It’s easy to make your own croutons. The good news is that not only can you save money, but you can also greatly increase your choices of seasoning.
Stale Bread Solution
You’re probably familiar with the stale bread crouton solution. This is by far the cheapest way to make croutons. Don’t toss stale break loaves, use them to make great tasting croutons. If there’s a bread outlet in your area, this is the ideal place to go for day-old bread. The breads are put on sale and you can take advantage of these deals. If you can’t use the bread immediately, then store it in the freezer until you’re ready to make croutons.
Best Breads for Croutons
Sliced breads aren’t the best choices for croutons. You can try using these, if you like, but frankly, the bread is usually too light in texture and too soft. I have made sliced bread croutons and basically toasting the bread then sliced, brushing it with a butter herb mixture. The bread didn’t hold up beyond immediate use. So, if you’re in a bind, you made want to try this as a last resort.
The best breads to use are loaves, such as
- Italian loaf
- Boule (French ball)
- Sour dough
A great way to cut the croutons is to use an electric knife. This is an effortless process that speeds up your process with precision.
- Cut off crust (store for later use for cinnamon sticks, bread pudding, etc)
- Slice bread the width you desire for croutons.
- Place several slices together and cut widthwise then lengthwise.
- Continue this process until you’ve cut the entire loaf into edible cube sizes.
There are many ways you can season croutons. The first rule of thumb is to determine how you’re going to use the croutons.
- Olive oil: Typically used for salad croutons.
- Butter: Great for soup croutons.
You aren’t limited to using butter croutons for soups or olive oil croutons for salads; always go by personal taste and preference.
The easiest way to use garlic and olive oil or melted butter is to pre-mix the oil with the garlic. This can be done to taste, or you can mix the cubes with the oil and then sprinkle with garlic powder.
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder (if you like more garlic, increase to taste)
- ½ tsp salt (optional)
- Mix olive oil and garlic powder with a fork or wire whisk
- Place bread cubes and mixed oil in a bowl and cover with lid or plastic wrap.
- Shake bowl to saturate cubes with olive oil/garlic mixture.
- Spread cubes onto a baking pan
Bake in pre-heated 375° oven for 10-15 minutes. Croutons are done when slightly brown and crisp.
Other spices/ingredients you may opt to use in varying combinations include:
- Onion powder
- Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper powder
Allow baked croutons to cool before storing. If you store croutons while hot, the moisture will soften the bread cubes. You can store cooled croutons in a sealed container for 1-2 weeks.
Using Freezer Croutons
To use frozen croutons, first pre-heat the oven at 350° oven. Remove croutons from the freezer bag and place onto a pan. Heat croutons for 5-6 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Use croutons while still warm in a soup, but cool for use in a salad.
Homemade Croutons Better Taste
Aside from the obvious savings you can reap with homemade croutons, you can also create your own signature croutons. Play around with different spice combinations until you find the ones you like best.