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Beyond Bread Crumbs: 8 Ways to Use Stale Bread

A casserole dish full of bread pudding, a plate of Panzanella salad, and a plate of French Toast topped with butter, strawberries, and syrup.
Life, Love and Sugar/Cookie + Kate/Recipetin Eats

If you purchase a loaf of bread each week, those heels (the pieces on the end) often end up in the trash. Instead of wasting them, though, you can save those stale slices and serve them up in a number of tasty ways.

Many people consider the stiff, end pieces of a loaf of bread inedible, even when they’re not stale. However, there are lots of fun food creations you can get out of those less desirable pieces—here are a few of our favorite recipes that will use up that stale bread.

Homemade Croutons

Seasoned homemade croutons on a sheet of parchment paper.
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

After making homemade croutons, you’ll never go back to the store-bought kind again. Not only are they easy to make, but they taste amazing. Crusty loaves work best for them, though, so you’ll want to use something like sourdough or Italian bread.

After your bread has gone stale, follow these steps:

  1. Break the bread into cubes and toss them in a bowl with some oil.
  2. Add seasonings of choice. Garlic salt or powder can work wonders, but you can also add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, or even some freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
  3. Put the cubes on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

These taste incredible on a crisp salad or in French onion soup.

Top Your Baked Macaroni and Cheese

A bowl of macaroni and cheese with bread crumbs on top.
Foodio/Shutterstock.com

Okay, nothing tastes better than some golden-brown baked bread crumbs on top of that rich, delectable comfort food of all comfort foods, mac ‘n cheese.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Follow the steps above to make your own croutons and make sure they’re no longer soft in the middle.
  2. Put them in a food processor and pulse multiple times until they’re crumbs (they can be as big or small as you like).
  3. Sprinkle them on top of your mac ‘n cheese and enjoy that crunch factor.

Bread Pudding

A piece of bread pudding on a plate.
Life, Love and Sugar

There’s a long-standing argument that continues to rage about whether stale or fresh bread is best for bread pudding. You want the bread to absorb the liquid in this classic dessert, but honestly, either fresh or stale will do the trick.

However, the entire reason bread pudding was created was to use up old bread instead of throwing it away. This recipe from  Life, Love and Sugar calls for “day-old bread,” and the author recommends using bakery bread rather than a regular sandwich loaf.

You let the bread soak in a milk and egg mixture for 20-25 minutes before baking to really lock in that delicious flavor.

Panzanella

A plate full of Panzanella salad.
Cookie + Kate

This Tuscan bread-loaded salad boasts all the Italian flavors you love most. For this recipe, you can either use cubed day-old bread or make your own croutons.

Add juicy tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, Mozzarella, and a bunch of fresh spices (including garlic), and you’ll get to experience Italy in every delicious bite.

Once the tangy flavors of the homemade vinaigrette dressing gently soak into the bread, you’ll have a nutritious and refreshing meal.

Crispy Crostini

Three pieces of bruschetta/crostini on a cutting board.
nelea33/Shutterstock.com

Day-old stale baguette is the perfect excuse to make a fancy crostini dinner or party appetizer. To prep your loaf, follow these steps:

  1. Using a bread knife, slice the baguette into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of each piece.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes.
  4. Using tongs, flip each piece, and then bake for another five minutes.

You can then make a bruschetta topping, or go for pesto, fresh mozzarella, and halved cherry tomatoes. Either way, every crunchy bite, topped with fresh ingredients, will hit the spot.

Sweet French Toast

A fork slicing off a corner of three stacked pieces of French toast, covered in syrup and surrounded by strawberries.
Recipetin Eats

If you have day-old country loaf, challah bread, or brioche, whipping up some sweet French toast is the perfect way to use it all up. This tasty version is a fantastic starter recipe.

You can top your French toast with fresh berries or homemade cinnamon-maple whipped cream. Of course, you can always keep it simple and just drizzle some gooey maple syrup on top. No matter which option you choose, this sweet breakfast treat tastes more like a dessert.

Throw It in a Meatloaf

Two slices of meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes.
The Country Cook

While many of us use bread crumbs as a filler in meatloaf, cubed bread, like this recipe calls for, is another option. If you have a few slices of stale bread hanging around, just dice them up and use them in your meat mixture.

Not only will this help “stretch” the meal if you don’t have much ground meat to work with, but it also won’t affect the taste much. Plus, you can put that old bread that would’ve just ended up in the trash to good use.

Summertime Stuffing, Anyone?

A casserole dish full of homemade stuffing.
Creme de la Crumb

You can enjoy stuffing year-round—not just on Thanksgiving. If you’re craving some of that full-textured, yummy goodness, grab those heels from the ends of your loaves or some sourdough, and dice them up with your serrated bread knife.

Pick a few tasty fresh herbs to add—this recipe recommends minced garlic and Italian seasonings. You’ll also need some chicken broth (for the liquid) and melted butter to add some richness. Be sure to sauté the onion and celery for an aromatic boost.


Now that you’re armed with so many delicious options for stale bread, it’s time to start saving it up so you’ll always have enough. You can even store it in the freezer so you can always whip up an impressive meal at a moment’s notice.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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