This easy recipe will teach you how to make homemade croutons from scratch!
Once you make them yourself, you’ll skip the store-bought bags forever. They’re crispy, crunchy, and delicious!
You can tweak the seasonings to make them taste however you want. As a bonus, homemade croutons help you save money and prevent waste.
Add a crispy touch to your salads or a homemade twist to your soups. You can transform ordinary bread into something fabulous with just a few ingredients.
It’s tough to picture a delicious salad without croutons on top. They’re the perfect finishing touch to any recipe.
There’s just something about the crunchy, salty, herby little squares people can’t resist. When you make them yourself, you can experiment with flavors to get them just right.
They’re such an excellent way to use leftover or almost-stale bread!
The Best Bread for Croutons
You can make croutons with any bread. But some varieties are better than others. Sourdough bread and thick, crusty loaves of French bread work best.
However, you can use whatever you have, even sandwich bread!
It doesn’t even have to be fresh! Stale loaves work even better than fresh one.s
To select the optimal bread for homemade croutons, look for these characteristics:
- The bread is in a single, large, unsliced loaf. This bread is best because you can slice it yourself. That allows you to cut it into thick slices, which you can then cube.
- The bread is thick and crusty. Crusty bread has the optimal texture for croutons. It crisps up nicely. And, of course, the thicker the bread, the easier it is to cube.
- The bread has a flavor you enjoy. Remember, croutons are just crunchy, seasoned bread. If you don’t like the bread’s taste in bread form, you probably won’t like the croutons, either.
- The bread isn’t moldy. It’s fine to use stale bread to make croutons. However, don’t use bread that has gone bad or started to mold.
You can use any (non-moldy) bread. Try rolls, hamburger buns, sandwich bread, and more!
All you need for this recipe is bread, oil, seasonings, and cheese. Here’s the complete list of necessary ingredients:
- Sourdough bread – Though you can make croutons with any bread, sourdough bread is ideal.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin works best.
- Garlic cloves – Take the time to freshly mince the garlic cloves. It makes a difference. Substitute garlic powder ONLY as a last resort.
- Fresh parsley – As with the garlic, fresh parsley is the best.
- Salt and pepper – Season the croutons to suit your taste.
- Parmesan – The cheese is optional, but it gives the croutons a phenomenal taste.
How to Make Croutons
Follow these steps to make the crunchiest, tastiest croutons possible:
1. Preheat. Let the oven warm to 375 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the croutons.
2. Dice. Dice the bread into 1-inch cubes.
3. Toss. Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl. Add the olive oil and seasonings, and toss until all the bread is evenly coated.
4. Arrange. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. If you want cheesy croutons, sprinkle them with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing the tray halfway through to prevent burning. Let the croutons cook until they’re brown and crispy. Then, remove them from the oven and let them cool.
Tips for the Best Homemade Croutons
Keep these tips in mind for the very best croutons:
- Stale bread is the best bread. You can make croutons with fresh bread. However, bread sitting out for at least a day results in the best croutons.
- Let them cool. Let your croutons cool completely before storing them. If you put them in a bag or container too early, they’ll quickly become soggy.
- Time doesn’t matter! Every oven is a little different. Baking times will also vary depending on how many croutons you’re making and how large they are. Use the recipe card below as a guide only, and carefully watch the croutons as they bake. Additionally, increase the baking time by 3-5 minutes if your bread is stale.
- Shake, shake, shake! You must remove the baking pan from the oven and shake/toss the croutons halfway through baking. This will prevent sticking and burning.
- Steer clear of crowding. Keep the croutons in a single layer, and leave some space between them.
Try these variations if you want to mix things up:
- Experiment with different seasonings. Garlic and parsley are go-to crouton seasonings. But you can use whatever herbs (or pre-mixed seasoning mixture) you like. Make Cajun croutons, spicy croutons, thyme and rosemary croutons, etc.
- Fire up the grill. It may sound strange, but hear me out. While less crunchy, grilled croutons have a phenomenal smoky, charred flavor. Simply grill slabs of olive oil-coated bread. Then, rub the charred bread with garlic and cube it. Easy peasy!
- Have some flavorful fun. For even more flavor, use bread that’s already flavorful! Garlic bread, five-grain bread, Italian herb, and cheese bread are good options.
- Brighten them up. Add lemon zest or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Everyone knows you serve homemade croutons with salads. After all, that’s their primary purpose. But there are other things you can do with them.
You can also crush them and turn them into a crunchy topping for many foods, such as:
They taste great in various creamy soups, too. Try them in this yummy broccoli cheddar soup. Or, if you’re like me, snack on them by the handful!
How you use your croutons is entirely up to you.
How to Store & Freeze
Homemade croutons store wonderfully, so you can easily make them ahead of time. You can even freeze them to extend their life further!
To Store: Let the croutons cool to room temperature. Then, transfer them to a Ziploc bag or another air-tight container. Leave them at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
To Freeze: The steps for freezing croutons are a little more involved (though still simple):
- Bake the croutons according to the recipe.
- Let them cool.
- Spread them on a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Flash-freeze the croutons on the baking sheet.
- Transfer the frozen croutons to a freezer-safe air-tight container.
You can freeze them for up to a month. Let them thaw overnight in the fridge when you want to use them. You can even re-crisp them in the oven directly before serving.
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