Any kind of piece of bread that has been toasted or fried to crunchy crispness counts as a crouton. They are easy to make and are a very useful way of using up leftover bread as well as adding a crunch and texture to salads, soups, vegetable dishes and even omelettes.
You can use any sort of bread to make croutons, though some varieties work better than others. Thicker slices will always make a better crouton than thin slices; anything with too much crust can end up quite hard; and bread with too many holes may not give a very satisfying result.
Other than that, white, wholemeal, sourdough, granary or whatever bread you like will work. Sourdough makes hearty, chewier croutons, brioche delicate ones and narrow ficelle (baguette style) loaves can be used in whole slices. Whatever bread you use, make sure it's slightly stale as it’s easier to make croutons with bread than isn’t too fresh and squashy. Crust on or crust off is up to you.
How to cook croutons
You can fry croutons in oil (add a little butter as well for flavour if you like) in a frying pan or brush/toss them with oil and then bake or grill them – whichever suits you best. Use any oil you like but bear in mind that it will add some of its own flavour to the finished croutons. Olive oil and rapeseed oil both work well.
You can toss croutons in ground or whole spices, chopped herbs, crushed garlic or even grated parmesan before cooking them. Add the flavourings to the oil and then toss the croutons in the oil and flavourings so they stick.
Super simple croutons recipe
- 2 thick slices bread from a large loaf (see above)
- 2-3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- salt flakes
1 Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Trim the crusts off the slices if you like and then cut into cubes.
2 Toss the bread in the oil and sprinkle with salt, scatter the pieces on to an oven tray and bake for 8-10 mins or until the croutons are browned and crunchy.
5 recipes using croutons
Garlic, chilli and anchovy croutons bring crunch to this salad based on an Italian classic.
Wholemeal seeded croutons and pumpkin seeds make a crunchy topping for this warming soup.
Crunchy feta & tomato salad
Ciabatta makes chunky croutons for this fresh summer salad.
French onion soup
Long slices of baguette make the perfect topping for French onion soup
Smoked haddock salad with poached eggs
Pair salads with softer ingredients like poached egg with crisp croutons and you’ll add texture as well as flavour.
Like this? Find more brilliant bread recipes...
What do you normally use to make croutons? Leave a comment below...