Taste: Air fryer French toast full of flavor without the fat

Katherine Grandstrand
Sliced into long quarters, rather than fried as whole pieces of bread, makes French toast sticks so much more fun to eat. Cooked in the air fryer means crispy sticks to dip into syrup.

Why are finger foods so much more fun than foods eaten with utensils?

Is it because there are fewer dishes to do after, or does finger food just take us back to childhood?

French toast is an easy crowd pleaser, but French toast sticks make breakfast so much more fun.

Often relegated to the fast food morning drive-thru or something quick from the freezer, this air fryer version puts the control back in the hands of the cook.

French toast is one of those dishes that was created to use up leftovers, in this case, day-old bread.

French toast, much like German chocolate cake, gets its name from the man that introduced it to the American masses rather than its country of origin.

According to Food & Wine Magazine, a precursor to modern French toast was found in second-century Rome. Variations of the dish could be found all over Europe before a man named Joseph French made it at a restaurant in Albany, N.Y., in 1724.

His forte was cooking, not grammar, and he left off the apostrophe and S that would make the dish possessive.

Many European cultures, including the French, have dishes of stale bread soaked in custard with varying degrees of sweetness, ranging from the dessert bread pudding to the savory/sweet Monte Cristo sandwich.

I love that this dish that first started as a way for peasants to use leftovers is something we seek out at overpriced brunches and buy special bread to make at home.

While many of us may think of French toast as a fancy breakfast, I do think it’s fitting to make it kid- (or kid-at-heart-) friendly by cutting it into strips and dipping it in syrup.

Stale bread is ideal as it soaks up more of the custard. Leaving bread out on the counter for a few hours should do the trick with new bread.

Using the air fryer, rather than pan-frying, means the French toast sticks get crispy on all sides. While the instructions say to dip them in cinnamon sugar, those hoping to cut back can skip this step. I just added a little bit of sugar and cinnamon to the custard, and the house smelled absolutely amazing while they cooked.

Using the air fryer also means there’s far less fat used, so they turn just as crunchy as the drive-thru version without the deep fryer.

As with any good finger food, French toast sticks have a ready-made dipping sauce in maple syrup, but strawberry puree or chocolate hazelnut spread would also go well on the crispy, custard bread.

Katherine Grandstrand, Taste columnist

Air fryer French toast sticks


  • 4 slices thick sliced bread like Texas toast, stale.
  • 1/3 cup milk.
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 1/3 cup sugar.
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  • Maple syrup, for dipping.


  • Slice each bread slice into four sticks. Set aside.
  • In a shallow bowl, add milk, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. In a separate shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 350 if your air fryer requires pre-heating.
  • Dip each bread quarter quickly into egg mixture. Coat bread in egg mixture quickly and shake off any excess egg mixture. Place in the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 350 for about 8 minutes or until just crispy, flipping half way through cooking.
  • Immediately toss French toast sticks in cinnamon sugar and toss to coat. You must do this quickly or the cinnamon sugar mixture will not stick.
  • Serve fresh with maple syrup.

Recipe by Dixie Crystals Sugar: https://www.dixiecrystals.com/recipes/air-fryer-french-toast-sticks.