How To Make Homemade Breadcrumbs

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Bread crumbs add a pop of color, a bolt of flavor, and a crunch that immediately elevates any dish. These easy-to-make savory, crunchy crumbs are a great way to use up bread and add a little pizzazz to weeknight dinners.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

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.

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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.

  • Sourdough
  • French bread
  • Rye
  • Whole wheat or white sandwich bread
  • Leftover hot dog and hamburger buns

How to Toast Breadcrumbs in the Oven - two jars filled with toasted breadcrumbs


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.


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.


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.


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.


How To Make Homemade Breadcrumbs

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups


  • 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


1 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.

Easy Breadcrumb Recipe - torn bread in food processor Easy Breadcrumb Recipe - coarse breadcrumbs in food processor Easy Breadcrumb Recipe - breadcrumbs in food processor Bread Crumb Recipe - breadcrumbs in ziploc bags labled with green tape

2 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.

Bread Crumb Recipe - toasting breadcrumbs in a silver skillet

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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3 Comments / Reviews

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  1. Rose

    My mother made her stuffing for chicken with bread crumbs. We had roast chicken 2 or 3 times a month. One of the earliest jobs or chores I had to do; was roll out dry bread on a sheet of news paper or sheet of paper made from a brown paper bag, with the rolling pin . At one time I thought I so hard done by.

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Stovetop Breadcrumb Recipe - swing top lid jar filled with toasted breadcrumbsHow To Make Homemade Breadcrumbs