Homemade bread crumbs are easy to make and so useful for breading, making meatballs or meatloaf, or for topping pasta. Try plain or Italian seasoned crumbs!
Why you’ll love it: It’s another great way to use up stale bread and homemade bread crumbs are super easy to make.
How long it takes: 30 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: food processor, baking pan, oven
Servings: makes 2 ½ cups
Have you ever thought about making your own bread crumbs? I have to admit, I probably wouldn’t have until food allergies became an issue in my family. My son has a severe sesame seed allergy (along with all tree nuts and peanuts). Suddenly I became an avid label reader.
Here’s the shocker: Many commercially produced bread crumbs have sesame seeds! Who would have thought? Actually, the list of ingredients is rather shocking and after reading through it, I am convinced that I’d rather make my own. There are more than 40 (!) ingredients listed, including high fructose corn syrup and sugar, plus preservatives and a whole bunch of other nasty sounding stuff.
Granted, unless you bake your own bread or buy really high quality bakery bread, you still have to read labels. I know which breads are safe for my family and that’s the kind of bread I use to make breadcrumbs. It’s perfect for those of you who don’t eat gluten because you can use gluten-free bread.
And do you know? Great bread makes great bread crumbs! It’s as simple as that. I’ll show you how to make coarse breadcrumbs (like panko), fine breadcrumbs, or Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
About This Recipe
There’s another advantage to homemade bread crumbs. You can use up leftover stale bread. If you have day old bread that’s just a bit dry, it’s perfect for making bread crumbs. Mind you, we’re not talking about moldy bread, just dry bread. Save up your crusts or stale bread. Just put it in the freezer until you’re ready to turn it into useful breadcrumbs.
I love dry bread! I consider it a treasure in my kitchen. It’s perfect for making French toast, homemade croutons which are a thousand times better than packaged, or the best panzanella salads. We love it for bread pudding, too. And now, bread crumbs!
Dry breadcrumbs can be used for breading, to add as a binder in meatballs and meatloaf, or as a delicious topping for pasta (mixed with butter, garlic, and a bit of Parm). They are great on casseroles, too.
Breadcrumbs keep really well. You can easily freeze them for longer storage. They won’t stick together and you can just take out what you need.
I’ll get you started on making your own bread crumbs here and give you lots of helpful tips. Look for the printable recipe card below with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What you’ll need
- Bread: Pretty much any kind of yeast bread can be turned into bread crumbs, from whole wheat to gluten-free. Keep in mind that your bread crumbs will taste like the bread you use. Day-old or dry bread is best but don’t worry if you have fresh, soft bread. I’ll show you how to dry it quickly.
- Food Processor: Using a food processor with the S-blade is the quickest way to pulverize the bread, i.e., turn it into crumbs.
- Rimmed Baking Pan (Sheet Pan): Look for a shallow pan with a rim so your crumbs don’t end up all over your oven.
How to make This Recipe
This bread crumb recipe is more of a “how to” than a recipe. There are just a few steps to making your own ready-to-use breadcrumbs. Begin by preheating your oven to 300ºF and getting out a large rimmed baking pan.
First, you need to dry the bread, especially if you’re using fresh bread. If your bread is already a bit dry, you can omit this step.
Why does the bread need to be dry? The reason is simple. If you put really soft, fresh bread into the food processor, you’ll get moist clumps of bread instead of crumbs. The bread has to be fairly dry to process.
So, tear the bread slices into cubes. Use your fingers to tear the bread into rough chunks. There’s no need to get fancy or try to get square pieces.
Arrange the bread on the baking pan and dry it in a slow oven for about 5 minutes. The bread shouldn’t be browned, just dry.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the bread cool down. Turn the oven down to 275ºF.
When the bread has cooled off, put it into your food processor, with the S-blade.
Pulse several times, until the bread has the consistency of coarse crumbs. It should look somewhat like panko bread crumbs.
Back onto the sheet pan it goes. Bake the crumbs until they are very dry, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Stir them every five minutes so they dry evenly.
Take them out of the oven and cool completely. Once they are cooled, you can either process them again for very fine crumbs or store them just as they are (more like panko). You can also add seasoning to the crumbs to make Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
Be sure the crumbs are completely cool before storing them to avoid condensation in the storage container.
Bread Crumbs Vs. Panko
When you use bread crumbs, remember that a larger amount of fine crumbs will fit into a measuring cup than coarse crumbs. If a recipe calls for panko, use coarse crumbs. If it calls for bread crumbs, use finely ground crumbs. It will make a difference in your recipe!
How to Make Italian Bread Crumbs
Turning these bread crumbs into Italian style bread crumbs is super easy with the addition of a few herbs and spices.
To each cup of bread crumbs, add:
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (store bought or homemade Italian seasoning)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
From there, if you’d like them more flavorful, add more! These instructions are also found on the printable recipe card below.
Breadcrumbs are very useful. They are essential for breading, whether you’re making chicken Parmesan or pork chops. If you have an air fryer, try breaded zucchini fries or air fryer breaded shrimp. We use them often to make homemade chicken nuggets or air fryer chicken tenders.
Breadcrumbs are often used in recipes for meatballs and meatloaf. Try them in baked turkey meatballs or classic meatloaf. Mix them with melted butter to make a delicious topping for casseroles, like cheesy potatoes, mac and cheese, or tuna casserole.
It depends on what you’re making. For meatballs or meatloaf, a good alternative to bread crumbs is rolled oats. For breading, try crushed tortilla chips, crispy rice cereal, or crushed crackers.
Panko is more flaky and coarser than most commercial bread crumbs. When you make your own, what you end up with depends on how much you process the crumbs. The more time the bread spends in the food processor, the finer the crumbs get. I often prefer panko because it’s lighter and airier. Breading made with panko or coarse breadcrumbs is crisper.
Make It Your Own
- Use whatever kind of bread you like, from whole wheat to gluten-free. Just remember that your crumbs will taste like the bread you use.
Homemade breadcrumbs are best made ahead so they are ready when you need them. Make a big batch and store them in the freezer. Some cooks like to save leftover dry bread in the freezer until they have enough to make a batch of bread crumbs. That’s a good money-saving habit!
It’s important to cool the bread crumbs completely before storing them. Store bread crumbs in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to three months.
Frozen breadcrumbs will not clump together so you’ll be able to remove as many as you like at a time without thawing them first.
- 8 oz. white bread, 4 to 5 slices (can easily be doubled or tripled)
- Italian seasoning, optional
- garlic powder, optional
- Preheat oven to 300ºF. Tear bread into large cubes and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes or until dry but not browned. Let cool completely. You may be able to skip this step if you have dry, stale bread.
- Once cooled, place dry bread in a food processor, with the S-blade, and pulse until the bread turns into coarse crumbs (should look like panko bread crumbs).
- Preheat oven to 275ºF. Spread crumbs out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every five minutes, or until crumbs are completely dry. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
- If fine crumbs are desired, cool completely and process again in food processor until desired consistency.
How To Make Italian Bread Crumbs
- After the second bake, for each cup of bread crumbs, add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, plus ¼ teaspoon garlic powder. Increase seasoning as desired to taste.
- Yield: 2 ½ cups bread crumbs
- If using a bread with a tougher crust (such as sourdough), you might want to remove the crust before processing into crumbs.
- Storage: Make sure bread crumbs are completely cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to three months. Frozen breadcrumbs do not clump together so you’ll be able to remove as many as you like at a time.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.