How To Make Your Own Breadcrumbs Without A Food Processor

Making homemade breadcrumbs may seem like an extra and unnecessary step, but it is actually a smart way to reduce waste in the kitchen while enhancing the flavor of your dishes. Unlike store-bought breadcrumbs, which are often high in sodium and have a powdery texture, homemade breadcrumbs can be customized to your liking and add a delightful texture to your meals, not just fried chicken.

While using a food processor is the quickest way to make breadcrumbs, it is not the only method. You can also use an old-fashioned cheese grater to get the job done. Instead of discarding the bread's heels or leftover stale loaves, store them in a resealable container in the freezer for making breadcrumbs.

Once the bread hardens, rub the frozen pieces against the grater's surface, holding the grater steadily with one hand over a cutting board. The different-sized holes on the grater allow you to create either fine or coarse breadcrumbs, which have different cooking applications. Run the bread over the holes until it gets too small to safely grate without risking your knuckles. Then, use a chef's knife to roughly chop the remaining bread, which will also break down any stubborn pieces that slipped through the grater and are too large.

Tips for making homemade breadcrumbs

Bread thaws quickly, so work fast before it gets too soft to grate. You can make breadcrumbs using any stale bread, including hamburger and hot dog buns. Keep in mind that strongly flavored breads like rye or pumpernickel may have limited applications, so it's better to keep them separate from all-purpose breadcrumbs.

If you're making lunch for picky eaters who refuse to eat the crust on their sandwiches, save those scraps to create breadcrumbs. Make sure to cut off the crusts before assembling the sandwiches to avoid flavoring the breadcrumbs with PB&J or mustard. Since these pieces are too thin to grate, use a chef's knife to chop them coarsely or bash the frozen pieces with a rolling pin until they are uniform. Although less fun, a mortar and pestle works too.

You can leave the homemade breadcrumbs plain or season them to complement various dishes. Kosher salt and black pepper go with everything, but don't forget the dried herbs in your pantry. To make Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, mix in garlic powder, basil, oregano, and onion powder. Add parmesan cheese to enhance the umami flavor, or make it spicy by adding cayenne pepper or chili flakes.

Unlike commercially made dried breadcrumbs, which are shelf-stable, fresh ones need to be stored in the freezer to prevent molding. Keep them in a resealable and airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.

Use homemade breadcrumbs in recipes

If you cook frequently, it's a good idea to have different types of breadcrumbs in the freezer. Keep finely ground breadcrumbs on hand for a panade or "bread mash." A panade combines breadcrumbs with a liquid like milk to make a paste. It is used as a binder or filler in recipes like meatballs, crab cakes, and meatloaf, keeping the protein moist and the texture light.

You can also use finely ground breadcrumbs to crumb-coat dishes before frying. Dip sliced vegetables, fish, pork, and chicken cutlets in flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs for a crunchy coating. The granular size stays on better than larger breadcrumbs during cooking, so you don't lose any delicious coating.

Coarsely ground breadcrumbs can be used like panko as a top layer for casseroles and roasted vegetables. To add a buttery crunch to every bite, saute the breadcrumbs in butter or oil until golden brown, then sprinkle them on mac and cheese or potatoes au gratin. They can be used as a garnish on many dishes, adding textural contrast to pasta or raw salads when croutons feel too heavy.

Use coarse breadcrumbs to stuff mushrooms, artichokes, peppers, and tomatoes, or add them to oysters and clams before baking them for a crunchy texture. We really can't think of a single dish that couldn't benefit from homemade breadcrumbs.