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It’s easy to forget about a loaf of bread and let it sit on the counter for a little too long. Before you know it, the bread has become stale and hard to eat. But don’t worry because there are plenty of ways to use that stale bread and make the most of it.
Easy Ways to Use Stale Bread
According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, around 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten, resulting in over 20 pounds of food waste per person per month. Repurposing stale bread is one way to reduce this waste and use every part of the food we buy.
In addition to reducing food waste, repurposing stale bread can save money. Instead of buying croutons or breadcrumbs from the store, you can make them at home using stale bread. You can also use stale bread instead of fresh bread in some recipes, which can be more budget-friendly.
In this post, I’ll share with you 5 simple ways to repurpose stale, leftover bread, tips on softening stale bread, and some delicious stale bread recipes.
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1. Make Croutons
Making croutons from stale bread is one of the easiest and most popular ways to repurpose leftover bread. Not only are they delicious, but they also add a nice crunch to salads or soups. To make croutons, start by preheating your oven to 350°F.
Next, slice the stale loaf of bread or day-old bread into small cubes or bite-sized pieces. You can use any type of bread for croutons, including white, whole wheat, or sourdough. Place the bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil over them, coating each piece.
To season the croutons, you can use any combination of herbs and spices you like. Some favorite options include garlic powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Toss the bread cubes with your seasoning of choice until they are evenly coated.
Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the croutons are crispy and golden brown. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
Once the croutons are done, let them cool before using them in your dishes. You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week. Or you can place them in a freezer bag and freeze them until you can use them later.
In addition to salads and soups, croutons can be used as a topping for casseroles or as a snack. Get creative with your seasonings and try different combinations to find your favorite flavor. Making croutons is a great way to use stale bread and add extra texture and flavor to your meals.
2. Panzanella Salad
Panzanella is a classic Italian bread salad that is not only delicious but also a great way to use up stale bread. This salad is a perfect example of how the Italians, famous for their ability to transform simple ingredients into something extraordinary, have found a creative way to use leftover bread.
To make Panzanella, the stale bread is cut into cubes and then toasted or grilled until crispy. The bread is mixed with ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, sweet onions, and fresh herbs. The salad is dressed with a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper. The result is a salad that is bursting with flavor and texture.
3. French Toast
French toast is a classic breakfast dish that can be made with stale bread, making it the perfect way to use up leftover bread in the morning. To make French toast, start by slicing the stale bread into thick slices, about 1 inch in thickness.
In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and any other seasonings you like, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides evenly. Allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture for a few seconds on each side.
Next, heat up a non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Grease the pan with butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking. Once the pan is hot, place the soaked bread slices onto the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Serve the French toast warm with your favorite toppings. Some of our favorite options include fresh fruit, powdered sugar, whipped cream, maple syrup, or even savory toppings like bacon or avocado. Get creative and experiment with different toppings to find your favorite flavor combinations. We also serve French toast plain with syrup but with a side of sausage, ham, or another meat.
French toast is a versatile dish that can be customized to your liking. You can add some extra flavor by using different types of bread, such as sourdough or cinnamon swirl. You can also try using different types of milk, like almond or coconut, for a dairy-free version.
Not only is French toast a delicious way to use up stale bread, but it’s also a great way to start your day with a hearty and satisfying breakfast or brunch.
Stale bread is an essential ingredient for making delicious stuffing for your holiday turkey or as a side dish. You can use any kind of bread that has gone stale, such as sourdough or baguette. Cut the bread into small, bite-sized cubes and set them aside to make the stuffing.
Next, sauté some vegetables such as onions, celery, carrots, or mushrooms in butter until they are soft and fragrant. You can also add herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage for added flavor.
Combine the sautéed vegetables with the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add any additional seasonings, such as salt and pepper, and mix well. Then, slowly pour some chicken or vegetable stock over the bread mixture, stirring gently to moisten the bread cubes.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake at 350°F for about 30-40 minutes or until the stuffing is golden brown and crispy on top.
Stuffing is a versatile dish that can be customized to your liking. You can add some extra flavor by adding dried cranberries, pecans, or chestnuts. You can also use different herbs and spices to create unique flavor profiles.
Find my special recipe for stuffing here: My Famous Homemade Stuffing.
5. Bread Crumbs
Breadcrumbs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in various recipes, from meatballs to fried foods. Instead of buying breadcrumbs from the store, you can easily make your own using stale bread.
To make breadcrumbs, cut the stale bread into small pieces and place them in a food processor. Pulse the bread until it reaches the desired coarse or fine texture. If you prefer, you can also grate the bread using a cheese grater if you have Off Grid Appliances.
Once you’ve made your breadcrumbs, you can store them in an airtight container. Breadcrumbs can be used in various recipes, such as meatballs, meatloaf, and casseroles, and even as a coating for fried foods like chicken or fish.
Combine breadcrumbs in meatballs or meatloaf with your ground meat of choice, eggs, and any additional seasonings. The breadcrumbs help to bind the meat mixture together and add some texture.
You can coat your food in breadcrumbs before frying to create a crispy and flavorful crust for fried foods. Dip your food in beaten egg or milk and then cover it in the breadcrumbs before frying.
How to Soften Stale Bread
One easy way to soften stale bread is to wrap it in a damp paper towel and microwave it for 10-15 seconds.
Another option is to brush the bread with a mixture of olive oil and water and bake it in the oven for a few minutes. This will help to revive the bread and make it fresh again.
More Stale Bread Recipes
Let’s check out a few more mouth-watering recipes that make use of stale bread!
French onion soup is a great way to use stale bread because the bread acts as a base and helps thicken the soup, adding texture and flavor. Traditionally, French onion soup is made with stale or toasted bread that is placed at the bottom of the soup bowl before the hot broth is poured over it. The bread soaks up the broth, becoming soft and flavorful, and helps to create a filling and satisfying meal.
You can try this recipe here: The Best French Onion Soup Recipe
Make use of your stale bread by Indulging your sweet tooth with this delicious Bread Pudding. Bread Pudding is perfect for using up stale bread because it transforms the dry and often unappetizing bread into a delicious dessert. The stale bread is torn into small pieces and soaked in milk, eggs, sugar, and spices before being baked in the oven. The result is a warm, comforting dessert with a soft, custard-like texture and a crispy top.
More on this recipe here: Old Fashioned Bread Pudding Recipe
Don’t let a stale loaf of bread go to waste. Use these tips and recipes to repurpose leftover bread and create delicious meals and snacks. Whether you are making croutons or using the bread as the base for a hearty soup, there are plenty of ways to make the most out of stale bread.
How do you use up stale bread?
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Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This post on Ways to Use Up Stale Bread was first published on Little House Living in April 2023.