10 Ways to Use Up a Whole Loaf of Bread (Especially the Stale Parts)

January  4, 2016

If one of your 2016 resolutions is to cut back on kitchen waste, there's no better time to start than now. Once you've hit the farmers market, done some cooking, and prepped for the week ahead, be mindful of your bits and bobs: Compost your eggshells, tuck the onion skins in the freezer bag newly christened as your stash of stock ingredients, and for crying out loud, don't toss that staling hunk of bread! Instead...

Photo by James Ransom
  • Make bread crumbs! And put them on everything, from salad to pasta to roasted vegetables, over a gratin or an egg in any form, or in meatballs or meatloaf (among other things).
  • Cut the bread into cubes and bake them into croutons.
  • Just how stale is this bread? If it's still got a bit of chew, it's a prime candidate for a wintry panzanella.
  • Give your bread a brand-new life in mushy-dreamy bread soup. (Try this version if you're not into mush.)
  • Strata will never lead you astray.
  • A sultry romesco will put a few slices of stale bread to use and punch up anything that needs punching, from seafood or meat to roasted vegetables.
  • Slice your loaf very thinly, then place the slices on a tray in a very low oven to dry out. Ta-da! Crackers! (Something else to put that romesco sauce on.)
  • There's always bread pudding—or French toast—if you need something sweet.
  • Form moistened stale bread into a sort of dumpling, the Italian canederli.
  • Lay a strip of bread over stewed fruit and bake for a cobbler-style dessert.

Share your stale bread wisdom—and storage tips!—in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Smaug
  • Nancy
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


AntoniaJames January 7, 2016
Fruit betties. E.g.,
Or its inspiration: thinly sliced bread toasted, spread with a thin slick of Irish butter and topped with a light sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, aka Cinnamon Toast - a nursery treat I enjoy to this day!

We make all our own bread here, so we often have ends pieces, or half loaves that are a few days old. I slice those and then freeze for later use in French toast or savory bread puddings, or Rao's Meatballs (a Genius recipe) or Old School Swedish Meatballs .

And let's not forget garlic-fried crumbs--saute in butter or olive oil, your choice, plus whatever herbs strike you fancy (the latter, optional)--for sprinkling on vegetables and salads of any kind. A lifesaver in my kitchen in the dead of winter. ;o)
Smaug January 4, 2016
I used to make a pasta sauce, now lost in the mists of time, that was a puree of bread soaked in milk and almonds, which I think was a modern take on an ancient sauce made entirely from nuts- there were probably some other ingredients- salt, maybe black pepper and or nutmeg. Then there's the old plumber's trick- when soldering repairs on copper pipes, there's often a problem of loose water in the pipes getting into the area being soldered and wrecking the joint- stuff some bread into the pipe up from the joint, and solder, then turn on a faucet- the bread will dissolve and wash out of the system.
Nancy January 5, 2016
Not exactly your sauce, but see #4 spaghetti with bread crumbs in this article about 8 non-tomato pasta sauces.
Smaug January 5, 2016
Not the same, but I'm pretty sure it did include garlic- I'll have to look it up; I believe it was from Bugialli's first book, but most of my cookbooks are in storage now. Anyway, thanks for the link.