Here's A Handy Way To Transform Old Bread With Your Air Fryer

white air fryer in kitchen
white air fryer in kitchen - Hazal Ak/Shutterstock

If you've ever seen tips for using up day-old bread, you may interpret the descriptor as somewhat of an exaggeration. Even back in the pre-refrigeration days, it's not like everyone had time to bake every day so bread was often made just once a week. Today's breads, too, can last for up to a week at room temperature, while store-bought sliced breads may last for weeks or even months in the refrigerator. Eventually, however, any bread is going to be past its prime. When it hits the spot where it's too stale to make a sandwich but hasn't yet started to turn green from mold, that's when you can use it to make croutons. While croutons are easy enough to bake in the oven, Mashed recipe developer Susan Olayinka likes using the air fryer, instead.

One advantage using an air fryer is that this small appliance tends to cook rather quickly -- Olayinka says each batch of her air fryer croutons takes just five minutes, while homemade croutons made in the oven might take 15 minutes. Olayinka sets her air fryer at 400 F for crouton-making purposes, but smaller air fryers that lack temperature gauges may default to this setting automatically. If the setting's slightly lower, though, the croutons might take six or seven minutes. You're also limited to cooking whatever amount will fit in the air fryer basket, but if you only want to make enough croutons for a single salad, then the air fryer's the way to go.

Read more: The Most Useless Cooking Utensils, According To Chefs

Experiment With Different Breads And Seasonings

plate of croutons
plate of croutons - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Susan Olayinka makes her air fryer croutons using sourdough bread, but just about any kind of bread will work. A thicker bread like a baguette or a hearty wholegrain loaf can be used to make large, rustic-style croutons, but standard supermarket sliced bread can be cut into smaller squares and croutonified, as well. If you want your croutons to be roughly cube-shaped, you'll just need to cut them so they are as wide and high as they are thick -- for example, if your bread is sliced ½-inch thick, dice it in ½-inch squares. With smaller, thinner croutons, though, you might want to check the air fryer after just two or three minutes to make sure they're not cooking too quickly.

While plain, unseasoned croutons can make for a perfectly acceptable crunchy topping for your soups and salads, croutons are even tastier when seasoned. The best way to do this is to toss the bread cubes with some kind of cooking oil, then sprinkle them with spices. Olayinka opts for olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning, but garlic powder, pepper, or parmesan cheese also make for flavorful options. If you'll be using a sweeter type for bread such as Hawaiian, brioche, or cinnamon-raisin, you could use melted butter to replace the oil, then skip the salt and make sugary croutons for use in a fruit salad or yogurt bowl.

Read the original article on Mashed