It’s really very simple to make your own homemade croutons and breadcrumbs. Simply save all of the heels of your favorite whole grain, sourdough, sprouted or Gluten-Free/Grain-Free bread and place them in a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer until ready to make croutons and/or breadcrumbs.
How to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
When you’re ready to make croutons and/or breadcrumbs, defrost bread on countertop. Cut bread into cubes and place on a baking sheet as shown in photo below. Bake at *190 degrees for 2-3 hours. Making sure to check them at least every half-hour or so. Then turn off the oven and let the bread cubes remain in the oven until cooled or overnight.
Once the bread cubes are completely cooled and dried out. Place them in batches into your food processor or Vitamix and process into breadcrumbs as shown above. Or simply place bread cubes into a gallon-size ziplock baggie and use a heavy wood rolling pin to crush into breadcrumbs. (Four bread heels make approximately 1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs.)
For seasoned breadcrumbs, you can simply add some Italian Herb Seasoning and a bit of sea salt to the breadcrumbs and mix well to combine. However, I generally leave my breadcrumbs plain, as I can easily season them if needed for a recipe.
Place breadcrumbs in a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer. Due to their very low moisture content, they will not “freeze” so there’s no need to thaw, just use them straight out of the freezer in your favorite recipes.
Use Plain Croutons for Stuffing
If you are going to make stuffing, just save the plain dried croutons in a freezer-safe container in the freezer until ready to use. I love to use plain croutons to make my family’s favorite simple, yet delicious Savory Herb Stuffing.
Making Seasoned Croutons for Soups & Salads
If you want to make seasoned croutons for use in your favorites soups and salads, simply season the bread cubes prior to drying them out in the oven. Add some olive oil and melted butter (or coconut oil) and your favorite seasonings, like dried Italian herbs, parsley, garlic powder and salt. Mix well to combine. Then add your bread cubes and toss until well coated with the olive oil mixture. Place seasoned bread cubes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry out in oven as outlined above. Once cool, transfer to a freezer safe container and store in freezer.
*If your oven doesn’t go as low as 190 degrees, simply raise your rack to highest level (away from bottom heat source) and place your oven on its lowest setting. Make sure to check the croutons at least every half-hour to ensure you do not overcook. You don’t want them to brown, just dried out.
Homemade breadcrumbs and croutons are a great way to use the unwanted heels of your bread and they are much more nutritious than store bought varieties. I always save up my bread heels and then, once I’ve got a full gallon size bag of heels, I bake all my croutons in one sitting, which saves time and money (after it all it does cost money every time you turn your oven on – every little bit helps!).