If the only croutons you’ve ever had have been from a box, or on an iceberg salad from a fast food place, you have no idea what you are missing. The taste, texture, and value of homemade croutons are fabulous.
They are easy and delicious to make. So why aren’t you making your own?
Maybe you just don’t know how. Here’s how to make croutons at home, with delicious results.
Basically, croutons are just toasted bread. The difference is that they are toasted longer, so that the interior of the bread dries out, giving a satisfying crunch throughout, not just on the surface.
However, if you like that crunch just on the outside, the good news is, you have full control when you make your own. You can leave them in the oven for less time, to get a softer, chewier finished product. Or keep them there longer, to get almost a tooth-shattering morsel. The choice is yours.
Simply use some leftover bread. I don’t like bread heels, the slices you cut off at either end of a loaf. So I tend to use those, or just the odd slice or two that collects after a while.
I also use the pieces that are broken up and can’t be used for a sandwich. If you make your bread with a bread machine, you know about those pieces. They are ones in the middle, where the paddle has been, and cut a big hole.
Any bread is fine. You can use fresh bread or stale, whole grain or white, sweet or savory.
Recipe: Homemade Croutons
2 slices bread, cubed (or a similar amount of rolls or buns,) about 3 cups
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt to taste (optional)
I use a serrated knife to cut the bread into cubes. Place the bread cubes into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. I prefer this to a cookie sheet, because the cubes stay inside when you mix them, but you can use a cookie sheet as well.
Add the olive oil. Mix well. Sprinkle on the garlic and onion powders. Mix well. Spread out evenly in the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and hard. Stir halfway through.
Homemade Crouton Tips
–Stick around while they are baking, because they can overcook very quickly.
–Be sure to cool them completely before storing in an airtight container.
–Try to make them on a day that’s not raining, because the moisture in the air from rain (and snow too?–I live in Hawaii–we don’t have snow–someone with experience will have to answer this for me!) will make them get soggy soon after you remove them from the oven.
–You don’t even have to use bread slices. Any shape or size will work. Have some leftover rolls or buns? Use those.
–In fact, for variation, try using sweet bread sometimes. It makes for a nice complement to a carrot soup, for example.
–You can add salt if you like, but I leave it out because salad dressing has a lot of flavor, and I like my croutons to add to the flavor, not compete with it.
–These are excellent on leafy green salads or soup. Try some with this vegan chocolate vegetable soup, for example.
–They can be quite addictive, so don’t be surprised to find yourself munching on them right out of the oven!
Now you know how to make croutons at home. It’s very straightforward and simple, and if you try it for yourself, you’ll see how delicious they are. You will likely never buy pre-made again.
I know, I know. You’re becoming a food snob, like me! ha ha.