You’re craving a heartwarming batch of French toast, but you’re out of vanilla. So, can you make French toast without it?
Yes, it’s perfectly possible for you to make French toast without vanilla! You may even use other ingredients that work as substitutes so that your toast doesn’t end up tasting plain.
So, what are these substitutes, and how to use them when replacing vanilla in a French toast recipe?
Keep reading to find out!
Not necessarily. Vanilla extract is an excellent ingredient to use for French toast, but that doesn’t mean that you either have to use it or not make French toast at all if you don’t have it.
The reason why vanilla extract is often included in recipes for French toast is its ability to enhance sweetness. Plus, it helps get rid of the overpowering taste of eggs, giving you a delicious, balanced flavor.
Vanilla is also renowned for the aroma it gives to baked goods, as well as creams and custards.
Vanilla isn’t cheap, though, and for a good reason. The whole process of growing and harvesting vanilla extract takes up a lot of time and resources.
So, we understand that vanilla extract may not always be available at home for French toast. But don’t fret, because the lack of vanilla isn’t the end of the world!
If your French toast doesn’t have any vanilla or a similar substitute, the taste could be described as custardy on the inside. It isn’t as sweet, but it still tastes good.
There are some good substitutes that you can swap with vanilla when making French toast. These are either very similar to vanilla, or they’ll impart a taste that’s quite different in a desirable way.
So, here are some replacements that you can use:
Maple syrup is commonly used as a replacement for vanilla because it has a very similar taste profile. When using maple syrup as a substitute, you can exchange it in a 1:1 ratio.
It’s a bit sweeter than vanilla, though, so you might want to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe or omit it entirely. You can also slightly lower the amount of maple syrup.
Like maple syrup, honey has a similar flavor to vanilla extract. The difference is that it’s stickier than either maple syrup or vanilla extract, so you might taste that in the finished French toast.
You can exchange honey with vanilla extract in a 1:1 ratio. It’s also somewhat sweeter, so you could dial down the amount of honey you add to reduce the amount of sugar you get.
Or, you could refrain from adding any other kind of sugar to the recipe, instead.
Cinnamon is another viable substitute for vanilla extract in French toast. If you like a spicier flavor instead of pure sweetness, this is a good choice.
Cinnamon is already often used in recipes that use vanilla. To compensate, you’ll just have to increase the amount by one-half of the cinnamon that the recipe calls for.
However, if you want to keep some sweetness on the French toast, you could add a pinch of sugar along with the cinnamon.
Almond extract is a great replacement for vanilla. However, if you use almond extract, the ratio in which you add it would have to be half the amount of vanilla that the recipe needs.
This is because almond extract has a complex, sweet taste comparable to cherries. So, it has a much stronger flavor than vanilla, and it would be overpowering if you used the same amount.
Nutmeg and cloves are a pair of substitutes that are good for going together should you use them to replace vanilla. Cloves counteract the sweetness of nutmeg, giving your French toast a more balanced taste.
Nutmeg is more subtle than cinnamon in its taste, but it’s still a bold spice. So, you’ll have to take about one-half more than the amount of cinnamon that you’d use otherwise.
When using nutmeg and cloves, use equal amounts of each. This is to ensure that one of them doesn’t overpower the other.
Ginger extract is also a suitable substitute for vanilla, giving your French toast a twist by adding in some spice!
Ginger goes well with allspice, but that’s completely optional.
When you use ginger extract on your French toast, take only half of the amount of vanilla that the recipe calls for. Ginger has a pretty strong flavor and aroma, so you don’t need a lot of it.
Now, we have the ingredients that could act as substitutes for vanilla. We can go on to learn other ways we can improve French bread without vanilla.
If you don’t have any vanilla extract, nor do you have any substitutes, don’t fret. There are still other ways to spice up your French toast.
One of the greatest boons of French toast is that you can put just about any kind of topping on it. You may use one or more of the following:
- Banana slices
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate syrup
- Peanut butter
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Feel free to explore what toppings are your style!
Preferably, you should use thick slices of bread, as they’re better at soaking the French toast mixture. Thin slices have the tendency to break apart when absorbing the mix.
Technically speaking, any kind of bread can be used on French toast. After all, the whole reason why it was invented is to use stale bread that would otherwise be thrown away.
Depending on what you prefer, you could use multigrain, brown, or white bread for your French toast.
Two of the most preferred types of bread are challah and brioche. The flavors and textures of these complement the sweetness of French toast very well.
Another excellent choice is potato bread, as its flavor makes for a tasty treat when used as French toast.
Although vanilla is one of the best flavor enhancers for French toast, there are still ways to make do without it. You can either replace vanilla with something else or personalize the French toast in other ways.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.