Making vegan croutons is a great way to use up stale bread and they are so easy to make with only 2 ingredients plus salt and pepper. Use them to add extra texture and flavour to vegan soups and salads or eat them by the handful as a snack!
Vegan croutons are a great way to make your soups and salads more interesting and they also help to reduce food waste. Got a loaf of bread that didn't get used and is now a little stale? Or did you get to the end of your loaf of bread and have some unused stale crusts left in the bag? Cube them up and make croutons!
Are all croutons vegan?
There are some brands of croutons that are vegan but most tend to contain dairy or egg in the flavorings even if the bread used is naturally vegan. Always check the ingredients thoroughly before purchasing to be sure. Even if you can't find any though, there is no need to miss out on your favorite crunchy toppers because they are so quick and easy to make yourself. Homemade croutons taste so much better too!
Here's what you need to make vegan croutons:
- Bread - Rustic bread makes the best croutons. Use crusty bread or sourdough bread. Baguette and focaccia works well too. You can use white, whole wheat, rye or spelt bread. Most good quality bread is naturally vegan. If you're not sure check the ingredients or ask at your local bakery. Grocery store sliced bread can work ok too (if it's vegan) but the croutons don't turn out as good as they do with rustic bread. Use gluten-free bread for gluten-free croutons. Croutons are easier to make when the bread is a few days old rather than fresh.
- Olive oil - For its delicious flavor, to crisp up your croutons and to make the seasoning stick. For oil-free croutons use aquafaba. Instructions are included.
- Salt & pepper - For flavor and seasoning. Be generous with the black pepper!
You will also need a large baking sheet, or a couple of medium-sized ones.
How to make vegan croutons
Making homemade vegan croutons is really easy and takes no time at all. Here's how it's done:
- Cut or tear the bread into chunky bite sized pieces and tip them into a large bowl, or just straight onto the baking sheet if you prefer. I do find it easier to coat them in a bowl though.
- Drizzle over the oil and add the salt and pepper (plus any additional seasonings you might want to add)and toss together with your hands.
- Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet, bake, turning them over half way, then allow to cool on the baking sheet before storing in an airtight container.
Feel free to customize your vegan croutons to make your own crouton flavors. You can add any dry seasonings, herbs or spices to them. Here are some ideas:
- Cheesy croutons - A dusting of nutritional yeast makes for deliciously cheesy dairy-free croutons. Amazing on my vegan potato soup!
- Cheese & onion croutons- Add a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast and 1 to 2 teaspoons of onion powder.
- Garlic croutons - There are a few ways to do this. You can just add some garlic powder. 1 to 2 teaspoons. Or you can toss your bread cubes in vegan garlic butter instead of the oil. Or you can very finely grate some fresh garlic (1 to 2 cloves) into the olive oil before tossing the bread cubes.
- Onion croutons - Add a generous amount of onion powder. 2 to 3 teaspoons.
- Garlic & rosemary croutons - Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary.
- Herby croutons - Use your favorite dried herbs. Rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, Italian seasoning, Italian herbs and Herbs de Provence are ones I love to use. 2 to 3 teaspoons should be enough.
- Spicy croutons - Chili powder, smoked paprika or cayenne pepper for a delicious spicy hit. 1 to 2 teaspoons should be sufficient depending on how spicy you want them.
- Chili croutons - Use chili oil instead of the olive oil for spicy flavor that will seep right into those little bread pockets, or sprinkle over some chili flakes or chili powder when tossing them.
- Buttery croutons - Use vegan butter instead of the olive oil for delicious buttery tasting vegan croutons.
- Parmesan croutons - Bake the croutons until halfway done. Turn them over, then finely grate vegan parmesan over them with a microplane. It's important it's grated very finely. Continue cooking until golden and crispy.
For the very best results whe making this recipe take note of these tips:
- Don't crowd your croutons. Spread them out well so there is space around each one.
- I find they bake up better and faster when in direct contact with the baking sheet rather than on a lined with parchment paper baking sheet.
- Allow to cool completely on the baking tray before storing them. That way they will stay nice and crispy.
- Be sure to store them in an airtight container.
How to use croutons
Tip number one when it comes to homemade croutons: Don't eat them all off the baking sheet! Once you start it's so hard to stop. That's why they make a great snack. Watching a movie and have no popcorn? ...Munch on croutons instead!
Use vegan croutons to top your favorite soup recipes. They work well with all soups, but really come into their own piled on smooth and creamy soups like my Vegan Leek and Potato Soup, Vegan Carrot Soup, Instant Pot Tomato Soup and Vegan Pea Soup. The two contrasting textures are amazing together.
Croutons are also amazing on vegan salad recipes, particularly leafy ones like my Strawberry Spinach Salad and vegan caesar salad. Other ways you can use them include topping vegan dips, stirring them through vegan scrambled eggs right before serving instead of serving with toast or use them to top casseroles and make stuffings.
Store homemade vegan croutons in an air tight container at room temperature. They will last for a good few weeks, usually up to a month. Because they are so dry they don't tend to get moldy. Once they are past their best they just get a little soft.
Croutons can also be frozen, although there isn't really much need as they keep so well at room temperature. Handy if you are making a huge batch though. Freeze them in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months. To defrost croutons, leave them on the counter for a couple of hours. If they aren't perfectly crisp once defrosted you can lay them out in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in an oven or toaster oven for 5 minutes. If you have an air-fryer you can also crisp them up in there for a couple of minutes.
Aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas) is a great sub for the oil in this vegan crouton recipe. It helps the seasoning stick and the croutons still get crispy. They just need an extra few minutes in the oven.
To make gluten-free croutons you just need to use gluten-free vegan bread. Rustic bread is best if you can and will give better results than regular thinly sliced store bought gluten-free bread.
You can indeed! Air fry them on 390°F, making sure to toss frequently, for about 7 to 8 minutes or until super golden and crispy. You will need to do them in a few batches depending on how big your air fryer basket is.
Croutons are best stored at room temperature.They do not need to be refrigerated. High humidity in a fridge can make your croutons get a little soggy.
Technically you could, although they will take a little longer to get golden and crispy. However the problem with using frozen bread is that it is very difficult to cut into cubes safely, so I recommend you allow it to at least partially defrost first.
Lay them out in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in an oven or toaster oven for 5 minutes. If you have an air-fryer you can also crisp them up in there for a couple of minutes.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Cut or tear the bread into chunky bite-sized pieces. I like each cube to be about 1-inch square but you can cut them smaller or a little larger if you prefer.
- Put the cubes of bread in a large bowl then drizzle over the oil (or aquafaba) and sprinkle over the salt and pepper. Add any extra optional seasoning (there are lots of ideas in my post above), then using your hands, toss the cubes of bread so they are all coated in oil and seasonings.
- Spread the cubes out into a single layer on a large unlined baking sheet, making sure there is a little room around each cube. Don't crowd them. Use 2 baking sheets if they won't all fit comfortably on one.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once half way. Croutons made with aquafaba will take a few minutes longer than those made with oil. Keep an eye on them towards the end in case they start getting too dark. Once golden and completely dried out and crispy, remove from the oven and leave on the tray to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They should keep well for up to one month.