Make your own croutons and take your salads to the next level! This crouton recipe is easy to make with bread, olive oil and basic seasonings. Recipe yields enough croutons for 4 to 6 side salads.
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 clean-up. Line a plate with a paper towel and set it aside (we’ll use it to absorb excess oil from the baked croutons later on).
To prepare your bread, use a serrated knife to gently slice the bread into ¾-inch cubes (or if it’s easier, use your fingers to gently tear the bread into pieces about that size). For reference, you should end up with about 3 cups of cubed bread.
Place the cubed bread on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, garlic powder, and several twists of black pepper. Gently toss the bread until it’s lightly coated in oil, then arrange the bread evenly across the baking sheet.
Bake, tossing every 5 minutes, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the croutons are turning golden brown but still offer a bit of chew in the center.
Remove the croutons from the oven and transfer them to the lined plate to absorb excess oil. Once cool, season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Croutons are best enjoyed within a few hours of baking, as they can become a bit tough over time, but will keep in a sealed bag for several days at room temperature.
Most salads benefit from a crisp, crunchy element, which could be anything from toasted nuts, tortilla strips, ice water-soaked red onion, or of course, the classic crouton.
I’ve been perfecting my homemade Caesar salad recipe lately, so I thought we’d start with the croutons. Off we go!
The Best Bread for Croutons
Technically, you can use any loaf of bread to make croutons—whether it’s fresh or stale! Croutons are a great way to make use of stale bread, as is French toast.
You could even make croutons out of sandwich bread. Ideally, though, you’ll use bread that you can slice yourself into relatively thick slices (about 3/4-inch wide). That way, we can make even cubes.
For the best croutons, seek out a crusty loaf of bread with great flavor. I love to use my favorite whole grain sourdough from our local bakery. French bread works very well. You could even use a loaf of rye bread or homemade cornbread if its unique flavors will complement your meal.
Croutons are very easy to make with just two main ingredients and a few basic seasonings. You’ll need bread, of course, as well as olive oil (or melted butter), salt, pepper and garlic powder. The oil or butter helps the bread develop crisp, golden edges, and the seasonings bring out the croutons’ best.
A Few Crouton Tips
Making croutons is a straightforward process. Here are a few tips to make the best croutons:
Tear fresh bread or slice stale bread: Since fresh bread can be so delicate, I found that it’s easier to gently tear fresh bread by hand. Likewise, it’s easier to use a serrated knife to gently see-saw across stale bread.
Aim for 3/4-inch cubes of bread: This size is just right, yielding croutons that are perfectly bite-sized. They’re nicely crisp on the outside, yet still have a bit of chew on the inside. They’re crisp enough to stand up to dressing, but not so crisp that you’ll break a tooth on them! Don’t worry if you’re croutons aren’t perfect cubes. Irregular, craggy bits are welcome here.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and toss every 5 minutes. This temperature is perfect for developing those golden edges without burning the bread. Croutons are ready in just 10 to 12 minutes at this temperature, so you’ll only have to toss once or twice.