Make Your Own Crunchy Croutons for Salads, Soups and Snacking

Fresh homemade croutons with herbs
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After enjoying homemade croutons, you'll discover that croutons from a bag leave a lot to be desired. They're often so hard they're all but impossible to fork, and they shatter into dry crumbs with every bite. Some are also loaded with salt and too-strong flavors. Make your own and you can control every crouton characteristic, from size and crunch to bread type and seasonings. It's a very simple task, calling for a minimum of two ingredients and only minutes of preparation time. Croutons are also a useful for getting rid of stale bread, so add reducing food waste to the benefits of making your own croutons.

Total Time: 15 to 30 minutes | Prep Time: 5 to 20 minutes | Serves: Varies

Ingredients:

  • Day-old bread
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Other seasonings, e.g. ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried herbs, shredded Parmesean (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 375F.
  2. With a bread knife, cut your bread into equal-sized cubes, removing the crusts if you wish. Croutons are usually 1/2 to 1 inch in size, but you can cut them larger or smaller too. Alternatively, use your fingers to tear the bread into pieces of similar sizes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon or your hands to toss the bread cubes while gradually drizzling olive oil over them. Aim to lightly and evenly coat the cubes with oil, using approximately 1 tablespoon of oil for every cup of bread cubes. 
  4. Sprinkle kosher salt to taste, plus any other seasonings of your choice over the bread cubes at this stage, tossing them for even distribution.
  5. On a baking sheet, spread out the bread cubes in a single layer without crowding them.
  6. Bake the croutons for 5 to 10 minutes, and then turn them over and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Keep your eye on the croutons, as they can easily burn. Look for them to turn golden brown, and know that they will become more crisp as they cool.

Tip

Store the croutons in an airtight container after they have fully cooled. They should keep this way for several days.

Another way to add delicious flavors to your homemade croutons is with flavored oils, such as garlic oil or plain olive oil mixed with a little oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes or pesto. Melted bacon fat is also an option for decadent, flavorful croutons.

You can make croutons using fresh bread as well. Just expect them to take a little longer to bake.