We love to buy extra long loaves of fresh French, Italian, or Cuban bread when we make panini, Cubans, or monster-size sandwiches, or when we want to dip fresh bread in Sunday sauce or tomato salad, but we always have leftover bread. Croutons are simple and quick, and it’s a good use for bread that’s a day or so old. The good thing about making homemade croutons is that you can season them with just about anything. I find that dried seasonings work the best, but finely chopped fresh herbs, garlic, and onion will also work.
I like my croutons to be cubed, but you can shape them any way you want. For a rustic crouton, tear bread in bite sized pieces. You can also make them smaller, or flatter, too. Once the croutons are seasoned, they will be toasted in the oven. Small or flat croutons will not require as much time in the oven, so be aware of cooking times when toasting them (nothing smells worse than burned toast).
I find that rustic breads or whole loaf breads work the best for making croutons. These types of breads are easy to slice and cube. Bread that’s a day or so old is also the easiest to cut, but fresh bread works fine if you slice it and leave the slices uncovered out in the open for an hour or so. It will create a thin layer of stiffness to the slices. Then it’s easier to cube the bread slices without the bread flattening. I’ve never tried sandwich bread, but I would think that it would be hard to slice and cut, and then burn before you know it. When preparing croutons, I leave the crust on, but you can also cut it off. I think the crust is extra crunchy and toasty. The crust seems to absorb the oil and seasoning, and it’s more flavorful than the bread. The little end pieces, the heels of the bread loaves, are by far the most flavorful and crunchy. These are my favorite.
Follow the recipe below to learn how to make croutons at home.
- ½ loaf of French, Italian or Cuban bread
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Slice the bread so that each slice is at least 1-inch thick. If desired, remove crust. Cut each slice in half, then in 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the bread in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil. Generously season croutons with desired herbs and spices. Using your hands, gently toss croutons until seasoning is well-distributed. Return croutons to a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake at 375 degrees until croutons are toasty, about 5-7 minutes. Turn; bake for another 5 minutes. Do not over cook. Remove from oven and cool.