14 Delicious Ways to Turn Old Bread Into a New Meal
When good bread passes its prime, that doesn't mean it's no good. Here are 14 brilliant recipes that use stale bread.
With climate change in mind, more and more people are trying to control their food waste. I'll try not to blast you with too many statistics, but as long as we're on the topic, the National Resources Defense Council claims that 40 percent of food grown in the United States does not get eaten. Because of this, some people have taken up trash cooking, but at Yummly, we're taking a less aggressive approach to converting our culinary customs to reduce food waste. Bread is one of those items we hate to waste (especially when it's a lovely crusty baguette or ancient-grain seeded loaf) so we curated some of the best recipes to make use of stale bread.
Classic Uses Of Stale Bread
There are a few classic uses of old bread that are worth sharing because "classic" usually means delicious.
Garlic Croutons by Cookie Rookie
Croutons are easy, useful, and add both texture and flavor to dishes. Top a salad, sprinkle in soup, or just eat them as a snack (is it really that different from a cracker? I think not). To execute this recipe, all you need to do is mince and saute garlic in olive oil, toss in your stale cubed bread, and you'll be crunching for days.
BLT Panzanella by Pinch of Yum
Panzanella is Italian bread salad and it happens to be my favorite way to use old bread. We're not grading these recipes, but I'm giving this recipe an A+++ anyway because it calls for bacon — there's some sort of sorcery between bacon and tomatoes that makes each bite of this salad transcendent. But I digress. Our focus is on reducing food waste and this blogger doubles down on repurposing by frying the old bread cubes in bacon grease (semi-solid gold in my house) for a dinner Al Gore would be proud to serve.
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding by Suburban Soapbox
Bread pudding is another classic use of old bread which is just French toast in casserole form, but this recipe is the YOLO version. This blogger doesn't use milk, she uses cream. And forget maple syrup, she goes whole hog with caramel sauce. Breakfast? Or dessert? Either way, your feelings about the richness of this bread pudding will probably vacillate between regret and joy, at least until you taste it and forget your worries.
Spinach and Cheese Strata
Spinach and Cheese Strata by Damn Delicious
For those who don't have a sweet tooth, there is the strata. It's basically a savory bread pudding and instead of syrup, you top this one with three types of cheese. This one also call for spinach and green onions. For breakfast or dinner, you can't lose with the strata.
Authentic Gazpacho by Gimme Some Oven
If you've never made gazpacho before, you might be wondering why this is filed under "classic." It's because bread is used as a thickener, but it also adds flavor and texture. It's soaked in water and blended with raw tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in a food processor, then chilled and served.
Creamed Chipped Beef
Creamed Chipped Beef by Small Town Woman
Creamed chipped beef on toast is definitely an All-American throwback recipe. If you've had it before, you either have a military service member in your family or you've watched more than a few episodes of M*A*S*H. Creamed chipped beef on toast is salted, dried beef in milk gravy on toast that was commonly served in military mess halls because it's high in protein and easy to churn out in mass quantities. It's sometimes referred to as SOS — an acronym that stands for many distasteful descriptions. But I assure you, it is a tasty way to put an old loaf of bread back to work.
Making breadcrumbs is an easy (and obvious) way to repurpose old bread. All you have to do is drop the old bread into a food processor, hit pulse and you have bread crumbs. The trick is finding recipes that use them, so we picked out some of our favorite recipes that call for little bits of bread.
Baked Zucchini Chips
Baked Zucchini Chips by Yummly
This recipe relies on breadcrumbs to make slices of zucchini crunch like potato chips. Ready in under a half hour, this snack only requires five ingredients, so if you're looking for a quick and tasty way to get rid of your old bread, it doesn't get much easier than baked zucchini chips.
Spinach and Cheese Breadcrumb Dumplings (Strangolapreti)
Spinach and Cheese Breadcrumb Dumplings (Strangolapreti) by Saveur
While meatballs do typically use a lot of breadcrumbs they don't use quite as much as these dumplings. These are also vegetarian in case you're out of ideas for meatless Monday dishes to save the environment, making it a double-win with Mother Earth. This is the Italian version of breadcrumb dumplings (the German version is called "knodel") which calls for ricotta cheese, parmesan, herbs, and spinach with a bit of egg to bring it all together for a simple, flavorful vegetarian main dish.
Best Homemade Italian Potato Croquettes
Best Homemade Italian Potato Croquettes by She Loves Biscotti
Mashed potatoes mixed with breadcrumbs might sound like a lot of carbs, but potato croquettes are so good even the most devout keto follower might abandon their no-carb ways for a taste of these diminutive dumplings. They take a bit of effort — the potatoes have to be cooked, mashed, seasoned, and shaped before they're rolled in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried — but it's worth it.
Stuffed Tomatoes with Gruyère
Stuffed Tomatoes with Gruyère by Food Republic
While Yummly has more than 50K recipes for stuffing, we're not stuffing turkey with this recipe. However, the idea is turkey stuffing-adjacent. It's a vegetarian main dish that blends herbs with breadcrumbs, cheese, and eggs, but there are recipes that call for sausage if you're serving meat eaters. With or without meat, stuffed tomatoes are a great way to use up stale bread.
Most of the following recipes call for either stale bread in slices or in cubes.
Welsh Rarebit by RecipesPlus
I love this recipe because most people think it says "rabbit" at first glance and there's certainly no rabbit in this rascally-titled recipe. It's just toast with cheese sauce poured over it. But it's not any cheese sauce — it typically has Worsteshire sauce and mustard mixed in. Some recipes even call for a heavy warm beer, but this non-alcoholic version gets the job done.
Torrijas - Sweet Spanish Toasts
Torrijas - Sweet Spanish Toasts by Cooking the Globe
This recipe could fall under both classic and not-so-obvious. Torrijas are French toast, but the method is slightly different. The stale bread is first soaked in just milk and then it's dipped in the egg before frying. Old bread works best with this because if you used fresh bread, your toasts would probably disintegrate before hitting the skillet, so the recipe is at the intersection of bread savior and delicious.
Tuscan Bread Tomato Soup (Pappa Al Pomodoro)
Tuscan Bread Tomato Soup (Pappa Al Pomodoro) by Italian Recipe Book
This recipe might sound vaguely familiar. With the exception of bell peppers, this is like a warm gazpacho. Also, it's Italian, so you can imagine basil is a major compenent. Whether you make your tomato bread soup warm or cold, you won't regret this use of leftover bread.
Romesco Sauce by Serious Eats
Romesco is a special Spanish sauce made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, nuts, and, of course, that rock-hard bread taking up space on your kitchen counter. This recipe is fairly straight forward — it's all about roasting the ingredients and then wizarding them into a loose paste. Once that's done, you have a dip for vegetables, hard cheese, chicken, or even fresh bread.
Old Bread, New Meals
If those recipes aren't quite what you're looking for, there are hundreds more ways to explore that use up bread past its prime.