One of life’s simplest pleasures is waking up on a lazy weekend morning to the smells and sounds of cinnamon French toast sizzling on the griddle. And while milk and eggs may be traditional ingredients, I see no reason for vegans not to enjoy the dessert-for-breakfast joy that is French toast. Made with chai for an extra taste sensation, this vegan chai French toast may be even better than the classic…
How Can French Toast Be Vegan?
Excellent question! It all depends on your definition of French toast. If by “French toast,” you mean “delicious cinnamon-laced bread soaked in some sort of liquid and pan-fried or oven-baked,” then French toast can easily be made vegan! If you mean, “bread dipped in milk and eggs,” then I can see the problem.
I personally subscribe to the first definition, so let’s stick with that, and away we go!
If Not Milk and Eggs, What Do You Use?
There are a few possibilities, here. Let’s take them one at a time.
Milk: Any plant-based milk will do, but there are a couple of properties to look for in order to get that creamy, crispy French toast we all love. When choosing a milk substitute, be sure it contains some sort of fat, protein, and sugar—all of which are important to the cooking process.
I experimented with both oat and coconut milk, and both did the trick!
Eggs: In French toast, eggs serve as a binder for the liquid, giving the dish structure as it cooks so you don’t end up with soggy, fall-apart-y bread.
Arrowroot powder is a great substitute. Not only does it work as a binding and thickening agent, but it also provides amazing crisp on the outside of the toast, resulting in a heavenly texture contrast with the pillowy inside.
If you’ve never heard of it, arrowroot powder can be found fairly easily and inexpensively. It is a handy ingredient to have on hand for thickening soups, stews, and in this case, French toast batter! Arrowroot can be used as a 1:1 substitute any time a recipe calls for cornstarch, and bonus—it contains more fiber and calcium than its more widely known starchy counterpart.
Corn starch and tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) are possibilities if you already have them in your pantry or they are easier to come by. Use one teaspoon of cornstarch or one and a half teaspoon of tapioca flour for every one teaspoon of arrowroot called for.
Some people like egg for the flavor it adds to French toast. I personally am a hide-the-egg-flavor French toast chef, but for those of you who like that egginess, I have heard good things about adding a bit of nutritional yeast into your vegan French toast batter to imitate that more savory flavor profile.
French toast flavors are incredibly well-suited to pairing with the flavor of chai. Warm cinnamon and vanilla swirling their way through each bite meld beautifully with classic chai spices like cardamom, clove, and ginger. The tea provides layers of nuance, perfectly highlighting the French toast taste you love.
Adding chai to your French toast is the perfect way to add a gourmet touch to the next brunch you host or treat yourself to an extra special yet simple breakfast! (If you really want to treat yourself, whip us one of these delicious brunch cocktails or chai cocktails as well!)
I highly recommend a classic masala chai such as Full Moon Chai in this vegan chai French toast. Cinnamon bark, ginger, cardamom, and clove provide an excellent base to support the other flavors in the dish. A splash of creamy vanilla butternut extract lends a depth and warmth that pairs perfectly with the oat milk and additional vanilla in the recipe.
If you’d like to experiment with other kinds of chai, try Uplifting Coconut Chai with its grounding emphasis of cardamom, spicy hint of peppercorn, and an invigorating sprinkling of lemongrass. The addition of coconut pieces makes it an excellent chai for pairing with coconut milk!
Portland Rose City Chai will add a complex floral dimension for some of the fanciest French toast you’ve ever had! (You could even be extra fancy like Andy—our all-star tea maker and founder of Plum Deluxe—and add champagne to your French Toast batter!) A base of black tea and almond rooibos is accented by chai spices, brightened with lemongrass, and rounded out with a scattering of Oregon rose petals and a burst of blackberry essence.
Consider Stargazer Caramel Maté Chai for an extra dose of natural sweetness, Rainy Day Pu-erh for sweet and spicy comfort, or Golden Cacao herbal tea for a caffeine-free alternative this is both grounding and delicious!
Putting It All Together
Once you’ve chosen your ingredients, this vegan chai French toast is a breeze to throw together!
For the tea, you essentially make a chai latte, add a few ingredients, dip your bread, and fry it up! Done-zo.
Tip for choosing bread: any bread will work in this recipe, but here are a few helpful qualities to take your toast above and beyond! Choose bread that is:
- Slightly stale
- Without large holes
Bread that is drier tends to absorb liquid more effectively, resulting in a creamier texture. If you have an uneaten loaf of bread a day or two past its peak, (a very foreign concept to me, but it happens…) French toast can be a great way to give that sad, crunchy crust a second lease on life. (Assuming its life’s ambition is to be delicious.)
For those of us who rarely have leftover bread lying around, (because we eat it all the first day) toasting your bread for a few minutes—either in the oven or toaster—is highly recommended to get it nice and dry before you dunk it in your delectable vegan chai batter.
I had great luck with Pugliese loaf. But use what you’ve got and experiment from there to see what you like best!
In my opinion, this vegan chai French toast is so good, it really doesn’t need a topping, but to each their own.
The classic maple syrup is bound to delight. (Perhaps paired with a sturdy brew of Heritage Blend—a Scottish breakfast tea made with real Vermont maple syrup!)
For any non-vegans, a drizzle of honey goes phenomenally well with chai spices! I love a bit of honey in my chai lattes, and the combination does not disappoint when you take it out of the mug and onto the plate.
A healthy dollop of whipped cream (either dairy or coconut-based) is fluffy, indulgent heaven. If you’re making your own, why not infuse your cream before you whip it up? Absolutely divine!
For a more natural sweetener, any number of fruits would be an excellent choice. Check out this post for three inspired fruity French toast toppings!
Roasted strawberries add a compelling, luxurious richness that is simply to die for.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could even try your hand at making your own jam!
No matter how you top it, this vegan chai French toast is sure to delight friends and family members of all dietary persuasions. Crisp, almost caramelized on the outside, soft and decadent on the inside. Rich. Lush. Delicately spiced with an infusion of chai. Simply put, it is undeniably delicious.
Vegan Chai French Toast
- 1/2 cup oat milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 teaspoon Full Moon Chai (or preferred chai)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or 1/2 tsp honey, for non-vegans)
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 teaspoon arrow root powder* (equal to 1 tbsp, divided)
- 2-3 slices Pugliese bread (or bread of choice), preferably stale or toasted
- Coconut oil, for cooking
Heat milk over medium-high heat. Add chai spices and steep for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Tip: if toasting bread in the oven, preheat your oven when you put your milk on to heat, then toast your bread as your chai steeps. The timing should work out perfectly.
Once steeped, remove chai from heat. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and sweetener. Taste, adjust as desired. Add arrowroot powder, one teaspoon at a time, whisking after each addition to avoid lumps.
Warm pan over medium heat. Melt enough coconut oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan.
When oil is hot, dip your bread in the chai batter and fry 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and lightly crispy.
Serve with toppings of choice and your favorite Plum Deluxe blend, and enjoy!
Yield: Single serving—feel free to scale up as necessary.
For more awesome vegan breakfast recipes, check out these sweet potato spiced rum waffles, this apple cardamom crumb cake, and these blender oat pancakes. Serve them with your favorite cuppa, and prepare to be very popular with your vegan and non-vegan friends alike. Breakfast at your place! See you there.