Bread — sliced, as buns or as a whole loaf — can quickly go stale. To preserve your bread for future use, freeze it. The method for defrosting bread depends on its form — loaves will take longer to thaw than slices — as well as your intended use for the bread. Microwaves will defrost bread the fastest, but they may not be ideal if you want a crusty, crunchy, warm loaf. Bread can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

Defrost a 1- to 2-pound loaf in the microwave on the defrost setting in roughly four minutes. While this method is the quickest, you run the risk of drying out the bread because microwaves tend to heat unevenly.

To defrost in the microwave:

  • Wrap your loaf or slices in microwave-safe plastic. This traps moisture from the bread.
  • Microwave the bread for one to two minutes on the defrost setting.

  • Pause for 30 seconds before defrosting again for no more than one to two minutes.

  • Keep the bread wrapped in plastic until you are ready to use it.

Defrost bread in the fridge or at room temperature if you will not be eating it right away. In both cases, keep the bread well-wrapped in plastic, as this prevents moisture from evaporating from the bread.

The amount of time needed to thaw bread depends on whether it is sliced. These two methods are best if you do not intend to eat or serve the bread right away, and if you have the time to let the bread thaw slowly.

Storing bread in the fridge will keep it fresher for longer only if you are planning on toasting or heating the bread before eating it.

While not the fastest method, baking bread in the oven, whether sliced or in loaves, produces the crustiest, freshest-tasting bread.

  • Heat an oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and wrap the bread in tin foil.
  • Place the bread on a center rack, and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is warmed through.
  • For a very crusty exterior, remove the foil and brush the exterior of the loaf or slice with a bit of water.
  • Return it to the oven for another five to 10 minutes, until the bread crackles when squeezed.
  • Bread warmed in the oven needs to be eaten as soon as possible and cannot be refrozen.

This defrosting method will toast bread, crisping it. For a slot toaster, this method only works with sliced bread, while a toaster oven is similar in style to a full-sized oven for defrosting. Small loaves as well as slices can be defrosted in a toaster oven.

Insert one slice per slot in a slot toaster, and toast as you would normally. A lower heat setting will lead to less toasted — but fully thawed — bread.

Place one to two slices or one small loaf of bread in a toaster oven, and set it to toast. Use the lowest heat setting possible — if this is an option — if you only want to thaw the bread, not toast it.

Check the bread after five minutes for slices and after seven to 10 minutes for small loaves. Unlike with oven defrosting, you do not need to moisten the bread or wrap it in foil.