Homemade croutons are one of the easiest ways to use up leftover stale bread. Easy to make, crispy croutons are a great addition to soups in winter or salads in summer.
What is the best bread to use for homemade croutons?
Most bread types can be used to make croutons. Sourdough bread or yeasted bread are both great. Even dried out bagels, bread rolls, burger buns or scones make great croutons. I would steer away from olive or fruit & nut bread though. As my homemade bread is almost always sourdough, I mostly make sourdough croutons.
Open crumb bread with large holes is less suitable to be cut into small cubes, but can be rather baked in slices instead.
Before turning any stale bread into croutons though, make sure it’s not mouldy.
Oven, frying pan or air fryer?
All of these options work, depending on the amount of stale bread you have and the time of the year. If I’m cutting up a whole loaf, I use the oven as I can make two baking sheets full. In summer, when I don’t feel like cranking up the oven just to make croutons, I would use a frying pan.
Regardless of the method you’re using, it’s important to arrange the bread cubes in a single layer and not overload the baking sheet/pan.
I don’t have an air fryer, but have heard from friends that you can make great croutons in one. I’m sure you can utilize a flat plate BBQ for making croutons in the same way as a frying pan.
How do you make croutons?
Making homemade croutons is easy: cut up the loaf of bread into 1 – 1.5 cm thick slices, then into same size cubes. Alternatively, for a more rustic look, tear the bread into chunks of similar size. Drizzle some olive oil or melted butter over the cubed bread, season, mix well and bake or fry. Simple!
Croutons taste best freshly baked, however, they store well for a couple of weeks.
What seasoning to use for croutons?
Firstly, bread cubes need to be lightly coated with fat. My choice would be melted butter or olive oil. Then add seasoning which will stick better to the bread after being mixed with oil.
When choosing a seasoning, think about dishes you will be using the croutons with:
- Salt & pepper is a classic and neutral taste that would suit any soup or salad like Caesar salad
- Ground cummin & coriander would match curries and hearty stews.
- Italian seasoning goes great with tomato salads.
- Garlic powder or dry ground rosemary would match many soups like creamy tomato soup
- Smokey ground paprika seasoned croutons are great with gazpacho soup.
The combinations are endless. Flavoured oils can be used to add aroma to the croutons, too. I like to use chilly or garlic infused olive oils.
Ways to use homemade croutons?
As mentioned above, crunchy croutons are mostly served with soups or salads, although you can use them in any way you find suitable. Here are some ideas:
- Soups: creamy, thick soups like tomato or creamy mushroom soup. Sprinkle croutons just before serving so they stay crunchy.
- Salads: panzanella, Caesar salad or any other that will come to life with a sprinkle of crispy carbs.
- Stuffing: not only for poultry, but for veggies, too.
- Bread crumbs: smash with a rolling pin or blitz the croutons in the food processor for tasty breadcrumbs.
- Caserolle topping: mix with grated cheese and top pasta or veg bake.
- Add to any other dish that will benefit from added texture, crunch or replace toast.
How to store croutons?
Any bit of moisture will breed mould, so it’s important to completely cool baked croutons before storing them in an airtight container. Keep the container or the jar in the pantry or cupboard for a week or two. After that time croutons might get tough or rancid. To make a batch that lasts longer, make croutons without oil and seasoning.
Croutons made with butter should be consumed on the day or stored in the fridge. Leftover croutons are suitable for freezing. To refresh soft or out of fridge/freezer croutons, put them in the hot oven for 5-6 minutes.
Easy Homemade Croutons Recipe
- 6 cups bread cut into cubes
- ? cup olive oil or melted butter
- salt & pepper
- 2-3 tsp seasoning of your choice – garlic powder, dried herbs, onion powder, smokey paprika, chili powder
- Preheat the oven to 180° C.
- Cut up the loaf of bread into 1 – 1.5 cm thick slices, then into same size cubes. Alternatively, for a more rustic look, tear the bread into chunks of similar size.
- Place the bread cubes into a bowl, drizzle olive oil or melted butter and toss to combine.
- Add salt, pepper and seasonings, mix well
- Spread onto baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, mix, then bake for further 5-10 minutes until golden.
- Use immediately or cool completely before storing.