5 Ways to Add New Life to Stale Bread

If your loaf has seen fresher days, it still has many uses in the kitchen. From crumbs and croutons to soups and puddings, your bread can have a second life in a delicious dish.

Atop many grocery lists each week is a fresh loaf of bread. It's great to keep on hand for morning toast or a quick sandwich. But even bread lovers can get to the end of the week and realize that there is half a loaf left that's probably getting a little past its prime. We've all been there.

Buy don't toss that loaf. Instead, consider the range of options for giving it new life in your meals. Learn our thrifty and tasty methods for using up less-than-fresh bread:

Refresh and Renew

If your loaf is just a little dry, try a re-freshening technique. This can make your bread salvageable for another meal; just be sure to use it up quickly.

  • Sliced loaf: Wrap in damp paper towels, microwave for 10 seconds, wrap in foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, leave wrapped until slightly cooled to keep the steam in. Or if you have extra time on your hands, seal the bread loaf in an air-tight bag with a stalk of celery and refrigerate overnight.
  • Baguettes: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F, run the loaf under a small drizzle of water, then bake for about 8 to 10 minutes to re-crisp the baguette.

Creative Crumbs

Many recipes call for either fresh or dried bread crumbs. To make fresh bread crumbs, just trim the crusts and tear the bread in pieces, and put in the food processor. Process to crumbs, then store in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

For dried bread crumbs, spread fresh bread crumbs on a sheet pan and dry in a 250 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. When the crumbs are bone dry, they will keep, tightly sealed, at room temperature for up to a month. If there is any moisture left in the crumbs they will grow mold unless refrigerated.

Use these breadcrumbs to bulk up recipes like meatloaf, veggie burgers, or meatballs. They're also great for coating chicken before baking and creating a crunchy topping for casseroles.

two slices of bread on a wooden table
Anna Ivanova / Getty Images

Cube It Up

Stale bread can easily be cut into cubes and used in several dishes. Make them the star of savory stuffings or sweet bread puddings. You can also create crispy croutons to top bowls of soup and refreshing salads.

Terrific Toast

Toast is an obvious use for stale bread, but you can go above and beyond the basic breakfast staple. Cut bite-sized pieces of bread and toast them for impressive crostini or bruschetta appetizers. Or if you've got stale pita bread on hand, transform those into crispy, crunchy pita chips.

Make a Bread-Based Dish

There are plenty of ways to use up stale bread in recipes without it being obvious the loaf is past its prime. For breakfast, make a batch of French toast, or bake a savory strata, either way the eggs are soaked up beautifully. Soups also take well to old bread, simply tear and throw pieces into a ribollita or blend slices into gazpacho for a thicker texture.

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