Instead Of Baking Homemade Croutons, Fry Them For An Even More Flavorful Crunch

Amidst the juicy tomatoes, morsels of cheese, and carefully-massaged leaves in salads are croutons, offering a savory crunch with every bite. Homemade croutons are typically baked, resulting in a flaky piece of bread that's crispy all throughout. By frying them instead, you can get croutons with a much more interesting texture. If you're not a fan of the dryness of baked croutons, frying them results in a crisp exterior with a center that's still slightly chewy. When steeped in good olive oil and spices, the bread absorbs the flavors, bringing an earthy, herbaceous taste to your salads or hearty soups, such as our vegan roasted tomato and squash soup.

The process for frying croutons is straightforward. As the oil heats up on the stove, tear or cut up your bread of choice into uniform pieces. For more flavor, add bay leaves, sprigs of rosemary, or garlic into the oil right before placing the bread in the skillet. After about 10 minutes, the croutons should be crisp and have a golden brown color. While they taste best fresh from the skillet, they can last up to one week in the fridge.

What type of bread should you use for croutons?

You can make croutons with any type of bread you prefer, but it tends to work best with crispier varieties. Breads like sourdough, French bread, and ciabatta already have a crusty exterior and soft center, making them the perfect choice for fried croutons. Plus, they have a great flavor on their own, so there's no need to alter them too much. If you do want to enhance their flavor, however, the best way to do that is through your choice of oil. Olive oil offers croutons a peppery, earthy taste that pairs well with herbs and complements fresh, classic salads like a grilled chicken Caesar salad.

You could also go a different route and infuse your croutons with a nuttier oil, such as hazelnut or macadamia oil. For autumnal salads with richer flavors, like candied walnuts or butternut squash, the bold, nuttiness of the oils is a top choice to fry croutons in. Play around with spices and aromatics depending on the type of salad you're making. While you can't go wrong with salt, pepper, and thyme for classic croutons, the crunchy morsels benefit from ginger, chili flakes, and lime when going in a spicy cabbage salad.