Bread Crumbs are just that – crumbled bread. Bread crumbs can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used as a filler in things like meatloaf, as a coating for fried food like home-made fish fingers, pork chops, goat cheese, eggplant Parmesan or chicken cutlets, or as a topping to a baked casserole.
If you’re reading a recipe, watch out for whether it calls for “dry” or “fresh” breadcrumbs; the two are not interchangeable! You can buy dry bread crumbs at the grocery store (which I always do) but you have to make your own fresh bread crumbs. You can freeze fresh bread crumbs, just be sure to date the freezer bag and use the crumbs within two months of freezing.
I always have a box of dry breadcrumbs in the cupboard. I particularly like the seasoned variety.
Fresh bread crumbs are really a snap to make! You can use any bread you have in the house.
There are basically three ways to make bread crumbs;
- with a knife
- with a food processor,
- or with a blender
As you would expect, the food processor and the blender make really fine, uniform crumbs that are just perfect. But if you don’t own either of these pieces of equipment, a knife will work just fine.
Fresh bread crumbs made from slices of white bread need the crusts trimmed off first.
With a bread knife, cut the bread up into crumbs. If the bread is really soft just let it sit on the counter to dry out for a bit, and it should then be easy to cut into crumbs. Try to cut the bread as fine as possible.
Approximately 4 slices of bread will make one cup of crumbs.
Onion rolls make great, already seasoned, fresh bread crumbs. One big roll will make about 2 cups of fresh crumbs. A food processor makes perfect fresh bread crumbs in about 30 seconds.
You can also use a blender to make fresh breadcrumbs. While the motor is running add small chunks of the bread through the hole in the cover of the blender. Don’t over-fill the blender!
“Panko” bread crumbs are a Japanese version of dry bread crumbs that were once only available in Asian markets but you can now get them at the grocery store.
These dry bread crumbs are very light and SUPER crunchy. The Whole Foods grocery store in my neighborhood sells spinach flavored ones as well.
You can flavor your own dry or fresh unseasoned bread crumbs with different spices and herbs as well as cheese. The recipe below is one of my favorites that I have used for a topping over baked fish.
Seasoned panko bread crumbs:
Makes 1 1/3 cups
Crumb toppings or coatings can actually be made from a variety of foods. Corn flakes, potato chips, saltines or Ritz crackers can add a crunchy topping to almost any casserole, but that’s another day!