What can I use instead of crouton? Some of the best replacements for croutons are crispy bacon bits, shiitake mushrooms, smoky toasted coconut, roasted slivered almonds, puffed quinoa croutons, pretzel thins, polenta croutons, roasted chickpeas, zucchini chips, and Parmesan crisps.
Suppose you want a healthier alternative to croutons or are trying to avoid gluten. In that case, we have a few ideas that make replacing croutons fun and tasty with added flavors and textures to uplift your meal.
The Best Crouton Substitutes
Crispy Bacon Bits
For a savory substitute to croutons, use crispy bacon.
Bacon is salt-cured meat from the belly of pork or the back part, providing a less fatty piece. Bacon bits are crumbled slices of salted bacon.
Pork bacon has a sweet, salty, and umami savory flavor that can vary slightly depending on the curing process. In addition, the fat adds an extra sixth taste that gives it mouthwatering nuances.
Crisp your bacon in a pan, break it into small pieces or use diced bacon. Sprinkle over any salad for that satisfying savory crunch, or add to a hearty pea soup for a salty topping.
Shiitake mushrooms are a healthy substitute for croutons.
This edible mushroom is native to east Asia. Shiitake is also known as the black forest mushroom and sawtooth oak mushroom. They are tan to brown umbrella-shaped caps with tan gills and curved stems.
Shiitake mushrooms have an earthy, smoky flavor with buttery and meaty textures. Their rich woodsy flavors intensify when cooked with a delicious umami note.
Use fresh or dried sliced shiitake mushrooms. Marinate them in oil and your preferred spices.
Place them in the oven to roast before sprinkling them on your favorite salad as a healthy and delicious alternative to croutons.
Smoky Toasted Coconut
A vegan substitute for croutons that have a delicious bacon flavor.
Smoky toasted coconut is fresh unsweetened coconut flakes mixed with maple syrup, soy sauce or tamari sauce, and a dash of liquid smoke. They are roasted in the oven until light golden brown and become crispy.
You get sweet and nutty flavors from the coconut and maple syrup with a good punch of savory umami flavors from the soy or tamari sauce. Finally, the liquid smoke provides that delicious bacon-y flavor.
Using smoky toasted coconut is excellent as a salad topping or sprinkled over open sandwiches.
Roasted Slivered Almonds
Sliced almonds are a healthy alternative to croutons.
Almonds come from trees cultivated for their edible seeds and are in the same subcategory as peaches. They are native to Iran and surrounding countries.
Slivered almonds are blanched to remove the brown skin and then thinly sliced.
Almonds are rich in oil, so when they are roasted, they release oils that provides a sweet, nutty, and salty flavor with rich buttery nuances.
They are perfect for sprinkling over salads for that crunchy texture and pleasing salty flavors. They are also prevalent in stir-fries and added to pasta.
Toasted almonds are also highly prized in garnishing desserts and ice cream.
Puffed Quinoa Croutons
Puffed quinoa makes a delicious organic and gluten-free substitute for croutons.
Quinoa is a flowering plant grown for its edible seeds native to the Andean region in northwest and south America. Rich in protein, they are considered a superfood and specialty food.
Puffed quinoa provides a mild nutty, earthy flavor similar to brown rice. It can be flavored for either sweet or savory dishes.
You can make your own quinoa croutons or get ready-made Crounons from Carrington Farms. They come in different flavors that are perfect as salad toppers or added to soups for a tasty and textured addition.
A different take on croutons that make a delicious substitute.
Pretzel thins are delicious baked snacks made from wheat or rye flower. Resembling the traditional pretzel, it is thinner, brittle, and available in different flavors.
They have a savory cracker-like flavor with a brittle and crunchy texture. They can be bought in different flavors depending on your preference or the dish it accompanies.
Pretzel thins can be broken into smaller pieces and sprinkled over your favorite salads for a delicious and textured addition.
Another alternative to croutons is polenta chips or croutons.
Polenta is made from coarse ground yellow corn or corn meal and was a staple in northern Italian cuisine. It is served as a hot porridge or mash, or it can be cooled down to solidify and fried, baked, or grilled.
It is similar to grit with a sweet corn flavor to it. Add your favorite spices and flavors and bake or deep fry the blocks when making a crispy polenta crouton.
These Italian croutons make a delicious and crunchy addition to salads and soups or as a tasty snack.
Another healthy alternative to croutons is roasted chickpeas.
Chickpeas are an annual legume, also known as garbanzo beans, native to the Middle Eastern regions. They are high in protein and used in many ways in the culinary world.
It has a lingering taste with bean nuances and, in addition, has a nutty and earthy profile with slight grainy textures. When roasted, they provide a delightful crispy consistency. You can season them with your preferred spice, making them spicy or leaving them plain, slightly salted, and roasted in olive oil.
They are delicious in several recipes, such as mixed in with hummus, and falafel, used as a crouton replacement in salads or sprinkled into a hot bowl of chickpea soup.
Here is a healthy alternative to croutons.
Zucchinis are immature fruits, considered berries, from a vining herbaceous plant, also known as courgette or baby marrow.
Descendant of Mesoamerican squashes some seven thousand years ago, the first zucchini was bred in Milan, Italy.
The taste of zucchini is mild, with a slight vegetal note and hints of sweetness. The fruit takes on its flavor profile mainly from how it is prepared.
You can spice them up, leave them plain and salted, or increase the flavor profile by baking them with parmesan cheese.
It’s a delicious snack all on its own, but make a healthy topping for salads when you want the savory crispy replacement for croutons.
Parmesan crisps are a healthy and tasty low-carb alternative to croutons.
Parmesan crisps are made from Parmesan cheese from Parma and Reggio Emilia provinces in Italy.
It is a granular cheese made from cows’ milk before it is aged for a minimum of twelve months. The crisps are baked with spices and create a crunchy chip.
Parmesan crisps taste just like Parmesan, nutty with rich complex flavors, hints of sweetness, and tangy savory profiles.
It’s easy to make at home as store-bought crisps can be expensive. They make a delicious topping to salads and soup, adding rich flavors and a nice crunch.
They are also used in risotto or as a dipping chip for salsa.