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What Is a Crouton?
Croutons are pieces of bread that are torn or cubed, then seasoned and rebaked or sauteed until crispy. Croutons are commonly used to add texture and flavor to salads, soups, and stews. The word crouton comes from the French word for crust, “croûte”, which was historically a slice of baguette brushed with oil or butter and then baked.
What’s the Best Bread for Croutons?
For the best croutons, use slightly stale bread, although fresh bread can still work. A rustic, handmade loaf works better than sandwich breads that are too soft and thinly sliced. Airier loaves, such as baguettes and sourdough work well allowing the croutons to become crispy while baking but still light and chewy in texture. Another fun way to make croutons is with leftover torn up pita bread—think of a Mediterranean salad with a crunchy finish on top.
Here are some of the best breads to use for croutons:
- French Baguette
- Italian Ciabatta
- Pita Bread
10 Recipe Ideas For Using Croutons
- Caesar Salad: A classic way to use croutons is in a Caesar salad with romaine lettuce dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Try using torn bite-sized pieces of croutons for this salad to ensure nooks and crannies that catch dressing and add texture.
- Greek Salad: Try making a refreshing Greek salad with cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta, and capers with croutons. Toss the dressing, salad, and croutons together and let sit for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld together. Pita bread croutons would also work well in this salad.
- BLT Salad: For a heartier salad, try making a BLT salad with crispy bacon pieces, halved grape tomatoes, kale, and a creamy blue cheese dressing.
- Tomato Soup: Crunchy croutons pair well with smooth, pureed soups, especially tomato soup. Try making your croutons with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. This will bring you back to a childhood favorite—a rainy day meal of grilled cheese with tomato soup.
- Butternut Squash Soup: A creamy, dairy-free fall soup that has subtle sweetness from butternut squash and shallots. Try topping the soup with croutons and chopped parsley.
- French Onion Soup: A traditional French onion soup with caramelized onions and croutons with swiss and gruyere melted on top.
- Sausage Breakfast Casserole: Croutons are great for overnight casseroles because the crunchiness of the bread keeps it from becoming soggy. Layer croutons on the bottom of a baking dish, cover in scrambled eggs, cooked crumbled breakfast sausage, heavy cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. The mixture can be covered and stored in the refrigerator overnight and baked off the next morning.
- Holiday Stuffing: Skip the box mix and make your own holiday stuffing. Make croutons with fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, and rosemary. In a large bowl, toss together a mixture of sauteed onion, celery, garlic, eggs, and broth. Place in a baking dish and bake until golden brown.
- Southern Cornbread Stuffing: Try using leftover cornbread to make croutons. The pieces can be dressed with onion, stock, and eggs and baked off for a tasty side dish.
- Bread crumbs: Anytime a recipe calls for bread crumbs, use a rolling pin or food processor to pulverize the croutons up into your preferred size of breadcrumbs.
3 Variations on Croutons
Follow the easy homemade crouton recipe, then add a sprinkle of aromatics, herbs, and flavorings to punch of the taste.
- Garlic croutons: Add 1–2 grated garlic cloves to the olive oil before using. If fresh garlic isn’t available, try sprinkling garlic powder over the tops before baking. These croutons are best for garlic bread lovers.
- Herbed croutons: If using dried herbs, sprinkle on after seasoning with salt. For fresh herbs, add after the first 5 minutes of baking.
- Parmesan Croutons: Add Parmesan after the first 5 minutes of baking.
Easy, Homemade Crouton Recipe
Makesabout 3 cups of croutons
Prep Time5 min
Total Time15 min
Cook Time10 min
This easy recipe will show you how to make homemade croutons with any day-old leftover bread you have in the kitchen. Use them to top off your favorite salads and soups, or snacking on straight out of the oven.
- A loaf of slightly stale bread (about ½ a lb.)
- ¼ cup of olive oil or melted unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Optional flavorings: grated garlic, fresh chopped herbs, dried herbs such as oregano or thyme, italian seasoning, onion powder, and grated parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice bread into ¼ to 1/2 -inch cubes or tear bread into bite-sized pieces for rustic croutons.
- Place bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper; tossing to coat.
- Bake in the oven for 8–-10 minutes until golden, rotating sheet pan halfway.
- Let cool and store. If not using immediately, store croutons in an airtight container.
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