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How to Make Italian Bread Crumbs

Italian bread crumbs you make yourself are a far cry from the sandy, flat-flavored store bought ones. Plus, it’s great to have a recipe you can make when you don’t want to make an extra trip to the grocery. See how easy they are to make and elevate your recipes just a little bit more.

a bowl of bread crumbs on a table

Italian bread crumbs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from meatballs to casseroles. Making your own Italian bread crumbs is a simple process that can save you money and allow you to customize the flavor.

By making your own Italian bread crumbs, you can control the quality of the ingredients and avoid any additives or preservatives that may be present in store-bought versions. Plus, it’s a great way to use up leftover bread and reduce food waste.

Essential Ingredients for Italian Bread Crumbs

Italian bread crumbs are a versatile ingredient that can be used to add flavor and texture to a variety of dishes. Whether you’re making meatballs, coating chicken or fish, or sprinkling them over a salad, having a good recipe for Italian bread crumbs is essential. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to make them:

bread crumbs in a food processor with spices on the side


The most important ingredient in Italian bread crumbs is, of course, bread. You can use any type of bread you like, but it’s best to use a loaf that has a firm texture and a slightly sour taste. Examples of breads that work well include sourdough, ciabatta, and French bread. To make the bread crumbs, you’ll need to dry out the bread first. You can do this by leaving the bread out on the counter for a day or two, or by toasting slices in the oven.


Italian bread crumbs are packed with flavor, thanks to the addition of various seasonings. The most common seasonings used include garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. You can adjust the amounts of each seasoning to suit your taste, but a good rule of thumb is to use about 1 teaspoon of each per cup of bread crumbs.

Olive Oil (optional)

Finally, you can add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to bind the bread crumbs together and give them a crispy texture if you’d like to. I don’t find it necessary but it will add extra flavor.

Choosing the Right Bread

When it comes to making Italian bread crumbs, choosing the right bread is crucial. The bread you use will determine the texture and flavor of your bread crumbs. Here are some things to consider when selecting bread for your Italian bread crumbs.

Types of Bread

Italian bread crumbs are traditionally made from white bread, but you can use any type of bread you prefer. Each type of bread will give your bread crumbs a unique flavor and texture. For example, sourdough bread will give your bread crumbs a tangy flavor, while French bread will result in a softer, fluffier texture.

Stale vs. Fresh Bread

While fresh bread may be tempting to use, stale bread is actually better for making Italian bread crumbs. Stale bread is drier and has less moisture, which means it will result in a crispier, crunchier texture. Fresh bread, on the other hand, will result in softer, less crispy bread crumbs. Both are fine to use, it just depends on what you’re making.

To stale bread, simply leave it out on the counter for a few days until it is dry and hard. Alternatively, you can toast the bread in the oven to speed up the process. Just be sure not to burn the bread, as this will affect the flavor of your bread crumbs.

Sandwich bread will not work for bread crumbs. There are too many dough conditioners and additives that can make it slow to dry and gummy when used in recipes. Ideally, use a crusty loaf bread, french bread or challah.

From store bought plain dry bread crumbs

If you only want to add an Italian flavor to store bought plain dry bread crumbs, simply add the spices listed in the recipe to 6 ounces of your plain ones and go!

Preparing the Bread

To make Italian bread crumbs, the first step is to prepare the bread. Any type of bread can be used, but it is recommended to use a loaf of Italian bread. Here are the steps to prepare the bread:

Drying the Bread

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Cut the bread into small cubes or slices.
  3. Place the bread on a baking sheet and bake it in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it is completely dry.
  4. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool completely.

Grinding the Bread

  1. Once the bread is completely cool, transfer it to a food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse the bread until it is finely ground. Be careful not to over-process the bread, or it will turn into a paste.
  3. Transfer the ground bread to a bowl and repeat the process until all the bread is ground.

Seasoning the Bread Crumbs

Traditional Italian Herbs

Italian bread crumbs are known for their flavorful blend of herbs and spices. To achieve a traditional Italian taste, use a combination of Italian seasoning or individual amounts of dried basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic powder. These herbs are commonly used in Italian cuisine and will add a classic flavor to your bread crumbs.

If you need to make the seasoning blend, mix together 1 tablespoon of dried basil, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of dried parsley, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Add the herb blend to your bread crumbs and mix well.

Customizing Your Flavor Profile

If you want to customize the flavor of your bread crumbs, experiment with different herbs and spices. For example, you can add dried thyme, rosemary, or sage for a more herbaceous flavor. You can also add red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

To create a unique blend, start with the traditional Italian herb blend and add one or two additional herbs or spices. Taste the bread crumbs as you go to ensure you achieve the desired flavor.

a measuring cup with bread crumbs in it

How to make Italian bread crumbs in the air fryer

For a quicker and healthier option, Italian bread crumbs can also be made using an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. Spread the bread crumbs in a single layer in the basket and cook for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Shake the basket occasionally to ensure even cooking. Once done, remove from the air fryer and let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

When using an air fryer, it is important to note that the cooking time may vary based on the model and size of the air fryer. It is recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cooking times and temperatures.

Storage and Preservation

Refrigeration Guidelines

Bread dries out significantly when refrigerated. I usually never recommend putting any bread in the fridge, even your bread crumbs despite the fact that we actually want them dry. I’d recommend freezing them instead of refrigerating.

Freezing for Long-Term

If you want to store Italian bread crumbs for an extended period, freezing is the best option. First, place the bread crumbs in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Be sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing the container.

When properly stored in the freezer, Italian bread crumbs can last for up to a year. To use frozen bread crumbs, simply remove the desired amount and allow them to thaw at room temperature for a few minutes before use.

It is important to note that freezing may cause the texture of the bread crumbs to change slightly. However, this will not affect their taste or usability in recipes.

a jar of bread crumbs on a table

Usage Ideas

Italian bread crumbs are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways to add flavor and texture to dishes. Here are a few ideas for using them:

Coating for Fried Foods

Italian bread crumbs can be used as a coating for fried foods such as chicken, fish, and vegetables. Simply dip the food in beaten egg or milk, then coat it in the bread crumbs. Fry the food in hot oil until it is golden brown and crispy but remember that the crumbs do get dark very quickly.

Topping for Baked Dishes

Italian bread crumbs can also be used as a topping for baked dishes such as casseroles and pasta bakes. Mix the bread crumbs with melted butter or olive oil, then sprinkle them over the top of the dish. Bake the dish in the oven until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crispy.

Italian bread crumbs can also be used as a substitute for croutons in salads or as a flavorful addition to meatloaf or meatballs. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months, making them a convenient pantry staple.

a bowl of bread crumbs on a table

How to Make Italian Bread Crumbs

Add flavor to your choice of bread for easy to make Italian bread crumbs at home.
Print Pin
Servings: 2 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Air drying the bread (optional) 2 days
Total Time 2 days 20 minutes


  • 4-5 slices dry bread no sandwich bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning


  • Lay out the bread slices to dry for a day or two. If you don't have time to let your bread dry, cube the slices and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake at 350 until the bread is dried and toasted, tossing the cubes every 3 to 5 minutes to ensure it doesn't burn.
  • Let the cubes cool, then pulse the bread in a food processor or blender until coarse crumbs form.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add the garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning and toss to combine.
  • Use immediately or freeze in an air tight container.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs

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