How long will home made croutons keep?

Quick Answer

Homemade croutons will usually keep for 1-2 weeks when stored properly in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge. The shelf life can vary slightly depending on the ingredients used.

What are Croutons?

Croutons are small pieces of baked or fried bread that are used to add crunch and texture to salads, soups, and other dishes. They are commonly made from day-old bread that is cut into cubes and then tossed in oil or butter and seasonings before baking.

Some common ingredients used to make homemade croutons include:

– Bread – Sourdough, French, Italian, and crusty artisan breads work best. The bread should be cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes.

– Oil – Olive oil, vegetable oil, melted butter, or a combination are used to coat and crisp the bread cubes.

– Seasonings – Garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper are often used to flavor croutons.

– Cheese – Grated parmesan, cheddar, or other shredded cheese can be added for cheesy croutons.

How Long Do Homemade Croutons Last?

The exact shelf life of homemade croutons depends on a few factors:

– Ingredients used – Croutons made with perishable ingredients like fresh herbs or cheeses may have a shorter shelf life of around 1 week. Plain croutons last longer.

– Storage method – Croutons will last longer when properly stored in an airtight container compared to a loose bag. Storing in the refrigerator extends shelf life.

– Moisture content – Dry croutons keep longer than moist or soggy ones. Be sure bread is thoroughly dried out before baking.

**In general, plain homemade croutons stored in an airtight container in the pantry will stay fresh for 1-2 weeks.** Refrigeration can extend the shelf life up to 4 weeks.

Properly stored, dried out homemade croutons can potentially last up to 1 month, but they are unlikely to retain peak freshness and texture for that long.

Signs Croutons Have Gone Bad

Some signs that homemade croutons have gone bad and should be discarded include:

– Hard, stale texture – Croutons lose their crunch and become hard or chewy.

– Mold growth – Fuzzy mold spots appear on the croutons. This indicates spoilage.

– Off smell or taste – Rancid, sour, or bitter smell or taste means croutons have spoiled.

– Soft texture – Croutons that absorb moisture and go soft should not be eaten.

As long as your homemade croutons maintain their crunch and have no mold, they should be safe to eat for 1-2 weeks or up to a month when stored optimally. Discard immediately at any signs of spoilage.

How to Store Croutons to Maximize Freshness

Here are some tips for storing homemade croutons to prolong their shelf life:

– Cool completely before storing. This prevents condensation which leads to sogginess.

– Place croutons in an airtight container or zip top bag. This prevents moisture from ruining them. Glass jars or plastic containers work best.

– Push out excess air from containers before sealing to remove oxygen. Oxygen hastens staling.

– Store croutons in a cool, dry pantry or cabinet away from sunlight and heat sources. The refrigerator will prolong freshness even more.

– Avoid letting croutons sit out on the counter after baking. Seal and store promptly.

– If croutons become soggy, you can revive them by placing them on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven for 5 minutes.

– To freeze croutons, wait until completely cool, seal in freezer bags or airtight containers, press out air, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw before using.

Following proper storage methods will help your homemade croutons retain optimum freshness and crunch for as long as possible. Discard stale croutons that have gone soft or develop mold.

What Ingredients Make Croutons Go Bad Faster?

Some ingredients in homemade croutons can shorten their shelf life. Ingredients to avoid or minimize include:

– Fresh herbs – Basil, parsley, cilantro, and other fresh herbs contain moisture and spoil more quickly than dried herbs. Use sparingly.

– Vegetables – Fresh onions, garlic, and other vegetables add moisture. Stick to dried vegetable powders.

– Cheese – Soft cheeses like goat cheese moisten croutons. Aged hard cheeses are lower moisture.

– Butter – Has a shorter shelf life than oil when used to coat croutons. Can turn rancid faster.

– Eggs or egg wash – Raw eggs promote spoilage. Avoid egg washes on croutons.

– Juices or purees – Lemon juice, pureed roast garlic, etc. introduce moisture. Use dried lemon zest instead.

– Heavy coatings – Thick layers of oil, butter, or seasoning clump and trap moisture. Keep coatings light.

Sticking with dried herbs, spices, and Parmesan cheese will allow for longer crouton shelf life than using fresh ingredients.

Do Croutons Need to be Refrigerated or Frozen?

**Refrigerating or freezing croutons is not required**, although it can help prolong their shelf life. Here are some guidelines:

– **Room temperature** – Storing croutons at room temperature in a cool, dry pantry is fine for short term storage of up to 2 weeks. Just be sure they are stored in an airtight container.

– **Refrigeration** – For longer shelf life, refrigerate croutons for up to 4 weeks. The cold temperature helps slow staling.

– **Freezing** – You can also freeze homemade croutons for up to 3 months. Freeze cooled croutons in airtight bags or containers before freezer burn develops.

– **Thawing** – When ready to eat, leave frozen croutons in the refrigerator overnight to thaw slowly. Another option is to place the sealed bag of frozen croutons under cold running water for faster thawing.

So while refrigeration and freezing are not mandatory, they can effectively double or triple the shelf life of homemade croutons compared to room temperature storage when done properly.

Tips for Maximizing Crouton Lifespan

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most days possible out of your homemade croutons:

– **Use day old bread** – Fresher bread tends to mold faster. Day old, dried out bread makes longer lasting croutons.

– **Cut small** – Larger bread cubes stale faster inside. Opt for 1/2 inch cubes. More surface area dries out better.

– **Dry thoroughly** – Be sure to dry cubes well before oiling and baking to remove moisture that shortens shelf life.

– **Go light on oil** – Flooding cubes in oil causes oil to turn rancid sooner. Brush lightly instead.

– **Store airtight** – Seal croutons in airtight jars, containers, or zip top bags by forcing out excess air before storing.

– **Use clean utensils** – When removing croutons for use, avoid introducing water or moisture into the container. Use dry utensils.

– **Check regularly** – Occasionally inspect croutons in storage. Discard any that appear moldy or smell rancid.

– **When in doubt, toss** – Don’t chance eating croutons that seem even a little off. Toss them if you question their freshness.

Following these crouton storage and handling tips will help you get the most mileage from your homemade croutons before they need to be discarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat croutons after they have expired?

It’s not recommended to eat croutons past their expiration or best by date. Croutons that have gone stale or soggy should be discarded, as they can become breeding grounds for mold once moisture is absorbed. Even without visible mold, rancid flavors or textures indicate croutons have spoiled and may be unsafe.

How can you tell if croutons are bad?

Signs that croutons have gone bad include mold growth, soft or hard stale texture vs. crisp, rancid or sour smell, bitter or off taste, and excessive moisture absorption. Discard croutons at the first signs of spoilage for food safety.

Should croutons be kept in the fridge or pantry?

Croutons can be kept either in the fridge or pantry. For short term storage under 2 weeks, a cool dry pantry is fine. For longer shelf life, the fridge maximizes freshness up to 4 weeks by slowing staling.

Can old croutons make you sick?

Eating croutons past their prime can potentially make you sick, especially if mold growth or bacterial overgrowth has occurred. Stale croutons may upset digestion. When in doubt, do not eat old croutons that have changed in texture or smell.

Do croutons freeze well?

Yes, croutons can be frozen for long-term storage. Allow baked croutons to cool completely before freezing in airtight containers up to 3 months. Thaw frozen croutons in the fridge before eating to restore crispness.


With proper storage techniques, homemade croutons can keep for 1-2 weeks at room temperature, and up to 4 weeks with refrigeration before growing stale or potentially unsafe to eat. The key is controlling moisture and storing in an airtight container to prevent croutons from spoiling prematurely. Discard any croutons that appear moldy, smell rancid, or become hard or soggy. Freezing also allows croutons to be kept for extended periods while preserving freshness and texture. Following these guidelines will help homemade croutons retain their delicious crunch for as long as possible.

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