Athlyn loves "all things bread" and shares her tips and recipes for homemade bread, quick breads, and all varieties in between.
Crispy Croutons—Good Enough to Eat on Their Own but Perfect in Salads
Why Make Homemade Croutons?
I visited a restaurant in the Platzl in Kimberly, B.C. and sampled some of their homemade croutons. Oh my! I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! They were unlike any croutons I had ever tasted and a far cry from the small, hard, packaged variety one buys in a store.
Anyway, back to the tasty, buttery, crispy, and large croutons that were served as part of a smorgasbord in that German restaurant and that I couldn't quit nibbling on. I had seen them in a container and lifted out a spoonful, wondering what they would be like. As soon as I bit into that first one, I knew I'd be going back for seconds.They had that perfect blend of slightly greasy and crunchy.
As I sat and ate my dinner, I kept wondering how the restaurant chefs had produced these wonderful creations, and I knew that when I got back home, first thing, I was going to try to replicate them in my home kitchen. I also knew that if I could make croutons that tasted this good, I would never go back to the store-bought kind.
It goes without saying that when someone makes their own croutons, they control what goes into them, but better still, croutons made in a home kitchen offer a completely different taste and texture—a superior taste and texture. Made with real butter, seasonings, and fried or baked until they are crispy and golden brown, these delicious morsels are hard to beat.
If you are intrigued by what you've read so far, rest assured, croutons aren't hard to make and they can be made in just minutes. If you want a delicious salad topper, read on for how to make your own delicious croutons.
Did You Know?
Homemade croutons are a completely different taste and texture experience.
Buttery... Crispy... Delicious
If you have a good Italian spice blend, you may choose to add some of this in, as well.
Certainly, croutons would be good just fried in butter until crispy, but adding seasonings truly enhances their flavor.
- 2-21/2 cups of diced white bread (preferably homemade). Make sure to cut in even 1/2" cubes. (Homemade tends to be thicker than store-bought white bread.)
- 1/2 butter. (If you add more butter, your croutons will have even more flavor and become crispier as they gently fry in the pan on low heat.) It takes experimenting to get the type of crouton you prefer, so don't be afraid to play around until you get the perfect crouton.
- Garlic powder or crushed garlic (if using fresh crushed garlic, add this about halfway through cooking, so that the little pieces don't burn and turn bitter.)
- Parsley (If you don't have this on hand, no worries. It adds a nice color but isn't essential to your croutons.)
- Dill (If you have either fresh or dried dill, this adds to the flavor.)
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- Parmesan (This is a little "extra" you can add in when you have it on hand.)
- Italian seasoning mix can also be sprinkled over your croutons, if you have it on hand.
How to Make Fried Croutons
- Melt butter in a saucepan.
- Add bread cubes and gently stir until coated with butter.
- Sprinkle seasonings over and stir.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Keep frying and flipping over croutons (use a flat metal utensil for this) until they are browned and crispy.
- If using crushed garlic, fry croutons on low heat until they are just starting to turn golden. Add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep frying and turning frequently until your croutons are browned and crispy. Watch to make sure garlic pieces don't burn.
- Allow croutons to cool. They become crispier as they sit.
Place croutons on top of salad, right before serving. Do not toss croutons in with salad ingredients as they will absorb salad dressing and become soggy.
Salad With Croutons
How to Make Baked Croutons
Another way to make homemade croutons is to place bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle melted butter over, stirring and drizzling until cubes are evenly coated. Sprinkle in seasonings gradually and stir gently until cubes are coated.
Finish your croutons by placing on a large cookie sheet and cooking in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. If using this method, keep a close eye on croutons and flip over, so all sides brown.
Oven-Baked Homemade Croutons
Crouton Making Tips
- The best croutons are made from homemade white bread, French bread or Italian bread.
- Use a sharp knife so that bread doesn't tear and become ragged.
- If preferred, cut off crusts before cutting croutons.
- Stack bread and carefully cut into 1/2" cubes.
While homemade croutons are a staple item in Caesar salad, because they are so flavorful, they can also be used to garnish green salads or as a topper for soup.
Homemade Croutons Dress up a Green Salad
Croutons Add Flavor and Crunch to Soup
The video below gives an excellent step-by-step tutorial for making croutons. He uses a combo of butter and olive oil.
How to Make Croutons
Savor the Flavor Tip
If you are short on salad veggies and want to dress up a plain salad, use homemade croutons to add extra flavor and crunch.
So Worth it to Make Your Own Croutons
It is well worth it to take a few minutes to make homemade croutons. The flavor is unparalleled and these have such a pleasing buttery, crispy texture. Make them first, they will crisp up as they cool, make your salad, top with your croutons, then enjoy!
© 2009 Athlyn Green