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Some foods are much better when you make them fresh. A fresh and hot chocolate chip cookie or freshly baked slice of bread always beats the factory-made bagged version. I feel the same way about croutons. Homemade croutons add a special touch to even the simplest salad or soup bowl. I made these baked herb and garlic croutons to make a Christmas salad, and my family couldn't stop eating them! These homemade croutons are crispy and addictive, full of flavor of herbs, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil.
When making baked garlic and herb croutons, you will want to do three things well: bread, flavorings, and the cooking process. Start with a nice loaf of bread that has a little spring. I used a round loaf of Italian bread from my local bakery. Any kind of hearty white bread is good for this recipe. Making homemade croutons is a good way to use leftovers or old bread.
Cut the bread into half-inch cubes. The best way to do this is with a serrated bread knife. If you don't have a good bread knife, it's something to put on your Christmas list. I love the bread knife that came with my Anolon Imperion Damascus Steel 5 Piece Knife Set
, which is my favorite knife set of all time. If you don't need the full set, you can also get the Anolon bread knife by yourself.
You will need 7-8 cups of bread cubes for this recipe. You probably don't need to use the entire loaf of bread. It's okay if the cubes are a little larger than half an inch, but the bigger they are, the longer they take to bake.
Once you have cut the bread cubes, you can work on the aromas. The best thing about this recipe is that it uses common pantry ingredients: olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. It is better to use good quality extra virgin olive oil, because the flavor of the oil is reflected in the recipe. I used an Italian olive oil from Costco.
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Combine olive oil, sliced garlic cloves, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan. Regular table salt or any small crystal salt is good for this recipe. Kosher salt doesn't work as well, because the crystals don't dissolve in olive oil.
Heat the oil, garlic, herbs, and seasonings in the saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes, then remove and discard the garlic.
This is where the magic of flavor happens! Simmering the garlic and herbs in the olive oil allows all of those good flavors to penetrate all corners and crevices of the bread.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with garlic and herbal infused olive oil. Mix and stir to distribute the flavor.
Spread the seasoned bread cubes in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for ten minutes.
While the bread cubes are toasting, you can grate the Parmesan cheese. Parmesan cheese is optional in this recipe, but it adds a flavor boost to the cheesy goodness.
After ten minutes of cooking, remove the bread cubes from the oven and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese. Return the bread cubes to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. How long this takes will depend on the type of bread you use and how large the cubes are.
Mix and stir the bread cubes 1-2 times during the second cooking stage. Take them out when they start to smell toasted. They should be a little crispy when they come out of the oven, but they get crispier as they cool.
This is what mine looked like when they came out of the oven after a total of 20 minutes. Some of the herbs and Parmesan will fall out of the bread cubes, but most of the flavor is in the infused olive oil.
Once the croutons are baked, sprinkle with additional salt to taste. If you are like me, you will not be able to resist eating some!
I love serving these baked garlic and herb croutons with a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and any other vegetables on hand. They taste especially good with our creamy pesto salad dressing, Olive Garden copycat Italian dressing, or homemade ranch dressing. They also make a perfect addition to Instant Pot Creamy Tomato Basil Soup or Crock-Pot Tomato Soup.
Let the croutons cool before storing them in an airtight container. They stay fresh for about a week, but they won't last as long in my house!
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Yield: 6-7 cups
Easy homemade croutons, baked with herbs, garlic and Parmesan! You will never go back to store bought croutons.
Preparation time 20 minutes
Time to cook 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional salt to drizzle
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf of Italian bread or other abundant white bread
- 1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan (optional)
Cut the bread into 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch cubes, for a total of 7-8 cups of bread cubes. You probably don't need to use the entire loaf of bread.
Set the bread cubes aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack placed in the middle of the oven.
Combine garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and olive oil, and simmer over medium heat. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil mixture. Stir and stir to combine.
Spread the bread cubes on an ungreased baking sheet. Place on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the croutons with Parmesan cheese (optional) and return to the oven. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
Sprinkle the croutons with additional salt, to taste. Let the croutons cool before storing them in an airtight container.
The croutons will remain fresh in the pantry for about a week.
1/4 cup Amount per proportion: Calories: 67 Total Fat: 5 g Carbs: 4 g Protein: 1 g