How to Make Buttered Breadcrumbs, Croutons, or Toasted Crumbs

Add Crunch to Casseroles, Soups, and Salads

Carrot Casserole with Bread Crumbs
Recipe: Baked Carrots with Cheddar Cheese Sauce. Photo: Diana Rattray

While you can make dry breadcrumbs without toasting them in butter or oil, this step adds flavor and lets them keep their crunch longer. Croutons and toasted breadcrumbs are super easy to make with day-old bread, rolls, or croissants. See how to make them and uses for each kind.

Buttered Breadcrumbs

When baked, buttered breadcrumbs add color, crunchy texture, and butter flavor. Buttered breadcrumbs are often used to top casseroles, such as macaroni and cheese and cheddar green bean casserole, where they are added to the top before the casserole is put in the oven and toast while the casserole bakes.

For other uses, such as on vegetables, soup, or salad, you can toast the buttered breadcrumbs on the stovetop before using them to top the dish.

  1. Cut or tear stale or day-old bread into smaller pieces and pulse briefly in a food processor to make coarse or fine crumbs.
  2. If you won't be using the breadcrumbs immediately, put them in a food storage bag, seal it, label with the date, and freeze. 
  3. To make buttered bread crumbs, mix 1 cup of soft bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Toss or stir with a fork to thoroughly coat the crumbs with the melted butter. If you are adding them to a macaroni and cheese or another casserole, at this point you can put them on top of the casserole.
  4. To toast the soft buttered bread crumbs for other uses, put them in a nonstick pan over medium heat on the stovetop. Cook, stirring constantly until browned and somewhat crisp. Now they are ready to top any dish and will retain their crunch longer than plain dry breadcrumbs.

    Toasted Breadcrumbs and Croutons

    You can use olive oil to make these toasted bread items. They will retain their crispness when used in soups, salads, or as breading. Here is how to make them:

    1. Toss torn or cubed bread pieces with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil for every 1 1/2 to 2 cups of bread.
    2. Spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt.
    1. For seasoned breadcrumbs or croutons, sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and dried herbs, such as basil or parsley flakes.
    2. Bake in a preheated 350 F (180 C or Gas 4) oven for about 10 to 15 minutes.

    That's the end if you are making cubed crumbs or croutons. To make breadcrumbs, pulse the toasted bread pieces in the food processor until they are coarsely or finely ground as you prefer. Finely ground toasted bread crumbs make a great substitute for purchased fine dry bread crumbs.

    You can use the croutons on salads or soups. Use the toasted breadcrumbs as a casserole topping, breading, or as an extender in meatloaf or meatballs.

    Crostini

    Crostini are quick to make for the base of an appetizer or to enjoy with soup or salads. Here's how to make them:

    1. Slice a French bread baguette into thin slices.
    2. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    3. Bake in a preheated 375 F (190 C or Gas 5) oven for about 10 minutes, turning the crostini about halfway through the baking time.
    4. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.