You might wonder why you would go through the trouble to make your own breadcrumbs when they’re already insanely inexpensive to buy in the store. Well, there are two really good reasons, if not more. 1) If you forgot to buy them for a recipe and you don’t want to make another trip to the store (story of my life) and 2) to reduce waste. I’d much rather repurpose and use up old bread I have on hand before buying more bread that is already in crumb form. To further reduce waste, you can dedicate a freezer bag to bread “scraps” (stale pieces, the heels of loaves, etc.) that can be turned into breadcrumbs once you accumulate enough pieces. Once you’ve got your scraps, use this simple guide on how to make breadcrumbs, and keep them on hand for use in your meatballs, meatloaves, breading fried foods, or as crunchy casserole toppings.
Need help using up your homemade breadcrumbs? Here are all of my recipes that use breadcrumbs.
How to Make Breadcrumbs
How are Breadcrumbs Used in Recipes?
Breadcrumbs are used in recipes to soften and hold moisture in meat mixtures, like meatloaf and meatballs, as a crunchy coating on fried foods, or as a crispy topping for casseroles (usually mixed with butter and sometimes Parmesan). The wonderful thing about homemade breadcrumbs is that the texture is often more coarse and irregular than store bought, which gives more texture to your food.
What Kind of Bread Can I Use For My Breadcrumbs?
This is where homemade breadcrumbs can get really fun. You can use just about any type of bread! Keep in mind that the variety of bread you use will affect the texture and flavor of your breadcrumbs.
Crusty artisan breads will create a more dense and crunchy breadcrumb than say, white sandwich bread, and a rye bread will create a completely different flavored breadcrumb than one made from brioche. You can play around with your bread varieties to suit the recipe in which you’ll be using the crumbs, or create an variety mix that contains several types of bread, so no flavor or texture stands out.
How Should I Store My Breadcrumbs?
Unlike store-bought breadcrumbs, which are rigorously tested to assure they are completely void of moisture, homemade breadcrumbs may still contain trace amounts of moisture. Moisture can lead to yeast and mold growth, so it’s best to keep your homemade breadcrumbs sealed in an air-tight container in the freezer.
Since the breadcrumbs are so small, they thaw almost instantly when added to a recipe, and there is no long defrost time needed. There is no strict cut off date for how long breadcrumbs will stay “good” in the freezer, rather they are likely to just further dry and absorb rogue flavors with prolonged storage. So keep them sealed tightly in thick, freezer-grade packaging (zip top freezer bags are fine).
Can I Make Breadcrumbs Without A Food Processor?
Yes! Although it can be a bit more tricky. Simply place your dried bread pieces in a heavy duty zip top bag and use a rolling pin to crush the dried bread until they form crumbs. The reason this gets tricky is that if your bread is not *completely* dry, the rolling pin will just smush it instead of making it crumble. So, be extra vigilant when drying your bread.
Step by Step Photos
Today I’m making my breadcrumbs out of some old hamburger buns that I had stashed in the freezer. As I mentioned above, you can make breadcrumbs out of just about any type of bread, even leftover buns!
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Tear your bread into 1-2″ chunks, to increase the surface area and make the drying time faster. Spread the bread chunks out into a single layer over a large baking sheet.
Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread chunks, stirring every five minutes or so, until they are dry and just starting to turn a little golden on the edges. I baked my bread pieces for about 15 minutes. The time needed to dry your bread will vary greatly with the type of bread and the size of your bread chunks, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and stir at least a couple times to ensure even drying. Once dry, remove them from the oven and let them cool. Cooling will allow the last bits of steam to evaporate and drying to complete. Cooling should only take a few minutes.
Place your dried and cooled bread pieces in a food processor and pulse until it has turned into crumbs. You can make the crumbs as fine or as chunky as you’d like. If you find that your breadcrumbs are still slightly moist at this point, you can spread them back out over the baking sheet and let them air dry, or pop them back in the oven for a few brief minutes. Keep in mind that drying happens much more quickly when in crumb form than when the bread was in chunks
How to Make Italian Breadcrumbs
For each cup of your homemade breadcrumbs add 1 tsp Italian herb blend, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp salt. OR, if you don’t have an Italian herb blend, add 1/2 tsp dried parsley, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp salt.
And that’s it! The Italian breadcrumbs are ready to use or store.
Don’t forget, you need to keep your breadcrumbs stored in the freezer to prevent any residual moisture from causing yeast or mold growth. And as always, make sure to label and date your frozen goods! :)
What are your favorite recipes that use breadcrumbs?