How to Make the Best Homemade Croutons

5 from 10 votes
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Make the BEST homemade croutons with a handful of ingredients – they’re soft inside, crisp outside, loaded with flavor, and ready in just 20 minutes. Perfect for soups, salads, stuffing, and more!

Homemade croutons topped with parmesan on a baking tray

Not only are homemade croutons a great way to use leftover stale bread, but I consider them practically a must-have meal topper for a classic Caesar salad, creamy tomato soup, and other salads and soups to add a much-needed crunchy element.

Learning how to make homemade croutons is so easy, too. It can be done with almost any bread, only takes 20 minutes, and can be adapted in several ways with different herbs and seasonings. This time, I’ve gone for my tried-and-tested garlic croutons with Italian herbs and optional (but HIGHLY recommended) parmesan. Wow-ee, the flavor!

They’re SO much better than hard-as-rock, filling-breaking, often flavorless croutons from grocery stores. These homemade garlic croutons are soft inside, crisp outside, and loaded with flavor. Plus, you can bake the croutons in the oven, in an air-fryer, or pan-fry them (all methods below).

Placing homemade croutons in a jar

In fact, the only issue is trying not to eat them all straight from the jar. Luckily, these homemade croutons are a simple way to add crunch and flavor to soups, salads, and casseroles – so you’ll never run low on ways to enjoy them!

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Ingredients

  • Bread: Use day-old open-crumb bread for the best results, like French baguette, ciabatta, or sourdough. However, white/brown bread (and flavored bread) will also work. Use gluten-free bread if preferred.
  • Olive oil: Use good quality olive oil or other neutral cooking oil. Ghee or melted butter will work, too, for non-vegan croutons.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is perfect for infusing the homemade garlic croutons with flavor, though garlic powder will work in a pinch.
  • Italian seasoning: Alternatively, just use one – oregano, thyme, or rosemary.
  • Salt & black pepper: It’s best to use sea salt rather than table salt.
  • Parmesan: (Optional) While optional, adding parmesan cheese helps take these salad croutons to the next level. Nutritional yeast works as a vegan option.
Ingredients for homemade croutons

Refer to the Recipe Card Notes for several delicious, flavored crouton suggestions.

What Bread Is Best for Homemade Croutons?

Homemade croutons (along with French toast and bread pudding) are a great way to use up 1-2 day-old stale bread. Technically, almost any bread you have to hand will work – white loaf, whole meal, sourdough, etc.

However, I prefer making croutons with French baguette, Italian ciabatta, and sourdough bread. The open crumb structure means plenty of crevices for the seasonings to cling. They also become wonderfully crispy yet not overly hard.

How to Make Homemade Croutons

First, preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC, moving an oven rack to the middle position.

Then mince the garlic and combine it with the oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir well.

Oil mixed with spices in a small bowl

Next, cut the bread (using a serrated knife) into even-sized cubes between 1/2 and 3/4 inch in size. This will be harder with rounded loaves but try to get the pieces as even as you can to avoid some under and some over-cooking.

While it’s possible to tear the bread to create lots of crevices, the pieces won’t be even and may not cook evenly.

Next, mix the cubed bread and seasoning in a large bowl and toss to combine OR spread the bread across a baking sheet (in a single layer), drizzle with the oil mixture, and toss.

Tossing bread cubes with oil

Bake the croutons for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway, until they’re dry and lightly browned.

The cube size, type of bread, and batch size can affect the cooking time slightly, so monitor them in the last few minutes. They will continue to crisp up as they cool. So don’t make the mistake of overbaking them – otherwise, they can become rock-solid.

If you’re using parmesan, toss the croutons with them while they’re still warm, then spread them out to thoroughly cool.

Steps for making croutons and covering them with parmesan

Tips for Making Perfect Croutons

  • Choose the right bread: It’s best to use 1 or 2-day-old bread with a fairly open crumb, like baguette or sourdough. If the bread isn’t dry/stale enough, bake it for 5-10 minutes at 200ºF/95ºC before proceeding with the recipe.
  • For the crispiest croutons: It’s imperative to use enough oil and high enough heat.
  • Monitor the croutons while baking: The size, dryness of the bread, batch size, and your individual oven can all affect the baking time. So monitor them starting at about 12 minutes to avoid burn. 15-20 minutes is the general sweet spot.
  • Allow them to completely cool: Before serving or storing. They will crisp up further as they cool, making them the correct level of sturdiness. Excess heat when storing could also cause steam and premature spoilage.
  • Experiment with flavors: Refer to the Recipe Card Notes below for flavor options.
  • To air fry the croutons: Spread in a single layer and air fry 375ºF/170ºC and cook until crispy and golden brown (usually 6-8 minutes), flipping halfway.
  • To pan-fry croutons: Yes, you can cook them on the stovetop, too. Coat the pan with oil and/or butter and cook over medium heat until crusty and golden all over.

Did you know you can keep bread scraps in a large bag in the freezer until you’re ready to thaw it and make croutons?

Homemade croutons topped with parmesan

How Can I Enjoy Croutons?

There are several ways you can make use of this homemade croutons recipe:

  • Salads: Anywhere you want to add crunch. I.e., a Caesar salad, Cobb salad, etc.
  • Wraps: Like a Caesar salad wrap.
  • Soups: Tomato soup, gazpacho, Minestrone soup, etc.
  • Scrambled eggs: ditch the toast for a handful of these croutons instead.
  • Stuffing/casseroles: For poultry and during the holidays.
  • As breadcrumbs: Crush up these garlic croutons instead and use them like breadcrumbs to crust proteins, in/over casseroles, sprinkle over pasta, fondue, etc.
Salad with homemade croutons

How Should I Store Croutons to Keep Them Fresh?

First, make sure they cool COMPLETELY before you store them. Otherwise, residual heat can cause steam and premature spoilage.

Once cool, store the croutons in an airtight container (air-free, moisture-free!) at room temperature for 7-10 days. Avoid refrigeration, as that can cause them to become soggy/soft sooner.

You can freshen up slightly stale croutons with a few minutes in the oven/air fryer or pan-fry them with a little oil/butter and extra seasonings.

You can also freeze the garlic and parmesan croutons for up to 3 months. Then bake them from frozen at 300ºF/150ºC until thawed and crisp once more.

Placing homemade croutons in a jar

More Bread Recipes

If you try this easy homemade croutons recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How to Make the Best Homemade Croutons

5 from 10 votes
By: Samira
Make the BEST croutons at home with a handful of ingredients – they're soft inside, crisp outside, loaded with flavor, and ready in just 20 minutes. Perfect for soups, salads, stuffing, and more!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 baguette OR 1/2 ciabatta (about 6-7 cups of 1/2 inch pieces); OR sourdough/other bread.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil or another neutral oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic from 1 large clove
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano, thyme, or rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese 1/2 cup grated – optional; OR nutritional yeast

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/175ºC, moving an oven rack to the middle position.
  • Mince the garlic and combine it with the oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir well.
  • Cut the bread (using a serrated knife) into even-sized pieces, about ½-¾ inch in size. This will be harder with rounded loaves but try to get the pieces as even as you can to avoid some under and some over-cooking.
    While it's possible to tear the bread to create lots of crevices, the pieces won't be even and may not cook evenly.
  • Mix the bread and seasoning in a large bowl and toss to combine OR spread the bread across a baking tray (in a single layer), drizzle with the oil mixture, and toss.
  • Bake the croutons for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway, until they're dry and lightly browned.
    The cube size, type of bread, and batch size can affect the cooking time slightly, so monitor them in the last few minutes. They will continue to crisp up as they cool. So don't make the mistake of over-baking them – otherwise, they can become rock-solid.
  • If you're using parmesan, toss the croutons with them while they're still warm, then spread them out to thoroughly cool.

Storage

  • Store: Make sure they cool COMPLETELY before you store them. Once cool, store them in an airtight container (air-free, moisture-free!) at room temperature for 7-10 days.
    Freeze: You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Then bake them from frozen at 300ºF/150ºC until thawed and crisp once more.

Video

Notes

  • To air fry the croutons: Spread in a single layer and air fry 375ºF/170ºC and cook until crispy and golden brown (usually 6-8 minutes), flipping halfway.
  • To pan-fry croutons: Yes, you can cook them on the stovetop, too. Coat the pan with oil and/or butter and cook over medium heat until crusty and golden all over.
Other flavor variations:
  • Garlic and thyme croutons: Add 1-2 tsp of finely chopped fresh thyme.
  • Rosemary croutons: You only need a little rosemary (fresh and minced), salt, and olive oil.
  • Lemon pepper: Add around 1 Tbsp lemon juice to the olive oil and use 2-3 tsp of fresh cracked black pepper OR use homemade lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Chili garlic: Add some chili flakes to the oil mixture. You could also substitute some olive oil for chili oil for even spicier results.
  • Spices: Other flavors you could experiment with include smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc.
  • Other seasoning blends: i.e., dry ranch seasoning, BBQ seasoning, curry powder, etc.
Check the blog post for serving recommendations!
Course: DIYs, Side
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 7-10 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 96kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 265mg, Potassium: 32mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 22IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

5 from 10 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. AngelaKin says:

    5 stars
    I love to have soup with this croutons especially gluten-free croutons. creamy soup and crunchiest croutons are the best combo ever. Thanks for sharing this

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you so much, Angela. Glad you like it.