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How to make breadcrumbs with the bread you already have at home

Laurel Randolph   

How to make breadcrumbs with the bread you already have at home
  • Breadcrumbs are easy to make at home and a great way to use up extra bread.
  • The quickest method is a food processor or blender, but a box grater will also work.
  • Store breadcrumbs in an airtight container for up to a month or freeze for longer storage.

You'll often find breadcrumbs used as a coating for chicken or fish, but the crispy crumbs add texture and flavor to a wide range of dishes. While you can buy breadcrumbs at the grocery store, they're incredibly easy to make at home.

"Breadcrumbs are a great way to prevent wasting old bread," says Bonnie Ohara, owner of Alchemy Bread Co. and author of "Baking for Beginners." "I use them for breading things, for frying, and I also like to toss them on top of pasta, mac and cheese, or a gratin."

If you have some extra bread lying around, don't make a special trip to the store for breadcrumbs. Make them at home using a food processor or, if you don't have one, a grater.

Quick tip: Ohara points out that you can use any kind of yeast bread for breadcrumbs, from sourdough to a baguette to plain white bread. Breads with mix-ins like olives and raisins are not recommended since the added ingredients won't achieve a crispy texture and will shorten the crumbs' shelf life.

How to make breadcrumbs with a food processor or blender

A food processor or blender turns bread into breadcrumbs quickly with very little effort. If you only have a mini food processor, you can make crumbs in batches.

  1. Prepare the bread. "I typically use dried-out bread for breadcrumbs because it's convenient," says Ohara. The bread should feel completely dry to the touch but be free of mold. Leave the bread out on the counter for a day or two to dry or, if you're short on time, place it on a baking sheet and toast at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until dry, which will take about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Tear the bread into chunks. Break up the bread so that it will move around in the food processor or blender freely. Place all of the bread inside the processor or blender, and close the lid.
  3. Pulse. "I just pulse them until they're as fine as I want them," says Ohara. The size is up to you, so process until you reach the right texture and stop. For crumbs that are very fine like store-bought breadcrumbs, keep pulsing until all of the pieces are very small and uniform.
  4. Season (optional). Salt and pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes are popular options if you want to give breadcrumbs an additional kick.

What if you don't have a blender or food processor?

If you don't have a food processor or blender handy, you can turn stale or toasted bread into breadcrumbs using a grater. Ohara notes that a regular box grater works well, as does a Microplane grater if you want superfine breadcrumbs. The bread will need to be very dried out and still in slices or large chunks for this method since soft or small pieces of bread are difficult to push through the holes of the grater.

Another option is to add chunks of dried bread to a zip-top bag, press out the air, close it, and pound into crumbs using a rolling pin or mallet.

Quick tip: Breadcrumbs are frequently used in savory applications, but Ohara also likes using them in desserts. "I will put toasted breadcrumbs on top of things like vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream with fruit, or on top of chocolate mousse," Ohara says. "Anything that is creamy textured and would be nice with the flavor of toast."

How to store breadcrumbs

Homemade breadcrumbs will keep in the pantry in an airtight container for a week or in the fridge for a month. "The main thing you want to avoid is moisture," says Ohara. This puts the breadcrumbs at risk of developing mold, so make sure the container is completely sealed. You can also freeze them in a zip-top freezer bag for up to six months. If the breadcrumbs aren't as crisp as you'd like after storage, spread them on a baking sheet and toast at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until dry, or about 10 minutes.

Insider's takeaway

Homemade breadcrumbs are a great way to use up leftover or stale bread. Add dried-out bread to a food processor or blender and pulse to make crumbs, or grate using a box grater. Store them in the fridge or freezer, and use them to add a tasty crunch to savory and sweet dishes.

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