Croutons are small pieces of bread that are often used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. They are usually made using Italian or French bread. Although most cooks just coat croutons with butter, some season the bread pieces to enhance the flavor. Croutons can be made by either re-baking the bread or sautéing it in a skillet.
What are Croutons used for?
Some enjoy eating homemade croutons alone as snacks. They are often not recommended to dieters because they contain a moderately high number of calories. However, they can support weight management if added to low-calorie soups in small portions. Croutons are also used as flavoring for salads and many types of soup.
Although they are available in many grocery stores, learning how to make croutons at home can be healthier and tastier. Store-bought products usually have preservatives and different additives to extend their shelf life. It is also believed that pre-packaged croutons contain high amounts of hydrogenated oils, which are a form of trans fats that damage the heart.
Homemade croutons, on the other hand, are free of these substances, making them a healthier option. You also have the option of controlling the type and quantity of butter you use. Another benefit is that you can prepare them in large quantities and store for future use, saving you money.
How to Make Croutons at Home
Croutons are as easy to make as garlic bread. You can make golden, crunchy croutons at home with only a couple of ingredients. You will need:
- A loaf of Italian or French bread (baguette)
- 3-4 tablespoons of butter, preferably unsalted
Cut the bread into cubes about an inch wide. Bread should be dry but not too dry. If the bread is dried out, heat it up in the microwave for 5-10 minutes.
Add butter into a large pan and place it over high heat. Allow the butter to melt and add the bread pieces. Toss the bread cubes around the pan until they are lightly coated in the butter. Using a spatula spread the bread into a layer on the pan surface.
Cook bread cubes until brown, flipping them occasionally to cook all sides. Remove the croutons from heat and transfer into a large bowl. Serve immediately or store for later use.
Avoid storing croutons while they are still hot. After preparing them, allow them to cool before storing in a container. Ensure the container is airtight to preserve the crunchy texture. The best conditions to store croutons are in cool, dry places like the freezer. If the croutons start to release an unpleasant odor or develop mold on the surface, discard them immediately.
Many cooks find store-bought croutons convenient, but learning how to make croutons at home offers richer flavor and can save you money. These bread-based foods are so easy to make and are great additions to salads and soups. Croutons are high-calorie foods and not ideal for weight management. However, they can add bulk to many low-calorie meals and can infuse bland dishes with a bit of flavor.