How to Make Bread Crumbs

An easy recipe for how to make breadcrumbs: fresh, dried, or fried. Whether you want a crust on chicken or fish, a binder for your meatballs, or a crunchy topping for casseroles and vegetables, homemade bread crumbs should be on your menu and in your freezer.

Put homemade breadcrumbs to work in your next batch of Chicken Parmesan, Piccata, or Milanese. Or, make a fantastic baked ham with a crumb coating. Use fresh breadcrumbs in your next batch of turkey meatballs, or mix with butter and garlic for the ultimate baked mac and cheese topping.

Homemade breadcrumbs in a white bowl with a spoon.
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Homemade bread crumbs are one of the easiest ways to elevate the recipes you cook.

Not only can you customize the size, texture, and flavor of your breadcrumbs, but the breadcrumbs themselves are so vastly superior to store-bought, it is like comparing apples to astronauts.

Some recipes require breadcrumbs specifically, but if you keep them in your freezer, you'll be able to experiment with a surprise crunch whenever the mood strikes.

Types of breadcrumbs:

Breadcrumbs can do everything from coating and binding foods to providing fillers or adding texture. Here are the three main types of bread crumbs.

  • Fresh breadcrumbs: These are slightly dried, rustic, irregularly shaped, and generally not for sale in stores. Imagine tearing up some slices of soft bread and pulsing it in your food processor. Those are fresh breadcrumbs.
  • Dried/toasted breadcrumbs: Start with fresh breadcrumbs and then toast them in the oven to remove almost all of the moisture. This extends their shelf life, too.
  • Fried breadcrumbs: Start with fresh breadcrumbs, then toast them in a skillet with fat (usually butter or olive oil). These don't work for breading or binding, but they make an excellent garnish or crunchy topping.

Three different types of breadcrumbs in piles on a wooden cutting board.

Why use breadcrumbs?

  • As a breading: Fried foods (even oven-fried) wouldn’t be half as fun without a crispy, light-as-air breading. But more importantly, breading protects food from drying out and toughening up when it comes in contact with hot fat. Breaded chicken, Eggplant Parmesan, and pork tenderloin cutlets all use breadcrumbs. (Note: "Breading" can be made with other foods such as crackers or cornmeal; it doesn't have to be bread.)
  • As a binder: Meatloaf and meatball recipes traditionally use breadcrumbs to hold moisture and improve the texture of ground meat. The bread prevents the meat proteins from cross-linking which improves tenderness.
  • As a topping or garnish: On top of casseroles, vegetables, and appetizers, a breadcrumb topping is the perfect finishing touch, especially when mixed with butter, Parmesan cheese, and herbs.

The best type of bread for breadcrumbs:

  • Look for hearty white sandwich bread with a firm crumb. Pepperidge Farm "Farmhouse" Hearty White Bread or Oroweat "Country" White Bread are my top choices. They have a fresh flavor and tender texture but grind evenly straight out of the bag.
    A slice of white bread, chunks of white bread, and a bowl of white breadcrumbs on a wood cutting board.
  • Rustic loaves with a coarse texture can work, too. Examples include baguettes, challah, or French bread. Tear into 2-inch pieces before pulsing in your food processor.
    French bread, chunks of french bread, and a bowl of french breadcrumbs on a wood cutting board.
  • Panko, a Japanese-style crumb, are extra crispy. Made from crustless white bread that is baked using an electrical current and ground into uneven pieces. Panko crumbs are light, crispy, and great for pan-fried foods. Sometimes they don't work well as a binder because they may absorb too much moisture from your meat.

Should I remove the crust for breadcrumbs?

People have different opinions on this.

  • Some cooks say: You are grinding them in to crumbs anyway, you won't be able to tell, and it doesn't matter. Reduce food waste by grinding the crusts with the bread.
  • Other cooks say: Crusts can be tough and pieces of bread with crust brown unevenly.

My opinion is, if you are using a firm sandwich bread such as Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse, you probably don't need to remove the crust. But if you are tearing apart a loaf of French Bread, the crust might be a little chewy, and you may want to remove it.

How to make fresh breadcrumbs:

  1. To a food processor, add torn bread pieces (work in batches if necessary).
    Chunks of white bread in a food processor.
  2. Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the bread, then let the machine run for a few seconds for coarse crumbs.
    Breadcrumbs in a food processor.
  3. Run it a little longer for fine crumbs.
    Breadcrumbs in a food processor.

How to make dried/toasted breadcrumbs:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Add ground breadcrumbs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
    Breadcrumbs on a sliver baking sheet.
  2. Bake until dry and toasted, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how finely they are ground (in this picture, I baked the crumbs for 20 minutes).
    Breadcrumbs on a sliver baking sheet.

How to make fried breadcrumbs:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil until shimmering (or butter until foaming). Use 1 tablespoon of fat per 1 cup of crumbs.
  2. Add ground breadcrumbs and stir until golden and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
    Breadcrumbs in a black skillet.

Breadcrumbs from leftover bread:

One really great way to reduce food waste is to save all your leftover bread ends, chunks, and pieces. You can store them in the freezer until have a large batch, and then grind them all at once.

How to make breadcrumbs by hand:

If you prefer to work by hand:

  1. Add toasted bread to a sturdy plastic bag.
  2. Roll over it with a rolling pin or mallet, crumbling the slices.
  3. Then transfer to a new, sealable bag or container because you probably damaged the plastic bag in the process.

How many cups of breadcrumbs per slice of bread?

If you're using the hearty white sandwich bread I recommended above (Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White or similar):

  • 1 slice (1.4 ounces) = 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 slices = 3 cups breadcrumbs

Different types of bread crumbs in various bowls surrounded by slices of bread.

Storing breadcrumbs:

Make sure that the breadcrumbs you made are stored in an airtight zip-top bag or sealed container with very little free space. This will help them stay as fresh as possible. Thaw frozen breadcrumbs for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

  • Fresh plain breadcrumbs: Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs: If you’ve made flavored breadcrumbs with grated cheese, fresh herbs, or garlic, for example, keep them in the refrigerator and use them within 1 week.
  • Dried (or stale) breadcrumbs: Store at room temperature for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: Store indefinitely at room temperature.
  • Store-bought canned breadcrumbs: Store indefinitely at room temperature.
  • Crumbs made from crackers, chips, or melba toasts: Store for several weeks at room temperature.

Seasoned breadcrumb ideas:

Use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of spice per 1 cup of breadcrumbs.

Recipes with breadcrumbs:

Homemade breadcrumbs in a white bowl with a spoon.

How to Make Bread Crumbs

An easy recipe for how to make breadcrumbs: fresh, dried, fried, or panko-style. 1 slice of bread is about 3/4 cup crumbs, so this recipe for 4 slices bread yields about 3 cups. Nutrition information is for fresh and dried styles with no added fat.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Pantry
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings (1/4 cup each)
Calories: 26kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 4 slices firm-textured white bread torn into 2-inch pieces, or more as needed (4 slices = about 3 cups crumbs)

For frying breadcrumbs:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter (I like 1 tbsp. fat per cup of crumbs)

Instructions

To make fresh breadcrumbs:

  • To a food processor, add torn bread pieces (work in batches if necessary). Pulse 3 or 4 times to break up the bread, then let the machine run for a few seconds for coarse crumbs or a little longer for fine crumbs.

To make toasted breadcrumbs:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Add ground breadcrumbs to rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake until dry and toasted, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how finely they are ground (I bake mine for 20 minutes). Stir after 10 minutes to break up any clumps.

To make fried breadcrumbs (for garnish):

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil until shimmering (or butter until foaming). Add ground breadcrumbs and stir until golden and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately.

To make panko-style breadcrumbs:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Trim the crusts off bread but do not tear into 2-inch pieces.
  • Add crustless bread to prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until bone-dry but NOT TOASTED, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a food processor and pulse until finely ground, or grate on a box grater.

Notes

Yield:
  • 1 slice of sandwich bread = 3/4 cup crumbs
  • 4 slices of sandwich bread = 3 cups crumbs
To season breadcrumbs:
Use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of spice per 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Or, stir in grated cheese or minced fresh herbs.
Storing breadcrumbs:
Thaw frozen breadcrumbs for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.
  • Fresh plain breadcrumbs: Store at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs: If you’ve made flavored breadcrumbs with grated cheese, fresh herbs, or garlic, for example, keep them in the refrigerator and use them within 1 week.
  • Dried (or stale) breadcrumbs: Store at room temperature for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: Store indefinitely at room temperature.

Nutrition

Calories: 26kcal
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  1. Julie Pawlacyk

    What a great staple for the freezer. Thanks for the recipe!5 stars

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