There are so many times when I’m making a recipe and the thing that I know would take it to the next level is toasted breadcrumbs (example one: broccoli parmesan orzo).
The fact that it can be done in less than 5 minutes is just the icing on the cake (or the breadcrumbs on the pasta?) compared to how it suddenly transforms and elevates dishes.
This recipe is so easy, and I’ll walk you through the simple steps, as well as offer ingredient suggestions, so you can make homemade toasted breadcrumbs whenever you say “Hmm, this could use some texture.“
- Panko Breadcrumbs: keepin’ things extra easy with panko breadcrumbs. If you have stale bread, you can also make your own breadcrumbs by pulsing them in a food processor.
- Butter or Olive Oil: either will work for toasting breadcrumbs. I personally prefer butter for the richness it adds.
- Salt: you’ll definitely want some for flavor! But don’t stop there…
While you could stop there, I recommend adding garlic powder and maybe a pinch of onion powder for added flavor. And definitely some dried herbs, depending on the recipe you’ll be using them on. An Italian herb blend or Herbs de Provance are lovely, versatile additions.
If paired with pasta, I also love adding grated parmesan cheese to the toasted breadcrumbs. It doubles as a topping, because you know you were gonna add extra cheese anyway. This is also a great time to add fresh herbs like chopped parsley, thyme, sage, basil, and rosemary.
Like it spicy? Take things up a notch with a little red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper.
How to Make Toasted Breadcrumbs
Any sized skillet will work for this recipe; the larger the skillet, the more spread out the breadcrumbs will be, and the faster they will toast. I usually use my 10-inch cast iron skillet, but a small stainless steel skillet works too.
Melt the butter, or heat the oil, in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the panko and seasonings, stirring to coat them completely with the butter.
Spread the crumbs in an even layer to encourage the most toasting. Consider lowering the heat to low if it seems to be too hot – the important thing is to not burn the breadcrumbs. Slowly, they will begin to toast and become fragrant.
Stir them and spread in another even layer, continuing to stir more frequently the more toasted they get. It should take only about 3-4 minutes until the breadcrumbs are a golden brown color.
If adding parmesan cheese, let the toasted breadcrumbs cool slightly before tossing in the grated cheese; this ensures it doesn’t immediately melt and turn into a gloopy mess.
How to Use Toasted Breadcrumbs
It’s no secret that breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese is like the creme de la crumb…I mean, creme. So take that fact and consider a panko topping on any cheesy or creamy pastas and you, my friend, have a match made in heaven.
Some of our favorites include:
- Broccoli Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta
- Broccoli au Gratin
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Creamy Garlic Pasta
They’re also great topped on roasted or air-fried vegetables like:
- Pan-Roasted Broccolini
- Air Fryer Broccolini or Broccoli Florets
- Air Fryer Artichokes
- Fresh Asparagus or Frozen Asparagus
- Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts
- Air Fryer Frozen Cauliflower
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Allow any leftover toasted breadcrumbs to cool completely before storage. Place them in an airtight container (glass jars work perfectly) and store at room temperature for 3 days. If they have parmesan cheese, store them in the fridge.
After that, you can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Crisp them back up on the stovetop or in the oven.
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!
Get the Recipe 5-Minute Toasted Breadcrumbs
- Melt the butter, or heat the oil, in the pan over medium-low heat. Add the panko across the pan, sprinkle in the seasonings, and stir to coat everything with the melted butter.1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon Italian Herb Blend
- Spread the crumbs in an even layer to encourage the most toasting. Consider lowering the heat to low if it seems to be too hot – the important thing is to not burn the breadcrumbs. After about 2 minutes, they will begin to toast and become fragrant.
- Stir them and spread in another even layer, continuing to stir more frequently the more toasted they get. It should take only about 3-4 minutes in total until the breadcrumbs are a golden brown color.
- Remove from heat and enjoy immediately, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. If adding grated parmesan cheese, let the breadcrumbs cool slightly before stirring it in.