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Tuesday, June 1

Homemade Croutons

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One of the first things I ever cooked that made me feel like I could cook (well, besides dishes containing canned veggies and creamed soups, that is!) was homemade croutons. When we were first married and I was still finding my culinary voice (i.e. cooking not-so-great food on a not-so-great budget in a really-quite-awful basement apartment kitchen), chicken caesar salad with homemade croutons was one of our go-to “gourmet” meals. Okay, not so gourmet, but it felt gourmet and gave my cooking confidence level a much needed boost!

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Last night I made homemade croutons for a simple caesar side salad. It’s been a while since I’ve made croutons and cooking them transported me back in time to that tiny basement kitchen. It also reminded me how delicious homemade croutons are, all crispy and flavorful on the outside, soft and yummy on the inside. There’s nothing better. And it’s a great way to use up stale, leftover bread. Without further ado, here is how I make croutons. Feel free to share your own crouton-cooking tips if you have them!

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Homemade Croutons
 
From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
Author:
Ingredients
  • Leftover french/italian/country/whatever bread or baguette (stale is fine!), cut into bitesized cube-ish pieces (no need to be precise, unless you like precise-looking croutons)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dried or chopped herbs of your choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat up a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat up (you can use butter or canola oil if you don’t have olive oil on hand). Evenly salt and pepper the pan and oil, then evenly spread your bread pieces in the pan and toss with a spatula (I just dump the bread in and quickly toss it all around to evenly distribute the oil and seasoning – you may need to drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the croutons if it doesn’t seem like you have quite enough). Sprinkle with herbs of your choice (oregano, basil, rosemary, whatever…last night we didn’t use any herbs and they were still fabulous).
  2. After tossing them a bit, let the croutons sit over the heat for about a minute at a time, tossing in between. Cook until they start to get browned and crispy on the outside, but not burned.
  3. I usually make croutons on the stovetop, as opposed to the oven. It feels easier to me, although it’s probably about the same (minimal) effort. If you want to cook them in the oven, just toss the bread pieces in a large bowl with the oil and seasoning, spread into 1 layer on a cookie sheet and bake at around 400 degrees until they look done, flipping once or twice during cooking.

 

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25 Comments »

  1. 1
    Meg

    I didn’t know you could do these on the stovetop! I just hate heating up the house with the oven if I don’t have to. Thanks for the tip!

  2. 2
    Emily

    One of my best friends in college, who really wasn’t a very good cook, made the best homemade croutons! And to this day, I’ve still never made them. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. 3
    Stacey Thomas

    Jane, I can’t help but to comment on this :o) Your little story of being newly wedded, and cooking “not so good food” in a small basement kitchen, hit home for me! ahaha. That is pretty much where I am at, in this moment of time. I reallly enjoy cooking, and things are getting better, but your website has been great motivation for me to get creative and a bit dangerous at times! Like making homemade croutons! Who would have known it was so easy. I am pretty excited about this one. Thanks for all your hard work on this blog! :o)

  4. stacey, I just love your comment! enjoy those newlywed years…despite the small basement kitchens, they’re good ones!! keep on cooking and trying things – you’ll do great! :)

  5. meg – yes, I love doing it on the stovetop versus the oven, especially in the summer! glad I could help!

    emily – go for it – I’m sure you’ll make them just as good as your friend ;)

  6. 6
    Stacey Thomas

    ps. those are suppose to be happy faces, not angry ones (o:

  7. I don’t, won’t and can’t cook, But I thought I’d have a bash at these.Used butter,olive oil, garlic and sea salt. Wonderful. So thrilled I made a second batch but in the oven this time. Result was awful, drab tastless On analysing it, my butter etc must have vanished (not enough I suppose) very quickly leaving the croutons dry and lonely and ‘cos I didn’t keep checking them burnt as well! I’ll know better next time and cook them on top Thankyou for motivating me and at 73 it’s about time.

    • Jane Maynard

      well, I am DELIGHTED that I helped motivate you to cook! yay! and am so happy the first batch was so yummy! and, you know, when I have failures like your second go around, it’s just always so helpful for knowing what not to do and making the recipes better and better – so it’s a good thing, right? ;) anyway, so fun to wake up to your comment – thank you!

  8. 8
    Maddy

    On a super hot day like today, this is exactly what I need to go with my caesar salad as I really don’t want to put the oven on. Cheers

  9. 9
    Carolyn

    I went to TJ’s to buy peanut flower this morning, and guess what … they don’t carry it anymore because of low sales (according to this article), although I suspect it had something to do with their peanut butter recall. I was so bummed.
    http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2011/02/trader-joes-peanut-flour-discontinued.html

  10. 10
    Carolyn

    Crap! Peanut FLOUR, sorry.

  11. 11
    Judy

    Why have I never made this before?!?!?!? I just found your recipe. I haven’t even eaten yet but I had to let you know how delicious the one I just tried! I have an herb garden so I was even able to use fresh herbs – tonight’s selection was rosemary, basil, thyme & parsley. I am hoping this will forever eliminate the 6 month old boxes of croutons that we forgot we had. THANKS!!

  12. 12
    Judy

    One question – is it possible to make extra & put them aside? Just curious if they’ll keep a day or 2 & if so, how you store them.

    • Jane Maynard

      I am SO glad you loved making them so much! makes my day!

      I’m sure they would last a few days in an airtight container or a ziploc bag. and if, for some reason, they get a little less crispy, I would just throw them in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes and they should be back to normal! but I doubt you’ll even need to do that!

  13. 13
    Judy

    Thanks Jane – I only used 1 roll & it was perfect for me & my husband. Small portions are key in our house since it’s just the 2 of us and I really hate throwing out food. Glad I could put a smile on your face!!

  14. 14
    Pat

    Jane, thanks for sharing your sweet story. Today, for the first time, I am making homemade croutons with a stale loaf of roasted garlic artisan bread. I have tons of lettuce so I will be eating croutons in salad every day this week. My mouth is already watering! I will be checking out your blog from now on!

  15. 15
    HappyScientist

    Thanks so much for this simple and delicious recipe. I have recently found yearning to teach myself to cook, starting with artisan breads! who knew! Now I have more bread than I can eat (thank you sourdough starter!) and find myself throwing away stale loaves. Or I did until now! Thank you for helping find a delicious new way to continue to enjoy the fruit of my labors. Great for us college students on a budget too!

  16. 16
    Callie P

    Hello, my husband surprised me with a bagged salad today and inside were the hardest croutons ever. . .so I found your site and i’m pretty excited about crispy, home made croutons :) Thanks for the recipe!

  17. 17
    Cindy

    Hi! I just found your site when I was looking for an easy-to-do crouton recipe. I liked the fact that you didn’t have exact measurements and they didn’t have to be toasted in the oven. So I just finished making them with a bit of stale bread and I decided I need to get a loaf of French bread and make a big batch a.s.a.p.!

    • Jane Maynard

      so glad you found the site and this recipe and that it worked for you – yay! I made croutons last week in the oven (which I haven’t done in AGES) and was so wishing I had just done it this way like I usually do. so tasty! anyway, thanks for commenting!

  18. 18
    Judy S

    I hope that is the website I’m supposed to enter?
    I haven’t made my own croutons in years and I always made them in the oven. Your way sounds so much better. I’m dieting and found a wonderful 100% wholewheat bread that has only 40 calories a slice. I’m going to try and make your croutons with this bread. Wish me luck.

    (I hope that is the website I’m supposed to enter?)

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