You're in the middle of preparing dinner when you realize you're out of bread crumbs. Before you panic, abandon dinner and run out to the store, try searching the pantry for other alternatives to bread crumbs that add flavor and give food the same satisfying crunch as bread crumbs.
Crushed-up crackers make a crunchy coating that is perfect for breading chicken, cheese or anything else that you would usually use bread crumbs to bread. For a basic bread crumb alternative, try saltines. Snack crackers like Ritz or Townhouse add a delectable buttery taste when used in lieu of bread crumbs. A trip to the grocery store also reveals a wide variety of types of crackers, from whole wheat to tomato- and basil-flavored varieties. Explore these different types of crackers to add an entirely new dimension of flavor to your food.
Panko is a Japanese variation of bread crumbs that has infiltrated America kitchens and can be used in a variety of recipes, from eggplant parmesan to pan-fried fish. Panko is also made from bread; however, panko bread does not have a crust. Unlike traditional bread crumbs, panko is more coarse, flakier and lighter than its regular counterpart. When fried, panko produces a crispier and lighter coating on food because it does not absorb as much grease as traditional bread crumbs.
Crushed cereal provides yet another crunchy and healthy alternative to traditional bread crumbs. A walk down the cereal aisle sheds light on many types of cereal that make a great coating for fried or baked food. Unsweetened corn flakes, rice flakes, shredded wheat or other wheat cereals make a crunchy yet light coating that goes well with chicken or fish. Heartier choices, like crushed bran cereals, make for a heavier meal that's full of fiber.
Chefs who are looking for an alternative to bread crumbs to use in their baking can include old-fashioned rolled oats instead. Mixing finely chopped oats into mixtures for a meatloaf, meatballs or croquettes helps thicken and bind the food while adding more nutritional value than bread crumbs. The heartier composition of oats also gives the meatloaf or meatballs more substance. However, do not use instant oats, as they will not hold up as well when cooked.
Lauren Griffin began writing professionally in 2010. Her articles appear on various websites, specializing in academics, food and other lifestyle topics. Griffin attended Columbia University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.