What can you substitute for milk when making French toast?

When it comes to making French toast, milk is a classic ingredient used to help create the custard-like batter that gives French toast its signature taste and texture. However, if you don’t have milk on hand or want to avoid dairy, there are plenty of easy milk substitutes you can use to make delicious dairy-free and vegan French toast.

Quick Answer

The most common substitutes for milk when making French toast are:

  • Unsweetened non-dairy milk like almond, soy, oat, coconut, cashew or rice milk
  • Full-fat canned coconut milk
  • Nut or seed milk like almond milk or cashew milk
  • Plant-based yogurt
  • Silken tofu
  • Applesauce or mashed ripe banana

Non-Dairy Milk Substitutes for French Toast

One of the easiest substitutions for cow’s milk is to use a non-dairy milk like soy, almond, oat, coconut, rice or cashew milk. Make sure to choose an unsweetened variety to avoid adding extra sugar to your French toast batter.

Almond milk, soy milk, oat milk and coconut milk work especially well in French toast recipes. Their creamy consistency gives a similar texture to cow’s milk. Just be mindful that non-dairy milks tend to be thinner than dairy milk, so you may need to thicken the batter slightly by adding an extra beaten egg.

Rice milk and cashew milk are thinner in consistency, so are not quite as ideal in French toast batter on their own. You can mix them with a small amount of coconut milk or use cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken the batter if using either rice milk or cashew milk.

Tips for Using Non-Dairy Milk in French Toast

  • Shake or stir the milk well before using to incorporate any separation.
  • Use milk that is well within the expiration date for optimal thickness and flavor.
  • Choose unsweetened varieties to avoid adding extra sugar.
  • You may need to add a little extra egg to thicken batter made with non-dairy milk.
  • Pre-heat milk slightly to help blend smoothly into batter.

Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk

Thick, creamy full-fat coconut milk makes an excellent substitute for regular milk in French toast batter. The high fat content of canned coconut milk gives French toast a lush, tender and moist texture. Make sure to stir or shake the can well before using to fully incorporate the thick coconut cream into the liquid.

Tips for Using Full-Fat Coconut Milk

  • Look for cans with at least 13-15% fat for richest consistency.
  • Refrigerate leftover coconut milk for up to 5 days.
  • Stir well before using as cream separates and collects at the top of the can.
  • Rinse the can well before recycling to avoid odors from remaining coconut milk.
  • Reduce any other fat like butter or oil in the recipe to account for the high fat coconut milk.

Nut and Seed Milk

Nut and seed milks like almond, cashew, walnut or hemp milk can stand in for regular milk when making French toast. They have a mild flavor and supply a creamy texture similar to cow’s milk. Just like coconut milk, make sure to shake or stir well before using to distribute the solids. Opt for unsweetened varieties and aim for milk with at least 7-9 grams of fat per serving for best results.

Tips for Using Nut and Seed Milk

  • Avoid nut milks with added gums or stabilizers as they can change the batter texture.
  • Homemade nut milk works well for extra fresh flavor.
  • Cashew, almond or walnut milk offer a nice subtle nutty taste.
  • You may need to add extra egg for structure since nut milks are thinner than dairy milk.

Plant-Based Yogurt

Plain, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt is an easy substitute for milk in French toast batter. It gives a creamy texture and tangy flavor. Soy yogurt, coconut yogurt or almond milk yogurt all work well in place of regular milk. Make sure the yogurt is unflavored and contains no added sugars. Non-dairy yogurt thickens up the batter nicely without needing to add extra egg.

Tips for Using Non-Dairy Yogurt

  • Stir well before using as yogurt can separate when sitting.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened varieties.
  • Soy or coconut yogurt work best for adding richness.
  • You may need to thin batter slightly with non-dairy milk if using thick Greek-style yogurt.

Silken Tofu

Blended silken tofu is an excellent vegan substitute for milk in French toast batter. Silken tofu becomes smooth and creamy when pureed, making it a great non-dairy, protein-rich option. For best results, use soft or medium silken tofu. Firm or extra firm tofu does not blend as smoothly.

Tips for Using Silken Tofu

  • Blend or process silken tofu before adding to batter.
  • 1/4 cup blended tofu equals approximately 1/3 cup milk.
  • Add a little non-dairy milk if batter seems too thick.
  • Use soft or medium silken tofu for smoothest results.

Applesauce or Mashed Banana

In a pinch, unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe banana can be used to replace the milk in French toast batter. Applesauce works best as it has a neutral flavor. Make sure to use unsweetened applesauce, not the sweetened kind. Bananas also work well, but will impart a mild banana flavor.

Both applesauce and mashed banana add moisture and bind the batter in place of milk. You may need to add a touch more egg for structure since fruit purees thin out the batter more than milk does.

Tips for Using Applesauce or Banana

  • Use 2 tablespoons applesauce or mashed banana per 1/4 cup milk.
  • Additional egg helps compensate for thinner batter.
  • Make sure applesauce is unsweetened.
  • Bananas should be very ripe for easy mashing.

Other Creative Milk Substitutes for French Toast

In addition to the most common milk replacements, some other creative ingredients can also be used in place of milk for French toast batter including:

  • Nutritional yeast: Whisked with water, nutritional yeast gives savory, cheesy flavor.
  • Juice: Orange juice, apple juice or pineapple juice lend sweet fruit flavor.
  • Tea or coffee: For flavored French toast, substitute cooled leftover tea or coffee.
  • Plant-based protein shakes: Blended pea, soy or other vegan protein shakes work well.
  • Bean liquid: The liquid from canned beans can be substituted for milk.

When using any of these substitutes, you may need to experiment with the ratio of milk to eggs in the French toast batter to get the right consistency. Always opt for unsweetened versions of juices, teas, etc. to keep the batter from getting overly sweet.

How to Make French Toast Without Milk

Making milk-free French toast is easy. Simply substitute any of the non-dairy milks, yogurts, fruit purees or other creative options in place of regular milk in your favorite French toast recipe.

Here is a basic recipe for fluffy dairy-free French toast:


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 slices bread
  • Non-stick cooking spray or butter for cooking


  1. Whisk together eggs, non-dairy milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a shallow dish until well combined.
  2. Dip bread slices into the milk mixture, soaking both sides well.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a little cooking spray or butter to coat pan.
  4. Cook soaked bread slices for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  5. Serve French toast warm with desired toppings like maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar, nut butter or vegan butter.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing your own dairy-free French toast. Play around with different types of bread, non-dairy milks and sweet or savory topping combinations.

Tips for Making the Best Milk-Free French Toast

Follow these tips for rich, custardy French toast every time, even when omitting the milk:

  • Use very ripe, flavorful bread. Brioche, challah or soft sandwich bread works well.
  • Allow soaked bread to sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking so the batter absorbs into the bread.
  • Whisk the non-dairy milk into the egg mixture to fully incorporate.
  • Cook over medium-low heat for gentle browning without burning.
  • Add a couple tablespoons of flour or cornstarch to thicken thinner batter as needed.
  • Serve French toast immediately for warm, melt-in-your mouth texture.

Common Questions about Making French Toast Without Milk

Does French toast really need milk?

No, French toast does not actually require milk. The milk is added to enrich the egg batter and help create a lush custard-like texture. But French toast can easily be made without milk by substituting any of the milk alternatives like non-dairy milk, yogurt, fruit purees or others.

Is milk necessary for French toast?

Milk is not necessary at all for making French toast. While it adds richness, milk can be omitted by using a replacement like non-dairy milk, coconut milk, mashed banana, or even just water. As long as you have eggs and bread, you can make French toast without any milk.

Why do you put milk in French toast?

Milk is traditionally added to French toast batter to help create a thick, custard-like consistency and add a touch of richness. Milk proteins also aid in tenderizing the bread. But plenty of other substitutes like non-dairy milk, yogurt, and fruit purees can be used instead of regular milk to moisten and flavor the batter.

Can I make French toast with water instead of milk?

Yes, you can make French toast with water in place of milk. The texture may be a little thinner without the creamy richness of milk. For best results, use equal parts egg and water. Some recipes even call for soaking the bread in a mixture of just egg and water overnight before cooking for extra moist French toast.

Is milk or cream better for French toast?

Whole milk and heavy cream are both good options for making rich, decadent French toast. Milk is more traditional and gives great results. Heavy cream provides an ultra-velvety texture and richer flavor, but is less common. Half and half is a good middle ground with more richness than milk but lighter than heavy cream.

The Best Milk Substitutes for French Toast

When it comes to choosing a replacement for milk in French toast, the possibilities are wide open. Here are some of the best options:

  • Unsweetened almond milk: Mild flavor, creamy texture, easiest substitute
  • Full-fat coconut milk: Lush, tender and moist French toast
  • Soy yogurt: Tangy flavor, thickens batter nicely
  • Silken tofu: Excellent vegan option, protein boost
  • Mashed banana: Moist, sweet results, handy kitchen staple


Milk may be the traditional French toast ingredient, but as you can see, it’s easy to make dairy-free, vegan and milk-free versions that are just as delicious. With so many nutritious and tasty alternatives to choose from, everyone can enjoy this breakfast favorite.

The keys are finding a substitute with a similar creamy consistency to milk and adjusting the ratio of milk to eggs in your batter recipe as needed. Non-dairy milks, coconut milk, silken tofu, and fruit purees like mashed ripe bananas are all easy, fuss-free options. Be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment to create your own signature milk-free French toast.

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