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Ditch the store-bought variety and learn how to make your own homemade croutons from scratch. This recipe is easy and customizable and perfect for topping all of your favorite salads and soups.
Croutons are my weakness. Well, really bread is my weakness, but crunchy bread covered in delicious garlic and butter, so rich with flavor? Well that my friends is pure heaven! I never realized how easy it is to make croutons until I tried it out a few years ago. Now I make them all the time to add to my Garden Salad, Smoky Bacon and Bean Soup and sometimes I’ll just eat them on their own as a snack. No shame in my game!
Ideally you’ll need to let a loaf of bread sit out overnight because day old is best. The less moisture in the bread, the more crunch in the crouton. Cube it up, toss the cubes in a butter, olive oil and seasonings mixture and you are good to go. Now grab your favorite salad recipe and lets make some croutons!
Homemade Croutons from Scratch
The key to the perfect crouton is the right ingredients. I like to use butter and olive oil because the butter adds flavor while the olive oil helps to crisp and add color as the croutons bake. The seasonings are really up to you and I’ll share some ideas for variations a little later in the post.
- I use a regular 1 pound loaf of bakery french bread, but you could use Italian, french baguette, wheat, sourdough or multi-grain. Even sliced sandwich bread would work. Day old bread is best so the butter will coat it instead of soaking in and turning the bread into a soggy, mushy mess. Let the bread sit out on the counter overnight.
- Cut the bread into cubes. You can make these as large or small as you like, but 1-inch or a little smaller is customary.
- Melt butter and olive oil together and whisk in some garlic, basil and oregano, and salt and pepper. Toss the melted butter with the bread cubes in a big mixing until they are all coated.
- Scatter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and bake until crispy. You don’t want them to be hard, but kind of a “soft crunchy” texture.
- Let the croutons cool a bit then toss a few on your salad for some added crunch. Or shovel them in your mouth by the fistfuls. No judgement here.
If you don’t feel like turning on your oven, you can make your homemade croutons on the stove. Melt the butter and olive oil and toss with the bread without seasonings. Toast in a large skillet over medium-high for about 10 minutes, turning often for even browning, then back to the bowl and toss with the seasonings.
Garlic powder and pepper will burn in the skillet, so be sure to only add them after cooking.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- If you don’t have time to leave the bread out overnight, cut the cubes and toast them in the oven just for a minute, then toss in the butter and bake.
- Store homemade croutons in a tightly sealed container or resealable storage bag and keep them in a cool spot in your pantry for about a week. They don’t need refrigeration, but keeping them in the fridge could extend their life by at least a week, while losing only a little bit of crunch.
- They’re freezable! Place cooled croutons into a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. From the freezer, spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for about 10 minutes to thaw and crisp them up.
How to Use Homemade Croutons
Can we all just agree that adding croutons to your salad just makes it better? They add flavor, texture and a little extra oomf to your soups too. Here are some serving ideas:
- Classic Cobb Salad
- Olive Garden Salad Copycat
- Greek Chicken Salad
- Southwest Chopped Salad
- Tortellini Soup
- Ham and Navy Bean Soup
- Split Pea Soup with Bacon
While my heart really belongs to this garlic and herb variety, I am a sucker for croutons in just about any flavor.
- Parmesan + garlic
- Cajun seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- Simple salt + pepper
- 1 pound loaf french bread left out overnight
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Set aside.
- Cut bread into one inch cubes or smaller. Place into a large bowl. (If you don't have a bowl large enough for all of the bread, do half at a time).
- Melt butter in the microwave. Whisk in olive oil and seasonings. Toss the butter mixture with the bread until everything is coated. **NOTE - if only doing half of the bread at a time, use only half of the butter each time.
- Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, turning bread several times to ensure even browning. Allow to cool completely before eating.
- If you don't have time to leave the bread out overnight, cut the cubes and toast them in the oven just for a minute, then toss in the butter and bake.
- Store homemade croutons in a tightly sealed container or resealable storage bag and keep them in a cool spot in your pantry for about a week. They don't need refrigeration, but keeping them in the fridge could extend their life by at least a week, while losing only a little bit of crunch.
- To freeze, place cooled croutons into a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. From the freezer, spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 250 for about 10 minutes to thaw and crisp them up.