Have you received a colossal Panettone bread (aka: Italian Christmas Cake) and don’t know what to do with it?
Make our easy Panettone Air Fryer French Toast Sticks with a buttery maple triple sec syrup for the ultimate Christmas breakfast or brunch. These quick and easy French toast sticks are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Fun to eat – just pick up a slice with your fingers and dip. Serve along with Italian Scrambled Eggs or a Stove Top Parmesan Leek Frittata for an unforgettable vegetarian breakfast.
What's to Love
After all, what are you going to do with that leftover panettone bread loaf from the holidays? This fun recipe will have your guests swooning for seconds and your house is going to smell just like Christmas. As a matter of fact, the aroma from the air fried French toast sticks is so deliciously festive it can wake up blurred eyed teenagers EARLY on a weekend morning. They are that good!
If you do not have an air fryer, we have included the stove top directions in the recipe card below too. Make extra French toast sticks. They freeze well and are easy to reheat.
- What's to Love
- Air Fryer Breakfast
- What is Panettone Bread?
- How is the Italian Christmas Bread Made?
- French Toast Ingredients
- Maple Bourbon or Triple Sec Syrup Ingredients
- Step by Step Instructions
- French Toast Toppings
- Recipe Tips for Success
- How to Reheat?
- How to Store Leftovers?
- What to serve with French toast?
- Serving as a dessert?
- Difference Between Pandoro vs Panettone
- Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- More Breakfast and Brunch Ideas
- Panettone Air Fryer French Toast Sticks
Air Fryer Breakfast
Eating Italian Christmas cake for breakfast might seem a little extravagant but hey – it’s the holiday, right? We do not often splurge on sweets but when we do – we go BIG!
Making the perfect French toast sticks in the air fryer is not that different than a classic French toast but it is so much better.
- The air fryer (or convection oven) makes an extra crispy French toast.
- No forks needed just dip and bite.
- Delicious addition to a breakfast board or DIY Ultimate Bagel Bar Brunch.
- No monitoring needed. Enjoy a quick Iced Bumblebee Coffee with your guests while it cooks.
- Use non-dairy to make almond milk French toast
- You can also make a homemade dairy free and gluten free panettone bread.
- Adding Cointreau (orange flavored triple sec or bourbon) and orange zest to the buttery maple syrup complements the fruits in the panettone bread.
What is Panettone Bread?
Panettone (pronounced as "pa-net-taw-nee) is a sweet Italian Christmas bread sometimes also referred to as an Italian fruit cake made with candied orange, citron, and raisins. If you’re not fond of candied fruits, you must try a chocolate panettone bread. Decadent chocolate deliciousness! It’s customary to gift either the traditional or chocolate version during the Christmas holidays.
How is the Italian Christmas Bread Made?
This Italian sweet bread is special because it uses a starter culture along with the usual eggs, flour, and butter. The starter dough goes through this intensive process of getting worked on for at least 3 days before adding the candied fruits and raisins. After it is baked, its hung upside down for 10 hours to retain its domed shape. Now, you know why this beloved bread is so special.
Panettone bread it light and chewy. It is delicious served with a slather of apricot freezer jam, mascarpone spread (similar to a cream cheese) and also makes the best darn French toast.
French Toast Ingredients
- Panettone Bread, especially a loaf that is starting to go a little stale, is perfect to make a batch of French toast. As a substitute, feel free to exchange with pandoro (8-pointed Italian sweet bread), brioche bread, Texas toast or even gluten-free bread.
- Eggs – this helps the ingredients bind together and firm up when heated. If you are out of eggs, you can try adding just a little bit of cornstarch to the milk mixture.
- Almond Milk – or any non-dairy or dairy of choice gives French toast that rich custard flavor.
- Cinnamon – gives it that holiday essence. If you want, you can add a little all spice, nutmeg, or ginger to the mix too.
- Vanilla – enhances the flavor.
- Salt – just a pinch to balance the flavors.
Maple Bourbon or Triple Sec Syrup Ingredients
Do you like to go BIG when you splurge on a special treat? Then, you are not going to want to skip this rich and decadent Maple Cointreau syrup. All we can say is “Oh my”. Of course, you can serve with plain maple syrup or Better Than Mrs. Butterworth Pancake Syrup for the kids.
- Maple Syrup – is perfect but can also use regular pancake syrup.
- Triple Sec or Bourbon – the orange flavor liquor complements the dried fruits in the panettone bread. We used Cointreau but you could also use Grand Marnier or other triple sec of choice. Your favorite bourbon is also a delicious pairing with the maple flavor.
- Orange zest – we used the zest from a mandarin orange but use what you have on hand.
- Butter – but of course, right? It make this delicious alcohol infused maple syrup rich and delicious.
Step by Step Instructions
For the full and complete recipe and video, please scroll down to the recipe card below.
- Remove the baking paper from the panettone bread.
- Slice the Italian Christmas Bread into thick slices.
- Make the French toast custard. Add beaten eggs, milk or non-dairy of choice, vanilla, cinnamon, and a little dash of salt.
- Spray the air fryer basket or tray with oil or line with parchment paper. This is very important! Preheat the air fryer to 385 degrees F or 196 degrees C. If you have an oven toaster style air fryer, be sure to line the baking tray underneath as it will drip.
- Dip the panettone bread slices into the custard mixture and lay on the prepared air fryer basket or tray. Do not soak in the batter! Spray both sides of battered panettone with a little spray oil.
- Place the French toast sticks in the air fryer. Air fry for 5 minutes. Then, turn over and air fry for another 4 minutes or until crispy. Every air fryer is a little different so you may need less or more time to achieve a crispy exterior to the French toast sticks.
- In the meantime, make the buttery maple triple sec syrup. In a small pot or pan, add the butter to melt and add the maple syrup and bourbon or Cointreau (triple sec) alcohol and cook over medium heat until bubbly for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest.
French Toast Toppings
- Dust homemade panettone air fryer French toast sticks with powdered sugar and serve with little bowls of maple bourbon syrup on the side to dip.
- Mascarpone cheese and berries.
- Chocolate hazelnut spread
- Date paste spread or your favorite nut butter.
- Butter and orange marmalade or kumquat jam. The citrus flavor really brings out the dried citrus flavor in the panettone Christmas bread.
- Dollop of Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream or Asian Spiced Pears.
Recipe Tips for Success
- Spray your air fryer tray or basket well with oil or line with parchment paper, if your brand of air fryer allows this.
- Lightly spray both sides of custard dipped panettone bread sticks with a light flavored oil before baking. It prevents sticking and makes your French sticks golden.
- Preheat the air fryer. This is important as it helps French toast get a good crispy crust.
How to Reheat?
- Preheat the air fryer to 385 degrees F (196 degrees C) and heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
- Stove top heat a little butter over medium heat and pan fry panettone French toast for 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
- Microwave is our least favorite way to heat up French toast as it makes it soggy. However, if that is your only option reheat in microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute and you are done.
How to Store Leftovers?
Air fried French toast can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer. When storing in the freezer, it is best to store in a single layer with waxed paper, parchment paper or aluminum foil in between. Then, you can just heat up a couple of sticks at a time for an air fryer breakfast any day of the week.
What to serve with French toast?
If you are serving Panettone for breakfast, you may like to try these sides and mains.
- Breakfast meats like bacon, sausage, country ham or Canadian ham.
- Italian scrambled eggs and Sauteed Asparagus and Mushrooms with a poached eggs are great for any low carb lovers in the crowd.
- Fresh fruit, stewed fruit or quinoa fruit salad.
- Espresso, coffee, and juice.
- Granola, yogurt or a spicy chocolate chai chia seed pudding.
- Serve air fried French toast sticks as part of a breakfast board. Arrange the maple bourbon or triple sec syrup, bacon, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, jams, mascarpone cream and all your favorite items on a serving platter and enjoy.
Serving as a dessert?
- Of course, a little espresso or coffee is always welcome.
- If you want to try something a little stronger, pour glasses of prosecco, Moscato or limoncello.
- Dessert boards are the new trend. Just add French toast sticks, syrup of choice, whipped topping, fresh berries, candied pecans, Nutella, jam and a few chewy mandarin orange cookies for a festive treat.
Difference Between Pandoro vs Panettone
Are you team Panettone or team pandoro? Both cakes are delicious in this air fryer breakfast but there are many differences.
Both are Italian Christmas breads, but panettone originated in Milan and pandoro originated in Verona. Pandoro is an 8-point star shaped golden bread and has the texture like a French Brioche. Unlike the panettone, it does not contain any dried fruits, but we think it is sweeter in taste. Usually, pandoro is dusted in powdered sugar and it looks like snow on a Christmas tree.
Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1) Do not use fresh bread. It is best if the bread is a little stale or dry. If your bread or panettone is super fresh, pop it in the toaster or in the air fryer for just a short while to take out some of the moisture.
2) Ratio of milk or non-dairy to eggs is 2 large eggs to ⅓ cup milk or non-dairy of choice. We know this is a little less than the common 2 eggs to ½ cup milk, but we have found this gives us the perfect custard texture for a crispy edged French toast but tender in the middle. If you increase the milk ratio in the custard, this can lead to soggy French toast.
3) Do not leave your bread soak in the milk and egg mixture. Instead, just give it a quick dip on all sides.
4) Please do not over crowd the air fryer or pan as the French toast will be steaming instead of frying.
Preheat air fryer to 385 degrees F. Spray air fryer basket and the individual French toast sticks with a little light flavored oil. Air fry French toast sticks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until hot and crispy.
1) Preheat the air fryer first. This step gives the food a nice exterior crust, so it is less likely to stick.
2) Liberally spray or wipe your air fryer basket or tray with a light flavored oil AND/OR line your air fryer with parchment paper if your model allows it.
3) Allow the excess egg and milk custard mixture to drip off before putting it in the air fryer.
4) Finally, lightly spray both sides of the panettone slices with a light flavored oil before placing them in your air fryer basket or tray. You can do this on one side and then before turning them give them a little spritz of oil.
5) Allow the French toast to air fry for approximately 4 to 5 minutes BEFORE attempting to turn it over.
More Breakfast and Brunch Ideas
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!
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Panettone Air Fryer French Toast Sticks
- air fryer or convection oven
- 8 sticks panettone bread
thick sliced sticks with the baking paper removed. Slices should be shaped into a long thick stick easy for picking up and dunking into syrup.
- 2 whole eggs beaten or egg beaters
- ⅓ cup almond milk
(or dairy or non-dairy of choice)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon dried ground
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Spray oil light flavored
Maple Triple Sec or Bourbon Syrup (optional)
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons triple sec or bourbon We used Cointreau
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon orange zest We used a mandarin orange
- powdered sugar, whipped topping, fruit or whatever your little heart desires
Air Fryer Method
- Preheat the air fryer (or convection oven) to 385 degrees F or 196 degrees C. Spray the air fryer basket with a light flavored oil or line with parchment paper.
- Remove the paper from the panettone bread and cut into 8 thick sliced sticks.
- In a flat bowl mix eggs, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, butter and salt. Dip each of the panettone bread slices into the egg mixture on both sides. Do not soak but just a quick dunk and shake off the excess egg and milk mixture.
- Spray the panettone sticks with a light flavored oil on both sides and place on greased or parchment lined air fryer tray. (To make cleanup easy, if you have a toaster oven style air fryer, place the lined baking sheet under the air fryer tray as the French toast will drip.) Place the air fryer tray with the French toasts in the air fryer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the French toast sticks over and cook for another 4 minutes or until toasty and crispy on all sides.If more convenient for you, spray one side of the French toast before setting in the air fryer tray. Then, when you turn them half way in the cooking process, you can spray the other side.
- In the meantime, add a knob of butter to a small pot to melt over medium heat. Take the pot off the heat and carefully add the triple sec or bourbon alcohol. Then place back on the medium heat. Allow the alcohol to burn off for about 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup to the butter and alcohol mixture and heat until warm- about 1 minute. Turn off the heat, add the orange zest and stir. The maple triple sec or bourbon syrup is ready for serving.
- Serve your delicious panettone air fryer French toast sticks with a side of buttery Maple Cointreau Syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar if desired. Enjoy!
Stove Top Method
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter into a large frying pan and melt over medium low heat. Add your prepared panettone sticks to the pan that have been lightly dipped into the egg and milk mixture. Pan fry on each side for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. If you need to cook in batches, clean your pan and add a new tablespoon of butter each and every time.
- Nutrition calculation is based on 2 panettone French toast sticks without syrup. If you add the maple triple sec or bourbon syrup the calories per serving are 308 and Net carbs are 53 - but hey- it's the holiday!
- The maple triple sec syrup will thicken upon cooling. It can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove top, if you have any leftovers.