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How to Use Up Leftover or Stale Bread

November 27, 2017
9 min. read

Stale bread? We’ve all been there. Maybe you bought extra bread for a special gathering and just have too much left over. Or perhaps your dinner plans changed a few times and you weren’t able to get through your usual bag of bread or rolls. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to let your stale bread go to waste—not when there are countless types of recipes calling for exactly that.

While your stale bread or rolls may no longer be desirable for fresh sandwiches, you can repurpose them for many other recipes. For instance, do you have a recipe that requires baking in the oven? Check. Does it involve a lot of heavy or liquidy ingredients? Check. Or maybe it calls for breadcrumbs, croutons, or crostini? Check, check and check.

Stale bread is useful in all types of recipes—basically any recipe that requires toasting, baking, or grilling the bread, or one that could easily turn soggy if using fresh bread. Additionally, if your recipe calls for cubed bread or breadcrumbs, it’s likely that stale bread would work perfectly. This is also a great way to repurpose the crusts or end pieces of your bread loaf.

How to Make Fresh Bread Stale

What if your recipe calls for stale or “day-old” bread, but you only have a fresh loaf? If you have some time, you can leave the bread out for a couple hours or overnight to let it dry out. If not, arrange your bread on a baking sheet in slices or cubes (whatever your recipe calls for), and bake in a low oven (325-300°F) for 10-15 minutes or until dry, lightly golden, and a bit crunchy.

Here are several fantastic ways to use up stale or leftover bread:


piles of breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are used for a wide variety of recipes, such as in baked casseroles, as a coating for chicken or fish, or even as a crust layer for pies or quiches. Since most recipes using breadcrumbs include baking, frying, or grilling, stale bread is ideal.

How to Make Breadcrumbs

Turning stale bread into breadcrumbs is quick and simple. One method is to bake your sliced or cubed bread in a low-temperature oven (250-300°F) for 10-15 minutes until crunchy and barely golden, then crumble the bread pieces by placing the dried bread in a plastic bag and rolling over with a rolling pin. Alternatively, you can pulse the stale bread first in a food processor, then toast the fresh crumbs on a baking sheet in a low-temperature oven for 20-30 minutes or until dry and slightly golden.

Once you have homemade breadcrumbs, you can store them in a glass jar or food storage container until ready to use.

Try mixing your breadcrumbs with different combinations of herbs and spices to use in different types of dishes. Make Italian-flavored breadcrumbs by adding dried herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; use for baked pasta dishes or as a coating for chicken. For a sweet breadcrumb mixture to use in pies and other desserts, try adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

Recipes with Breadcrumbs

Savory Pasta Dishes

Mac and Cheese with Breadcrumb Topping

Baked Mac and Cheese

A simple topping of buttered and seasoned breadcrumbs takes this two-cheese baked macaroni dish to the next level!


Chicken Pasta Bake with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Chicken Pasta Casserole

Lightly toasted Martin’s Butter Bread, crumbled and combined with grated parmesan cheese, creates the perfect melty crust for this chicken and rigatoni casserole.


Sweet Desserts

Plain breadcrumbs also make a great alternative for a traditional graham cracker or cookie crumb crust. Simply combine pulsed bread crumbs with butter and brown sugar. This universal bread crumb crust can be used for all your favorite sweets, such as the three recipes shown below.

Mini Cheesecakes

Easy Mini Cheesecakes

Made with a simple bread crumb and brown sugar crust and basic cheesecake filling (cream cheese, egg, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla extract), you can garnish these mini desserts with your topping of choice.

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pretzel Bars

Chocolate Salted Caramel Pretzel Bars 2

Breadcrumb and sugar crust topped with chocolate, salted pretzels, and caramel drizzle.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

This “no bake” pie is made with a breadcrumb and brown sugar crust and a cream cheese, peanut butter, and whipped cream filling, topped off with crumbled peanut butter cups.

Find all three recipes here:

Breading and Filling

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Homemade Martin’s Breadcrumbs

Chicken Cordon Bleu

The breadcrumb coating for this delicious recipe by My Epicurean Adventures is made with Martin’s Whole Wheat Potato Bread, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, wheat germ, flax seed, salt and pepper.


Onion and Swiss Stuffed Mushrooms

Onion and Swiss Stuffed Mushrooms

These button mushrooms are stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture of Martin’s Whole Wheat Potato Bread (slightly stale), onions, parsley, garlic, and salt, then blended with shredded swiss cheese and vegetable broth and baked at 450°F for 10-12 minutes.


Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichoke

This creative recipe, which is one of blogger Philly Food Girl’s specialties, uses toasted Martin’s Potato Bread, garlic, anchovies, locatelli cheese, olive oil, parsley, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes as the filling for jumbo boiled artichokes.



piles of croutons

Even though croutons are simply little cubes of toasted or baked bread, they make a wonderful additional to many dishes. Croutons are great for adding a textural contrast to soups, or a bit of crunch and flavor to salads and snacks.

How to Make Croutons

All you really need to make croutons are a bit of olive oil or melted butter, cubed or torn stale bread, a warm oven, and any desired seasonings. Experiment with your seasonings and try using croutons for a variety of dishes. You can also use whatever type of bread you have on hand—try using cubed dinner or sandwich rolls for thicker, denser croutons.

To make classic Italian croutons, which are perfect for Caesar salad, add fresh garlic, dried oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese to your olive oil-coated bread cubes before baking in a 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

Recipes with Croutons


Lightly toasted croutons are a great topping for any tossed salad, but you can also use stale or dried out bread for panzanella, or “bread salad.” Stale bread that is harder or drier can hold up to salad dressings and hearty vegetables much better without getting soggy.

Caesar Salad with Italian Croutons

croutons for caesar saladRecipe:

Roasted Fall Veggie Panzanella Maple Glaze

Fall Roasted Veggie Panzanella Recipe:

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

Grilled Veggie Panzanella



French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is famous for its broiled cheese and crouton topping. Try using a lightly toasted slice of Martin’s Potato Bread topped with grated parmesan or gruyere cheese.


Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

This famous recipe duo is even better when combined. Using slightly stale bread for the grilled cheese croutons will help them hold up longer when added to the soup.



Cinnamon-Sugar Snack Mix

Cinnamon-Sugar Snack Mix

Croutons don’t always have to be savory—try making cinnamon and sugar coated croutons for recipes like this dessert snack mix.



piles of crostini

Crostini are little slices of toasted bread that can be paired with any kind of spread or topping. These bite-sized snacks make a perfect appetizer for parties and get-togethers because of how versatile they are. You can top crostini with your favorite meats, cheeses, fruits, sauces, spreads, jellies, or anything you’d like. They also make great accompaniments to a cheese and charcuterie board or a fondue platter.

How to Make Crostini

Similar to croutons, all you need to make crostini are a bit of olive oil or butter, sliced stale bread (cut into 1-2” pieces), and a warm oven.

A great thing about crostini is you can use any kind of bread or rolls. Try mixing it up by using an assortment of bread to add different textures, shapes, and sizes to your appetizer.

Recipes with Crostini

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, and Fig Jam Crostini

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, & Fig Jam Crostini

Lightly toasted Martin’s Dinner Potato Rolls are the prefect base for these holiday-themed appetizers. By using a thicker bread and baking it briefly in the oven, these crostini stay crisp even after adding the balsamic reduction.


Spinach Artichoke Dip with Assorted Martin’s Crostini

spinach artichoke dip with assorted crostini

Party dips like this spinach-artichoke dip can be served with whatever bread you have available. Here we used Martin’s Hoagie, Dinner, and Party Rolls, but any assortment would work perfectly.


Balsamic Bruschetta Crostini


Bruschetta is one of the most classic spreads to pair with crostini. Try using stale or toasted sliced bread for a light, refreshing snack.


Other Stale Bread Recipes

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is probably the most well-known recipe that uses stale bread. Since most recipes call for the bread cubes to be soaked in a milk mixture prior to being baked, it is critical to use dense, stale bread to prevent it from getting too soggy or absorbent.

Sweet Potato and Cheddar Bread Pudding

Sweet potato and cheddar bread pudding


Chocolate Bread Pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding




Meatloaf is another famous use for stale bread. The bread, soaked in milk and added to the meat mixture, helps ensure a smoother consistency and also serves as a binder.


French Toast Casserole

Similar to bread pudding, most French toast recipes involved soaking the bread in liquid (in this case, eggs and milk) prior to baking. That makes this recipe great for using up stale or day-old bread or rolls.

Apple French Toast Bake

Apple French Toast Bake


Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Pumpkin French Toast Bake


Open Faced Sandwiches

Many open-faced sandwiches are topped with sauces like gravy, so using stale or toasted bread is a great way to prevent your bread from getting too soggy.

Kentucky Hot Brown

Kentucky Hot Brown 2


Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich

Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich


Chipped Beef over Toast

Chipped Beef and Gravy


Grilled Sandwiches

In the case of most sandwiches you probably prefer soft, fresh bread. However, if you are planning on grilling your sandwich or adding a lot of liquidy toppings or condiments, stale bread may hold up better.

Gourmet Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese

Gourmet 3-Cheese Grilled Cheese

For recipes like this three-cheese grilled cheese, which is soaked in an herb and onion butter mixture, slightly stale bread would work fine.



In addition to the breadcrumb method mentioned above, you can also use stale bread in the form of whole, flattened slices to form crust for pastries or pies. Check out two examples below, which both use muffin cups to create mini bite-sized portions.

Pecan Pie Bites

Pecan Pie Bites


Quiche Toast Cups

Quiche Toast Cups



Mrs. Martin's Stuffing

Since most stuffing in combined with other ingredients, such as vegetables or chicken broth, which add in some extra moisture, it’s fine to use stale bread.

You can find 8 great stuffing recipes in this past blog post:

How to Make Stale Bread Fresh Again

Okay…what if you really just want fresh bread? Try wrapping your sliced bread in a damp paper towel and heating in the microwave for about 10 seconds. This helps to add back in some moisture.

Bonus Tip: Read our Product Information section here for the best way to store Martin’s bread to help it stay fresh longer.



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