Homemade croutons should naturally be vegan and can be made with only 3 ingredients.
It is a very easy add-in to make and can be used in any type of salad, soup or stew. Be it vegan or not.
All types of bread work for making croutons. Each with its own unique result, crunchy texture and flavour.
Why make your own croutons
Firstly, by making homemade croutons we are being resourceful. Using up stale or leftover bread that would usually go to waste.
Croutons are a magical crunchy ingredient anyone can easily make at home to add texture to any salad and a must-have for Classic caesar salad.
Making your own means having full control over the type of bread used, seasonings, crispiness and it will always be better than store-bought versions.
Best bread to use
The best bread for making croutons depends on what you want to use it for.
Choose a soft enriched bread, like a simple yeasted white bread for a light crumbly texture with a delicate crunch. Good for adding to roasted pumpkin salad or glazed carrot salad.
Sourdough bread will give you chewier but more delicious croutons with a richer depth of flavour and will stay crispy for longer when added to soups like potato and leek or a spiced lentil soup.
Dark rye bread makes exceptionally delicious croutons when roasted with garlic. It can be added to soups like Ukrainian borscht, or healthy salads like this beetroot salad. Perfect in winter.
Salt & Pepper Grinders
- Bread - I used plain soft white yeasted bread but any kind can be used. More on that in the section below.
- Oil - Any good quality oil will do. I used olive oil. Try extra virgin rapeseed oil for a beautiful yellow tinge and lovely aroma only found with this oil. If you are making an Asian or middle eastern salad add a touch of sesame oil.
- Salt – Salt comes in many forms but in the end, it’s all calcium chloride. Try and use natural sea salt.
- Other seasonings or spices(optional) – Go wild but not too wild. I used a simple mix of black pepper, smoked paprika and dried oregano. All easily found in most supermarkets and this flavour combination goes well with most dishes.
- Heat the oven – Turn the oven to 180°C or 356°F at least 10 minutes before you start preparing the croutons.
- Break, dice or slice the bread- I prefer Cutting the crusts off and breaking the bread into bitesize roughly 1,5cm pieces.
- Mix up with oil and seasoning- Here you could go nuts but, try and stick to four ingredients. Neutral oil, salt, spices like paprika and pepper(optional), dried herbs like oregano(optional). Gently mix up the ingredients in a bowl making sure not to break up the bread. The reason for breaking the bread up instead of cutting is that it provides more surface area which means more crispiness.
- Spread onto a baking sheet a bake – Cover a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper. Layout the croutons onto the paper and space them out roughly evenly in a single layer. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes “mixing and turning” them every few minutes until nicely browned. Keep an eye on them and your oven might cook them differently so if you need less or more time then simply adjust.
- Let cool – One thing you do not want to do is serve these while warm. Without getting into the geeky details about crystallisation and crispiness just trust me and let them cool down for about 15 minutes. When completely cooled, you can store them.
- Sourdough – If you’ve made this sourdough bread and have left overs this is a great way to use up old bread.
- Dark rye – Borodinsky bread makes amazing croutons but use any type of dark rye bread.
- Gluten-free croutons – Of course, we won’t leave you behind. Use your favourite gluten-free bread and simply follow the recipe as usual.
- Brioche - Brioche bread makes wonderfully light, delicate and super crispy croutons.
- Baguette – With baguette, you could make multi functional croutons perfect for making crostini with home-cured salmon gravlax.
- Wholemeal croutons – Add a touch of healthy fibre and earthiness by using wholemeal or wholegrain bread like flaxseed meal sourdough.
- Cheese - If you're not making a vegan version add some grated parmesan or any other type of grated hard cheese. Mix and bake with the croutons.
- Spices - You can spice your croutons any way you like. Cumin, chilli or chipotle powder or work great.
- Garlic - Add fresh crushed garlic or garlic powder.
- Soup – Gazpacho is a clear winner here(Quick recipe down below), this Ukrainian Borsht cooked over the fire, this summer chanterelle mushroom soup or any other soup goes well with a touch of crunch from the croutons.
- Salad - Caesar salad or any other salad for that matter is always best with homemade croutons.
- Snack – Simply have it with an alcoholic beverage like beer or wine accompanied by some marinated olives.
- Topping - Sprinkle onto these baked eggs or onto shakshuka or an Asian congee porridge.
- Stuffing – Perfect for any type of stuffing to add a touch more flavour than regular bread. Especially good in Turkey stuffing or Nuts stuffing over Holidays like Christmas, New Years and Thanks Giving. Speaking of holidays. Mom’s Roasted lamb is the perfect alternative to the boring old turkey over holidays or for Sunday lunches.
- Stews and Casseroles - This Viking stew cooked slowly in a traditional oven. Add to other stews like bean stew or sausage stews as a finishing touch when serving up.
- Breadcrumbs – Blitz into breadcrumbs and use to coat any kind of schnitzel, or breadcrumbed dish like Chicken Kiev or arancini.
- 100g cucumber
- 100g red bell pepper
- 2g garlic
- 15g red onion
- 40g celery
- 250g ripe sweet tomatoes
- 2g sugar(optional)
- 30g white bread
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 10g lemon juice
Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and season with salt freshly ground black pepper and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Top with your homemade croutons and some freshly chopped chervil or parsley.
Like with all crispy preparations. Store airtight for about 2 weeks in a dry non-humid environment.
You can also get some food-safe silica gel packets and add them into the container with the croutons. The silica gel will absorb any moisture that may sneak in. This will help keep your croutons stay fresher and crispy for longer.
Do not freeze croutons or store them in the fridge as they will lose their crunch.
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Homemade Vegan Croutons
- 150 g (3 ⅓ cups) white bread - or any other bread, crusts removed
- 30 g (2 ⅐ tablespoon) olive oil - extra virgin
- 3 g (½ teaspoon) salt
- 1 g (½ teaspoon) black pepper - freshly ground - optional
- 2 g (1 teaspoon) smoked paprika - optional
- 2 g (1 teaspoon) dried oregano - optional
- Heat the oven – Turn up the oven to 180°C or 356°F at least 10 minutes before you start preparing these. Always make sure you pre-heat your oven for any recipe that requires the use of an oven.
- Optionally remove the crust and break the bread into small bitesize pieces.
- Gently mix up the ingredients in a bowl making sure not to break up the bread. The reason for breaking the bread up instead of cutting is that it provides more surface area which means more crispiness!
- Cover a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper. Layout the croutons onto the paper and space them out roughly evenly in a single layer. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes “mixing and turning” them every few minutes until nicely browned. Keep an eye on them and your oven might cook them differently so if you need less or more time then simply adjust.
- Let them cool then serve or store for future use.
- Feeling fancy? Add a bit of grated parmesan, truffle paste or pesto for the ultimate crouton experience.
- Let them cool down before adding to salads.
- Store sealed airtight at room temperature for up to two weeks.
- Do not store in the fridge as they will go soggy.
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