We commonly use croutons that are dried, or toasted in the oven, to remove moisture and become crunchy for the perfect salad topping. There are definitely many places where these hard crunchy croutons serve their purpose, but this is not the only way to make croutons. Pan-fried croutons are a great way to create beautiful oily chunks of crispy bread to be tossed in a fresh tomato based salad or on top of your favorite bowl of creamy soup. Honestly, they also make a great snack or vessel for cheese. Making stovetop croutons is a great alternative to oven baked croutons.
Salads, with their vibrant colors and textures, become a staple in our home during the hot summers . These croutons soak up all that summer goodness, enhancing the flavor of the crouton. While oven-baked croutons are a classic, they require turning on the oven, which can be a deterrent during hot summer days, especially where I live. Pan-fried croutons offer a delightful alternative, providing the same crispy goodness without the heat of the oven.
Creamy soups, with their glorious smooth texture and velvety comfort, become a staple in our home during the winter. These golden brown croutons pair beautifully on top of a bowl of creamy soup, adding texture to a variety of soups. I still take the pan-fried route to create that beautiful herbaceous oil deep into the nooks and crannies of the bread.
This simple yet versatile croutons recipe allows you to transform ordinary leftover bread or fresh bread into the best croutons, that add a touch of magic to any salad or soup. I prefer to pan fry larger pieces of bread and then post fry let them cool and ripe the apart to make bread cubes to be added to our salads or soups.
- 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced into ½ - 1 inch thick pieces (substitute with baguette or other crusty type of bread)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
See recipe card for quantities.
- Slice bread: Cut your bread into one inch thick slices.
- Grab a frying pan:To your shallow fry pan add extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper or red pepper flakes (if using), and oregano. Mix thoroughly to create a flavorful seasoning blend.
- Infuse the oil: Heat the frying pan over medium-high heat. Let the oil heat and toast the spices for about 30 seconds, allowing the flavors to infuse.
- Fry bread: Turn the stove to medium heat. Add the sliced bread pieces to the hot pan in a single layer, ensuring they are evenly coated with the seasoned oil. Pan-fry for 3-5 minutes, turning the bread halfway through, until both sides are golden brown and crisp.
- Let cool: Remove the pan-fried croutons from the heat and place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Allow them to cool slightly before tearing them into smaller pieces.
- Serve: Toss these pan-fried croutons with your favorite salad greens, vegetables, and dressings to add a delightful crunch and burst of flavor. Or put the delicious croutons on top of your favorite creamy soup for added texture and flavor.
- Bread Variation: Replace ciabatta with baguette or any crusty bread for a similar texture. This is a great way to use up stale old bread.
- Oil Alternatives: Use avocado oil, sunflower oil, or grape seed oil instead of olive oil.
- Herbaceous Adventures: Experiment with different dried herbs, such as basil, thyme, or an Italian seasoning blend.
- Spicy Kick: Increase the amount of red pepper flakes for a spicier crouton experience.
- Garlic Croutons: Add fresh garlic that has been minced to the frying oil, but do not let it burn, this will create a very bad taste. Be sure to lower your heat and increase the bread cooking time if working with garlic. I do not suggest using garlic powder, it will burn and become bitter before the bread becomes crispy. Garlic croutons are the perfect addition to Caesar salad or creamy tomato soup.
- Cheese Croutons: Sprinkle grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over the pan-fried croutons for a cheesy delight.
- Herb-Infused Croutons: Add finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or chives, to the pan-fried croutons for an extra burst of flavor.
- Frying pan or cast iron skillet
- Cutting board
- Paper towels
- Cool Completely: Before storing, ensure the croutons have cooled completely to room temperature. This prevents moisture buildup that can lead to sogginess.
- Single Layer: Spread the croutons in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet. Avoid overcrowding, as this can trap moisture and soften the croutons.
- Airtight Container: Once completely cooled, transfer the croutons to an airtight container. This seals out moisture and keeps the croutons crispy.
- Room Temperature: Store the croutons at room temperature. Avoid refrigerating, as this can make them lose their crunch.
- Consume Within Three Days: For optimal freshness and crunch, consume the croutons within three days of preparation.
Enhance the texture of your pan-fried skillet croutons by using slightly stale bread. Stale bread absorbs less oil and produces crispier croutons.
Pan-fried croutons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Yes, pan-fried croutons can add a delightful crunch to soups and stews. However, add them just before serving to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Pan-fried croutons can be enjoyed as a snack, sprinkled over pasta dishes, a great addition to your charcuterie board or soups.
How to Make Pan-Fried Croutons - A Stovetop Recipe
- 1 Stovetop
- 1 Frying pan
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Knife
- 4 ciabatta rolls sliced into ½ - 1 inch thick pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or red pepper flakes
- ½ tablespoon oregano
- In a frying pan on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix into oil and let toast for 30 seconds. Add slices of bread and pan fry until lightly browned, 3 - 5 minutes, turn the bread over and pan fry the other side until edges are darker brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove from oil and set on paper towels until ready to use. Tear pieces apart and toss with salad or serve on the side whole.
- In a frying pan on medium-high heat add the olive oil and let heat for about 1 minute.
- Add the seasonings; salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix into oil and let toast for 30 seconds.
- Add slices of bread and pan fry until lightly browned, 3 - 5 minutes per side (work in batches)
- Remove from oil and set on paper towels until ready to use.
- Tear pieces apart and toss with salad or serve on the side whole.
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We sometimes take for a granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience, that the average visitor may not. Add to, or remove from, the list below with health and safety tips.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling food.
- Use clean utensils and cutting boards.
- Store leftovers promptly in the refrigerator.
- Discard any croutons that show signs of spoilage.