Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs will take your cooking to a whole new level! I'm sharing four methods to make this easy recipe.
If you want to elevate your cooking game, I’ve got some advice. Ditch the store-bought bread crumbs and panko.
I don’t say this to be snobby or critical. I’m just sharing a secret from my family’s Italian kitchen.
Make homemade Italian bread crumbs. You’ll thank me later.
Their superb taste and texture will make your food fabulous! Plus, you can avoid the junk that’s in store-bought bread crumbs.
Ingredients in store-bought bread crumbs
The Italian bread crumbs I used to buy have a frighteningly long list of ingredients. Among them are five kinds of sweeteners, including high-fructose corn syrup.
The store-bought bread crumbs also contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (a dangerous fat that raises bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol), chemical dough conditioners, preservatives and lots of sodium.
Do you need homemade bread to make homemade bread crumbs?
You don’t have to use homemade bread in your homemade bread crumbs. Just make sure to read the ingredients on the bread label to avoid buying anything with too much junk.
Here's what I do. Every so often, I'll purchase a baguette or loaf of sliced bread from the grocery store's bakery. Then, I take the most convenient route possible to make homemade bread crumbs.
How to make homemade bread crumbs
There are four methods you can use to make plain bread crumbs that you’ll season later. You’ll need a blender or a food processor to grind the bread. I use my Vitamix (affiliate link).
Toaster Method: If you’re starting with bread slices that can fit into a toaster, simply toast them lightly. Then, tear the toast into pieces and grind them.
Dried Bread Method: If you’re starting with part of a baguette that has become dry, slice it up into chunks. (If it's too difficult to cut, heat it in the microwave for a bit). Then grind the chunks of bread.
Oven Method: If you’re starting with leftover bread that hasn't dried out completely, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the bread into slices and place them on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake the slices for 10 minutes, or just until the bread is dry, but not browned. Then proceed to grind the bread as described above.
Fresh Bread Method for Soft Bread Crumbs: If you’re looking for a soft texture, just grind up fresh bread without toasting or drying it first.
Recipe for Italian bread crumbs
Once you have the plain bread crumbs, season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried basil. These seasoned bread crumbs (without cheese) can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. They also can be frozen for up to three months.
To make my homemade Italian Bread Crumbs recipe, you’ll need to add freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs just before using them in a recipe (unless the dish would be better without the cheese’s saltiness). Once you’ve added the cheese, you can refrigerate the bread crumbs for up to a week in a sealed container.
Recipes using homemade Italian bread crumbs
Homemade Italian bread crumbs are the secret to several of our family recipes! Don’t miss these Breaded Italian Chicken Cutlets, Green Beans with Bread Crumbs or Broiled Scallops with Parmesan Bread Crumbs.
(Recipe Source: Adapted from my Mom, who uses one cup of Pecorino Romano for every cup of bread crumbs, and no Parmesan. Originally published August 11, 2014 and republished now with new photos, an updated recipe and updated narrative.)
Homemade Italian Bread Crumbs
- 1 cup bread crumbs (from about 3.5 ounces of bread)
- ⅓ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅓ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
To make crumbs - Use one of the following methods:
- Toaster Method: If starting with bread slices that can fit into a toaster, toast them lightly. Then grind the toast in a blender or food processor.
- Dried Bread Method: If starting with part of a baguette that has become dry, slice it up into chunks (if it's too difficult to cut, heat it in the microwave for a bit). Then grind the chunks of bread in a blender or food processor.
- Oven Method: If starting with leftover bread that hasn't dried out completely, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into slices and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or just until the bread is dry but not browned. Proceed to grind the bread in a blender or food processor.
- Fresh Bread Method for Soft Breadcrumbs: If looking for a soft texture, just grind up fresh bread in a blender or food processor without toasting or drying it first.
Italian Bread Crumbs
- Let bread crumbs cool on the counter if the bread was heated in the oven or toaster. In a bowl, mix cooled bread crumbs with basil, garlic powder and pepper, using a fork or spoon. If using the bread crumbs right away, mix in the Parmesan and salt, if needed.
- Store any leftover breadcrumbs with cheese in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. Breadcrumbs without cheese mixed in can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer.
- When adding Parmesan later to stored breadcrumbs, use a ratio of 2 parts bread crumbs to 1 part cheese.