How a Clever Cook Revives Stale Bread

Don't toss that loaf of hardened bread. You can revive stale bread with a little water and a warm oven.

Sliced Bread and a Loaf

Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

We’ve all been there. You go to your kitchen counter to slice up a loaf of bread, only to find it rock hard and nearly impossible to get a knife through it. Sigh. Of course, there are plenty of clever ways to use up stale bread, like croutons and bread pudding, but these are ideal only if your loaf of bread is pre-sliced. Don't toss it out! You can return your unsliced loaf to a fresher state—there’s an easy way to remedy this starchy emergency. 

To be clear, if there is mold, your bread is unfortunately past the point of return. RIP. But if it’s just too hard to slice, then don’t even think about tossing it. Here’s how to bring it back to life.

Bread Sliced for How to Revive Stale Bread

Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

How to Revive Stale Bread

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. A lower oven temperature will help rehydrate the loaf without drying it out.

  2. Hold the loaf of bread under a running faucet and cover the exterior in hot or cold water—the temperature doesn’t matter. The drier the loaf, the more water you should use. If the loaf is only slightly dry, you can brush the outside with water, or fill an empty spray bottle and gently mist the loaf with water. Either way, avoid wetting any open cut-side.

    Bread Soaked with Water

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

  3. Once the loaf is moistened, place it in the preheat oven, it directly on the oven rack—you don’t need a sheet pan—and set a timer for 5 minutes.

    Loaf of Bread in Oven

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

  4. Check on your loaf after 5 minutes. The time depends on the size and wetness of the loaf. It might be good to go after 5 minutes, but it could take up to 15 minutes, so continue to check periodically. Gently poke the loaf—it is ready when the inside feels soft and bouncy and the outside is crackly.

  5. Once your bread is revived, it’s time to slice it up for avocado toast or a turkey club. And of course, if you’re not sure if you’ll use the revived bread in time, slice it up first, and then throw it in the freezer.