Ready for a delicious flavor-filled crunch-plosion?!
I recently posted my delicious Caesar salad dressing recipe so I figured I’d follow it up with a post on making homemade croutons. These are just fantastic for a Caesar but can be used for any salad where you’d want some croutons.
These were made with homemade sourdough baguette, and I hope to put the baguette recipe up here too sometime. However, any baguette will do (homemade or commercially baked, sourdough or regular yeast, etc.).
If you don’t have access to baguette, you can sub with other breads such as Italian, ciabatta, and even everyday sandwich bread. Regardless of which type of bread you use, it should be stale (mind you, with zero mold of course!). This is so it absorbs the oil well and cooks to proper crispiness. If your bread is fresh, you can still use it but you’ll find it needs a longer baking time (and it likely won’t be quite as good as the stale bread, but is still enjoyable).
Now let’s do this!
Yield: sufficient for 5-6 servings of salad
Shelf life: 3-4 days (sealed)
- Knife & cutting board
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Small mixing bowl and sieve or fine mesh strainer
- Large mixing bowl
- Sheet pan (suggested lined with aluminum foil)
- Suggested: mortar & pestle to ground down the Italian seasoning
- Optional: garlic press
- 1 loaf baguette (~10-12 oz.), diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (100g)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese + additional 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (separated)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning / dried herbs, ground
- Optional: 1/2 tsp cayenne powder or paprika
1.) Finely mince or otherwise press the garlic cloves. Combine it with the olive oil in small mixing bowl. Give several good stirs then cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand for several hours to really infuse the garlic flavor into the oil. Then pour the oil through a sieve or fine mesh strainer to remove the garlic. Using a spoon, press the garlic in the strainer to extract more flavored liquid into the oil.
2.) Cut the baguette in half lengthwise, and again so it is cut into 4 long quarters. Baguette sizes can vary; if it is somewhat wide, it may be best to cut each piece again lengthwise into eighths. Then, cut across the bread into cubes (exact size up to you, recommended between 3/4″ to 1″).
3.) Preheat the oven to 300F. Transfer the bread cubes to the large mixing bowl and pour the oil over it, a few tablespoons at a time, while periodically tossing it, so the oil is evenly distributed. Repeat the process with the seasonings and 1/2 cup finely-shredded parmesan cheese, tossing the cubes well intermittently so everything is evenly distributed.
4.) Lightly oil the sheet pan (or aluminum foil if used) and place the seasoned/oiled bread cubes on the sheet pan in a single layer. Allow the bread pieces as much room as possible; it is best if they do not touch each other. Bake for 15 minutes.
5.) Toss the croutons well and return to the oven, again loosely arranged in a single layer for another 15 minutes.
6.) Then push the croutons close together and sprinkle the additional 1/4 cup shredded parmesan over them. At this stage they will bake anywhere from 10-20 minutes more, depending on the oven, how stale the bread was to start, and personal preference of doneness. Be sure to keep an eye on it that it doesn’t burn. If desired, broil on high for one minute at the end for some extra crispiness. (Note the croutons may not feel 100% done but will continue to crisp up as they cool and contract.)
7.) Transfer the croutons to a colander and give several good shakes and a few minutes to release any excess oil (optional), then transfer to a paper-towel covered dish or board to cool. Never place croutons in a sealed container until they are completely cooled to room temp. They can be stored in a ziptop bag and used for 3-4 days. \