10 Delicious Ways to Save Stale Bread

By Marla Walters on 19 April 2016 0 comments

After about three days of purchase, I'm eyeing our loaves of bread, planning the possibilities. Shall I make croutons? Stuffing? Bread pudding with bourbon sauce? See, stale bread can still be saved!

If you don't have time to deal with stale bread at the moment, just toss it into the freezer. When you're ready to make any of the items below, it won't have suffered much more in quality once it's defrosted.

1. Homemade Croutons

My family eats these out of the pan as fast as I can toast them. Just about any bread (except sweet ones) work. Adding warm, freshly baked croutons onto a salad is so delicious, especially if that salad also contains some avocado, tomato, and onion.

Here's how to do it: Slice up your stale bread into cubes. Heat a large skillet and add about four tablespoons of olive oil. Add your bread cubes and toss them until they are covered in oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt and any other herbs you like (dried parsley and oregano are good). Over low heat, toast until golden-brown and crispy. Serve immediately. Or, just eat them right out of the pan.

2. Strata

A strata is an almost souffle-like casserole, usually prepared the night before — which makes it so easy to turn it into breakfast in the morning.

Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray. Lightly butter slices of stale bread and put a layer on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Repeat until the pan is almost full, like you are making a lasagne. Next, crack four to five eggs — depending on how big a strata you are making — and whisk together with a half-pint of whipping cream. Pour over the top, add more cheese, and let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, pop it into the oven at 350ºF for about an hour (check it at 45 minutes). It will be puffy, cheesy, and delicious. Caution: This doesn't work as well with whole-wheat bread, so stick with French or sourdough. This recipe is very versatile. You can also add a layer of ham or tomato slices on the top. A layer of spinach is good, too.

3. Cornflake-Covered French Toast

Make French toast as usual, except... after dipping the bread in egg/milk, dip it into crushed corn flakes before adding to the skillet. Fry until golden and crispy. Keep pieces warm at 200ºF in the oven until ready to serve. I like mine drizzled with honey.

4. Stuffing

Stuffing is just too delicious to only eat at Thanksgiving. It also needs stale bread, so that it soaks up all the delicious things you will add to it.

Here is how I make mine:

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of stale bread cubes (toast in a low oven and cool down, to make sure it will really soak up the other ingredients)
  • 1 shallot (a whole shallot, not a section), finely chopped
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced celery (with leaves)
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 2 t poultry seasoning
  • 2 cans chicken broth, heated

Method

Melt butter and olive oil; add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add shallot and celery; stir until tender. Add bread cubes and stir until coated, and gradually add in chicken broth. If you like a moister stuffing, add hot water until desired consistency is achieved.

5. Meatloaf and Meatballs

I would be remiss if I didn't mention stale bread in meatloaf or meatballs. Our mothers and grandmothers called this "stretching" meat, but it does more than that. Adding bread gives the loaf, or meatballs, a lighter texture, and helps to bind the meat together. I soak my stale bread in milk before adding to the meatloaf mixture. This will keep the meatloaf more moist, too — no brick-like loaves.

6. Bread Pudding

It may be worth letting your bread go stale just so that you can make this bread pudding. If you don't like a traditional recipe with raisins, substitute chocolate chips. I like both, frankly. I also like mine with a bourbon sauce, but it's also good with some whipped cream. I have had a version with chopped pecans, and that was also a nice addition — just toast them first. No, the sauce isn't kid-friendly — although Grandma Ruth allowed us to have some at Christmas, when I was a kid. We'd sneak spoonfuls of it later.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled
  • 4 thick slices of bread, lightly toasted
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup raisins OR chocolate chips (or both!)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t vanilla

Method

Grease or spray a casserole dish (9 x 9 x 2), or a little larger. Cut or tear bread into pieces and place into casserole dish. Drizzle with butter; sprinkle with sugar. Add the raisins or chocolate chips.

To beaten eggs, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and cooled milk. Pour over bread mixture and bake at 350ºF for an hour, or until knife comes out clean.

To make the hard sauce:

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of Jack Daniel's Bourbon

Melt butter; stir in brown sugar until melted. Add bourbon. Pour over bread pudding. Swoon.

7. Bread Salad (Panzanella)

This is more of a "stale bread in summertime" recipe, because in addition to the bread, you'll need ripe tomatoes and fresh basil. (You can get those things at a high-end grocery store in the winter, but then your budget will feel it.) I was concerned that the consistency would be soggy, but toasting the bread cubes and draining the tomatoes ensures it isn't. You can easily make this a main-dish salad by adding some sliced salami.

8. Bread Soup (Ribollita)

This is a lovely old recipe which comes from Tuscany. Done in a traditional manner, it takes about 25 hours. Yes, that includes soaking beans. I don't know about you, but it's a pretty rare week when I can devote 25 hours to making soup. Fortunately, there exists this recipe, which is not only delicious, but can be put together shortly before dinnertime. French or sourdough breads also can be used.

9. Bread Crumbs

Talk about a handy thing to have around, and they're so easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 8 slices of stale white bread
  • 1 T Italian seasonings
  • 1 t garlic salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t dried parsley

Method

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Tear up the bread and put it in your blender or food processor. Pulse until you have crumbs.

In a large bowl, combine the crumbs with the rest of the ingredients. I like to rub them together with my hands to make sure it all gets well-mixed.

Spread onto a large cookie sheet and toast for five minutes. Remove and cool for 20 minutes. Store in airtight container. These can be used on pastas, meat, lasagnas, and so much more!

10. Homemade Shake'N Bake

No need to purchase bread crumbs when you have your own! Try dredging thinly-pounded chicken breasts in plain yogurt, with a little lemon juice, and then adding in bread crumbs. Bake at 375ºF for 50 minutes. Or, dredge a thin pork chop in an egg wash, then bread crumbs, and fry. Lastly, coat some halibut or cod with mayonnaise. Cover in bread crumbs, sprinkle with parmesan, and broil.

Lastly, if you are just too overwhelmed by thrifty cooking, there is still no need to waste food. Tear up your bread and go feed the ducks!

How do you use up stale bread? Share with us in the comments!

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