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How do you keep homemade croutons crispy?

Homemade croutons can add delicious crunch and flavor to salads, soups, and more. However, after baking, croutons often quickly become soggy and lose their appeal. Thankfully, with a few simple tricks, you can keep your homemade croutons crispy for much longer.

Why Do Croutons Lose Crispiness?

There are a couple of main reasons why homemade croutons may not stay crispy:

  • Moisture – When exposed to moisture from ingredients like lettuce, tomatoes, broth, etc., croutons will soak it up and become soft.
  • Staling – Like bread, croutons will gradually lose crispiness as they sit after baking. The starch molecules retrograde, becoming firm and hard.

Knowing the enemies of crispy croutons helps you fight back! Now let’s look at tips for maximizing crunch.

Tips for Making Croutons Crispy

Start with the Right Bread

Choosing the correct bread variety is an important first step. Stay away from soft sandwich breads, as they have a higher moisture content. Look for artisan loaves with a sturdy, dense crumb. French or Italian bread works very well.

Some great options include:

  • Baguettes
  • Ciabatta
  • Focaccia
  • Rustic sourdough
  • Boules

Heartier breads with a tighter crumb absorb less moisture. This translates to croutons that crunch longer.

Cut Even Cubes

Slice bread into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Resist the urge to cut smaller croutons, as they will burn or cook unevenly.

Uniform cube size promotes consistent crisping as the batch bakes. All croutons will toast at the same rate to an ideal crunchy texture.

Dry Bread Cubes Thoroughly

Before tossing in oil or seasoning, be sure to dry bread cubes. Spread them out on a baking sheet and let sit overnight, preferably near a fan. Drying for at least 8 to 12 hours removes excess interior moisture.

You can also speed up drying by placing cubes on a baking sheet in a low 200°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so all sides dry evenly.

Starting with very dry bread prevents early softening of croutons after baking.

Toss with Oil and Seasonings

After drying, toss bread cubes with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter. Coating each cube allows flavorful seasonings to adhere.

Try spices like garlic powder, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, Parmesan, or herbs. The possibilities are endless.

Bake at Low Heat

Bake croutons at a low 250°F to 300°F until crisped and golden, about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir halfway through.

Low, gradual heat dries croutons thoroughly without burning. High heat may scorch the outside before fully crisping the center.

Cool Completely Before Use

Never add hot, freshly baked croutons to salads or soups! Allow them to cool and dry further on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes.

Hot croutons will steam and become soggy when mixed into moist ingredients. Letting them rest ensures maximum crunch potential.

Storing Croutons

Proper storage preserves that just-baked crispness you worked so hard for. Here are some storage tips:

Cool in Airtight Container

For short term storage of a few days, transfer cooled croutons into an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Exclude as much air as possible.

This prevents moisture from re-softening the croutons before use. Only keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Freeze for Long Term

For maximal crunch up to one month later,freeze unused croutons in resealable bags. Remove excess air and seal tightly.

Frozen croutons will keep much longer than at room temperature. Thaw before adding to dishes.

Refresh in Oven

If croutons lose crunch after storage, recrisp them quickly in a 300°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes right before serving.

Serving Croutons

You kept your croutons crispy through prep and storage. Follow these final tips to maintain that crunch factor on the plate:

Wait to Add Croutons

Never mix croutons into a salad until ready to serve. They will become soggy long before meal time.

Top individual salad portions just before eating. This avoids early moisture exposure.

Keep Away from Wet Ingredients

In salads, place croutons up top, away from juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, dressing, etc.

For soups, sprinkle on top rather than mixing throughout. Protect them from steaming broth.

Serve in Separate Dish

Offer croutons on the side so guests can add their own. Don’t force soggy croutons on someone who wants maximum crunch!

Let diners control moistness level based on personal preference.

Common Crouton Problems

Having trouble getting crunchy croutons? Review these issues and solutions:

Problem Solution
Soft bread variety Use dense, artisan bread
Bread not dried before baking Dry cubes thoroughly first
Too small of cubes Cut 3/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
Baked at high temperature Use lower 250°F to 300°F heat
Added hot to dishes Let cool 15 minutes before using
Stored poorly Use airtight container at room temp or freeze

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common crouton crunching questions:

What is the best oil for croutons?

Olive oil and butter add great flavor. For crunch, avoid oils like vegetable and canola which can impart softness.

How long do homemade croutons last?

About 3 days at room temp, 1 month frozen. Recrisp stale croutons in a 300°F oven for a few minutes.

Can you use stale bread for croutons?

Yes, stale bread makes excellent crunchy croutons since it’s drier than fresh. Avoid moldy bread.

Should croutons be crispy or soft?

It’s a matter of personal taste! Crispy provides a pleasing contrast in texture. Leave them out of dressing and broth to keep crunchy as long as possible.

Do croutons go bad?

Properly stored croutons last 1-3 days at room temp, 1 month frozen. Discard if moldy or smell rancid. Stale croutons can be revived by baking.


With the right ingredients and techniques, you can create crunchy, flavorful homemade croutons that hold up to salads, soups, and time. Pay attention to bread variety, cube size, drying, seasoning, baking temperature, storage, and adding to dishes for success. Now go forth and crunch! Let us know your favorite crouton creations.