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14 Smart Ways to Use Stale Bread

March 31, 2014

Danielle Walsh

Finding stale bread in your pantry is inevitable. But that’s not a bad thing! From breadcrumbs to croutons to bread pudding, there are plenty of awesome ways to give new life to your hard-as-a-rock loaf. Here are 14 of our favorites.

Tip: How to Make Stale Bread Soft Enough to Use
Wash your stale loaf in some water, then put it in a 350°F oven for a few minutes. Yes, it will still taste stale—but it won’t be rock-hard anymore, so you can slice or tear it. 

The easiest way to use stale bread? Make breadcrumbs. You can toast them or leave them “raw,” then throw them in the freezer for later use. Tear about 1/4 of a good loaf of rustic white bread (fresh or day-old) until you’ve got 2 cups 1-inch crustless breadcrumbs. Pulse in a food processor until crumbs are coarse. Toast crumbs in about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, until crunchy and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with kosher salt and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate. DO AHEAD: Breadcrumbs can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Bread Pudding
Stale bread will suck up all that delicious sweet custard in bread pudding.

"Take a heavy skillet, melt butter, toast one side of the stale bread. When it’s toasted, you pour a little chicken stock into the middle of each slice of stale bread to rehydrate it. Then, you drape ham and gruyere over the pieces, crack an egg on top, and put under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes. It would also be great with good beef stock and brandy instead of chicken stock. Eat straight out of the pan. I had something like this in Verbier, Switzerland." —Matt Gross, editor, BonAppetit.com

French Toast
…and in French toast.

Cubes of stale bread are the perfect sponge for all that great dressing in this Italian bread salad.

Stale bread makes a great thickener for soups, whether you crumble it or use it in big, thick chunks, like in ribollita.

Spaghetti and Meatballs All’Amatriciana
Shred stale bread into crumbs and mix into your meatballs. Trust us—homemade breadcrumbs are WAY better than store-bought.

Same goes for meatloaf.

Baked Pasta Topping
Fresh breadcrumbs make a next-level topping for mac and cheese.

Toss 3 cups torn 1-inch pieces stale bread with 3 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake at 375°, tossing occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes.

Herbed Faux-tisserie Chicken and Potatoes
Really stale bread makes a perfect roasting bed for whole chickens—a perfect way to catch all those delicious drippings.

Stuffing and dressing isn’t just for Thanksgiving! It’s also a great side for when you have stale bread on-hand.

When in doubt, just make some toast.

See more from Bon Appetit:
9 Tips for Eating While Naked
5 Ways to Totally Screw Up Popcorn
27 NON-Boring Chicken Recipes