Homemade croutons are a simple way to add flavor and crunch to salads, soups, stews, and casseroles. Make them in 15 minutes in the oven or on the stove-top, from fresh or stale bread.
And the best thing is that you can customize these easy croutons with your favorite herbs and spices.
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Crunchy and aromatic, homemade croutons are the best and easiest way to add extra flavor and crunch to soups, salads, and stews.
You can make a batch of croutons in just about 15 minutes from any kind of fresh or stale bread, and they'll last for more than a week.
Here we'll show you how to make croutons in a pan and in the oven. The process is so simple that you can make this delicious zucchini soup to serve them with in the meantime.
You can even make them in the air fryer, but for that, we have a separate air fryer croutons recipe.
Try our homemade crouton recipe today to add texture to our easy zucchini soup, tofu salad, or roasted butternut squash soup.
We make croutons with French baguette. They turn out very crunchy, and not too hard, which is what we like. In general, French bread and Italian bread (like ciabatta or a rustic loaf) are our favorites.
You can use any kind of bread, including gluten-free, sourdough, and whole wheat bread.
The bread can be fresh or stale. Fresh bread is a little harder to cut into squares and takes a little longer in the oven. We find that 1 to 2 days old bread is best for making croutons.
An essential ingredient to make the bread tasty and crunchy, without getting too dry. We recommend using extra virgin olive oil because it's more flavorful and aromatic. We prefer it to melted butter because it's heart-healthy.
You can use more or less oil based on your tastes. If you are on an oil-free diet, you can make homemade croutons without any oil at all. Of course, they won't be as tasty, but they still get super crunchy.
Add more or less based on your preference and diet. Seasalt and kosher salt are good options.
Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices are optional but we strongly recommend them. We make croutons with dried rosemary but you can use many other dried herbs and spices. It's up to your tastes.
For instance, when it comes to herbs try Italian seasoning, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried mint, dried sage, or a mix of those.
For spices, we recommend garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, paprika, and even smokey chipotle powder.
If your bread has a thick, hard crust you might want to remove it before making the croutons. The crust can get too hard and you might chip a tooth.
Using a serrated bread knife, cut the bread into slices, then into cubes. You can make smaller or larger bread cubes.
Somewhere between ⅓-inch (0.8 cm) and ¾-inch cubes (2 cm) is best so your homemade croutons are bite-size.
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Transfer cubed bread onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and your favorite dried herb and or spices (we recommend garlic powder + rosemary).
Toss the cubes with two spoons or with your hands, and arrange them on the baking sheet without overlapping.
Bake at 400°F or 200°C for 7 minutes, flip the cubes and bake for another 7 minutes until golden and crunchy.
Cook time might vary based on the bread type. However, 14 minutes in total should be enough for most breads.
Also, larger cubes take longer to get crisp throughout.
Note: the croutons will harden as they cool down, and the day after, they'll be even crunchier and harder.
Croutons in a pan
To a large skillet add the olive oil, herbs, and spices (we use rosemary). Warm up the oil then add the cubed bread into the skillet and season with salt.
Fry on medium heat for about 12 minutes, turning the bread cubed every 2 to 3 minutes. If the pan gets too hot, lower the heat.
You might need to add a little more oil halfway through cooking if your pan gets dry. In general, pan-frying requires more oil than oven-baking.
Croutons can add an element of crunch and comfort to a variety of meals. Add a small handful of homemade croutons on top of:
- Soups, such as tomato soup, mushroom soup, and zucchini soup.
- Salads, for example with tofu salad, Italian salad, and tomato-cucumber salad.
- Stews and casseroles, such as Tuscan bean soup, chickpea stew, and Italian bean stew.
Note that when you add them on top of a dish, they will soak up the liquids in the dish very quickly, so we recommend adding them last minute just before serving.
Or even better, let your family (or guests) at your table add them to their own dish!
If you liked these homemade croutons, you might also enjoy our other bready recipes:
- Italian panzanella salad with stale bread
- Air fryer croutons
- Easy crostini
- No-knead focaccia bread
- Roasted zucchini with breadcrumb filling
- Crunchy roasted potatoes with breading
Store homemade croutons in an airtight container like a mason jar or a zip-lock bag at room temperature (on a shelf or on the kitchen counter) for up to one to two weeks. If you live in a dry place they can keep crunchy for longer.
We do not recommend storing homemade croutons in the refrigerator. The moist air in there will make them soggy faster.
Freeze croutons for up to 2 months. To do so, store them in a freezer-friendly plastic bag and freeze them.
To thaw, take them out of the freezer and spread them onto a baking sheet or a large plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb extra moisture. They'll thaw in a couple of hours.
To make them crunchy again, bake them in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for about 5 minutes.
- 1 to 2 days old bread is easier to cut into bite-size cubes.
- If your bread has a hard crust, slice it off before making the croutons.
- Cut same-size cubes so that they'll all cook at the same time.
- Let cool down completely before storing them in an airtight container. The steam generated from their residual heat will make them soggy.
If you have leftover croutons you can easily turn them into tasty breadcrumbs to use in other recipes like our delicious roasted zucchini.
To do so, add them to a food processor and pulse until they turn into breadcrumbs.
1) Let them cool down completely at room temperature and on a single layer.
2) Transfer them into an airtight container like a mason jar or Tupperware.
3) Keep in a dry spot on your kitchen counter (far from steam).
4) Do not put them in the refrigerator, they'll get soggy.
You can keep homemade croutons for up to two weeks if you store them properly, in a dry corner of your kitchen, and in an airtight container.
If you keep them away from moisture it can take more than two weeks for homemade croutons to go bad.
- 3 cups (½ pound) cubed bread
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 2 twists black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried herbs (rosemary, Italian seasoning, or other)
- ¼ teaspoon spices (garlic powder, red pepper flakes, or other)
- If your bread has a thick, hard crust, you might want to remove it before making the croutons. The crust can get too hard, and you might chip a tooth.
- Cut the bread into slices with a serrated bread knife first, then into cubes. Between ⅓-inch (0.8 cm) and ¾-inch cubes (2 cm) is best for bite-size croutons.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Transfer cubed bread onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and your favorite dried herb and or spices (we recommend garlic powder + rosemary).Toss the cubes with two spoons or with your hands, and arrange them on the baking sheet without overlapping.
- Bake at 400°F or 200°C for 7 minutes, flip the cubes and bake for another 7 minutes until golden and crunchy.Cook time might vary based on the bread type. However, 14 minutes in total should be enough for most breads. Also, larger cubes take longer to get crisp throughout. Note: the croutons will harden as they cool down, and the day after, they'll be even crunchier and harder.
CROUTONS IN A PAN
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil, herbs, and spices (we use rosemary). Warm up the oil, add the cubed bread into the skillet, and season with salt and pepper.
- Fry on medium heat for about 12 minutes, turning the bread cubed every 2 to 3 minutes. If the pan gets too hot, lower the heat. If your pan dries, you might need to add more oil halfway through cooking. In general, pan-frying requires more fat than oven-baking.
USE OR STORE
- Use on soups, salads, or casseroles.
- Let cool down at room temperature before storing them in an airtight container such as a mason jar or Tupperware. Keep on your kitchen counter for about one week.
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