Forget the box! Make your own croutons for great flavor and good cheap eats!
Croutons are like candy at our house. Back in the day when I bought the boxed versions, I had to hide the box because my people would be tempted to eat them all — with or without a salad to go under it.
Then I learned to make them myself. I still want to hoard them. I am a salad girl, after all, but if I make the croutons myself, I can control the ingredients and I can make them much, much cheaper than the box. This means that I can use day-old bread that I find on sale or use dry home-baked loaves. My friend Lynn makes her croutons gluten-free!
This weekend we had an extra loaf of that fat chubby “French bread” so I decided to make homemade croutons. Now we have 2 quarts of croutons to use on soups and salads in the coming week or two — if they last that long.
Making croutons yourself
This time I decided to spice them up with cheese and garlic. While I prefer to use fresh Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago for our pasta dishes, I often keep a can of Trader Joe’s dried, grated variety on hand. This seemed like a good application for the dried parmesan-romano blend since I was fairly certain it wouldn’t burn. And it didn’t.
I cubed the loaf of bread, tossed it with olive oil, seasoned it with garlic powder and cheese, and baked it slowly in the oven until crisp. Easy peasy.
Making croutons cheaper
A bag of croutons at the store ranges from $2 to $4 for about 2 cups of croutons.
I made mine with a leftover loaf of bread that originally cost me $1.50. I could have held out for clearance bread (about $1) or used home-baked bread to lower the price point, but I was making sure this loaf didn’t go to waste. The oil cost about 15 cents an ounce, therefore $0.45. The seasonings maybe totaled a quarter. So, I got 8 cups of croutons for about $2.20, about 4 times cheaper than store bought.
Cheese and Garlic Croutons
- 8 to 10 cup bread cubes
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan-Romano cheese from a can
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 400 °. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place the cubed bread in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil over the bread cubes and toss to coat.
- Transfer the bread cubes to the baking sheet and season with the cheese and garlic.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until crisp and light brown, stirring once or twice.
This is part of the DIY Convenience Foods series.