Toasted bread crumbs add texture, flavor, and an extra something special, taking dinner from drab to delicious. You can use store-bought breadcrumbs (like Panko), but it's also really easy to make your own.
What Is the Best Bread to Use for Breadcrumbs?
Tasty breadcrumbs can come from any kind of leftover bread or roll. I store bread that is going stale in the freezer. When I have enough odds and ends, I make breadcrumbs and either toast them right away or refreeze them for a rainy day.
Here are a few breads that make great crumbs.
- French bread
- Whole wheat or white sandwich bread
- Leftover hot dog and hamburger buns
Use Your Food Processor
Bread crumbs are a great way to reinvent those last few slices of bread that have gone a teensy bit stale.
To make breadcrumbs quickly in a food processor, take any bread you happen to have around (thawed if frozen), tear the bread into pieces, and pulse in a food processor until they form coarse crumbs. When using bread with thick crusts like French or sourdough bread, I like to trim the crusts, but that is entirely up to you.
Freeze or Toast Your Crumbs
Once you’ve turned your bread into crumbs, slip the crumbs into a plastic bag, and keep them in the freezer. They will last almost indefinitely, but I think they lose some flavor after three months.
If you want to use breadcrumbs within a week or so, then feel free to season and toast some in a skillet. They will keep in an airtight container on your counter so they are ready when you need them.
How to Toast Frozen Bread Crumbs
You can take your breadcrumbs straight from the freezer to the oven or skillet for toasting.
If I’m toasting large batches of bread crumbs (more than 1 1/2 cups), I prefer to spread them on a baking sheet and toast them in a 350°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. I toss them once or twice during the baking time. I feel like this gives me an even toast and color across all crumbs.
If I’m toasting less than 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs, a large skillet and burner set over medium-high will do the trick.
Ways to Use Bread Crumbs
Bread crumbs add a pop of color, a bolt of flavor, and a textural crunch that immediately elevates any dish.
- Sprinkle them over pasta dishes
- Use them as a salad topping
- Add them to macaroni and cheese just before serving
- Spread them with reckless abandon across a skillet dinner
- Mix them into meatballs or meatloaf
- Mix them into fish cakes – you don’t even have to toast them!
- Use as a topping for stuffed vegetables, vegetable gratins
- Dust your salad with little crispy crumbles.
Bread Crumbs Make These Dishes Pop!
- Baked Fish with Parmesan Breadcrumbs
- Spinach and Artichoke Pasta
- Shrimp Skillet Dinner
- Lemony Spaghetti with Peas
- Hot Reuben Dip
- 4 slices bread, about 2 to 3 cups
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
Make the bread crumbs
To make breadcrumbs quickly in a food processor, remove the crusts from the bread (if you want to), tear the bread into pieces, and pulse in a food processor until they form coarse crumbs. Pulse longer for finer crumbs.
Freeze the crumbs for later or toast them to use within a few days.
Toast the breadcrumbs
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs (either fresh or frozen), thyme, salt, and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Cool completely. Transfer to an airtight jar, and store on your countertop for up to a week.