There are croutons and there are croutons. I know many people love the store-bought packaged croutons, and more power to them, but I have never been a fan. Dry and either interesting in texture and flavor, or sometimes tasting of too much Italian seasoning, I just don’t think they add all that much to a salad or soup or whatever.

But homemade croutons — those are something else entirely, and they can transform a dish.

How to Make Croutons

Homemade Croutons

You can absolutely follow this recipe, and choose to cut the bread into generous cubes instead of treating it, but give the whole torn crouton thing a go at least once, and you may become a true fan.

What are torn croutons and why are they so awesome?  They are pretty much what they sound like, ripped chunks of bread tossed with olive oil and toasted until they are crispy on the outside, chewy and softer on the inside. 

How to Make Croutons

The reason they are sexier (and yes, croutons can in fact be sexy, you’ll see) is because of their irregular shape you get browned bits on the corners, a golden brown exterior everywhere else, and the middle can be as firm or as soft as you like.  More ragged edges equal more surface area and more interesting texture all around.

Should You Cut the Crust Off the Bread for Croutons?

Really, it’s up to you.  I usually leave the crusts on – more texture, less waste,  Other people are not fans of the crust, so if that’s you, trim them off, leaving as much of the middle of the bread behind as possible.  You could also think about turning those crusts into fresh breadcrumbs.

How to Make Croutons

How to Make Croutons

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Tear the loaf into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces, leaving the crusts on.

Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet (line it with parchment paper if you like) and drizzle with 1/3 cup olive oil.  

How to Make Croutons

Use your hands to toss the croutons so that the oil gets more evenly distributed.  The croutons should not be soaked, but if they seem dry you can add another tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Once the croutons are tossed, spread them out in a single layer.  If they don’t fit on one baking sheet in a single layer, you can use a second rimmed baking sheet.  It’s best if they barely touch so that they brown more evenly.  

How to Make Croutons

Sprinkle the croutons with salt.

How to Make Croutons

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned in spots, and somewhat crispy on the outside.  They should not be too browned or too dried out; as they cool they will harden up slightly and you still want them to have some give in the middle when you bite them for a varied texture and nice chew.  Toss them halfway through the cooking and spread them out again for best most even browning.

How to Make Croutons

Cool on the baking sheet, then use while still warm or once they have come to room temperature.  Or, transfer them to an airtight container and keep at room temp for up to 5 days.

Seasoned Croutons

Add other seasonings along with the oil if you like, like dried herbs or other seasonings that will go with whatever you are using the croutons with (eg, cumin for using the croutons to top a Mexican-inspired soup).  Minced garlic is best added halfway through the cooking time. Before you toss them, add ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic and toss then spread out again.

Salad with Torn Croutons

This salad should have its own page, but eh, it’s really about the homemade croutons, so let me share it with you here.  

How to Make Croutons

This salad features about a head or two of romaine hearts (my go-to lettuce), thinly sliced crosswise so that the lettuce is in thin ribbons, mixed with a head or two of endive, sliced similarly.  The dressing is a mix of lemon juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and kosher salt and pepper — one of my go-to dressings.  Mix and toss, add a handful or two of shredded gruyere cheese (or not, your choice).  And then…pop it all into a bowl, and top with those gorgeous torn croutons.

Salad Recipes with Croutons:

Use homemade croutons in these salad recipes.

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How to Make Croutons

Homemade croutons are easy to make and head and shoulders above packaged croutons.
Yield: 10 People
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf (1-pound) country bread or ciabatta , unsliced
  • cup olive oil, approximately
  • Kosher salt to taste

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Tear the loaf into 1 to 1 1/2-inch pieces, leaving the crusts on. If you prefer you can slice the bread into 1-inch slices then rip those into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces (make sure the slices are nice and thick so your croutons aren’t skinny). Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet (line it with parchment paper if you like) and drizzle with 1/3 cup olive oil. Use your hands to toss the croutons so that the oil gets more evenly distributed. The croutons should not be soaked, but if they seem dry you can add another tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  • Once the croutons are tossed, spread them out in a single layer. If they don’t fit on one baking sheet in a single layer, you can use a second rimmed baking sheet. It’s best if they barely touch so that they brown more evenly. Sprinkle the croutons with salt.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned in spots, and somewhat crispy on the outside. They should not be too browned or too dried out; as they cool they will harden up slightly and you still want them to have some give in the middle when you bite them for a varied texture and nice chew. Toss them halfway through the cooking and spread them out again for best most even browning.
  • Cool on the baking sheet, then use while still warm or once they have come to room temperature. Or, transfer them to an airtight container and keep at room temp for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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