Although sourdough bread lasts longer than most other homemade breads, there comes a time when that lovely soft chewy crumb becomes a little too hard. I hate to throw out any food if I can help it, so over time, I’ve learned a few different and creative ways that I can use it up.
I prefer easy, uncomplicated methods of using up leftover sourdough bread, while making sure it still turns into something awesome. But before we get into some of the ideas I use and like, it’s worth noting that if you tend to have leftover sourdough bread quite often, you could plan ahead by slicing and freezing the bread to keep it fresh when you need it. For guidance on how to do this, read my step by step guide “Best Way to Freeze Sourdough Bread to Lock in Taste & Texture”
Here’s a list of 16 of my favorite hassle free ways to use up stale sourdough bread, with a detailed ‘how to’ guide when needed…I’ve written out the list in rough order of how often I use each one.
I’ve just released my online sourdough bread baking course! You can learn how to get fluffy bread, consistently. Check it out here!
1. Refresh Stale Sourdough Bread to Bring it Back to Life
This is one of my favorite ways to revive old stale sourdough bread because it is so easy to do, and it makes your bread almost as good as fresh again! This method of reviving stale bread works for both a whole loaf or a half eaten one, and is an excellent choice if you want to continue to enjoy your sourdough bread for a little longer, without having to worry about how to use it in other ways. Here’s a quick ‘how to’…
How to Revive Stale Sourdough Bread
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 390 F (200 C).
Step 2: Run the sourdough bread under some running water, or pour water over it until the crust is fully wet. (Try not to get the inside of the bread wet if any of it is exposed).
Step 3: Cover the wet loaf with aluminium foil.
Step 4: Place the foil covered loaf in the oven for 15 minutes.
Step 5: Remove the loaf from the oven and remove the foil. Your bread should be almost as good as it was fresh. The interior will be surprisingly soft and chewy again, and the crust will be nice and crispy. It will keep like this for another couple of days!
QUICK TIP: If the bread becomes hard again after you’ve already revived it, it’s probably best not to refresh it more than once. If you still have it leftover after this, try one of the other ways to use it up.
2. Turn Stale Sourdough Bread into Breadcrumbs and Freeze for Later Use
Stale sourdough bread is an ideal candidate for artisan style, flavorsome breadcrumbs, and they are super easy to make! Make a batch using your hardened sourdough bread and freeze to use later in all sorts of ways (some easy ideas coming up later). Here’s a quick ‘how to’…
How to Make Sourdough Breadcrumbs
Step 1: Roughly chop up the stale, hardened bread into chunks.
Step 2: Place in a blender (I like to use a hand blender like this one from Amazon; hand blenders are easy to set up and pack away, and take up much less space).
Step 3: Blitz the bread until fine breadcrumbs are produced.
NOTE: Breadcrumbs form best when the bread is dry. If your sourdough bread doesn’t seem dry enough, pop the slices in a toaster before breaking up and blending.
Step 4: Place in a freezer safe bag and pop in to the freezer for later use.
Freezing the breadcrumbs will give you the versatility to use it up as when you need it. Simply use how much you need as you go. Check out some of my other tips below on creative and easy ways to use up sourdough breadcrumbs!
3. Dice or Tear up Dry Sourdough Bread into Pieces and Freeze for later use
This one is a ‘chuck in the freezer bag and forget about it’ kind of method. Simply dice or tear up the bread into chunks, and place in a freezer bag. Remember to label the bag so you don’t forget what’s in it!
Torn up chunks of dry sourdough bread has many uses. Check out my other tips for creative ways to use up these pieces of bread!
QUICK TIP: I often freeze the ‘ends’ of breads, as they tend to be always leftover in my house, and collect them in a freezer bag for when I need them. This way nothing goes to waste and you turn those ends into something delicious!
4. Use Sourdough Breadcrumbs to Thicken Sauces
Remember those breadcrumbs you put in the freezer? You can add them to sauces as a thickener instead of cornflour. It will give your sauce an extra texture and flavor too. Simply add in to the sauce and stir. Once the breadcrumbs have had a little time to soak in the liquids, it will start to thicken your sauce. The more you add, the thicker the sauce will become.
5. Add Sourdough Bread Pieces to Pie Fillings
Remember those pieces of bread you chucked in the freezer from tip #2? Next time you make a pie dish with a moist filling, add those pieces of bread to it for added texture (no need to defrost, just chuck them straight in!) The bread will soak up the wonderful flavors of the pie filling while adding extra texture to the dish.
QUICK TIP: Add extra liquid/gravy to the pie filling when adding bread pieces, as the bread will soak some of it up.
6. Turn it into Delicious Sourdough Croutons
Croutons are a wonderful way of adding crunch to your salads, garnishing your soups, or just enjoyed as a tasty crunchy snack! And they are super easy to make too.
How to Make Sourdough Croutons:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
Step 2: Dice or tear up pieces of stale sourdough bread (or take the pieces out of the freezer if you followed tip #3).
Step 3: Toss the pieces in olive oil, salt and pepper (no need to defrost if using frozen pieces).
Step 4: Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Once the croutons have cooled, they will stay crunchy and fresh in an airtight container for up to a week.
QUICK TIP: Try adding herbs and/or spices with the olive oil before baking for an extra twist!
7. Use Sourdough Breadcrumbs as a Garnish to Top Sweet or Savory Foods
Turning stale sourdough bread into breadcrumbs and using it as a garnish is an excellent way to make your dish feel that little bit more special. (You can use them straight from the freezer, no need to defrost first!) Savory foods that go well with a breadcrumb garnish are:
Breadcrumbs also make great garnishes for sweet foods. Try using them on:
- Ice creams
QUICK TIP: You can get creative with your breadcrumb flavor too. Try added herbs and spices to breadcrumbs for savory foods, or cinnamon and sugar for sweet foods.
8. Add Chunks of Sourdough Bread into Soups for Extra Texture and Bulk
Chunks of stale sourdough bread can be added to soups to enhance texture, flavor and bulk. If you have a large family like me, it’s always handy learning how to make your meals go further, and this is a delicious way of adding extra bulk to your meal at no extra cost. Soups become more heartier and filling while adding extra flavor.
9. Use Sourdough Breadcrumbs as a Crispy Coating for Fried Foods
I often keep a supply of breadcrumbs in my freezer for when I’m making fried chicken. Simply coat whatever you’re frying in beaten egg, and then in breadcrumbs, to give your fried food a wonderful crispy coating. Delicious!
Foods that fry well with a breadcrumb coating are:
- Chicken pieces
- Potato or sweet potato wedges
- Chunks of cheese (such as halloumi or mozzarella)
- Sliced vegetables like eggplant, peppers or zucchini
QUICK TIP: Add some spice to your breadcrumbs and mix for a super tasty fried coating!
10. Use Sourdough Breadcrumbs to Top Pasta Bakes and Casseroles
Before putting your maceroni cheese, pasta dish or casserole in the oven, top it with some sourdough breadcrumbs to give it an extra crispy topping full of sourdough flavor!
11. Make a Sweet Sourdough Topping for your Muffins and Cakes
Sourdough breadcrumbs are not just for savory dishes. They taste amazing when placed on top of muffins and cakes! Mix your breadcrumbs with some cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle over your muffins/cakes before placing in the oven. They will have a nice sweet crunch to them that will give them the edge over other homemade treats 😉
12. Add Sourdough Breadcrumbs to Meatballs
Sourdough breadcrumbs can be added to meatball mixture to add bulk and flavor to the meatballs, whilst acting as a good binding agent for the meatballs too. Aim to add around 1 to 2 cups of breadcrumbs per kilo of minced meat for good flavor and texture.
13. Make Sourdough Crispbread
Crispbread is a crispy, thinly sliced type of ‘cracker’ that is traditionally eaten with cheeses. They are fairly easy to make from stale bread and taste amazing topped with a variety of sweet and savory ingredients. They make awesome canapes at the start of any meal!
How to Make Crispbread
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
Step 2: Slice the stale sourdough bread as thinly as you can. (Slicing hard bread can be a little tricky, see below section on what to do if your bread is too hard to slice). Around 3mm thickness is ideal; cutting your loaf into smaller ‘logs’ first, will make it easier to slice thinner pieces.
Step 3: Brush olive oil or spread butter on both sides of the slices
Step 4: Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until thin and crispy.
Crispbreads can be stored in an airtight container for about a week and are best eaten cold. They are very versatile and can be used with a number of toppings. Try some of these out:
- Soft cheese and smoked salmon
- Any kind of cheese with your favorite chutney
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Any other of your favorite sandwich fillings!
14. Make French Sourdough Toast
French toast is an amazing tasting indulgent breakfast that is so easy to make and is an ideal way to use up stale sourdough bread. The bread will be indulgently soft due to the egg mixture soaking in and giving it moistness. Here’s a recipe:
Step 1: In a deep flat dish, whisk up
- a couple of eggs
- aroung half a cup of milk
- a dash of vanilla essence
- a touch of sugar
The mixture should be the consistency of eggwash. There’s no need to measure; the recipe is pretty versatile and tastes pretty good even with varying quantities of the ingredients.
Step 2: Slice up your stale bread and add a slice into the egg mixture. Let it soak in for a few seconds on each side.
Step 3: Fry the slice in a lightly buttered skillet on both sides until golden brown (a minute or so on each side). These taste beautiful with whipped cream and strawberries, or your favorite pancake filling!
QUICK TIP: French sourdough toast makes the most AMAZING grilled cheese sandwiches! Simply use the french toast to make a cheese sandwich and heat gently in the skillet again until the cheese has melted. Sooo delicious!
15. Add Old Sourdough Bread Chunks to Stuffing Mix
Stuffing doesn’t have to go with just turkey. It’s a great addition to many dishes, and can even hold its own as a main dish. There are so many varieties of making it and it’s a wonderfully frugal way to use up leftover veggies lurking in the back of the fridge along with your leftover bread, and it tastes great. Here’s my take on stuffing…
Step 1: Dice up stale sourdough bread (or take out of the freezer) and place in a large bowl.
Step 2: Saute some finely chopped celery, onion and carrot in a skillet until soft, and season with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice.
QUICK TIP: You can add any other veggies that you need to use up too. (Bell peppers and zuchini work well). I also like to add some minced beef if I am making it as a main dish.
Step 3: Add the sauteed veggies to the diced bread, along with some chicken stock or meat stock, and stir. The mixture should be nice and moist; you can adjust the amount of stock you add until you are happy with the consistency.
Step 4: Place the stuffing mix into a greased baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Alternatively, stuff the mixture into your turkey or chicken before roasting.
Enjoy as part of a main dish, side dish, or your Sunday roast!
16. Bread and Butter Pudding: Sourdough Style!
This one is a common way to use up stale bread and it tastes great. With only 15 minutes of prep time, it’s a great excuse for a dessert with dinner!
How to Make Bread and Butter Pudding:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
Step 2: Lightly grease a baking dish.
Step 3: Slice up your stale sourdough bread, and generously butter the slices on both sides. You can cut them into triangles if you’d like it to look a little fancy!
Step 4: Spread the buttered bread slices out into the greased baking dish. Preferably one layer but overlapping is fine too. Evenly sprinkle around 100 grams of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon onto the bread.
QUICK TIP: Sprinkle sultanas or other dried fruits for an extra twist!
Step 5: Whisk together 500ml of milk and 2 eggs, and then pour this mixture over the bread.
Step 6: Leave to absorb for about 10 minutes.
Step 7: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the pudding is browned and set.
Bread and butter pudding can be enjoyed hot or cold and keeps well in the fridge once it has cooled. It also freezes well baked and unbaked.
My Sourdough Bread is Too Hard to Slice!!!
If you have left the bread for so long that it has become too hard to slice, all is not lost. Here a couple of options…
1. Use an Electric Knife…
An electric knife suitable for crusty bread would make light of any slicing you’d like to do, and is especially useful when your bread has become too hard to manually slice. The best one for crusty hard sourdough bread, also happens to be one of the cheapest on the market! (it’s available at Amazon here).
2. Refresh it First…
If you don’t have an electric knife, the best option would be to refresh the bread using tip number 1 above. After 15 minutes in the oven, the bread will become soft and chewy again, and ready for you to slice up and do whatever you like with!
How to Keep Sourdough Bread Fresher for Longer
It’s always a good idea to try and keep your sourdough bread fresher for longer anyway, rather than trying to find ways to use up stale sourdough bread. Here are a few tips to help keep your sourdough bread fresh for as long as possible…
Tip #1: Store in a cotton bread bag
Keeping fresh sourdough bread in a cotton bread bag gives it enough breathability to stop it ‘sweating’ and becoming too moist, but also offers it enough protection to keep it from drying out. I like these bread bags (Amazon link) for keeping sourdough bread fresh.
Tip #2: Slice as you go
Unless you are planning on freezing slices of bread (Check out how and why I regularly do this here), it’s always best to slice as you go. This will stop the bread from drying out too quickly.
Tip #3: Keep the bread ‘open side down’
Once you start slicing your bread, keep it on the chopping board ‘open side down’. This will keep the exposed part of the bread, (the bit without any crust) protected from drying out.
Tip #4: Keep it covered with cotton
Either use a dish cloth, or use a cotton bread bag to cover the rest of the loaf, while it is kept on your chopping board open side down.
QUICK TIP: DO NOT put your sourdough bread in the fridge! This will actually make it go stale quicker than if left on your counter top!