For hearty soups and winter salads, I like big crunchy croutons made from crusty artisan bread. But you can use this same method to make more delicate croutons by choosing sandwich bread or English muffins, or by cutting the bread into smaller pieces. Baking times will vary a bit with size and type of bread. As an option, you can add herbs or cheese to the croutons for more flavor.

Yields about 2 cups

  • 4 ounces ¾-inch bread cubes cut from a crusty loaf of bread (include crusts)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt  
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Regianno or Cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the bread cubes in a medium mixing bowl.

2. In a small skillet, combine the butter and olive oil over low heat. When the butter has melted, add the smashed garlic clove and break it up further by mashing it with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the garlic has just started to turn a light brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and remove the garlic clove pieces.

3. Drizzle the butter/oil mixture over the bread cubes, stirring  as you drizzle. Mix until the bread cubes are well-coated. Add the salt and the herbs (if using) and mix again. 

4. Arrange the bread in one layer on the sheet pan, scraping any remaining salt and herbs out of the bowl on to the bread. Bake the bread cubes until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  If using cheese, bunch the baked croutons close together and sprinkle the cheese over them. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes. Let cool completely on the sheet pan.

The croutons may be stored in a heavy zip-top bag in the freezer for up to one month.

Susie Middleton