Make your own homemade croutons with this easy customizable crouton recipe! If you are wondering how to make croutons that actually taste store-bought then you will love this croutons recipe! It’s perfect for soups, salads, and casseroles!
The best bread for croutons is a leftover loaf of fluffy French Bread. In general, any type of leftover white bread goes best for croutons (including gluten-free bread) and preferably one that has gone dry or stale because once mixed with melted butter it gives you the crunch you need! Making croutons from pre-sliced bread or without the crust won’t affect the flavor. Sandwich bread, a sourdough baguette, ciabatta, or Focaccia bread will make great salad croutons! Whole wheat or rye can be a bit hearty but will work too.
What are Croutons?
Crouton originates from the French term “Croute” meaning crust. Croutons are small pieces of bread (typically cubed), that are coated in a seasoned butter mixture and baked. There are many seasoning variations which makes homemade croutons highly versatile as you flavor them any way you want! The preparation is so simple and since the cubed bread is dried the croutons will remain fresh far longer than freshly baked bread making it perfect for longer storage over salads or soup.
Ingredients for Homemade Croutons:
What are croutons made of? Homemade croutons are made of three main ingredients!
- Bread: any type of bread that is a day old or going stale (not rotten).
- Sunflower oil: Or melted butter. I did a mixture of both but for longer storage use oil as butter can go rancid quicker unless it’s clarified butter. Some commercial brands use all oil with butter flavoring. I prefer a mild oil for the flavor of the bread and seasonings to stand out, olive oil can be too strong.
- Seasonings: like garlic salt, garlic powder, and onion powder are key. Using herb blends has many different spices that you can sprinkle on in one shot, like Italian seasoning. If you don’t have buttermilk powder you can substitute with parmesan cheese for that cultured whey flavor in the commercial croutons.
How To Make Homemade Croutons:
This homemade croutons recipe is so easy to make! When making croutons from bread think of how long you want croutons to last. Making them in the oven is a more steady heat source than over the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet or microwave. You want a steady low temperature to evenly dry out the small pieces of bread, don’t overflow a small pan.
Spreading out the croutons in a single layer makes the perfectly baked croutons and using a large baking sheet helps. The oven also makes it a hand-off process so you don’t have to constantly stir. You can toast the bread in an air-fryer if making a small batch.
- Make cubes of bread by slicing the bread first then cut into sticks to your desired thickness and dice. You can use a food processor to break up the bread into smaller chunks just try to keep them uniformly sized so they dry out evenly.
- Combine the butter, oil, and seasonings in a large measuring cup. Whisk together well before tossing with the bread. This will evenly distribute the seasonings.
- Toss with the seasoning blend: In a large bowl pour in the seasoning mixture and toss together until all the bread pieces are coated well.
- Spread over a baking sheet: make a single layer over a silicone-lined baking sheet so the bread doesn’t sweat when cooling.
- Bake until dry and crispy: baking croutons over low heat makes super crispy croutons that do not burn. Stir and flip the croutons once halfway through baking.
- Cool croutons completely before storing them in an airtight container or zip-loc bag.
Ways To Serve Homemade Croutons:
The best way to use homemade croutons is obviously Caesar salad. Make croutons to have on hand for:
- Hot tomato soup, French onion soup, or any soup that you would pair with crunchy crackers.
- Make mini croutons and season with poultry seasoning for homemade stuffing.
- Top baked croutons over creamy casseroles for extra crunch. You can also use croutons as the bread in breakfast casserole recipes!
- Seasoned croutons for salad is a great way to impress guests! They’re better than any store-bought croutons because the best croutons are homemade!
- Blend this homemade crouton recipe in a food processor to make homemade bread crumbs and add Italian dressing!
- Crush croutons and add them to the breading for fried chicken recipes.
How To Store Homemade Croutons:
Once dehydrated croutons can store in an airtight container or zip-loc bag for up to two months. Using oil helps croutons not go rancid as quickly. To extend shelf-life you can also place in a rigid container and freeze for 6-9 months. Always cool and dry croutons completely before storing them to ensure they are hard and crisp. If the croutons aren’t crisp once cooled you need to fully dry them in the oven again over low heat until they turn hard after cooling.
How Long To Bake Croutons?
Croutons must be dehydrated for longer storage. You’ll need to dry them at a low temperature anywhere from 150-250°F so they don’t burn for 1-3 hours. They should crumble easily after cooling and be very crisp.
Tips for Making Croutons:
- For garlic parmesan croutons add 3-4 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese (preferably the pre-grated one for longer storage).
- Mix the butter and oil with the spices first before adding to the diced bread. That way it evenly coats the small pieces of bread.
- Crouton recipes can be made with any leftover bread. It’s a great way to use up a loaf of Texas toast or sandwich bread from the store as it’s already pre-sliced.
- Do you only have half a loaf or a few slices of bread you don’t know what to do with? Halve the recipe and throw it into an air fryer! That way you don’t need to run an oven or dehydrator.
- Dress and season the bread to your spice palette. Using pre-made spice blends can add lots of flavor and herbs. I like McCormick’s all-purpose garlic and herb seasoning with black pepper and sea salt.
- To make healthy croutons toast your bread made from whole grain or gluten-free bread.
- The best croutons are made with lots of flavor and oil. So, don’t hesitate to add seasonings. The butter or oil helps crisp up the bread when drying.
- Use a serrated knife to slice the bread, it helps not to mush it. I like to slice bread into 3/4-inch slices and then cut cubes about 3/4-inch wide.
- Cut bread into even pieces so it dries evenly.
More Bread Recipes To Make:
- Sourdough bagels
- Subway Bread Recipe (Italian Herb and Cheese Copycat)
- Garlic Breadsticks
- Focaccia Bread Rolls- these are so similar to ciabatta bread!
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 18x13" sheet pan (lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper)
- 1 large measuring cup (liter size)
- Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a large 18x13 baking sheet with a silicone mat and set aside.
- Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place into a large mixing bowl.
- In a large 4-cup measuring cup whisk together the melted butter, oil, and seasonings.
- Pour over the bread and toss gently until well combined.
- Spread the bread cubes onto a single layer over the baking sheet.
- Bake at 250°F for 1 hour turning once halfway through baking. Turn off the oven and allow to sit for another 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and let the croutons cool completely before storing. They should be dry and crisp once cooled. Use immediately or store in an airtight container or zip-loc bag for up to 2 months.
- Buttermilk powder enhances the flavor of the croutons with a whey flavor. To substitute simply use 3 Tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese.