Everything You Need to Know About Homemade Croutons

(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

Homemade croutons are an unsung kitchen hero. Made from stale bread and requiring a little bit of effort, croutons liven up salads and soups and can be quickly turned into breading for chicken, fish, or vegetables. Croutons made at home are infinitely adaptable, easily customizable, and significantly less expensive than even the best store-bought variety.

Use Stale Bread

The type of bread used to make croutons doesn’t matter. White, rye, sourdough, or even banana bread can be turned into croutons — as long as it is stale. Slicing a loaf of already-stale bread into cubes can be challenging, so cube the bread before it is completely hard and spread into an even layer on a baking sheet to dry out.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Croutons can be large, small, or flat; size is determined by preference. I like small cubes and use flat croutons for soup. However, it is helpful for toasting if all the croutons in a particular batch are close in size. For a mix of bread types and sizes, work in small batches and then toss the mix together before storing.

Stovetop, Oven, or Toaster

Stovetop croutons are fast-cooking, oven croutons are hands-off, toaster croutons are perfect for the small-space or dorm-bound salad lovers. You can make croutons just about every way you can cook. Toaster ovens are ideal for small batches and, while I haven’t tried it yet, I’d bet you can toast croutons over an open fire too. Mmm, smoky!

Season as You See Fit

Seasoned croutons are a simple pleasure. The little nooks and crannies get filled with salt or cheese and are just as delectable eaten out of hand as they are in a finished salad or soup. The wonderful thing about homemade croutons is you can flavor them however your heart desires.

Six Recipes for Flavorful Croutons