Don’t let leftover bread go to waste! Learn how to make bread crumbs from scratch. Use them as a crunchy topping, coating, or mix-in for dishes like breaded chicken, casseroles, or meatballs.
Homemade bread crumbs are a breeze to make! I always find myself with a few straggling slices of bread or chunks from a loaf that my family didn’t gobble up with the previous night’s dinner. Not to let perfectly good food go to waste, I give them an even tastier new purpose by making bread crumbs that can add an extra layer of texture to any dish.
Any type of bread can be used, and even a mixture would give an interesting taste. I’ve found that homemade bread crumbs have much more flavor than the store-bought stuff which can be bland and uninteresting. Plus you can control how big you want the size of the crumbs and any seasonings to bump up the taste. Use this recipe as a guide then experiment with fun combinations!
How to make bread crumbs
- Grind down bread in the food processor.
- Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 300ºF (149ºC) for 10 minutes.
- Stir and bake until lightly toasted and dry.
- Completely cool down on the baking sheet.
What type of bread do you use for bread crumbs?
Depending on the taste and nutritional composition you desire, bread crumbs can be made with any kind of bread. Sourdough, gluten-free, low carb, whole wheat, white, whole grain, French, hamburger or hot dog buns, are all great choices. Rustic type bread will give more dense crumbs compared to enriched bread like white sandwich slices or buns.
Fresh bread vs older bread
It’s best to use bread that is not baked fresh the same day. If allowed to dry out and harden for a few days at room temperature it will make it easier to break down in the food processor. If you do have fresh bread, you can cut it into slices and heat it in a toaster or in the oven at 300ºF (149ºC) to drive off some of the moisture for a few minutes, and then cool before using.
Do you need to cut off the crust?
No, the crust can be kept on. If you want a more uniform color, trim off the darker edges. I’ve been keeping a collection of my son’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich edges to save for bread crumb making. The crust actually has a lot of flavor due to Maillard browning!
How do you make the bread crumbs smaller?
The food processor does a good job of making mini crumbs, but it’s not as fine as store-bought. After drying the bread crumbs and cooling them, just add them back to the food processor and pulse until the desired size is reached. You can also pound them inside a plastic bag with a rolling pin.
How do you make bread crumbs without a food processor?
If you don’t have a food processor to break the bread into smaller pieces before baking, you can alternatively cut the bread into ¾-inch cubes, or tear into small bits. Stir and bake until the bread is dry and lightly toasted. This process is similar to making croutons. After the bread crumbs are cool, add them to a large resealable bag that is partially sealed. Carefully use a rolling pin to crush the toasted bread into tiny crumbs.
Can you use frozen bread?
Yes, frozen bread can be stored for later use. Simply defrost completely on the countertop before processing. I like to place the bread on a sheet pan on top of a paper towel to absorb any excess water. If the bread still feels too damp, you can toast the bread or heat in the oven before using, similar to fresh bread.
Transfer bread crumbs to an airtight container, minimizing the headspace of air. You can also place them in a resealable plastic bag and place that in a container. The barrier ensures that natural moisture in the air will not stale the bread crumbs too quickly. Stored at room temperature they will last for up to 1 month, or up to 3 months if frozen.
How to make Italian bread crumbs
Italian bread crumbs are a mixture of savory seasonings and dried herbs:
- 1 cup of homemade bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Feel free to adjust the level of seasonings. If you don’t have a pre-blend of Italian seasoning, you can use dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and marjoram in any consistency you desire.
More bread recipes
Why should you grind the bread to smaller pieces before baking?
It’s all about increasing the surface area to efficiently remove as much moisture as possible. By cutting into tiny pieces, the heat from the oven can quickly drive off the internal water in the structure of the crumb. A moderate oven temperature above the boiling point of water (300 degrees) gently evaporates moisture while lightly browning and toasting.
Homemade Bread Crumbs
- 4 ounces bread, (4 cups cubed) cut into 1-inch cubes
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 300ºF (149ºC).
- Add cubed bread into a food processor. Process on high speed for 30 seconds for coarse bread crumbs, or 1 minute for fine bread crumbs.
- Transfer to a large sheet pan or two small pans. Spread evenly in a single layer in the pan.
- Bake for 5 minutes, stir and then bake another 5 minutes. The bread crumbs should be lightly browned and feel dry to the touch.
- Bake another 2 to 5 minutes as needed to make to completely dry.
- Allow bread crumbs to cool on the sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer to an airtight container to store.
- For even finer bread crumbs, add to the food processor and pulse until the desired size is reached.
- Recipe Yield: 2 cups of bread crumbs.
- Italian bread crumbs: Combine 1 cup baked and cooled breadcrumbs with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.