Homemade cornbread croutons are quick and easy to make with leftover cornbread! They make a great addition to salads, soups, chilis, and more.
This most definitely qualifies as a "recipe but not really" kind of post, but sometimes it's good to put proper measurements and temperatures on something.
Just winging it before I've tossed stale bread in too much oil to result in oily croutons, have baked them too hot and ended up with overly crispy cubes, and entirely incinerated my first batch of air fryer croutons.
Leftover cornbread is too valuable to risk it. Oil, salt, and pepper are all you need to transform going-stale cornbread into crunchy cornbread cubes that act as simple but special accoutrements to a variety of dishes.
Why Make Cornbread Croutons?
- Leftover cornbread naturally dries out and loses its just-baked fresh texture. This makes it a perfect candidate to use in recipes that call for staler bread, like croutons or cornbread french toast.
- They're an easy way to pep up the flavor of salads, all kinds of stews and chilis (Instant Pot turkey chili or otherwise) and more.
- Cornbread croutons bake up with a nice, light crispness. Your fork won't have a hard time piercing them.
- Cornbread: Leftover cornbread is best for croutons as it's already on its way to drying out. Day-old or two-day-old is best. Homemade or store-bought cornbread is all good, though I'm partial to honey cornbread.
- Oil: Olive oil is my go-to, but avocado, canola, or vegetable oil are fine, too.
- Spices: Just salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings if you like, but I like to keep things simple so the flavors don't clash with whatever soup or salad they're garnishing.
There are a few differences between making regular homemade croutons and this cornbread version. Since cornbread is a more delicate bread than a standard bakery baguette, I bake these at a slightly higher temperature for about half the time. They don't need that long to truly crisp up.
- Slice - Cut prepared cornbread into cubes roughly one-inch in size. What size you cut them to doesn't have to be super precise, but try and make all of them equal so they cook with the same timing.
- Toss - Gently toss cubed cornbread with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange - Arrange cornbread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave a little space between each cube.
- Bake - Bake at 350°F for 13-15 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until nicely crisped.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Types of cornbread. Cornbread is more delicate than plain bread, but many varieties (homemade, prepared box mix, store-bought) should be fine with minimal crumbling. That said I have not attempted cornbread croutons with a dry, truly Southern-style cornbread, which may be more cumbersome to handle.
- Using fresh cornbread. If time doesn't allow your cornbread to become stale-ish on its own, slice fresh cornbread into cubes and allow it to sit out for several hours so it begins to dry.
- Flavor variation. Taco seasoning makes a surprisingly all-purpose (doesn't scream "taco!") spice mix for roasted potatoes, and would taste great on cornbread croutons, too.
- Space them out. Leave room between each crouton on the pan so they can crisp up. Just like with roasting vegetables, packing them in too closely can causing the cornbread to steam and cook up softer.
- Storage. Once entirely cooled, store cornbread croutons in an airtight container or zip-top bag with all excess air pressed out at room temperature for several days. Storing in the refrigerator isn't recommended as that can cause them to become soft.
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- 1 ¼ cups cubed leftover cornbread (approximate)
- 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.
- Slice cornbread into one-inch cubes and gently toss in a bowl with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add another teaspoon of oil if needed to moisten all of the cornbread evenly.
- Place cornbread cubes onto the lined baking sheet in a single layer, leaving space between each one.
- Bake for 6-7 minutes and then flip each crouton over.
- Bake for another 7-8 minutes, or until cornbread croutons have crisped to your liking.
- Fresh Cornbread - If your cornbread is fresh, slice it into cubes and allow it to sit out uncovered for several hours so it dries.
- Scale - Recipe can easily be doubled (or more) based on how much extra cornbread you have.
- Storage - Once cooled completely, store cornbread croutons at room temperature in an airtight container or in a zip-top bag with all excess air pressed out.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer