I often buy bread loaves at the store and use them for sandwiches, french toast, etc. I don't particularly like using the heels for those purposes though, because of the texture and taste - heels don't make for a good sandwich, they can't absorb the eggs for french toast, and they get way too crispy for regular toast (and don't soak up butter!). This means that I end up with dozens of leftover heels.

I hate throwing away food, so... what are some alternative uses? Is there any good use for leftover bread heels?

  • Sounds an awful lot like a list question, which SE usually discourages. I don't know how Cooking feels about them though.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 23, 2012 at 6:27
  • Even so: Make croutons.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 23, 2012 at 6:27

5 Answers 5

  1. Bread crumbs - dry them and grate them
  2. Bread dumplings - some recipes, like serviettenknödel, work well with crust (for softer heels)
  3. Crispbread - cut them into rectangles, and toast them for a long time in a low oven. use to serve cheese (for more chewy heels)
  4. Bread-thickened soups, such as sopa de ajo (for softer heels).
  5. Feed birds or ducks
  • I've always found that if you ever use breadcrumbs for much of anything significant, you can save all the heels you want and still never make enough breadcrumbs. You might not need to go past the first item in the list!
    – Cascabel
    Apr 22, 2012 at 1:05
  • You generally shouldn't feed bread to birds. It'd bad for them
    – NBenatar
    Sep 19, 2012 at 16:37

Try making panzanella of some sort: stale, hard bread becomes quite nice if you chunk it up (I used a meat tenderizing mallet) and soak it in tomato, olive oil, basil, onion, etc. As you might expect, this is pretty versatile - we typically use whatever fresh herbs we have on hand, you can play with different types of oils and vinegars. 101 Cookbooks even had a rather interesting strawberry panzanella recipe I intend to try the next time our strawberries aren't immediately eaten fresh.

  • Oh, nice! I knew I was forgetting something from my list.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 23, 2012 at 2:29

Think about what type of bread applications benefit from those qualities that you listed.

Take crouton for example. A lot of people enjoy croutons that are crunchy so the heel can be made into terrific croutons.


Put it in a container with brown sugar to keep the brown sugar soft or to soften it.


Use them to make bread pudding. You can add raisins and/or apples.

Receipe by Craig Claibourne published in the NYT Cook Book:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Scald (not boil) 3½ cups milk. While milk is heating, break bread heels into pieces, and place in a bowl. When milk is scalded, add add ¼ cup butter. When melted, pour over the bread heels that you have broken into pieces.
  3. Soak for 5 mins. While soaking, butter a baking dish.
  4. Add ½ cup sugar and 2 eggs. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace to taste. Add raisins, apples, or other dried fruit.
  5. Pour mixture into buttered backing dish and bake until knife comes out clean, about 1 hour.


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