5 ideas on what to do with stale bread (instead of throwing it away)

By Dana Leigh Supnick

I’m a total carb-aholic, and there are few things I love more than fresh, super crusty bread. Yes, I’ve been that girl who orders a second breadbasket, and I’m a total “scarpettaro” – one who uses scarpetta (“little shoe” in Italian), but in this case, refers to a piece of bread you use to sop up every last delicious bite of a saucy dish.


What I would do for a bowl of pasta pomodoro RIGHT NOW….anyway, back to the topic: What do you do with your stale bread? I host dinner and brunch parties pretty regularly, and true to character, I usually have some type of amazing, fresh bread on hand – brioche, baguette, ciabatta, etc. There are always leftovers (bread is still “taboo” for some of my friends), so rather than toss it, I give the bread a second chance!

Waste not, want not! Here are some of my favorite ways to use stale bread

1. Bruschetta or crostinis
– this is the perfect recipe for a leftover baguette! Slice the bread into ¾ inch pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the baguette slices with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake at 400 degrees until lightly toasted. Here is a great recipe for a traditional bruschetta topping from Mario Batali. And crostini toppings…well, you can put just about anything on top of a crostini – Giada De Laurentiis has an amazing Artichoke and Bean Crostini recipe, which I love.

2. Homemade croutons
– making homemade croutons is really easy! Combine olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese into a mixing bowl (you can also add fresh herbs, like rosemary or thyme if you’d like.) Roughly cut the leftover bread into cubes and toss in the olive oil mixture. Arrange on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until browned.

Making bread crumbs

3. Homemade bread crumbs
– tear the bread into smaller pieces and toss in a food processor. Process until coarse crumbs form – you don’t want the bread to be like sand, so be sure not to over process. Spread the fresh crumbs evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and browned at 350 degrees. When cooled, toss breadcrumbs with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. The bread crumbs will keep for about 3 weeks to one month, and even longer if you store them in the fridge or freezer. The uses for breadcrumbs are endless! Some of my favs: Tuscan Kale Salad, Bucatini with Toasted Bread Crumbs, Macaroni and Cheese. You can even customize your breadcrumbs by adding spices, citrus zests, and fresh herbs.

4. Grilled cheese or french toast
– ‘nuf said

5. Bread pudding
– I am a huge fan of bread pudding, and if you love sweets, this is the ‘stale bread recipe’ for you! Here are some of my favorites: Chunky Apple-Apricot Bread Pudding from Lidia Bastianich, Ina Garten’s French Toast Bread Pudding (great for brunch), Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding, Bread and Butter Pudding from Anne Burrell, who also has a savory Herbed Bread Pudding recipe that is really delicious.

What do YOU do when your bread turns stale??

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