Top 10 ways to use up leftover bread

For those times when you have a few slices of bread going stale in the bread bin, put them to good use in delicious bread and butter puddings, salads, toasties and more.

Top 10 ways to use up leftover bread

We all need a loaf in the kitchen. It's the humble cornerstone of any household and we assume it'll be scoffed immediately. Sometimes, however, those last few pieces sit and wait in vain for a sandwich or slice of toast that never comes. If you loathe waste as much as we do, here are 10 of our best-loved leftover bread recipes to make the most of the ingredient that's king of the kitchen. 

Leftover bread recipes

1. Bread and butter pudding

Marmalade bread and butter pudding in a baking dish

We'll start with the classic. Leftover bread really does make the best pudding and it's perfect if you've got a hankering for something sweet and need to feed a crowd. Try our twist, using zesty marmalade and a dash of whisky, for a grown-up comfort food treat.

Marmalade & whisky bread & butter pudding
Classic bread & butter pudding
Banana bread & butter pudding

2. Crusty bread salad

Bowl of cauliflower and radish panzanella bread salad
Panzanella is a much-loved Italian bread salad that typically pairs ciabatta, ripe, juicy tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and peppers. The mix of sharp and mellow flavours along with a variety of textures make it a seasonal salad to rival the best. You can also try our winter version, using crunchy fried cauliflower and crisp radishes.

Winter panzanella
Avocado panzanella
Tuna & caper panzanella
Winter apple & squash panzanella
 

3. Veggie bread bake

Tomato, leek and eggy bake in a baking tray

Feel like something savoury? All it takes is leftover white bread, a nice strong cheddar and a couple of handfuls of vegetables to make a family meal to please all palates. Try this picture perfect leek & tomato eggy bread bake.

4. Breadcrumb topping

Fish fillets on a tray topped with breadcrumbs

Liven up baked fish, one-pots or pasta bakes with a crisp breadcrumb topping. It adds texture and depth to a recipe that just needs that little bit of crunch. These pesto & olive-crusted fish fillets are not to be missed.  

Vegetarian bean pot with herby breadcrumbs
Creamy pesto chicken with roasted tomatoes
Tofu & spinach cannelloni

5. French toast

Chocolate and banana French toast pile

Stale bread lends itself well to soaking up flavours and not turning to mush at the first hint of moisture, so why not treat yourself to a breakfast or brunch to remember with our chocolate & banana French toast

Try more tempting French toast recipes.

6. Croutons

Two bowls of cauliflower soup topped with croutons and chorizo

Throw these into soups and salads. Just a sprig of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil can turn your torn up bread into a crisp and golden treat. Sprinkle crunchy croutons, chorizo and herbs over cauliflower soup for a sophisticated dinner party starter.

Cauliflower soup with chorizo and garlic croutons
Crunchy parsley croutons  
Next level chicken Caesar salad

7. Toasties

Four cheese toasties

Extra crispy bread + extra melty cheese = winner. Stale bread works just fine for toasties. Butter the sides on the pan or grill and wait for that golden brown colour and oozing centre we all love. These cheese toasties are bound to satisfy cheesy cravings:

Leek & Wensleydale toasties 
Gruyère, prosciutto & sage toastie
Tomato & mozzarella toastie
Green chilli & mango toastie
Tahini, feta and honey toastie
 

8. Burgers

Bean burgers with salad and salsa

Breadcrumbs help to bind your burger patties, which gives you a great excuse to treat yourself to a Mexican fiesta of flavours with this Mexican bean burger with lime yogurt & salsa.
 

9. Bruschetta

Bruschetta topped with tomatoes

A crunchy, lightly toasted base is the ideal vehicle for a sumptuous pile of seasonal toppings. Our easy tomato bruschetta makes a perfect sharing starter for a summer gathering.

Burrata bruschetta
Summer beans on toast with prosciutto
Brie, tomato & Serrano bruschetta

10. Bread sauce

Bread sauce in a bowl with bay leaves

Stale bread also makes the best Sunday dinner sauce. Double cream, a bay leaf and a bit of onion elevate a simple bread sauce to something essential for any roast poultry. Go traditional with our luxuriously creamy classic bread sauce or try a sourdough version instead.

Check out more bread sauce recipes.

How to store bread
It's inevitable that sometimes you just won't get a chance to use up your bread. Storing it in the right way means you can avoid waste.

The length of time bread keeps fresh depends on the type and whether or not it has additional ingredients to help preserve it. For example, French bread only stays fresh for a day, while a shop-bought sliced loaf may easily last for three or four days. Freshly baked bread goes stale, which involves drying out and becoming harder as its structure changes. Bread that contains preservatives often goes mouldy first. 

Room temperature, fridge or freezer?

The best way to keep bread is to wrap it in plastic or foil, this helps to combat a loss of moisture. Store it at room temperature if you know you're going to get through it.

It may seem counterintuitive but the fridge won't prolong the life of a loaf. In fact, it accelerates the change in structure and can make it become hard sooner.

Conversely, the freezer is the best option if you want to keep bread fresh beyond a day or two. Seal well in a  freezer bag on day one. You can slice it first, if you like. Defrost at room temperature, toast slices from frozen or wrap in foil and heat through in the oven – the latter gives a nice result for French bread.

Another way to avoid waste (and you can also do this if it's already a bit stale) is to blitz the bread into breadcrumbs. Pop them in a freezer bag and grab a handful when you need them.

Need more inspiration? Browse our leftover bread recipes.

What are your innovative ways with leftover bread? Leave a comment below

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