There are not a lot of ingredients that will provide the sophisticated crunch and flavor that bread crumbs give our recipes. That's why looking for a bread crumb substitute can be rather challenging.
But not everyone is fond of gluten, especially those suffering from a medical condition. So, what can you use as a crispy topping to replace breadcrumbs?
I've got several options for you.
Picking Up On Bread Crumbs
To understand why we're looking for and how to find a breadcrumb substitute, we need to learn more about the ingredient we're trying to replace.
What's Bread Crumb Made Out Of?
First, what's bread crumb made out of? Well, it's exactly what the name suggests; crumbs of bread. It often comes from dried bread ground into little pieces.
Sometimes, other people call it "panko bread crumbs," but this actually refers to a type of bread crumb. (panko is a Japanese word that translates to pan = bread, and ko =flour)
Some bread crumbs also include seasoning, depending on what they're supposed to be used for.
What Does Bread Crumb Do to Our Recipes?
Bread crumbs serve four major purposes in our recipes; binding, topping, thickening, and as a crunchy coating. The bread crumb substitutes below will check one or several of these purposes.
As always, the most important thing you must consider is what the bread crumb does for your recipe. This will help you determine which substitute works best.
Popular Substitutes for Bread Crumbs
Let's start our list with bread-based substitutes for breadcrumbs. Remember that these alternatives are not gluten-free, so you may want to proceed to the next category if that's what you're looking for.
1. Leftover Bread
How many times have you had bread at home that was left in storage for so long that it went bad? Don't waste food! Next time, turn your bread items like bagels or buns into breadcrumbs.
Stale bread might even be a better substitute since you don't have to dry them out. But if you only have fresh bread, lay it on a baking sheet and dry it in the oven (lowest temperature) for 30 minutes.
Once it's hard, throw it in the blender or food processor to crush it into little pieces. If you're looking for soft bread crumbs, skip the oven part.
Try it on this Air Fryer Baby Potatoes recipe.
2. Breakfast Cereal
I love using corn flakes to bind ingredients and give my fried foods a crunchy and delicious coating. The best part about this alternative is almost every home has it.
Even if you don't have corn flakes, any neutral-flavored breakfast cereal will be an excellent substitute for bread crumbs.
Try going for Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and Rice Krispies the next time you need an alternative since these brands will not alter the flavor of your recipe.
3. Potato Chips
Potato or tortilla chips may also work as substitute bread crumbs because of their hard and dry texture. Plus, their salty but neutral flavor works well with many recipes.
Potato chips, in particular, work as an excellent binding agent because it's starchy, but any of these two can be used for coating and topping.
However, be mindful about using potato chips as a crispy coating because they're already fried. Ergo, if you deep-fry meat coated with potato chips, the chips would burn rapidly before the meat even cooks.
You can also make Crispy Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chips at home.
The best breadcrumb substitutes will always be those that are hard and crunchy when crushed. That's why the good old box of crackers in your cupboard is an excellent bread crumb alternative.
Depending on how much bread crumbs you need, toss two or three crackers in the food processor to crush them into little pieces.
If your recipe calls for salt, reduce the portions because crackers are already salty.
Pretzel is one of the most popular substitutes for bread crumbs because it's already dry, especially hard pretzels. Therefore, you don't need to take extra steps other than crushing it into little pieces.
However, pretzels are also very salty, which can be overwhelming when used as a topping or binding agent.
You can compensate for this by reducing the extra salt ingredients in the recipe or scraping off the salt in pretzels before crushing it up.
Pretzels also add a rich flavor to cheesecakes. Try it on this Easy Cheesecake Bars recipe.
6. Rolled Oats
Crushed rolled oats are the healthier alternative if you're trying to follow a healthy meal plan. That's because, aside from its nutritional content, rolled oats do not contain sodium.
Rolled oats are also masters at absorbing moisture, making them an excellent binding agent, even for ground meat or meatballs.
The only downside is that they will not give your food a crunchy texture, especially after absorbing moisture.
Gluten-Free Bread Crumbs Substitute
If you're looking for a keto bread crumb substitute or one that does not come from wheat and whole grains, I've got you covered.
1. Ground Almonds
Almond is an excellent substitute for bread crumbs not only because it's gluten-free but also because it's flavorless. The best part is it absorbs the flavors of what you cook it with.
You can also make an almond meal with it if you want a binding and thickening agent. After frying or baking, ground almonds will also give your food a crunchy coating.
However, it might give your food a nutty taste. If you want that for your baking recipe, try using ground almonds with almond flour to enhance its flavor.
Try using ground almonds instead of walnuts in this Vanilla Crescent Cookies recipe.
2. Flax Seeds
Ground flax seeds as substitute bread crumbs will not work for every recipe, but it's an excellent substitute if you need a binding agent.
If you only have whole flax seeds, throw them in the blender or food processor before using them as a substitute. Similar to almonds, this alternative may give your food a nutty flavor.
3. Ground Nuts
If almond works, other nuts should work, too, right? Absolutely! If you don't have a nut allergy, nuts like macadamia, walnut, and pecan will make excellent substitutes for bread crumbs.
Like other alternatives, grind them with a food processor or a blender to crush them into little pieces. However, remember that crushed nuts will have a strong flavor that will affect your recipe's flavor.
Macadamia nuts should work great in this White Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.
4. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds emit a distinct nutty flavor when toasted. They're also low in carbs but high in fat, making them the ideal keto bread crumb substitute.
If you're not fond of the toasted sesame seed flavor, you can still use it as a binding agent since uncooked seeds have a neutral taste.
5. Chia Seeds
Like other seeds on this list, chia seeds are gluten-free (and safe for people with nut allergies). They're also very efficient in absorbing moisture and other flavors.
Because of this, they're a popular bread crumbs substitute. Some even use this to replace eggs in baking by mixing them with water.
Therefore, chia seeds will also work as a binding agent. However, because they're super absorbent, you want to start with small portions first to ensure it doesn't dry out your recipe.
Because of its binding and thickening abilities, chia seed is also one of the Best Xanthan Gum Substitutes.
6. Sunflower Seeds
Our last contender also comes from the seeds department. You can substitute bread crumbs with sunflower seeds for recipes that need binding and coating.
However, like other seeds and nuts on this list, they infuse your baked goods or dishes with a noticeable nutty flavor.
Also, marketplaces usually sell them whole instead of ground, so you'd have to toss them in a food processor or blender to crush them first.
Experimental Substitutes for Breadcrumbs
My last category for bread crumb substitutes is quite experimental, or as I like to call it, "creative." These alternatives aren't necessarily the same flavor and consistency as bread crumbs.
Instead, they will bring your dishes or baked goods to new places. Now, whether or not these places are great depends on your taste buds.
1. Grated Parmesan Cheese
If you love cheese, you're going to love this substitute. Grated parmesan cheese, or all types of cheese in general, has a low melting point.
Therefore, it should be an excellent binding agent. Think of how rich and cheesy your meatballs would be using this substitute.
Nonetheless, grated parmesan cheese will also be the perfect coating because of its texture once it's toasted.
Here's an easy Air Fryer Garlic Bread recipe where you can try parmesan cheese as a topping.
2. Shredded Coconut
From milk and cream to sugar and flour, coconut is one of the most versatile substitutes for anything! We can now include "bread crumbs" to that list.
But first, you need to dry shredded coconut before it can assume a similar texture and consistency to bread crumbs. Also, you must remember that this is an "experimental" substitute.
If you don't mind the coconut flavor in your recipe, this should elevate your dish's overall taste and texture.
3. Pork Rinds
Pork rinds come from deep-fried pig skin. Simply put, you should only use this as a substitute bread crumb in savory recipes.
It's best used as a topping since it's already fried. Using it to coat fresh meat before deep-frying may overcook the pork rinds.
Try it as a topping on this Air Fryer Tilapia recipe.
4. Cooked Rice
You might be surprised to find cooked rice here since it's not crunchy nor adds flavor to a recipe. However, cooked rice works as an excellent binding agent.
If you have sticky rice, that will work even better! Its neutral flavor will benefit your recipe since the rice will absorb the flavors of other ingredients.
5. Cooked Quinoa
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain. It looks like rice but is actually a flowering plant. Similar to rice, it will not make your recipe crunchy.
However, it works exceptionally well as a binding agent. Just be mindful of the slightly nutty flavor it adds to your recipe.
Quinoa is also among the best substitutes for farro.
Choosing a Bread Crumb Replacement
As you can see, there are numerous substitutes for bread crumbs to choose from. The only question left to answer now is, "How do I choose an alternative that works well with my recipe?"
Your first major question should be, "Why do I need bread crumbs?" As I've mentioned earlier, bread crumbs serve several purposes in recipes.
Do you need a binder, thickener, topping, or a crunchy coating? Some substitutes work great as a topping but not as a binder (like pork rinds).
You have to determine what role bread crumbs play in your recipe and choose a substitute accordingly.
Be mindful of any additional flavor as well. Some cereals and bread-based substitutes will not alter the flavor profile of your recipe.
However, for substitutes like coconut, toasted sesame seeds, and ground nuts, you want to ensure the additional flavor works well with your recipe.
Your last consideration is accessibility. Which substitute is easiest to obtain? This is particularly important if you're looking for a substitute in a pinch.
Crackers, cereals, and rolled oats are some of the most accessible substitutes because almost every house has these.
Bread Crumb Substitute FAQs
Leftover or stale bread is one of the best substitutes for bread crumbs since it's like the real thing. You just have to crush it first to get a similar texture.
Flour should work efficiently as a substitute if you're using bread crumbs as a binding agent. However, flour is not your best option if the purpose of bread crumbs in your recipe is to add crunch to the dish as a topping.
Rolled oats are highly nutritious, and they're the healthiest bread crumb alternative, especially as a binding agent. However, a noteworthy downside is the absence of a crunch factor after it absorbs moisture.
Keeping Your Food Crunchy and Tasty
Meatballs, breaded chicken cutlets, and baked goods. Whatever recipe you're trying to cook, bread crumbs will play an important role in binding ingredients and giving the final product a crunchy texture.
That's why choosing an alternative suitable for your dish is very important. I encourage you to experiment with other substitutes and let me know if you found one I didn't include on this list.
Who knows? Maybe I can put it on the next Substitution article on Also The Crumbs, Please. Feel free to visit me anytime for more culinary hacks and tips!
You Might Also Like:
Homemade Bread Crumbs
- Blender or food processor
- Small bowl
- 1 loaf of bread
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grab your loaf of bread and separate the white part from the crust.
- Hand-tear the bread into little pieces before laying them on the baking tray.
- Heat the pieces of bread in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. (Remember to flip them every 5 minutes)
- Take the pieces of bread out of the oven and let them cool.
- Toss the pieces of bread into your blender or food processor and grind them for 2 to 5 minutes or until they have a similar consistency to panko bread crumbs.
- Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and use as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
You can find the video in the post above. If you don't see a video, please check your browser settings.