Torrijas, the traditional Easter dessert

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Spanish torrija
Torrija, the Easter Dessert

According to the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language’s dictionary, a torrija is a slice of bread soaked in milk or wine, dipped in egg, fried, and sweetened. Under a similar definition, we find other dishes from other countries, such as French toast in the United States, pain perdu in France, or Fotzelschnitten in Germany. All similar, but all different. In all cases, they try to make a tasty sweet dessert from basic and humble ingredients such as bread and milk.

They probably have similar origins in history, as it seems Romans already enjoyed something like it. The gastronome Marcus Gavius Apicius (AD 1st century), described a kind of porridge soaked in milk that might be considered the ancestor of all these bread and milk recipes. In the case of the Spanish “Torrija”, it is first mentioned in the early 16th century in a satiric poem by Juan de la Encina (1468-1529).

For centuries, the torrijas were poors food: a cheap way to recharge energy using two basic foods such as bread and milk (or wine). Their sobriety turned them into perfect fuel for some days of Lent, during which the Catholic Church forbids its faithful to consume meat. That is why nowadays torrijas are associated with Easter.

Differences between torrijas and French toasts

As in many other recipes where there are variations among different nations, in the Spanish recipe, you just need to replace butter with (olive) oil and vanilla with lemon zest and cinnamon.

However, the most remarkable difference is that we eat them cold, at room temperature, much better the next day they are made. Regarding the time of the day, almost any moment is suitable for eating torrijas, not only for breakfast. As a matter of fact, they are considered a dessert in many houses and restaurants.

Which bread works better

The ideal bread for torrijas is any with close crumb which gives tighter consistency in the texture. Due to the amount of dough per inch, closed crumb bread can absorb more liquids when used in recipes that use moist ingredients like here with the milk.

closed crumb bread
Bread Has To Have as Closed Crumb as Possible

In France it is used brioche or sugar bread, which contains milk, butter, sugar, and egg in addition to the flour. In Spain, it is a kind of white bread which is not sweet at all, as it has no butter and little sugar. In any case, stale or day-old bread works better because it absorbs more liquid.

Torrijas Recipe

torrija recipe
Torrija Method in Pictures


  • 1 quart (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1 brioche or sugar bread loaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zests from 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Olive Oil
  • Ground cinnamon


  1. Add zests, cinnamon stick, and sugar to the milk. Mix well and bring to a boil to flavor the milk with them. Let it cool down to get just warm, not very hot.
  2. Slice the bread into 2 cm slices. It is nice if you do it angle, so the resulting slices are longer.
  3. Place the slices on a baking pan and cover them with the warm milk. Let them soak for a while, ideally one hour.
  4. Take the slices out and drain them on a grid so the milk drips out.
  5. Whisk the eggs and coat the bread with them.
  6. Fry the slices in a skillet with enough oil.
  7. Lay them on kitchen paper towels to dry the oil.
  8. Sprinkle sugar and ground cinnamon to garnish the slices.
  9. Eat and keep at room temperature.

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