The best thing to do with day-old or stale focaccia bread? Learn how to make homemade focaccia croutons!
Homemade focaccia croutons are so good for dressing up your favorite salads but also great floating in a warm bowl of tomato soup.
As much as I love making homemade focaccia, it's one of those breads that's best eaten same-day. This means finding things to do with any leftover focaccia so it doesn't go to waste. Croutons are the perfect way to give slightly stale focaccia a second life.
(Okay, I'll admit sometimes I make a batch of my small batch mini focaccia just to make croutons for soup, salad, or snacking.)
While you can make croutons from any type of bread (ciabatta is also a great pick!), focaccia is one of my favorite breads to use.
Since focaccia bakes in a nice flat sheet, it's super easy to cut into cubes. And it's an oily, salty bread by default, meaning it hardly needs any help to turn into deliciously crunchy croutons. You could basically cube it, dry it, and call it croutons.
Of course, we're going to do a little bit more than that to add some seasoning and flavors, but you don't have to.
So the next time you find yourself with leftover focaccia, don't throw it away. Turn it into croutons! You'll be glad you did.
🍞 Ingredient Notes
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make these focaccia croutons! See recipe card for quantities.
- Focaccia Bread - I like using my thin and crispy Ligurian focaccia to make these focaccia croutons because it's nice and thin and dries out pretty quickly. My thick, plush overnight focaccia will also work really well here, though it's so tall it will need to be cut in half before cutting into cubes. Store bought focaccia is also a great choice for making focaccia croutons. Really, any focaccia bread you like is just fine, but day old or two day old focaccia that's dried out a bit already works best.
- Olive Oil - Focaccia is already pretty oily, so doesn't need much extra oil. I use a little bit to help the herbs and seasonings stick. You can also use olive oil spray if you prefer.
- Salt* - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half. If your focaccia is already pretty salty, you may want to leave out the added salt entirely.
- Dried Herbs or Seasonings (Optional) - If you're making focaccia from scratch with the intent of making croutons, add the dried herbs right to the top of the focaccia dough before baking. I like to use Italian flavors like dried oregano, dried basil, and dried rosemary which go really well with a caesar salad or tomato soup.
Other Focaccia Crouton Seasonings: Dried thyme, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, seasoned salt, MSG, cumin, tomato powder. You can also use blends like garam masala, Old Bay, or Everything Bagel Seasoning (pulse it in a spice grinder to turn it into a powder first). If using a store-bought seasoning blend, check the ingredients; if salt is high up on the list, you may not want to add more salt to your croutons.
🔪 How to Make Focaccia Croutons
This is one of those so simple hardly-needs-a-recipe recipes. It's super easy to customize to your tastes, and to scale up and down.
Depending on the moisture content of your particular focaccia and how salty it is, you may need to adjust the ingredient quantities, seasonings, and timing of the recipe. The power is in your hands!
You don't need to be super precise with your measuring; the only ingredient to be extra cautious with is the salt. It's very easy to end up with overly salty focaccia, so definitely use a less-is-more approach if you're making any adjustments.
Cut the day-old focaccia into cubes 1" in size or smaller. A bite-sized cube of soft bread is very different from a bite-sized cube of hard bread. Cut them smaller than you think!
Drizzle in the olive oil and add any seasonings you want. Here I'm using salt, dried oregano, dried basil, and dried rosemary.
Drizzle the oil over the bread cubes instead of pouring it in all at once. It's almost impossible to get a truly even coating of oil on a bread this airy, but you don't want the oil to all to absorb into one or two focaccia cubes.
If you want to be particular about it, drizzle half the olive oil in and give the cubes a toss, then drizzle in the rest.
TIP: Dried rosemary leaves are big and pointy. Pinch and crush them between your fingers as you add them just to break them up a little.
Toss to coat. If you need to add a bit more oil or herbs, you can eyeball adding them until everything looks pretty evenly coated.
Arrange the seasoned focaccia bread cubes on a sheet pan in an even layer. If there's any seasoning left in the bowl, scrape it out over the croutons.
Place the sheet pan in a preheated 250°F oven. This low temperature won't burn or bake the focaccia, it will just dry it out. And that's all we're looking for here.
♨️ Keeping Focaccia Croutons Crispy
Depending on how much moisture was still in the bread and how much oil you've added, it may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for the focaccia croutons to dry out entirely.
Make sure you're giving them enough space so the evaporating steam isn't getting trapped by neighboring croutons and making them soggy. The more crowded your sheet pan is, the longer it will take the focaccia croutons to dry out.
Shake the pan and use a pair of tongs to stir and flip the focaccia croutons every 15-20 minutes to help them dry evenly.
Don't worry about flipping every crouton every single time. If you don't flip one the first time, you'll probably get it the next time you stir. They will dry out even if you don't flip them at all. The stirring just helps speed up the process a bit.
This is an easy-breezy low effort recipe. No need to stress yourself out.
⏲️ How to Tell When Croutons are Done
The only way to tell when focaccia croutons re done is to taste them. BE CAREFUL, they are hot!
Take one crouton off the sheet pan and take a bite. The outside will dry before the inside, so pay attention to how the center of the crouton feels as you bite through.
If it still feels soft or chewy in the center or you're able to tear the crouton in half, the croutons need more time in the oven.
A fully dried crouton will crunch and shatter when you bite it, all the way down to the center.
If you're not sure if the croutons are done, give them another 10-15 minutes in the oven.
The temperature is so low, they're not at risk of burning. You could even turn the oven off and leave the croutons in there as it cools for a long, slow drying period.
🥗 Storage Notes
Once your focaccia croutons are fully dried out and cooled, store them in an airtight container; you may find tucking a paper towel inside helps absorb any excess moisture.
Focaccia croutons can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three weeks. You can also refrigerate them or freeze them for up to 3 months.
If your croutons seem to be a bit soggy after a day or two in storage, they probably weren't fully dry when you took them out of the oven or the container wasn't fully sealed. Crisp them back up in the oven at 350F for a few minutes before using them.
🌡️ Use an Oven Thermometer
Most ovens don't run at the temperature they say. Mine is a full 50 degrees off! I know this because I have an oven thermometer.
Croutons need to be dried at a very low temperature. If your oven runs hot, you'll end up with toasted or slightly burnt croutons. If it runs cold, it'll take longer for them to dry.
Using an oven thermometer to know what the actual temperature is inside your oven will help you get the temp just right.
This is the oven thermometer I use. It has a large dial which makes it easy to see in a dark oven.
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQ
It is super important that your homemade croutons are completely dry inside. A shallow baking pan with plenty of space will help these focaccia croutons dry quickly. Don't be afraid of giving them an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven if you aren't sure. It's a low temperature, they won't burn! Store them in an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture so they stay crisp.
Kind of! Technically as soon as any bread is baked and cooled, the staling process has begun. What we think of as "stale" bread has a dry, hard, slightly chewy texture to it due the the way the starches in the bread break down as the bread ages. By speeding up the process of drying out the bread we're able to avoid the unpleasant flavors and textures of truly stale bread to end up with tasty, crunchy croutons that are dried throughout. Using "stale" focaccia that's a day or two old to make croutons means the bread has already lost some of its natural moisture to evaporation and will cut down the amount of time it needs in the oven to dry out.
Yep! Just let it defrost on the counter. Then cube it up and proceed with the recipe as written.
Pop them back in the oven or toaster oven at 250°F for 5-10 minutes.
Ehhhhhhhh. It really depends on what type of toppings. My cheesy onion and pepper focaccia works beautifully as croutons. It takes a bit longer to dry out because you've got to get the peppers and onions fully dried too, and is best used within 2-3 days. But a focaccia with a lot of wet or large toppings like tomatoes or olives or figs or whole garlic cloves would be a bit trickier to use for croutons. You'd want to remove as much of the toppings as possible before cutting it into crouton pieces.
- 4 cups day-old focaccia (about 7 ounces, cut into 1" cubes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or use olive oil spray)
- 1 teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of any other type of salt)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Place cubed focaccia in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, dried herbs, and salt. Toss and stir to combine until all the pieces are somewhat evenly coated.
- Arrange the cubed focaccia in an even layer on a shallow, rimmed sheet pan. Give them a bit of breathing room so they're not all pressed up against each other.
- Place the sheet pan in the oven and leave the croutons to dry. Stir or shake the pan every 15-20 minutes to help them dry evenly. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the moisture content of the bread, how dry it was to start with, and how much oil it absorbed.
- To test a crouton for doneness, remove one from the pan and let it cool slightly. Bite into it. When the center is completely dry and crispy, your focaccia croutons are done.
- Let croutons cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.
- If using other seasonings, aim for about 2-2½ teaspoons total. Different seasoning blends have different intensities, adjust accordingly!
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