Recipe: Gail Simmons’ PB&J French Toast

[Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read our January 2015 cover interview with Gail Simmons.]

I’ve always been obsessed with the combination of peanut butter and jelly. It’s nostalgic and, even now as an adult, I find it so comforting. This recipe combines those classic flavors with French toast in way that’s fresh and a little surprising, for a festive twist on weekend breakfast or brunch. Older children can help with all aspects of preparation, including knife work on the grapes and bread.

For younger kids, whisking the batter, helping to soak and flip the toast are great ways to get involved (under adult supervision). You can substitute almond or cashew butter if your family cannot have peanuts, or try it with bananas and cinnamon for a fun variation. Of course, bacon is optional, but I say go all out!

Serves 4


12 slices applewood smoked bacon

2 cups red seedless grapes, split in half lengthwise

1/4 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 loaf brioche bread or challah, cut into 1-inch thick slices (about 8-10 slices)

1 cup 2 percent milk

4 large eggs

3/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Powdered sugar for garnish


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lay bacon on a sheet tray and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels and keep warm. Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees.

Place grapes, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until syrupy and grapes are tender, about 5-6 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, peanut butter, sugar, honey and vanilla until smooth and well combined. Pour out into a flat gratin or baking dish. Working with two slices at a time, dip brioche in the batter, pressing gently and allow to soak for a minute on each side.

Set a large, non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a little butter, once the butter is foaming add a dipped brioche slice (remove excess batter by shaking a little) and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden. Keep warm in the oven on a parchment lines baking sheet while you cook the rest.

To serve stack 2-3 slices of French toast on a plate and spoon grape mixture over the center so it drips down the sides. Top the stack with 2-3 slices of crispy bacon and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

To learn more about “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons, visit!