Put simply, to make bread crumbs, reduce large pieces of bread into smaller pieces of bread. There are many ways to achieve this feat. The best method depends on the characteristics of the bread you’re using and the type and amount of bread crumbs you are looking for.
If your bread is not terribly old and still has a little life left in the crumb, take a piece of the bread and grate it on the coarse holes of a box grater over a bowl. This method provides a light, varied texture. Grating bread on a microplane can also work if the bread is not completely dried out and has some yield or softness. It can give you very fine bread crumbs suited for coating food before frying.
If your bread is quite hard, cut it into chunks and pulse in the food processor until the crumbs are the consistency you desire. But make sure that you’re putting in a certain amount and removing it when it’s processed as opposed to adding more along the way, which leads to uneven sizes that will not toast uniformly. This method is faster than the box grater and works well if you are hoping to process a larger amount of crumbs. A blender can also work in a similar fashion to a food processor.
If your bread is completely dry, crush it in a mortar and pestle until the crumbs are the desired consistency or place inside of a cloth bag (thick plastic can work but is prone to tearing) and smash it with a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or any blunt object of your choosing.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place bread crumbs on a sheet pan. Add a little olive oil to the bread crumbs (barely covered with oil, with a texture closer to dry than damp) and stir.
- Place the sheet pan with the lightly oiled bread crumbs in the hot oven. After a few minutes, give the crumbs another stir and make sure they are browning evenly. When the bread crumbs turn an attractive shade of reddish brown (time varies according to ovens; keep an eye on them), remove the sheet from the oven and pour the bread crumbs onto a plate to stop their cooking.
- Alternatively, heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet. When the pan is hot, add a thin stream of olive oil and the bread crumbs. Stir frequently until the crumbs are the desired color. Remove from the heat and drain the bread crumbs on paper towels.
- One they have cooled, store in a dry airtight container and use as needed. These crumbs will last forever.