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Homemade croutons are the best finishing touch to a salad! Learn what breads to use, how to season them, and how to make sure they’re perfectly crispy.

Wooden spoon holding a spoonful of homemade croutons on a baking sheet.

When you’re planning a big holiday dinner, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the ham or turkey and all of the sides – like garlic mashed potatoes and Jiffy corn casserole – that you forget to add a fresh veggie to the menu.

A beautiful salad is a great way to add some freshness to a heavy meal, and I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be boring. 

One of the easiest ways to make a salad both delicious and impressive is with some homemade croutons. Everyone loves croutons and they’re so easy to customize with any seasonings you like!

Small white bowl of croutons on a countertop with a bowl of salad in the background.


Before we get into all of the ways you can flavor homemade croutons, let’s talk about how to make some basic homemade croutons.

These are pretty straightforward, but they’re anything but bland. And once you learn the technique, you can change them up in so many ways!

Ingredients you’ll need

For these classic croutons, you will need:

  • 4 cups cubed good bread
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Pretty simple list, right?

Well, just like with extra-virgin olive oil dip, the quality of the ingredients can really make a difference. Your croutons will be delicious no matter what, but using a nice olive oil and fresh garlic powder and onion powder will take them to a whole new level.

But let’s talk about the bread for a minute, ok? Because good, restaurant-style croutons are all about the bread.

Ingredients for homemade croutons arranged on a countertop.

What is the best bread to use?

Put away your pre-sliced sandwich bread or even your english muffin bread. Save that for a PB&J or your morning toast.

For the best homemade croutons, you want to use really good, chewy bread. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Sourdough
  • Focaccia
  • Ciabatta
  • Baguette

These breads all have great flavor. Remember that using more flavorful bread means you’ll have more flavorful croutons!

The texture is also key. More “rustic” or “artisan” breads have a chewy texture and open crumb that produce a wonderfully crispy crouton.

Making croutons is also a great way to use up slightly stale bread. You know, maybe you forgot that you had half a loaf of sourdough in the bread keeper, or you went away for the weekend before finishing off that baguette.

Don’t toss the bread – turn it into croutons, instead!   

Wooden spoon tossing cubes of bread with seasoning in a metal bowl.

Making basic croutons

Preheat your oven to 300°F. I know this feels low, but trust me. 

In a large bowl, toss the bread together with the olive oil and all of the seasonings. Make sure all of the bread pieces are well coated.

Seasoned chunks of bread on a rimmed baking sheet, ready to go in the oven.

Spread out the seasoned bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes, giving them a stir and checking on them every 5 minutes.

The croutons are ready to come out of the oven when they are golden and feel dry but still have some give to them. They will crisp as they cool, so you actually don’t want them to be perfectly crisp straight out of the oven! 

Let the croutons cool, then add to your favorite salads with homemade ranch dressing, blue cheese dressing, green goddess dressing, or caesar dressing.

Baked homemade croutons on a rimmed baking sheet.


Ok, we’ve reviewed the basic technique, but let’s dive into my top 3 tips for the perfect croutons:

1: Use good bread

We already talked about bread, but it’s worth repeating: Use good, flavorful, chewy bread for your homemade croutons. 

If you start with bland bread, you’ll get bland croutons. It’s really as simple as that! 

So pick up a loaf of sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta, baguette, or something similar and you’re well on your way to perfect croutons.

2: Tear the bread, don’t cut it

For the best croutons with lots of crispy edges, tear the bread into pieces.

To do this, slice the bread about 1-inch thick. Then tear the slices into pieces around the size of a quarter. This will give you lots of rustic edges and nooks and crannies that get beautifully crispy.

3: Don’t let the bread get perfectly crisp in the oven

It goes against every instinct you have, but don’t wait to pull the croutons from the oven until they are perfectly crispy. 

The croutons will continue to crisp up as they cool, so croutons that are perfectly crisp straight out of the oven will end up being rock hard when they cool. Those are the croutons that hurt your mouth to eat – no one likes that!

Pull the croutons out of the oven when the pieces are dry and the edges are starting to crisp but still have a little bit of give to them in the center. This will give you a great texture once they cool.

Croutons on top of a green salad in a big, white bowl.


Basic homemade croutons are delicious, but there are so many ways you can flavor these beauties just by changing up the seasonings.

Chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, dried italian herbs, and parmesan cheese are all great options.

You can even use your favorite seasoning mixes, such as ranch seasoning or taco seasoning.

If you use a seasoning mix that has some salt in it or you add salty parmesan cheese, reduce the amount of salt you add to the croutons.

So explore your pantry and get creative with the flavors you use. It’s a great way to complement your favorite salad dressings and add extra flavor to your salads! 


Rule number one when storing homemade croutons: make sure they are completely cool before storing them.

Keep croutons in a cool, dry place. Place them in an airtight container or zip-top bag with a paper towel and keep them away from moisture (the enemy of a crispy crouton!) for 4-5 days.

I do not recommend storing croutons in the refrigerator. There is too much moisture and they run the risk of becoming soft and stale quickly.

Large white bowl filled with homemade croutons.


Does the bread need to be stale?

Not really. It’s true that bread that is slightly stale crisps up faster in the oven because it already has less moisture in it, but the bread does not have to be stale to make good croutons.

Just keep in mind that fresh bread will need to bake a little longer to get those beautiful crisp edges we want in a homemade crouton.

How do I prevent homemade croutons from getting too hard?

Pull the croutons from the oven before you think they’re perfectly crisp. If they’re perfect right from the oven, they’ll be like eating rocks when they cool. 

The croutons are done baking when they’re crisp around the edges but still a bit soft in the center. They’ll finish crisping as they cool for a perfect bite.

Can I freeze homemade croutons?

Yes, with a caveat.

Freeze croutons in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag for about a month. They may be a bit soft after they thaw, even if you remove them from the container and place them on a paper towel at room temperature to thaw.

Pop the croutons on a baking sheet and place them in a 400°F oven for 3-5 minutes to revive them. Let them cool before using.

How else can I use these other than on salad?

Scattering them on top of a big, green salad is the obvious way to use homemade croutons, but it’s not the only option.

Use them to top your favorite soups, especially tomato soup, cheeseburger soup, butternut squash soup, or broccoli cheese soup.

Stir croutons into softly scrambled eggs as an alternative to a side of toast.

Crush them up and use them on top of casseroles, on baked mac and cheese, or anywhere you might use bread crumbs. 

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Homemade Croutons

By: Jamie
5 from 1 rating
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Homemade croutons are the best way to finish a salad! Learn what breads to use, how to season them, and how to make sure they’re perfectly crispy.


  • 4 cups cubed good bread such as sourdough, focaccia, or a baguette (see notes)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Other optional spices:

  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cumin
  • Dried Italian herbs
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Place the bread in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and the spices and toss until the bread is well coated.
  • Spread the bread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes, tossing them every 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp around the edges but still slightly soft in the middle. Note that as the croutons cool, they will crisp up more.



For the best croutons with lots of crispy edges, slice the bread about 1-inch thick, then tear the slices into pieces around the size of a quarter. You can, of course, slice the bread for even pieces, but tearing gives more rustic edges that crisp up nicely in the oven.
Croutons that are perfectly crisp right out of the oven will be too hard to eat when they cool. For the perfect crouton, pull them from the oven when they are still have a bit of give to them – as they cool, they will crisp up perfectly.
Stale bread will crisp faster in the oven and will need less time to bake. Fresh bread will take longer and will need more time in the oven to get perfectly crisp.


Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 140kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Sodium: 278mg, Potassium: 45mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 36mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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