Crouton Tricks and Tips
January 15, 2021 8:58 AM   Subscribe

We bake a lot and end up with a lot of stale bread. I've been thinking I'd like to use some of it to make croutons. What are your best recipes, tips, and advice for crunchy and delicious croutons? And how do you use them?
posted by Stanczyk to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
They're hard to mess up as long as you don't burn them. Butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic powder and maybe herbs, cut into cubes, toast in oven. Make extra so you can eat some yourself.
posted by Lady Li at 8:59 AM on January 15

This is not a crouton answer, but have you tried just slicing and freezing the bread so that it lasts longer? I do that and just make toast from it.
posted by pinochiette at 9:04 AM on January 15 [4 favorites]

This is super easy but always good - toss cubed bread in olive oil and then sprinkle (heavily) with Badia garlic and parsley (ajo y perejil) then bake until you’re happy with how brown they look
posted by Mchelly at 9:04 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

Chop, toss with oil and seasoning. I like this or this. Place on a sheetpan and cook at about 350 for 10-20 minutes until they're hard. Be sure they cool *completely* before you place them in an airtight container.

I especially love them on a butternut squash soup or tomato soup.
posted by hydra77 at 9:05 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]

After you put the seasoned oil on the croutons, let them sit and marinate, tossing occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, to make them very crisp and flavorful. Then toast them as you usually would.
posted by Lycaste at 9:18 AM on January 15

Stale bread, toss in olive oil and a little melted butter and maybe some parsley and salt and pepper. I make mine by frying them in a cast iron pan with a little more oil (stir often) and then I often will use them both in salads but also in soups (and you can make bigger croutons for this and they are delicious this way).
posted by jessamyn at 9:34 AM on January 15

I keep all the bread I bake in the freezer. When I slice the loaf, I chop the end pieces into cubes that will become future breadcrumbs/croutons and stash them in their own freezer bag. Whenever I want a few croutons I grab a handful out of the freezer and just toast them in a little butter or oil in a pan, maybe tossing some minced garlic and nutritional yeast in there with it if I want more flavor. I don't even attempt to store them after that; the oven-toasted method is likely better for that since it would dry the bread out more. Breadcrumbs are also handy to bulk up a number of casserole-style dishes, and are frequently used in recipes for various protein patties (burgers, or in my case, chickpea cakes).
posted by saramour at 9:35 AM on January 15

I like using fresh bread crumbs tossed in butter or oil and S&P, on top of mac& cheese or egg noodles, cheese topped peppers or squash. They'll crisp up while the dish bakes but won't be hard like pre-toasted bread crumbs will. Save cubed bread in a bag in the freezer.
posted by winesong at 9:56 AM on January 15

Don’t forget to pet them.
posted by Melismata at 10:12 AM on January 15 [3 favorites]

After you make croutons, you can use them to make a delicious strata.
posted by burntflowers at 11:59 AM on January 15

I have professional crouton making experience, having at times made 30 gallons at once. All I really have to say is that everything people said above sounds good to me. I do tend to use a lower temp (275 or 300) and cook them for a longer time, tossing and rotating the pan(s) at least once during the process.
posted by papayaninja at 4:26 PM on January 15

Panzanella is a wonderful way to use bread that's going stale, at least when you can get fresh tomatoes.
posted by Candleman at 7:14 PM on January 15

Get some high MF% low humidity Parmigiano-Reggiano and a fine grater (I love Zyliss rotary grinders) or a microplane.

Add to the oil/ butter/ herbs mixture and toss the cubes. If you sprinkle that on top after tossing and before grating, you can get some nice charred bits of parm. Lining the baking pan/ tray with aluminum foil helps a lot with cleanup (and retrieving the parm bits).

I really like it with rosemary infused oil (not a fan of olive, I use grapeseed or new-to-me-discovery avocado oil) which is trivial to make for yourself.

Yes, tossing several times during the process is a must.

Its been forever, so I don't know if the formulation has changed, but Kraft "parmesan" dust in a shaker works ok enough.

Maybe I'm a weirdo but fresh from the oven they're a popcorn substitute for me (but I also make "tofu puff croutons" purely as a snak). Otherwise, top salads and soups. Or crush up to use as a (much heavier) panko coating for frying stuff that you don't necessarily want to sauce or dip afterwards.

If you don't dice them, treating appropriately sized "roundel"s of stale-ish bread is incredible for the top part of French onion soup (in ramekins).
posted by porpoise at 9:09 PM on January 15

When I started baking pandemic soda bread, I halved the recipe so that the two of us could finish a loaf in one day. (Soda bread goes stale fast.)
posted by heatherlogan at 8:55 AM on January 16

I have been known to make croutons with cinnamon sugar for use on butternut squash soup.
posted by doift at 4:16 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]

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