These easy croutons use whole grain bread and replace butter with olive oil, for a much healthier recipe than traditional croutons. Buy a loaf of bread for making these or use up leftover stale bread. These croutons add delicious crunch to soups and salads. Choose from 3 flavors: Garlic Parmesan, Fiesta, and Pesto. Or, don't choose--try them all!
To skip the step-by-step photo tutorial and jump straight to the recipe, click below:
I keep a bag in my freezer where I throw leftover or stale cubed bread until I've accumulated enough to make croutons. It's economical, since I'd otherwise most likely be throwing the stale bread away. That makes the croutons almost free.
If my freezer bread bag is empty, I buy a loaf of bread specifically for making croutons. My homemade croutons are super easy to make, and they are WAY tastier and healthier than the ready-made version you can buy at the grocery store. Tasty, crunchy homemade croutons take any soup or salad to the next level.
3 flavors. I 'm sharing three easy, distinct flavors:
The easy method is the same for all three flavors.
"Healthified" -- here's how I made my croutons healthier than traditional crouton recipes:
Nutritional Info. for 1 serving Garlic Parmesan Croutons (approx. nine 1-inch croutons):
Step-by-step photos for making
Whole Grain Croutons -- 3 Varieties
(the procedure is the same for all 3 kinds)
Step 1. You need 4-5 cups of bread cubes. These can be an assortment of leftover bread that you cut into cubes (like my bag of bread cubes above). Stale bread works great, so this is a good way to use up leftover bread that might otherwise be thrown away. Or, you can purchase a loaf of bread specifically for making croutons. Either way, cut your bread into cubes. Mine are 1" cubes, but you can cut them any size you prefer. I used a multi-grain bakery loaf here. Half of a 1 pound loaf makes enough bread cubes for a full recipe of croutons.
(click here to view my favorite budget-friendly bread knife on Amazon)
Step 2. Assemble these ingredients: olive oil, garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh Italian parsley, freshly group black pepper, bread cubes
Step 3. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and ground pepper to a bowl, and give it a stir.
Step 4. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat at full power for 20 seconds. This helps the oil absorb the seasonings.
Step 5. Add the bread cubes to the seasoned oil and toss, and toss, and toss--until the bread cubes are evenly coated.
Step 6. Add the parmesan cheese and toss again. The cheese distributes and sticks better if it's added after the bread is coated with oil.
Step 7. Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet; bake for 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees until toasted and crunchy. (click here to view my 13x18" inch baking sheet on Amazon)
Done! So easy and amazingly delicious. These are great on any salad or soup. Very versatile. We especially enjoy them on our garden-grown greens tossed with my Everyday Vinaigrette.
Exact same procedure, except you add taco seasoning to the olive oil, microwave, toss with bread cubes, toss with Parmesan cheese, and bake. The spice of the taco seasoning adds some great flavor. You can use store-bought taco seasoning or make your own. Here's my recipe: Fiesta Taco Seasoning recipe
These are delicious on any salad. Especially good as a substitute for tortilla chips in a taco salad. Try them sprinkled on corn chowder, bean soups, and chili. I added Fiesta Croutons to salad greens with corn, tomatoes, red onion, and black beans, tossed with my Honey Lime Vinaigrette. Yum! (These croutons are my personal favorite of the 3.)
Exact same procedure again, except you add pesto to the olive oil (a little less olive oil than the other crouton recipes, because pesto already has some olive oil in it), microwave, toss with bread cubes, toss with Parmesan cheese, bake. The pesto has lots of flavor and seasonings, so it's an easy way to flavor croutons. You can use store-bought pesto, or make your own. Here's my recipe: Classic Basil Pesto
These croutons will complement lots of soups and salads. They're particularly good on my Everyday Italian Salad.
Store or freeze. Store the croutons in an airtight container. If they lose their crunch after a day or two, return them to the oven for 10 minutes to crisp them up again (they'll get crunchier as they cool). You can also freeze them and reheat them the same way.
These are all crunchy and tasty. My challenge was saving them for our salads. They're good to snack on all by themselves. Tempting. Very tempting.
If you can't choose one flavor to make, try all 3! It's fun to serve a selection on a soup or salad bar.
Make it a Yummy day!
This is an update of a post originally published in May 2012.