I whipped up a quick small batch of these easy baked homemade croutons this past week when I made my Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup and I thought, “I really need to share how easy these are.” Because not only do their crispy, crunchy texture really take any soup or salad to the next level, they’re a great way to use up leftover bread. Win-win!
How to Use Homemade Croutons
Croutons are a classic crunchy salad topper, but they’re also fantastic in any sort of thick soup, like Tomato Soup, Split Pea Soup, Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup, or even my Smoky Potato and Chickpea Stew.
Croutons can also be crumbled and used as a crunchy topping for pasta (as a non-dairy alternative to Parmesan), or even crushed and used as a breading for meat or fish in place of regular or panko bread crumbs.
How to Flavor Croutons
The recipe below is for basic garlic herb homemade croutons, but I actually think they’re great even when seasoned with just salt! Some other seasoning ideas include:
What Kind of Bread is Best for Croutons?
You definitely want to get a really sturdy, crusty, fairly dense bread for homemade croutons. Anything light and airy, like white sandwich bread, will just not have the structure needed to make a good crouton. It will dissolve in your mouth like cotton candy instead of giving you a nice crunch!
Your bread can be either fresh or stale when you make homemade croutons. In fact, it’s a fantastic way to use up the ends of a loaf of bread that is on its way out.
How to Store
I made this a small batch recipe, only about 3-4 cups, or about 4 servings because homemade croutons are definitely best when made fresh. After baking and cooling, you can store leftover croutons in an air-tight container, but they will probably go stale a bit faster than store bought croutons (the actual length of time will vary based on several factors). To extend their shelf life, you can freeze your homemade croutons (again, in an air-tight container).
Easy Homemade Croutons
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 4 loosely packed cups of bread cubes.
Place the cubed bread in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil over top. Use a spatula or your hands to gently toss the bread cubes until they are coated in oil.
Combine the Italian seasoning blend, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the bread cubes. Gently toss the bread cubes again until they are evenly coated in seasoning.
Spread the seasoned bread out onto a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes*, checking the color of the bread every 5 minutes. Stir the croutons and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes, if needed, to get the croutons to a nice deep golden brown color. Let the croutons cool slightly before serving.
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How to Make Homemade Croutons – Step by Step Photos
This is a small batch recipe for homemade croutons because I believe they’re best when made fresh, and this batch size is perfect for when you only have a few slices of bread left! You’ll need about 4 slices of bread or about 4 cups once cubed. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. It’s best to try to get the cubes into a fairly uniform size so they bake evenly. You can also tear the bread into chunks for a more rustic look, but again, try to get them fairly uniform in size.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over top. Gently toss the bread cubes until they are coated in oil.
Combining the seasoning in a small bowl first helps them be more evenly distributed on the croutons. Combine 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning blend, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the herbs over the bread cubes and gently toss again until they are coated.
Spread the seasoned bread cubes out onto a baking sheet, then transfer them to the oven.
The baking time for the croutons can vary quite a bit depending on the density of your bread and its moisture level, so check them every 5 minutes or so. When they’re just starting to turn golden, give them a stir, and bake for a few more minutes until they are deeply golden. My croutons baked for 10 minutes, then I stirred, and baked for 2 minutes more. Let the croutons cool slightly before serving.
Stale bread never tasted so good. 😜