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.
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.
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 teaspoon 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 tablespoon lemon juice to the olive oil and use 2-3 teaspoon 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.