Mixed with eggs and ground beef, bread crumbs are an essential ingredient in stick-to-your-ribs meatloaf and Italian spaghetti and meatballs.
Used as a coating, topping or thickener, bread crumbs are small bits of dry or fresh (soft) bread. While dried bread crumbs are available at any supermarket, it's quite easy to make your own dried, fresh or seasoned crumbs at home.
Tear bread slices into quarters (trim or keep the crusts) and place in a food processor or blender. Use quick on and off pulses until the crumbs reach your desired texture.
Three slices will make about one cup of fresh crumbs.
Place a single layer of bread slices on a baking sheet and bake at 300ºF until completely dry and lightly browned. Let cool and then process in a food processor or blender to your desired texture. Another option is to put the baked slices in a heavyweight plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
To make seasoned bread crumbs, simply add salt, pepper, dried herbs and a finely grated hard cheese, like Parmesan.
Four slices will make about one cup of fine dry crumbs.
Homemade bread crumbs can be stored tightly sealed in the refrigerator for one week, or frozen for up to six months. Store-bought crumbs should be stored tightly sealed in a cool, dry place. Mind the "best by" date on the package.
• Coat fried foods with coarser Japanese-style panko bread crumbs for deliciously crunchy crusts.
• Sauté bread crumbs in olive oil or butter and use as a topping for vegetables and casseroles.
• Use whole-wheat or rye bread crumbs to add texture to hearty soups and stews.
• Before breading food, blot it dry with paper towels.
• Refrigerate breaded foods for 30 minutes before cooking and the crumbs will stick better.
• Dry and fresh bread crumbs should not be used interchangeably in recipes.
• Substitute 3/4 cup cracker crumbs for each 1 cup of dried bread crumbs.
• Use crushed cereals like unsweetened corn, wheat or rice flakes in equal amounts.
• Also try matzo meal, potato flakes or crushed croutons and rice cakes.
Try one of our favorite bread crumb recipes:
Fanny Farmer's Macaroni and Cheese
Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Millions of Meatballs