How To Make Breadcrumbs

Don't trash that stale bread! Not when it's so easy to turn it into beautiful breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs topping ramekin of mac and cheese
Breadcrumbs topping ramekin of mac and cheese | Photo by Meredith.

Stale bread isn't just for the birds. Transform it into delicious breadcrumbs for topping casseroles, salads, and soups; for stuffings, meatloaves, and meatballs; and for breading fish, chicken, veggies! See below for how-to's and some top-rated recipes.

There are a couple ways to make breadcrumbs from bread.

The Quick and Easy Way to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs

This method is super fast and simple. It requires a food processor; a blender will also work in a pinch.

To make breadcrumbs, simply tear your stale white bread into roughly 1-inch pieces. Add them to the food processor, and process them until coarsely crumbed. Easy! It's like getting something from nothing!

If you want drier, crispier breadcrumbs, spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 300 degrees F until golden brown.

So that's the basic crumb. From here, feel free to add chopped fresh parsley or other herbs -- maybe a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. A little freshly grated lemon zest can bring out the best in breaded fish and chicken.

Breadcrumbs with parsley
Breadcrumbs with parsley | Photo by Meredith.

How to Make Breadcrumbs With Fresh Bread

Of course, you can always make breadcrumbs from bread that's perfectly fresh, not stale at all. The key here is to dry the bread so it crumbles in the food processor. If you're in no rush, leave the bread out, uncovered, unbound by the plastic bag on the counter. To satisfy more immediate breadcrumb needs, spread slices of bread single-file on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees until dry, about 10-to-15 minutes. Let the bread cool before tearing into pieces and crumbing it in the food processor.

Here's a recipe for Toasted Breadcrumbs.

What's the best bread for making breadcrumbs? White bread is the most popular. But as long as your bread is dry enough to crumb, any kind of bread will do: whole wheat, sourdough, rye bread, baguettes. In fact, making breadcrumbs is a great way to use up the heels and other stray pieces of bread. Store the random pieces in a bag in the freezer until you have enough to toss into the food processor.

How to Make Breadcrumbs Without a Food Processor

No food processor? Use a blender. But add bread in small batches to your blender so it doesn't get gummed up. No blender? Try using a box cheese grater. This works if your bread is nice and toasty dry.

You can also make breadcrumbs by hand with just a kitchen knife. Slice white or wheat sandwich bread into strips (cut off the crust if you like). Gather the strips together and slice them into smaller pieces. Then roughly chop 'em up into a crumb-like consistency.

Slicing slices of bread for breadcrumbs
Slicing slices of bread for breadcrumbs | Photo by Meredith.

How to Make Breadcrumbs Without Bread

Of course, the easiest homemade breadcrumbs aren't actually made from bread. They're made from crackers or potato chips. Keep a box of Saltine crackers in the pantry, and you'll never be without breadcrumbs. Saltines are already crisp and crumbly. Pop them into a plastic bag and mash them gently with a mallet or rolling pin -- or use your fingers to pinch them into crumbs -- or simply grab a few crackers in your hand and make a fist to crush them! Instant crumbs. Buttery round crackers, like Ritz crackers, work great, too. Try them in this top-rated meatloaf recipe. Another tasty choice: Potato chips, as seen in Chef John's recipe for No-Bake Crispy Potato Chip Mac and Cheese. Crackers and potato chips can be crushed into very fine crumbs.

Bread into breadcrumbs and crackers into crackercrumbs
Bread into breadcrumbs and crackers into crackercrumbs | Photo by Meredith.

How to Store Breadcrumbs

Put your breadcrumbs in jar or container with an airtight lid and store in the pantry for a couple weeks or in the refrigerator for about a month. They'll stay in the freezer, too, in resealable plastic bags with the air squeezed out.

BONUS: If you can make homemade breadcrumbs, you can make homemade croutons. Watch Chef John turn French bread into crunchy croutons flavored with garlic and Parmesan. They're a crucial crunchy topper for salads and soups. And in a pinch, you can easily process them into flavorful breadcrumbs!

Get the recipe for Homemade Croutons.

Recipes to Use up Your Homemade Breadcrumbs

OK, let's get to some of our favorite breadcrumb-related recipes.

Breaded Stuffed Zucchini
Breaded Stuffed Zucchini | Photo by Meredith.
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