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Hey Internet, it might seem strange for me to do a whole blog post on croutons, but truth be told it seems like all of the store-bought versions have oil, milk, and cheese.
Today I’m also publishing a fantastic vegan Italian salad that mimics Olive Garden’s and I was in need of croutons. But none of the croutons at my local grocery store fit my lifestyle, and I couldn’t find many recipes online that would either.
I know not all of my readers are oil-free, but many of you have shared that you are. So I decided to make some oil-free croutons myself and share the recipe with you, no matter how simple it is.
As you will see, I basically just cut up bread, affix spices with water (weird, right? It works!), and bake them until they are crispy. You can make them slightly soft if you prefer!
You can customize these croutons with any spices you like. Make them cheesy with nutritional yeast if you like, or you can even make sweet croutons with a little sugar and cinnamon!
So yeah, there’s not much to say about croutons, honestly, so let’s just get into the article, or you can scroll to the recipe--your choice.
What You’ll Need
So let’s start with the really obvious ingredient: bread.
Any bread will work--I’ve done this with french bread, whole wheat bread, white bread, and sourdough! You could even get fancy and make vegan challah bread into croutons.
You can also use gluten-free bread if you need to.
For more protein, you could use this method with chickpeas instead of bread! You may need to cook them a little bit longer, but the prep work is the same.
Next, you’ll need water. I highly recommend putting it in a spray bottle. It helps distribute the water evenly without using so much that your bread gets soaked through.
After that the only thing you need is spices! I like to use garlic powder, onion powder, and dried parsley. You can use salt if you wish, but the salad I’m putting in has enough salt so I don’t add it.
If you’re looking for a great place to get your spices, I can’t recommend The Spice House enough. You can purchase spices in bottles or in flatpacks to refill your bottles which saves on shipping. If you’d like to give them a try, you can save 10% off your first order! Enter FREESPICETEN at checkout on thespicehouse.com.
How to Make Oil-Free Croutons
These croutons are ridiculously easy to make.
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) if you’re using the oven method.
Now slice up your bread into squares. I find it easier to use a serrated knife for this task so I don’t squish the bread. You can also just tear it into pieces.
Leave the crusts on or remove them according to your preference.
Next, get your spices ready. We don’t want to be fumbling for the spices after we’ve wet the bread.
Using your spray bottle, finely mist the bread a few times on one side, and quickly sprinkle the spices and herbs on top. It’s ok if some gets on your baking tray.
If you wish, flip the bread and repeat the process, but I find there’s enough flavor just doing one side, plus I’m really lazy, to be honest.
Bake the croutons at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) for approximately 10 minutes. Check on them halfway through, as everyone’s ovens differ.
You may choose how brown you want your croutons. Barely browned will be a little softer, while more browned may be crunchier.
Toaster Oven Method
Similarly, lay your croutons out on the baking rack of your toaster oven. If you only have a rack instead of a solid tray, you may want to cut your croutons slightly larger so they don’t fall through the gaps.
My toaster oven has an oven setting so I can bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit like I would with my oven. If yours does not, just toast it like you do any other bread!
Air Fryer Method
Arrange your croutons in a single layer in your air fryer basket and cook for about 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) or until they are browned to your liking.
How to Use Croutons
The BEST applications for croutons in my opinion are salads, but they’re also super good in soups. Here are some awesome vegan and oil-free recipes to throw croutons onto:
- Italian Salad (Olive Garden style)
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Avocado Salad
- Pomegranate Salad with Oranges and Pecans
I don’t think there’s really too much else to say about croutons. ;)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We kept eating them while we were trying to photograph them!
These oil-free croutons are:
- Super easy
- And perfect for any soup or salad!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!