Leftover Bread– It’s Not Just For the Birds

Bread crumbs or French toast are the go to things to do with leftover bread. I get that, but whenever I have some leftover bread I love to make croutons out of it. Croutons are so easy to make and taste one hundred percent better than the store bought ones. There really is no comparison! Homemade croutons can really spice up any soup or salad or even a dessert.

Just cut up whatever bread you happen to have into small cubes about 1/2-3/4ths of an inch square. You can even rip the bread with your hands into small pieces if you don’t feel like cutting it up. Now the type of bread that you use is up to you. Nothing is off limits. Think of white, whole grain or rye breads. Even focaccia, ciabatta or challah bread work well. And my thrifty grandma is certainly smiling down on me from heaven for using up that unused, extra hotdog or hamburger roll that no one will ever eat. At times, I have even used a corn muffin and a few slices of date nut or pumpkin bread as well.

Toss any of the above bread cubes with a little olive oil and as many spices or herbs as you like. They can be with or without salt. My favorite combo is garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika with some coarsely ground black pepper. Spread the cubes on a large sheet pan and bake them at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cubes are nice and brown.  Be sure to mix them halfway through baking. They will crisp up even further as they cool.

You can also make crisps. I partially freeze a leftover bread and slice it very thin on a mandolin. Place the slices on a large sheet pan and brush with olive oil. Top with any of the above suggestions of herbs or spices. For a sweeter crisp, brush the bread slices with melted butter and then try apple pie spice or just plain old cinnamon sugar as a topping. Bake as you would for the croutons above.

So next time you have leftover bread make croutons or crisps and forget about making French toast or bread crumbs. That’s for the birds!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail