Bread + Baking

Homemade Croutons

I may have mentioned before that not everything around me or everything I cook has to be made from scratch. I have a shelf of boxed mixes in my pantry I’d be happy to show you.

But people give you That Look when you start talking about things like homemade croutons.

That Look like you’re suddenly going to turn into Ina Garten and smile sadly at them and tell them that if they haven’t gone all the way to the Amazon to harvest that perfect vanilla bean…store bought is fine.

There’s just a lot of judginess when it comes to making things from scratch or not.

And defensively, I want to say, I’m not an extreme homemade advocate, I’m just cheap. But that doesn’t sound right, either.

Let me break it down.

I was gifted a bread maker 10 or so years ago and did the math. It costs me about 88 cents per loaf to make a loaf of bread in my bread maker. The most basic white bread at my grocery store is 99 cents. The somewhat snobby honey bread I like the best and that’s most comparable to the loaves I make is $3.99. Even if you factor in the cost of electricity, and if you wanted to spread the cost of the bread maker over time, it’s still cheaper to bake your own.

So I make a lot of our bread in our bread maker, and it’s delicious.

But we don’t always use all of our bread.

Because I’m cheap, I’m absolutely not throwing it out when it starts to go stale. But I also will not make my family eat stale bread. At least in its current form.

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do with bread that’s going stale! Here are just a few ideas:

  • bread pudding
  • French toast
  • bruscetta & crostini
  • panzanella salad
  • bake and crush into bread crumbs
  • baked croutons

And as a last resort, we have a backyard full of hungry birds and squirrels who will go to town on anything bread-ish we toss out to them. If we’re not going to use bread crumbs, I’ll put them in the bird feeders.

But it’s pretty handy if you have a half loaf or so that’s starting to go stale and need some croutons. And these are so good that you just might think, maybe there is something to this homemade from scratch bit after all.

At least until life speeds back up again.

Homemade Croutons

Makes about 4 cups.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 loaf crusty French or Italian bread {I use my favorite Country honey bread}
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Them:

1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Slice your loaf of bread down into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes and toss onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and melted butter, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.

3. Make sure the bread cubes are spread back out over the sheet in a single layer.

4. Bake for 10 minutes. Then remove and toss the croutons. Bake for 8-10 more minutes, or until the croutons are golden brown. Remove and let cool.

These croutons are the perfect mixture of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I use them in salads, on soups, in stuffing, and crunched up as bread crumbs for coating fish and chicken!

What about you guys and bread machines? For or against?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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