Homemade croutons which are golden and crispy, much better than store-bought croutons.
The best part of homemade croutons is that you can use your favorite bread, even if it has gone bad, and your croutons are ready in 15 minutes.
Most salads benefit from the crunchy elements, which can be roasted nuts, tortilla strips, red onions soaked in ice water, and of course classic croutons.
I have been perfecting my homemade Caesar salad recipe lately, so I think we start with croutons.
Choose the best bread
Technically, you can use any bread to make croutons-whether fresh or stale! Croutons are a great way to use stale bread, as is French toast.
You can even use sandwich bread to make croutons. However, ideally, you will use bread that can cut yourself into relatively thick slices (approximately 3/4 inch wide). In this way, we can even make cubes.
If you want the best croutons, find a crusty bread that tastes good. I like to use whole wheat yeast from my favorite local bakery. French bread works well. You can even use a loaf of rye bread or homemade cornbread, if its unique flavor can complement your meal.
Croutons are easy to make, requiring only two main ingredients and some basic seasonings. Of course, you need bread, as well as olive oil (or melted butter), salt, pepper and garlic powder. Oil or butter helps the bread to form a crisp, golden edge, while seasonings give the bread the best flavor.
Tips for some croutons
Making bread cubes is a simple process. Here are some tips for making the best croutons:
Tear fresh bread or sliced stale bread: Since fresh bread can be so delicate, I find it easier to tear fresh bread gently with my hands. Similarly, it is easier to use a serrated knife to gently tug on stale bread.
Aim for 3/4-inch bread cubes: this size is just right to produce bite-sized bread cubes. They are crispy on the outside, but still a bit chewy on the inside. They are brittle enough to withstand dressing, but not so brittle that you will break their teeth! If your croutons are not perfect cubes, don't worry. Irregular and rugged fragments are welcome here.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, turning every 5 minutes. This temperature is perfect for forming those golden edges without burning the bread. At this temperature, the croutons are ready in 10 to 12 minutes, so you only need to toss once or twice.
- 2 large slices of crusty bread, about ¾-inch thick (about 4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleaning. Line the plates with paper towels and set them aside (we will use it later to absorb the excess oil in the toast).
- When preparing the bread, use a serrated knife to gently cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes (or, if easier, use your fingers to gently tear the bread into pieces of about that size). For reference, you should end up with about 3 cups of cube bread.
- Place the cut bread on the prepared baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and a few strands of black pepper. Stir the bread gently until it is coated with a thin layer of oil, then place the bread evenly on the baking sheet.
- Bake, turning every 5 minutes, about 10 to 12 minutes, until the bread cubes are golden brown, but still provide a bit of chewing in the middle.
- Remove the bread cubes from the oven and transfer them to a lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Once cooled, season with extra salt and pepper if needed. Croutons are best enjoyed within a few hours after baking, as they will become a bit harder over time, but they can be stored in a sealed bag for several days at room temperature.
Enlarge this recipe: Don't overcrowd the baking sheet, or your bread won't be so crispy. Place the ingredients on the two pans on the shelf near the center of the oven, swapping their positions when tossing the bread cubes.