Don’t throw away your old bread! It is easy to make Homemade Croutons from your Stale Bread!
You know how you go to take a loaf of bread out of the freezer, that you had forgotten was in there? Well, now it is freezer burned. We have all been there.
Well don’t throw it away! It makes great croutons that are so much better for you than the store bought versions and have so many uses.
This will definitely not be useful for the ultra processed breads with about 40 preservatives at the end of the ingredients list. (Think Wonder bread, if you are American)
Think instead of that nice, (formerly) crusty loaf of French or Italian bread. Any bread that hasn’t been sliced works really well! Rye, wheat, oat, sourdough, even cornbread all lend themselves perfectly.
You could use pre-sliced bread, but then you will have little tiny croutons. I usually grind the pre-sliced bread into coarse crumbs and then dry them for homemade bread crumbs.
The other beautiful thing is that you can pat yourself on the back for several reasons. First you are helping reduce food waste, (which is a huge problem in the US). Think about it, you are keeping your particular loaf of bread out of your local landfill, (which are running out of room.).
You are helping to keep your family healthy by controlling the ingredients in your croutons, in comparison to the store bought kind.
You are reducing your grocery bill and you can use up your spices faster so that you don’t have to throw them out after a couple years (that’s what the recommended time is to keep most spices or they lose their flavor).
Use bread that has sat on the counter for too long or has been in freezer too long and has gotten hard, too. All you have to do is cut off any really crusty freezer burned spots.
What you need
- stale bread (use white, wheat, rye, oat, even cornbread)
- olive oil
- optional: spices
Variations of seasoned croutons
- Italian flavored- use dried basil, parsley, oregano and or marjoram
- herbes de provence
- Mexican – cumin, chili powder, coriander, Mexican oregano, cilantro (great for cornbread)
- Cheesy – Parmesan, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, basil, oregano
- Croutons for stuffing – thyme, sage, parsley, pepper (great for cornbread stuffing too)
Salt can be added to any of the above seasoned bread crumbs if you wish, but it is definitely not necessary. I rarely use salt.
How to make them
- You can cut all of the crust off if you wish but it’s not necessary.
- Cut bread lengthwise in half. Cut lengthwise on the opposite plane.
- Cut into bite sized squares.
- Add to large bowl or plastic bag.
- Then add any spices that you like. I do different spices and mark the baggies when I store them.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- If they seem a bit dry, drizzle with a bit more oil but you don’t want them drenched in oil.
- It is easiest to put the croutons in a large plastic bag, but working with your hands in a large bowl works well too, to eliminate the plastic bag going in the landfill. Work olive oil onto pieces well. It doesn’t matter if every piece has oil on it.
Place on rimmed baking sheet spread out a little and in a single layer. Bake 25-35 minutes in a low oven. (300°F) (Croutons should be very dry.)
Allow croutons to totally cool to room temperature.
How to store
Store in plastic storage bags, reusable storage bags or air tight containers at room temperature. They last many months. I have never had a bag go bad.
Plain croutons are great too, in this case, I do the bread dry, with no oil. Use a slow oven, about 300°F to toast. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet, in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the croutons are dried through but not too brown.
So next time you find that bread that was better 3 days ago, make your family some homemade croutons.
Uses for them
- Croutons are a great topping for soups, like this Curried Yellow Squash Soup.
- They are obviously great for salads.
- I previously mentioned they make great stuffing. Use for fish, chicken, pork or turkey.
- Furthermore, in a pinch, you can grind them up in the food processor and use them for dried bread crumbs too!
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- 1 loaf stale crusty bread, such as; Italian, French, Rye, Sourdough
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp mixed spices
- Cut any mold off of the bread. You can cut the crust off of the bread if you like but it is not mandatory.
- Cut bread into bite sized cubed pieces.
- Place cubes in a large plastic storage bag or large bowl. Drizzle olive oil all over the cubes. Add spices and shake bag or mix with hands.
- Place on a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 20-30 minutes until dry and golden brown. Don’t let them brown too much or they will be hard.
- Cool thoroughly. Store in a plastic bag or air tight container at room temperature.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click the link and purchase something. See FTC Disclosure, here.