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.


Perfect Caesar salad
Omelette with crunchy croutons
Peas & beans with crunchy croutons

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.

Caesar salad topped with croutons

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.

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Adding flavour

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.

Pile of croutons with parsley

Super simple croutons recipe

Serves 2

  • 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

Winter panzanella

Bowl of panzanella breadcrumbs and herbs

Garlic, chilli and anchovy croutons bring crunch to this salad based on an Italian classic.

Winter panzanella

Pumpkin soup

Bowl of pumpkin soup topped with small croutons and pumpkin seeds

Wholemeal seeded croutons and pumpkin seeds make a crunchy topping for this warming soup.

Pumpkin soup

Crunchy feta & tomato salad

Bowl of tomato, feta, cucumber salad

Ciabatta makes chunky croutons for this fresh summer salad.

Crunchy feta & tomato salad

French onion soup

Bowl of onion soup topped with sliced baguette croutons and Parmesan cheese

Long slices of baguette make the perfect topping for French onion soup

The ultimate makeover: French onion soup

Smoked haddock salad with poached eggs

Haddock and crouton salad topped with poached egg

Pair salads with softer ingredients like poached egg with crisp croutons and you’ll add texture as well as flavour.

Smoked haddock with poached eggs & croutons

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What do you normally use to make croutons? Leave a comment below...

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