Sugar Apples.
    Frying French toast with apple cider in a frying pan.

Optional Sautéed Cinnamon Sugar Apple Topping

  • Slice the apple in quarters around the core. Discard the core, lay quartered apple flat on cutting board and slice into thin pieces, roughly equal, in thickness.
    Apple sliced thin on a cutting board.
  • To a large saucepan, add the butter and sliced apple over medium heat. Stir to coat and sauté for 5-7 minutes until apple softens.
    Cooking sliced apples in butter on the stovetop.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together apple cider, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cornstarch until well-combined.
    Apple cider mixed with cinnamon, brown sugar, and cornstarch to sauté apples in.
  • Once the apple are tender, pour the cinnamon-sugar mixture over top and stir to coat. Continue to heat until sauce thickens (cornstarch will start to thicken sauce once it reaches 295°F).
    Cooking apples in cinnamon, sugar, and butter in a frying pan.
  • Serve over Apple Cider French Toast and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • *If you don’t have any stale bread and you want to make this recipe, you will have to dry out the bread first. Place the bread directly on the racks of your oven pre-heated to 300°F and heat for 15 minutes. DO NOT try to use super-soft bread for this recipe, it will be way too soggy. 

Share This Recipe

Course Breakfast
Cuisine European
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Apple, Apple Cider, Apple Cider French Toast, French Toast, French Toast Recipes
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