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How to Make Fried Toast

Fans of warm, toasty bread know that one of the critical parts of a sandwich like a grilled cheese is, indeed, the bread. Crunchy-tender with an almost caramelized-seeming crust, pan-frying in olive oil is the perfect treatment for hot sandwiches, in this sandwich lover’s opinion, and produces absolutely delicious Fried Toast.

Overhead view of a slice of golden brown fried toast, ready for toppings, on a gray plate.

But you don’t need to wait for the excuse of a cheesy melt to enjoy the same kind of toasted perfection. I make fried toast all the time for open-faced sandwiches, like these from my collection of Fried Toasts.

Fried toast involves just a quick pan-frying treatment on the stove top with a good extra virgin olive oil. I fry the bread while I’m prepping whatever ingredients I’m going to pile on top, and it’s really no extra time at all. Even clean-up is a breeze because there’s nothing crusty left in the pan. Just a quick, soapy swipe and done.

Why Frying?

For my preferences, there are two big advantages of fried toast over dried toast (i.e., bread that heated dry in a toaster or oven):

  1. Bread fried in olive oil becomes very, very sturdy, but not in the teeth-cracking way that you associate with, say, a crusty French baguette. The bread is crunchy … but tender. And it holds the weight. I like to really pile on the toppings and need bread that will stand up to the challenge. Fried bread is the winner and champion.
  2. Extra virgin olive oil adds a rich and subtle flavor that I really enjoy. If you love a touch of evoo in your green salads, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. And now that food science has finally confirmed that using evoo in higher heat situations will not kill you, I personally feel better about using olive oil for my fried toasts than other oils or fats.
  3. The texture of fried bread is just perfect. I like bread out of the toaster as much as the next person, but if you’re like me, you automatically reach for the butter or other condiments to moisten the bread. It’s just better that way. With fried toast, there’s a nice balance of crunchy texture and olive oil lusciousness. Sprinkle a little finishing salt on top, and you could eat it sans toppings. (But of course, fried toast’s first best destiny is as a platform for sandwich toppings!)

The Components

Bread — I’m a huge fan of sourdough bread and find that it makes excellent fried toast. Especially fresh from the bakery. I would say, though, that most hearty bakery breads will work quite well — whole wheat, multigrains, rye, etc. I would not recommend the good ole American squooshy square sandwich bread found in the regular Bread aisle.

If you get a hearty enough type, like a whole grain, it would probably work. But I’ll just put an asterisk on the whole squooshy bread concept and warn that it might not come out the way you were hoping.

Plus, and I think this is equally key, bakery bread is often just a larger slice, and when you’re talking about open-faced sandwiches like my Reuben or my Chopped Grinder, well, you won’t regret the big slice of bread!

Bakery bread is often made with no or minimal preservatives, so if you can’t use up the entire loaf in one go, know that bread freezes beautifully! I wrap each slice in a sheet of cling wrap and store as many as will fit in a gallon zipper bag. This ensures that the slices don’t get stuck together in the freezer.

To thaw, heat the slice in the microwave for 20 seconds, or add the slice to the pan as the pan is heating up, flipping once.

Olive Oil — While grilled cheese sandwiches usually use butter (or gasp, mayo!) to achieve that crave-worthy outer layer, I prefer extra virgin olive oil for my fried toast.

I almost always use the California Olive Ranch brand of extra virgin olive oil in my kitchen, as it’s readily available at stores around here and it’s affordable. I was so excited to find this handy squeeze bottle on Amazon. Cooks are picky about their tools, and I’m no exception — I just prefer the plastic twist cap to those messy metal pour spout inserts.

The squeeze bottle gives great control for applications like fried toast, and it also makes it easy to quickly oil down a pan without the oil just glugging out of the bottle.

How To Make Fried Toast

I realize that a recipe for toast might seem a little like instructions for boiling water, but I think there’s some value in reviewing the technique — for example, I used to pool the oil in the pan and fry the bread in the puddle. That’s not necessary, just a drizzle will do it (and I’m happy to reduce the fat from the oil).

But once you do, you’ll never have to refer to the instructions again. So, let’s take a look at the steps with photos.

Step 1: Choose the right skillet

Two different size skillets. The larger skillet will hold the bread slice better in the center of the pan.

Before you get started, select a skillet large enough to accommodate the bread slice. I have a lovely little 8″ pan that is my go-to for things like fried eggs and crispy tofu, but it’s a little too small for the bakery sourdough bread that I use.

Fried toast in a skillet with a hand holding a tape measure over the bread to show the width of the bread, which is 6 inches.

Sorry for the tape measure above being upside down (I have to hold the camera in my right hand), but you can see that my bread is 6″ (15.24 cm) across. I use my 10″ T-Fal skillet so that the bread will sit flat in the center of the pan. If you have a griddle or flat top, that will work just fine.

I prefer a non-stick pan, but cast iron lovers, go for it! I don’t have anything against stainless steel except that I prefer the easier cleanup of a non-stick pan.

Step 2: Heat the skillet

Drops of water sizzling on the surface of a hot skillet.

Heat the skillet over medium heat. I don’t like to use high or medium-high because the toasting goes too fast and often very unevenly. Right in the middle of the dial seems a happy balance between too chilly and slow, and burnt to a crisp.

When water dropped onto the pan balls up, sizzles, and skips across the surface, it’s ready.

Step 3: Toast the first side of the bread

A large slice of sourdough bread in a skillet with zigzags of olive oil drizzled over it.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in zigzags across one side of the bread. You don’t need to saturate the bread with the oil. The stripes of oil will disburse through the slice as it toasts. Place the bread oil side down in the center of the pan.

Let the bread heat for a couple of minutes, then lift one corner with tongs to inspect the progress. You’re looking for a more-or-less even golden brown toast across the slice. Don’t let the edges of the bread singe and burn. If they’re starting to blacken, go ahead and begin the second side.

Step 4: Toast the second side of the bread

The second side of the slice of sourdough bread with olive oil drizzled over it (the underside is golden brown and the bread is ready to flip).

Apply a zigzag of evoo across the upside of the bread, and then flip the slice over with tongs. Let that second side toast for a couple of minutes.

When the second side is golden brown, remove the fried toast to a plate to cool (or if using in a recipe requiring more heat, such as melting cheese, continue with the recipe).

If you really want to turbo-charge your open-faced sandwich, sprinkle a little finishing salt over the “up” side. Lorty.

A slice of fully cooked fried toast in a skillet, beautifully golden brown and ready to serve.

Look at that beautiful bread!

I can’t say enough good things about fried toast and how its rich and crunchy goodness enhances a sandwich’s yum factor. I hope you’ll try it to see if it becomes your favorite, too. If you need more convincing, take a browse through my collection of Toasted Tuesdays recipes.

Karen xo
A slice of sourdough bread in a skillet, fried to a beautiful golden crispness.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How to Make Fried Toast (Recipe)

Fried toast is toast leveled up to extreme deliciousness. Pan-fried with extra virgin olive oil, the process creates the perfect slice of bread for open-faced sandwiches. This recipe is for one toast, but can easily been scaled up.
Prep Time0 minutes
Cook Time6 minutes
Total Time6 minutes
Course: Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried toast
Servings: 1
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 1 slice hearty bread such as bakery sourdough , whole wheat, or multigrain
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet large enough to accommodate the slice of bread (so that it lies flat) over medium heat. When water sprinkled on the pan sizzles, it’s ready to use.
  • Drizzle zigzags of the extra virgin olive oil across one side of the bread. You don’t need to saturate the slice with oil; it will disburse throughout the crumb as the bread cooks.
  • Place the bread slice oil side down on the hot pan. Let the bread toast for several minutes until golden brown on the underside.
  • Drizzle zigzags of oil on the upside of the bread (the second side) and flip the slice so that the newly oiled side is down. Let toast for several minutes until golden.
  • Remove the bread to a plate to cool (or continue with whatever recipe you’re using that calls for fried toast).
  • Top with your favorite sandwich fillings and serve.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating




Germaine

Wednesday 17th of April 2024

I’ve been making fried toast for a very long time, but I call it fried bread.. I butter both sides of my selected bread and on a medium high temp in what frying pan is available - I preheat my pan and lay my piece of buttered bread into the fry pan and I end up turning the heat down and wait until golden brown and flip and toast the other side and enjoy it when toasty with whatever I’ve selected to top it up with ???

Karen - SoupAddict

Thursday 18th of April 2024

You can use butter, but it's a different result, in the same way that you don't fry potatoes in butter to make french fries. With something like a grilled cheese, the butter or mayo used to toast the bread becomes part of the flavor profile of the sandwich. With fried toast, I'm looking for a solid, crispy texture for the bread.

You can compare doing the same things to potatoes: Chunks of potatoes sauteed in butter with golden edges are not the same product as french fries fried in oil.

There's no wrong between the two, butter and oil. They both make delicious sandwiches. But they are different.

Darlynne

Tuesday 16th of April 2024

Whoa. I was today-years-old when I had to look up EVOO and now I feel both more informed and slightly well-duh. This is going to be a new favorite.

Thanks for the update, hoping the next investigation is good news.