Have you ever made your own croutons? It’s really not too hard and the payoff is definitely worth it! They’re cheaper than store-bought, don’t have a bunch of additives (that is if your bread is good) and taste great. You can use any bread you have on hand…bagels, artesian bread, baguettes or sandwich bread (a bit too thin, but it works). My preference is to buy a loaf of fresh artesian bread and make a big batch of Homemade Croutons!
A few years ago, I made these croutons for some friends who came to dinner. After tasting them, the son exclaimed “the world should know about these croutons!.” I’m sure the world won’t ever know about them, but you can and that’s good enough for me!
What’s at the root of this food? Wholesome ingredients with no unhealthy additives and a tasty crunch that’s sure to satisfy. These simple Garlic Parmesan Croutons are great in soups and on salads (if your family doesn’t eat them all first)!
- 1 loaf of artesian bread
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped or 2T dried
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
- Salt, pepper and garlic granules, to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. I would recommend using the convection setting if your oven has one. The convection setting just seems to crisp them up more nicely.
Peel garlic and chop finely. Make this easier by hitting the clove with the side of your knife and the peeling will just slip off. Place with butter, garlic and olive oil in a small pan and melt on low heat. Add herbs to the warm butter.
Cut bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. I’ve tried 1/2″ pieces and they were a bit too crunchy. Then I tested 3/4″ and they were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle = perfect. Make sure all the pieces are similar in size so they will cook evenly.
Add the parmesan cheese to the bread and toss. Pour the melted butter, olive oil, garlic and herb mixture over bread and mix quickly to combine and coat all pieces. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic granules to taste. Coat a jellyroll pan with cooking spray and spread the croutons around evenly.
Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on how crisp you like them. I open the oven and stir them at 5 minute intervals to ensure an even crisp. After 15 minutes of baking, check the croutons to see if they are a nice golden brown color. I also like the taste-test method but be careful not to burn your mouth! I usually put them back in for another 3-5 minutes and they are perfect. Reduce the time for smaller croutons.
Quick Stove-top Method
When I’m in a hurry, I do a stove-top version of croutons as inspired by The Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten). She is seriously brilliant in the kitchen and I enjoy her cookbooks, recipes and down-home style. One recipe I’ve made over and over is Ina’s Croutons. They’re so simple when you’re in hurry because you don’t need to heat the oven, which is good during the hot summer.
Here’s my quick version as inspired by Ina: cut 4 slices of bread into 1/2″ squares. Place 1 T of olive oil and 1 T of butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Once melted, add the bread squares and sprinkled with salt, pepper, garlic granules, and parsley flakes. Then sauté until the bread is slightly brown and crunchy…so easy and tastes great!
- I use La Brea Bakery artesian bread from my local grocery store for this recipe. They have many options but my preference is French or Rosemary. Both have FFR-friendly ingredients and make delicious croutons!
- You can vary the flavor of the croutons by omitting the parmesan cheese and/or using different fresh or dried herbs such as basil, oregano, Herbs de Provence , thyme, rosemary or even chili powder. Just create them the way you like!
- If using fresh herbs, you may either bake them in or add to the warm croutons after baking.
- As for the garlic, some prefer to remove it from the butter/oil mixture before baking. I personally bake mine in so I can enjoy the crunchy garlic and herb crumbs (that fall off the croutons) on my soups and salads.
- There’s lots of research out there on good and bad oils. From my studies, I’ve determined to avoid canola oil (amongst others) and most store-bought croutons are made with it. See my post on the best oils to use for cooking here.
- Here’s an interesting study: “Canola Oil Linked to Worsened Memory and Learning Ability in Alzheimer’s Disease”.
- Healthline has this to say: “Canola oil is a vegetable oil derived from the canola plant. Canola seed processing involves synthetic chemicals that help extract the oil. Canola oil may contain up to 4.2% of trans fats, but the levels are highly variable and usually much lower. Artificial trans fats are harmful to health, have been widely linked to heart disease and are harmful even in small amounts, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for global elimination of artificial trans fats in food by 2023 (12Trusted Source). Aside from vitamins E and K, canola oil is not a good source of nutrients. Canola oil may contain small amounts of trans fats, which is harmful to health.”