Panettone French toast is made with thick slices of panettone, the beloved Italian sweet bread, popular around Christmastime. This yeasted bread, studded with candied citrus and raisins, provides the best base for a flavorful morning French toast.
I love making this panettone French toast, not only around the holidays, but any time of the year. French toast is so simple to make, and since panettone already has so much flavor on its own, there isn't much prep work needed to make a delicious breakfast.
If you love this panettone French toast, you will also love my panettone bread pudding, which is similar to prep but gets baked in the oven. Either way, I'm sure you will find a love for this popular Italian cake.
What is Panettone?
Panettone is a sweet Italian bread that is traditionally served during the Christmas and New Year's celebrations. It originated in Milan, Italy, and has become a popular festive treat in many countries around the world.
Italian Panettone bread is tall, and dome-shaped, with a light and airy texture. It is typically made with a rich dough that includes ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and candied fruits. Sometimes, it also contains raisins or other dried fruits. The dough is allowed to rise several times, giving the bread its characteristic lightness.
Here is what you will need to make this panettone French toast.
- Panettone- I like to use the classic variety with candied fruit. However, flavored panettone such as chocolate, pistachio, or almond would also work well here. You will need one pound. If you can only find 2 pounds, then use half or make a double batch. Some panettones are slightly more than 1 pound (17.6 ounces), but that's ok, you can still use the whole thing. If you can only find a 2 lb cake, use half and save the other half to make this bread pudding.
- Eggs- Mixed with the half and half, this will form the eggy custard for the panettone to soak in.
- Half and half-You can use milk or half cream and half milk.
- Orange zest- Brings out the citrus flavor in the panettone.
- Vanilla extract- Adds a little sweetness and flavor.
- Butter- For the pan.
- Powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving
See the recipe card for quantities.
You will need a non-stick grill or frying pan and a shallow dish to soak the bread. Grab a whisk and spatula, and you are well on your way to a delicious breakfast!
Use this visual guide to help you master French toast with Italian panettone. See the full instructions located on the recipe card.
Cut the panettone into 5-6 slices vertically, about ¾-1 inch thick. Then cut each slice in half. This will make it easier to soak.
In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, half and half, vanilla and orange zest.
Dip the bread in the egg mixture for a few seconds. Flip and repeat on the other side.
Allow some of the excess egg liquid to drip off. This will prevent your French toast from getting soggy.
Add butter to a non-stick skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam.
When the butter is ready, add the soaked bread and cook, undisturbed for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
Flip and repeat cooking on the other side until browned.
Serve immediately with warmed maple syrup and powdered sugar, if using.
If you want to keep your French toast warm while you finish the batch, heat the oven to 200℉, and place the cooked slices on a baking sheet until ready to eat.
Top tip for French toast success
Be sure to dip one slice of panettone at a time. Allow to soak briefly, just a few seconds on each side, allowing excess to drip off. Soaking too long will result in a soggy French toast.
- Maple syrup: This is a classic topping for French toast. Sweet and simple!
- Fresh fruit: Sliced oranges will bring out the orange flavor in the panettone.
- Whipped cream: A dollop of whipped cream can make your French toast feel more indulgent.
- Powdered sugar: One of my personal favorites.
- Nuts: Chopped nuts like almonds, pecans, or walnuts add some great texture.
- Chocolate: Drizzle some chocolate sauce over the top.
- Butter: Plain salted butter.
- Compote or jam: Sweet and fruity jam, like this blueberry or strawberry one, is a match made in heaven. Try melting it slightly and pouring it like syrup.
Storage and make ahead
French toast is best eaten right away, but you can store cooked French toast in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat, gently warm in the microwave or pan-fry on the stove until warmed through.
To freeze, simply place cooled slices on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, you can remove them to a freezer-safe bag for easier storage.
A couple of things may contribute to soggy French toast. First, ensure that the panettone is cut thick (¾ to 1 inch thick). If the bread is too thin, it will absorb all custard too soon, causing your French toast to be soggy. Second, make sure you only coat each slice of bread in the egg mixture at a time, allowing the excess to drip off. You want both sides of the bread to be wet, but not saturated.
Panettone has a golden color, and a rich, buttery taste. Similar to brioche, it's a studded sweet dough with hints of citrus, particularly orange. Depending on the type of panettone you buy, the taste will vary depending on the ingredients.
Look for panettone from Italy to ensure you are getting a quality product. When opening your panettone, the aroma will be strong- this is good! You will be able to smell the ingredients, especially citrus and vanilla. A good panettone will have a delicate texture, and be light and airy. Stale or cheaper panettone will be denser and more cake-like. Try experimenting with different brands to determine which you prefer.
Other Italian favorites
If you love this Italian-inspired French toast, then give these recipes a try!
🍳Did you make this recipe? I would love to hear about it! Please leave a recipe rating with comment right below the recipe card. If you snapped a photo of your creation, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @brunchandbatter.
Panettone French Toast
- non stick pan or griddle
- shallow pan
- 1 1lb (16 oz, or up to 17.6 oz) Italian panettone classic/traditional flavor
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup half and half or milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- butter for pan
- powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving
- Cut the panettone into vertical slices about ¾-1 inch thick- you will get about 5-6 slices. Then cut the slices in half (I like to make triangles).1 1lb (16 oz, or up to 17.6 oz) Italian panettone
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla, and orange zest until well combined.4 large eggs, ½ cup half and half or milk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon orange zest
- Dip the panettone slices in the egg mixture for a few seconds on each side, allowing excess liquid to drip off. Do not over soak.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of butter to the pan. When the butter begins to foam, add the panettone slices and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Continue with the remaining slices, buttering the pan each time. Serve immediately with maple syrup and powdered sugar.butter for pan, powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving
*Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. Nutrition information can vary depending on many factors, such as products used, measurements and substitutions, therefore it is recommended that you obtain nutritional calculations based on your own finished recipe.