What salad is complete without the irresistible salty, garlicky crunch of homemade croutons?
You just can’t buy croutons at the store that are golden brown on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and made with love.
Making croutons is easy, fun and resourceful. They add new life to old bread. You can use homemade croutons on salads, in soups or — my father’s signature recipe — as a complement to buttered noodles.
We’ll show you how to make homemade croutons in two different ways using ingredients you probably already have at home.
Homemade Crouton Ingredients
You don’t need much to make savory homemade croutons. Get started by gathering these ingredients:
- A loaf of bread: Most croutons are made out of sourdough or Italian bread, but don’t feel limited to these options. Any bread will do (even if it’s a little stale).
- Olive oil: We always recommend using extra virgin olive oil. It has a higher nutritional value than “regular” olive oil. Olive oil adds the golden crisp to your croutons.
- Spices: Staple spices for croutons include oregano, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Feel free to get creative here. The right mix of spices will make your croutons explode with flavor.
- Parmesan cheese: This optional ingredient adds extra flavor and crunch. It’s like adding breadcrumbs to your bread cubes.
Crouton Making Materials and Utensils
Depending on your goals, you can make easy homemade croutons on the stovetop or in the oven. Oven-baked croutons typically contain less fat than croutons fried in a pan. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large baking sheet for oven-roasted croutons.
- A large frying pan for fried croutons.
- A large bowl to mix your spices.
- A wooden spoon to stir your bread cubes.
- An airtight container to store your finished croutons.
- A tablespoon and teaspoon measuring spoon to follow our crouton recipe exactly.
How to Make Croutons: Our Favorite Crouton Recipes
Let’s start with how to make croutons in the oven. Baked croutons are easy, lower in fat content than the fried alternative, and equally delicious.
How to Make Oven-Baked Croutons
Step 1: Warm Up Your Oven
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2: Grab Your Loaf of Bread and Large Bowl
Start by cutting your bread into ¾” cubes. For smaller croutons, you may want to lower your oven to 350 degrees.
Place roughly 4 cups of bread cubes into a large bowl.
Step 3: Olive Oil and Seasoning
For this step, you’ll need:
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (remember, the parmesan will add some saltiness, too)
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
If you love garlic, feel free to add a clove of garlic, minced.
Drizzle half of your olive oil over the bread cubes. Mix the cubes, then drizzle the rest of the olive oil. This will help the seasoning to stick and ensure a brown crisp to your croutons.
Sprinkle your seasoning in. Keep mixing as you go. Then, toss in the parmesan.
Step 4: Grab Your Baking Sheet
I wrapped tin foil around my baking sheet to reduce the mess and make clean up easier.
Spread your bread cubes evenly on your baking sheet. Make sure each one has plenty of space.
Put your croutons in the oven for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Check on Them!
It’s always hard to resist a peek at your hard work while baking homemade treats. Fortunately, that’s not a problem when making croutons.
At the 10-minute mark, remove your croutons and flip them. The down-facing side should be golden brown. Use a pair of tongs or flip them carefully with a fork and oven mitt.
Put them back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Step 6: Remove and enjoy!
Now that your house smells like warm garlic bread (yum), you can remove your croutons from the oven. Wait for them to cool before tasting.
Store your croutons in an airtight container. You can keep them in your refrigerator for up to one week.
How to Make Stove-top Croutons
This is my personal favorite way to make homemade croutons. It reminds me of the buttered egg noodles my dad used to make. He usually makes croutons using butter instead of olive oil, but I’ve chosen olive oil to reduce fat. This recipe goes great with fettuccine, spaghetti, or any other long noodle.
Step 1: Prep Your Bread
I used a fresh baguette for this recipe, but you can use sourdough or day-old bread, too. Stovetop croutons tend to absorb more oil, making them softer and chewier than baked croutons.
Cut your bread into ½ inch cubes. I used about 1 cup of bread cubes for this recipe. Put them in a bowl and add:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese
Stir this mix with your wooden spoon until each cube has spice on it.
Step 2: Prepare Your Frying Pan
Drop 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the center of your frying pan. Feel free to mince a clove of garlic and add that, too. Heat the pan on medium-high heat until the olive oil moves freely, coating the pan.
Step 3: Cook Your Croutons
Simply dump the bowl of bread cubes into the pan. Spread them evenly.
Within 3-5 minutes, you’ll start to see the bottom of the bread cubes brown. Stir and flip the bread cubes so they are evenly fried.
Once they’re browned on all or most sides, remove your croutons from the heat and serve.
Step Four: Enjoy!
It really is that easy. These pan-fried croutons are crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. You can use them just like baked croutons. Put them on salads or in soup.
Store them in an airtight container for up to a week. Note that these croutons may become less crunchy compared to their baked counterparts because they require more oil.
How to Use Your Croutons in Creative Ways
Croutons are more versatile than you might think. Sure, you can add them to a Caesar salad or tomato soup. Sometimes I even dip them in marinara sauce as a homemade bite-size garlic bread snack.
But did you know you can also easily transform your homemade croutons into breadcrumbs?
I turned my croutons into homemade breadcrumbs by placing them in a bowl and smashing them with a wooden spoon. Then, I coated a filet of tilapia in the crumbs and pan-fried it. Delicious!
You can also use croutons and breadcrumbs to make an easy stuffing. Because croutons are already seasoned, all you have to add is diced celery and onion, vegetable broth and butter. Bake this blend in the oven for 30 minutes covered, then 20 more minutes uncovered (or until golden brown).
Finally, don’t be afraid to replace any of these spices to get a crouton that fits your meal.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. So next time you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, what will you cook up?
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