While flakes of dried, dehydrated bread doesn’t sound like much, bread crumbs are a must-have ingredient for many cooks. These versatile crumbs can be used to thicken stews, top hearty dishes like casseroles, or add a crunch coating to fried foods like cutlets or chicken. Many beginner chefs make the mistake of overpaying for brand name bread crumbs, when in reality the store bought stuff can’t compare to that of the fresh, home made variety. Not only is it better to make bread crumbs yourself, it’s easy too!
In this guide, we’ll show you how to make bread crumbs just using the tools in your own kitchen. Thinking about making some crumbs using home made bread? Check out this bread baking course for some tips and tricks, or this course for a breakdown of healthy cooking fundamentals.
What Kind of Bread Works Best?
Whether you want to purchase bread from the store or bake your own is up to personal preference. You can get good, quality bread crumbs from either choice.
The main determining factor isn’t the origin of the bread, but what kind of bread you’ve chosen to use. Soft, doughy bread like Sara Lee white bread or even whole grain sliced bread used for making sandwiches are not ideal choices if you want to get started right away. You’ll need to dry out the bread ahead of time, which you can do by placing the bread in the fridge for a few days and letting it dry out (without getting moldy), or baking it in an oven heated to about 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or before they begin to brown.
The best bread to use is harder bread like French or Italian. Plain bread that is not coated in seeds or oats work better too. Want to bake your own bread? Learn some must-know baking tips in this guide, and get a great run-down of breaking ingredients here.
How to Make Bread Crumbs By Grating
Hand grating bread crumbs is the most basic way to get bread crumbs. Grab a metal cheese grater and a large piece of bread with the crust removed. Because bread is prone to crumbing and flaking anyway, use the side of the grater with the larger grate holes. The bread obviously won’t peel according to the size of the holes the way a carrot might – you just want that rough surface to tear the bread apart, with holes large enough for the crumbs to fall through without clumping together.
Hand grate the bread until it’s down to a small strip. It’s best to just discard this piece, since grating it without injuring your fingers will be hard. In fact, you can just keep the crust on one end to give yourself more room to hold the slice, but don’t grate the crust into the actual bread crumb pile. If your bread is not hard enough to grate properly and you’re not in a hurry, you can de-crust your slices of bread, stick them in a sealed bag, and place them in the freezer until they’ve completely frozen. Grating frozen bread will prove much easier. You can learn more tips in this guide to cooking for beginners.
How to Make Bread Crumbs By Blending
Most chefs have a hand held or full size cheese grater in the kitchen, but not all (especially beginners) have access to a food processor. If you’re one of the resourceful ones who does, you can start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees and placing slices of bread on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake the bread for about 10 minutes, checking near the end to make sure the slices don’t brown or burn around the edges. This ensures the bread is dried out, and hard enough to blend into flakes rather than dough in a food processor.
After the bread has had a few minutes to cool, tear the slices into smaller pieces and drop into a food processor. Blend in short bursts so you can keep track of the bread crumb’s consistency. If you want a thick, coarse blend for something like stuffing, only blend it for a few short bursts to make sure it’s evenly processed. If you want a thin, dusty blend for breading fried foods, keep processing until you reach the right consistency. Learn how to bake your own gluten-free bread in this baking course, and make your own home made gluten-free bread crumbs. Or, learn more general baking tips with this online pastry school series.