If you aspire to be a great cook, consider making your own breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are the frugal secret of great cooks around the world. They can be used in countless recipes to bind, moisten, enhance and top. Many of the world’s greatest recipes simply would not exist without the humble little breadcrumb.
Extra credit? Season your breadcrumbs when you make them for your own preservative-free convenience ingredient.
I’ve been using my secret blend of seasonings to enhance my breadcrumbs for years.
I use my homemade breadcrumbs in meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed tomatoes, over pasta dishes, to bread chicken cutlets for my Chicken Parmesan recipe, to bread eggplant in my Eggplant Parmesan recipe, and to top gratins, casseroles, and cassoulets.
See what I mean? Powerhouse.
Plus, as a cook, you can always feel good to use every last little scrap of food. There is absolutely no need to buy breadcrumbs.
All it takes to make your own breadcrumbs is one good habit, and for the sake of expedience; a food processor.
The Good Habit
Save bread scraps.
Every time you cut the crust off a piece of bread or toast, set it aside. You can even keep a little collection in your freezer. Air-tight container, recommended.
Same with stale pieces of bakery bread, heels off of sandwich loaves, anything, really.
The more versatile your collection of bread scraps, the more interesting and flavorful your breadcrumbs will be. White, whole wheat, rye – anything goes.
At my house, I don’t have to wait long to amass a collection of bread to crumb.
Keep it Dry
I had a biology teacher once who insisted that everything be DRY, DRY, DRY. She insisted that all counters be dry. All equipment be dry. I can still hear her voice belt out DRY, DRY, DRY.
Of course, she knew and she taught us that moisture harbingers mold and bacteria.
Same is true for your bread crumbs. Keep them dry, dry, dry.
If you gather bread over a period of time to crumb, the freezer is your best storage place. This puts the bread in stasis, so any natural points of moisture will freeze and not mold or grow bacteria.
No only is dry bread safe, but only dry bread will crumb nicely. When you are ready to ‘crumb’, pop all your bread pieces in the oven at a low heat to dehydrate it to a crisp. 325° F will do. Try to make sure your bread pieces are generally uniform in size before you dry it in the oven. You can cut or tear your bread, accordingly. Toasting the bread is a nice option and adds more flavor too. But the goal here is to dry the bread out enough so the food processor can do its job.
After the bread pieces have been dehydrated, they will be crackly and shattery. Whirr them in a food processor with a metal blade until they are pulverized. You may have to work in small batches. Don’t forget the “pulse” button which takes the speed from zero to ten in a second. That works well here.
Place all your crumbs in a bowl and add the seasonings. This combination of oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper and salt is extremely well-rounded, versatile and flavorful.
Of course, you are the cook in your house and it’s appropriate that you, over time, adjust your blend to match your cooking style. You could add chili powder, mustard powder, rosemary, etc.
I think my blend will get you started, though. Plus, I have a lot of recipes coming up here on my blog that use seasoned breadcrumbs, so I thought it only prudent that I share.
Because your homemade breadcrumbs do not contain preservatives, I recommend you store them in the freezer. Keep them in an airtight container to they do not absorb moisture or take on any freezer smells. Use within six months.
- food processor
- Large Baking Sheet
- 3 cups pureed bread crumbs see instructions
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons thyme
To make breadcrumbs:
- Gather any bits of stale bread you may have. Break or cut them into small pieces (about the size of croutons). If you have fresher bread that isn't quite stale, you can add that too. Cut or tear it up. To make 3 cups of breadcrumbs you will need about five handfuls of bread.
- Arrange all your bread pieces on a large baking sheet. Bake in a warm oven 325 F, for 10-15 minutes to dry out fresher bread and take any moisture from the stale bread.
- When your bread pieces are dry and hard, remove them from the oven.
- Using a food processor, pulse the bread pieces in small batches.
To season the breadcrumbs:
- Measure out about three cups of your breadcrumbs. If you have more than three cups or less then three cups, please just adjust the seasonings accordingly. It does not have to be exact. These ratios are merely guidelines.
- In a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the seasonings and spices.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. I do not recommend storing these on the shelf as they do not contain preservatives and may mold.
- You can use these breadcrumbs in many recipes including meatballs, meatloaf, salmon cakes, stuffed vegetables, over pasta, over eggs, and much more.