How To Make Homemade Croutons
Learn how to make homemade croutons that are crunchy, flavorful, and so much better than anything store-bought. These are perfect for topping salads and soups, using in stuffing, and more!
If you enjoy these, you’ll adore this homemade Italian salad dressing. Readers are saying, “This was so good!” and, “Always wondered why salads at home were blah. Now I know. You need fresh dressings. Love the flavor of this one.”
We love a flavorful salad, but to pass muster in this house it’s pretty much required to have some good crunch. And there’s no better way to achieve that than a sprinkling of good old-fashioned croutons! Sadly, we’ve had mixed luck with store-bought croutons–some leave a strange aftertaste, while others seem to be barely seasoned at all. That won’t cut it! And even when they taste good, you know they’re still packed with mystery ingredients and preservatives.
Fortunately, a batch of croutons is so incredibly easy to make yourself, you’ll be hooked forever on doing this the homemade way. Today you’ll learn to make the best croutons of your life–and with just about 10 minutes of work!
Once you have these croutons in the pantry, you’ll find all sorts of ways to use them. Add them to salads, sprinkle on soup or chili, use in your favorite stuffing recipe, blitz them in the food processor to make breadcrumbs, and more.
Ingredients and tips for success
- Bread: The best homemade croutons start with good bread. Use a crusty loaf of bread – French, Italian, or sourdough all work wonderfully. No limp white sandwich bread here! Ideally your bread will also be a day or two old. So the next time you have stale bread sitting on the counter, don’t throw it out! Make croutons instead!
- Olive oil and butter: A combination is best! Olive oil helps the bread cubes develop a crisp exterior, while butter adds subtle flavor. That said, if you need to make vegan croutons, you can just use olive oil.
- Garlic powder: Garlic powder is preferable to fresh garlic in this case, because it coats the croutons more evenly and won’t burn in the oven.
- Dried parsley: This adds a bit of extra flavor and color. You can also swap in Italian seasoning or other dried herbs to change up the flavor. Try Cajun seasoning or za’atar for a twist!
- Kosher salt and black pepper: Always the perfect flavor finish!
You can make your own croutons in about 30 minutes and most of that is the time they are baking! This recipe is easy prep with delicious rewards. Here’s what to do:
- Cut your loaf of bread into cubes and place in a large bowl. Make sure the bread cubes are roughly the same size so the croutons cook evenly. I like generously-sized croutons, about 1-inch square, but you can make them slightly smaller if you like. Don’t cut off the crust; it makes the croutons extra rustic and hearty!
- Add olive oil, melted butter, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper, and toss very well. All of the bread cubes should be evenly coated.
- Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet, lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper if you have it. The bread cubes should be in a single layer and spaced slightly apart; if bunched together, they won’t crisp evenly.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, just until the croutons are golden brown. If you want them crunchy all the way through, bake for the full 30 minutes; if you prefer them slightly chewy in the middle, remove the croutons right about 20 minutes. I usually bake them all the way crispy; we love the crunch, plus they last longer in the pantry!
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Pop one or three as a snack as needed. 🙂
Storage and freezing
Homemade croutons can be stored in a ziplock bag in the pantry for 2-3 weeks, if they were fully baked to be crispy all the way through. (See cooking notes above.) If they remain slightly chewy in the middle, you may want to use them within a week.
And: Yes, homemade croutons can be frozen! Place in a large sealed freezer bag and store for 4-6 weeks. Take out as many as you need at a time, and simply defrost them on the counter for 10-15 minutes. They’ll be tasty as-is, but if you want to get the full crunch factor, toss them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Just watch them closely!
Ways to use them
- An Everyday Italian Salad
- Greek Salad (with seriously the best homemade Greek dressing)
- A simple but perfect Spinach Balsamic Salad with Sea Salt
- Creamy (but dairy-free!) Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
- Carrot Red Pepper Soup
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Tortellini Chicken Noodle Soup
- Blue Ribbon Beef Chili
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
- Summer Vegetable Chili (stovetop or Instant Pot-friendly)
- Grind them in the food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs
How To Make Homemade Croutons
- 1 loaf crusty French, Italian, or sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut the loaf of bread into cubes of the desired size; 1-inch cubes make generously-sized croutons. You don’t need to remove the crust.
- Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, melted butter, garlic powder, dried parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss well until the bread cubes are evenly coated.
- Spread the seasoned bread cubes out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the croutons are golden brown. (See note below about baking times.) Remove from the oven, let cool completely, and enjoy!
- Swap or add extra dried seasonings for variations on the flavor. Try Italian seasoning for a classic Italian flavor profile, or just thyme or oregano if you love those. Cajun seasoning is fun for a little added kick, and za’atar is tasty for a Mediterranean twist.
- If you want the croutons to be crunchy all the way through, bake them for the full 30 minutes; if you prefer them slightly chewy in the middle, remove them after about 20 minutes. I usually bake them all the way crispy; they last longer in the pantry that way!
- Store in the pantry for 2-3 weeks if they were baked to be all the way crispy, or about 1 week if they remain slightly chewy in the middle. Or freeze in a sealed storage bag for 4-6 weeks; defrost as needed for 10-15 minutes on the counter, and toast for 2-3 minutes under the broiler to restore the full crunchy effect!