If you’ve ever had good croutons, you now that they can haunt you with cravings.
I was definitely the kid who would have preferred a bowl of croutons with some salad dressing on the side. Is that gross? Anyway, as I got older, Caesar salad became my go-to meal at restaurants and a lot of it had to do with the extra attention given to the croutons on Caesars.
Have you ever noticed that? Sometimes, the “crouton” is just flatbread with broiled parmesan – sometimes it’s just a thick chip of baked parmesan (be still my heart). But at the very least, you’ll get excellent garlic & herb croutons, and making them at home is too freaking easy to not share. (And sustainable, too!)
Really good croutons can be expensive in the grocery store, and this recipe uses ingredients that most people literally throw away. Croutons: Eliminating waste and fixing naked soups since forever.
My favorite part of this recipe is how flexible it is. I’d by lying if I told you I measured everything every time I made this garlic & herb crouton recipe. It’s kind of hard to mess these up (#1 killer: burning), so experiment, and check out my suggestions at the end of the recipe!
Easy Garlic & Herb Croutons
6-8 pieces of stale bread, diced into 1-2″ cubes (whatever kind you have is fine, heels are welcome!)
4 tbsp (1/4 cup, half stick) of butter*
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp each dried herbs* (use between 2-4 for best results)
2 tsp salt
Large frying pan
Rimmed baking sheet/jellyroll pan
Aluminum foil (optional)
Spatula or wooden spoon
1. Line a baking sheet with tin foil (if you want) and preheat your oven to 375°F. Heat the butter in frying pan over low-medium heat. The fat in butter burns at 350°F/176°C so medium should be as high as you go. Once the butter begins to bubble slightly, add in the garlic and dried herbs.
2. As soon as your garlic begins to turn even slightly golden brown, add the bread cubes and toss them around in the butter to coat. Do this kind of quickly, because that butter is going to soak into the bread it’s closest to, fast. Tossing quickly helps to evenly disperse the butter mixture.
3. Once the frying pan is dry and all of the butter is absorbed into the bread, turn off the burner, add the salt and toss. (This is also where you could add some dried parmesan for a cheese kick.)
4. Turn the bread out onto your baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 15 minutes.
I used about three cups of diced sourdough bread slices and heels that I had saved in my fridge over a few loaves. The heels are just as good as the slices, truly!
Lightly bubbling butter with the max amount of fresh garlic and dried herbs. I used thyme, basil, oregano, and I think a pinch of rosemary. Scrunch up the dried herbs in your hand before adding them!
Toss the bread cubes before the butter only absorbs into the bottom layer! This will also help prevent your garlic from burning.
I did an okay tossing job.
The aluminum is only there because I am lazy. Also, these are definitely toaster-oven friendly!
Recipe Tips & Suggestions
I really recommend crusty whole wheat sourdough bread, but have had success with everything from basic white bread to 21-seed fiber bread heels. Fresh bread is okay, too, but stale bread is prime for soaking up delicious, fatty, flavory butter… (Though coconut oil and olive oil are awesome, too – I’ve tried both!)
These garlic & herb croutons store exceptionally well in an airtight container or sandwich bag. I keep mine in my pantry. Great for adding quickly to salads or soup you’ve made with your own scrappy veggie stock (eh? ehh?).
Herb combination suggestions:
Italian: basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder
Greek: oregano, dill, garlic powder, black pepper
French: shallots (instead of garlic), tarragon, basil, chives
+ Cheese: add 1/4 grated parmesan and 2 tsp garlic powder when you add salt at the end of frying
Another note on spice: if you’re having a really thick or creamy soup like the butternut squash soup at the beginning of those post, I would definitely suggest adding a pinch or two of crushed red pepper, as the occasional spicy-hot explosion is really, really pleasant.
If you come up with an excellent herb mix or variation, please tell me in the comments! I love hearing what you guys do.