Making homemade croutons is so easy, and the little crispy, chewy bites of flavorful toasted bread complement almost any salad and are excellent on soups, too! Crush them to turn them into breadcrumbs. They are versatile, so customizable, and ready in under 15 minutes! Air fryer instructions are included, too!
Are you ready for these little bites of golden, toasted bread that are crisp with a little chewiness? That when warm out of the oven they are nearly impossible to resist sneaking one…or two…or three before serving them.
The combination of crispy and slightly chewy is one that can’t be matched with storebought croutons. And with how easy these are to make, there’s no reason to not make them for dinner.
We all know that pretty much any green salad recipe benefits from croutons, with the crisp, crunchy texture complementing the soft lettuce so well, and there’s nothing like homemade croutons on a caesar salad, either. They contrast with creamy soups and add texture to them, too! A win all around.
Ingredients for Homemade Croutons
In the simplest form, croutons are really just pieces of rebaked bread in oil that crisp up when baking, usually paired with herbs for flavor.
You can make croutons with just bread, oil, and salt, however, I’ve added a few seasonings for added flavor. All this to say, you can totally customize them to your preferences. I’ll leave some ideas below!
Here are the ingredients I use for this homemade crouton recipe:
- Bread: stale or fresh bread will work – more on this below!
- Olive Oil: some use butter, but I love olive oil, especially when baking the croutons because it has a higher heat point and crisps the bread up beautifully.
- Salt and Pepper: a good sprinkle of salt is key! I like a few twists of the black pepper grinder, too.
- Onion and Garlic Powder: these are my go-to’s for making flavorful croutons that will go with anything. You can absolutely add herbs, too, but these as a starter are key.
What kind of bread is best for making croutons?
You really can’t go wrong with the type of bread you use to make croutons, but a hearty loaf of bread is best.
This includes sourdough loaves, baguettes, and Italian bread. The pockets of air throughout these crusty loaves of bread help the air circulate as they bake, ensuring crispiness in every nook and cranny. They are also more flavorful, and add a delectable chew when made into croutons.
That being said, other types of bread will work, too, especially when you’re looking for a way to reduce waste. I have even used leftover hot dog and hamburger buns in a pinch!
Use gluten-free bread to make gluten-free croutons!
Do you need stale bread for croutons?
No, you don’t have to use stale bread to make croutons, although this is the perfect way to use up stale, dry bread before it goes bad.
If using fresh bread, it can be easier to simply tear the pieces, creating rustic croutons, so the bread doesn’t get smashed with the knife. This just depends on how soft the bread is initially.
The best way to cut either type of bread is to use a serrated knife, sawing back and forth.
The Easiest Way to Make Croutons in the Oven
I have a little shortcut method for making croutons, and while it’s not revolutionary, it’s going to save you an extra dish and I think that’s something we can all get behind. But before we get to that, let’s start at the beginning.
As I mentioned, cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. As you can see here, I’ve gone for croutons on the larger side.
When the bread chunks are larger and made from a rustic loaf, the outside gets crisp while the inside stays chewy and slightly soft. It’s a wonderful combination. To make them crispy throughout, cut the bread into smaller pieces.
Place the bread chunks on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil across. Then, toss the croutons in the olive oil until they are completely coated. Yes, this is the shortcut. Instead of tossing them in a bowl to coat them, we’re just doing it right on the baking sheet. Because, why not?
The olive oil amount listed is simply a recommendation; use your best chef hat to determine if you need to drizzle more. The bread pieces should be moist, but not drenched, for best toasting results.
Then, toss them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
When adding the dry spices, sprinkle them across the oiled bread pieces as evenly as possible, before tossing, so the spices don’t get stuck on just a few pieces of bread.
Bake until golden brown, tossing halfway between the cooking time to make sure they are evenly toasted.
Can I make Croutons on the Stove?
Yes, you can also make homemade croutons on the stovetop!
I like to use my large cast iron skillet, but any skillet will work. As you would with the oven method, toss the croutons in the oil then spices, and toast over medium-high heat on the stovetop, stirring occasionally to toast evenly. Continue until they are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Croutons in the Air Fryer
Making croutons in the air fryer couldn’t be any easier! It’s a great option for when you don’t want to turn on the oven or the stove, and they’re ready in less than 10 minutes!
Prepare the bread cubes the same way – tossing in oil and seasonings – then spread them in an even layer in the bed of your air fryer. I like to use the crisper rack to make sure the air circulates completely around them.
Set the air fryer temperature to 375° and air fry for 4-7 minutes, tossing halfway in between. The cook time will vary depending on the size you cut your croutons, and how crispy you want them to be.
As with the other methods, smaller cubes will cook faster (and become crispier) than larger cubes.
Other Seasoning Ideas
Ah, the beauty of making croutons at home is that you can absolutely season them to go with the recipe you’ll serve them with, or just depending on your preferences. Or hey, you can make them as basic as you want to store and save them for all kinds of recipes!
- Dried Herbs: toss the unbaked croutons with dried herbs along with the other spices. Oregano, basil, or parsley are all excellent – or go for an Italian Herb Blend!
- Fresh Herbs: toss baked croutons with finely chopped fresh parsley, rosemary, or thyme for extra flavor.
- Parmesan: go ahead and toss them with parmesan straight out of the oven – it will melt and coat the croutons for absolute deliciousness!
- Red Pepper Flakes or Chili Powder: make them a little extra spicy with one of these add-ins!
Ways to Use Croutons
If you can resist eating the entire pan of croutons after they’ve come out of the oven while they’re still warm and toasty, then there are a variety of ways to use these versatile garnishes! Although the snack part is one of the best.
First and foremost, one of the most popular ways to enjoy croutons is on salads. There isn’t a salad that wouldn’t benefit from these crunchy golden bites of perfection, but the simplest of salads are made magical with them like a dijon salad and they are essential in this bruschetta salad.
Croutons are also a delicious addition to homemade vegetarian soups. They add texture and a wonderful crunch, rivaling even the best crackers around. Top them on creamy potato soup, a bright tomato ginger carrot soup, or a broccoli squash soup.
Because they add texture, they’re great with smooth soups, but that doesn’t mean they can’t garnish broccoli cheddar cheese soup. I mean…have you ever had a toasted sandwich with soup?! Same concept, easy approach.
Leftover croutons? Pulse the croutons in a food processor or smash them in a bag with a rolling pin to make breadcrumbs.
How to Store Fresh Croutons
Store fresh homemade croutons in an airtight container at room temperature. If making croutons to store throughout the week, like for meal prep, cube them smaller and toast them long enough that the entire crouton is crispy. This means that using them a few days later they will still be crispy.
Store croutons like this for up to 4-5 days and enjoy them with everything!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
How to Make Homemade Croutons
- 5 heaping cups bread cubes, cut into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch cubes
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil; toss until bread is evenly coated, drizzling more olive oil if needed.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder evenly across the bread, then toss until completely coated.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and toasty; tossing halfway in between the cooking time. Keep in mind the bread's freshness may impact cook time until golden brown (the more fresh, the longer it may need). Taste test and toss with additional salt if needed.
Alternative Cooking Methods
- Stovetop: Toss bread cubes in oil and seasonings as directed above. Heat a large skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Spread the prepared bread cubes in an even layer and cook for 10-12 minutes, tossing occasionally so that all sides become golden brown.,
- Air Fryer: Toss bread cubes in oil and seasonings as directed above. Set the air fryer temperature to 375°F and spread the prepared bread cubes in an even layer on top of the crisper rack. Air fry for 4-7 minutes, tossing halfway through, until golden brown. The cook time will vary depending on the size of the bread cubes.
- Bread: use a hearty loaf of bread such as sourdough for the tastiest croutons!
- Adjust the Amount: you can use any amount of bread to make croutons, just drizzle olive oil until they are coated and proceed with the recipe.
- Additional spices: toss with dried herbs (before baking), parmesan (after baking), red pepper flakes, and more!
- Storage: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Serving Size: approximately 1/4 cup.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
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