Croutons made at home with fresh bread are a thousand times better than storebought, and they’re incredibly simple to make!
Homemade croutons are one of my secret weapons in making the most epic salads at home.
You see, my problem with storebought croutons is that they have absolutely zero moisture to them.
I understand that they can’t.
They have to last on the shelf for months, and if they had water in them, that wouldn’t work for shelf storage.
But that lack of moisture makes for croutons that are dry and crumbly, with a staleness that overall makes them a dealbreaker for me.
I think salads hinge so much on how much effort you put into the ingredients, and homemade croutons can make them really special and delicious.
What’s fun about them too is that you can customize them in many different ways.
How to Make Croutons:
Start by cutting your bread of choice into cubes:
I usually cube the bread because it’s quick to cut up, but you may also tear little pieces of bread for a different texture (as I show in this post I did for the Pioneer Woman in 2015).
Sourdough bread is my favorite for croutons, but you can use any high-quality loaf of bakery bread, like ciabatta, pugliese, paesano, and more.
It’s best to use bread that’s at least a day old, so the bread is a bit drier from the start, but I’ve used fresh bread when it’s all I had, and it’s still great.
Place the bread cubes into a bowl, and toss with the seasonings of your choice.
Since I was making these croutons for Caesar Salad, I did freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper, and salt:
Feel free to play with the seasonings. I often add herbs, depending on what kind of salad I’m using the croutons for.
And the cheese is optional as well. Leave it out for a dairy-free or vegan option.
Toss well to distribute the seasonings, then toss the bread cubes with oil:
I do olive oil most of the time, but you could also do butter or any other type of fat that has a flavor you enjoy.
Spread the croutons evenly onto a sheet pan in a single layer, giving the croutons space to brown:
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden on the outside.
Note that you don’t want to brown the croutons too much. They are usually crunchier than they look! Once they turn golden, I taste one just to make sure they’re perfect.
They should be robustly crunchy on the outside, but still have moisture in the middle, giving it a nice chewiness and hearty texture.
Homemade Caesar Salad is the perfect venue for these croutons, though they will jazz up any salad you make at home.
And I admit to enjoying them straight off the pan as well 😉
- 6 cups cubed sourdough bread preferably a day old
- 1/4 cup lightly packed grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- In a large bowl, toss to combine the bread, cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Toss the bread with the oil, distributing it as evenly as you can.
- Spread the bread cubes onto a half sheet pan, giving the bread space to brown.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes**, or until slightly golden brown and crisp on the outside, but still moist inside.
- Let the croutons cool on the tray, and enjoy!