Zero Waste—Dehydrating Stale Baked Goods

 Did you know you can re-purpose those pieces of bread, bagels, rolls, muffins, cakes, etc.
into delicious foods to use in cooking and snacking?

At Casa Colleen we have an abundance of bread slices and ends sitting in bags piling up in the bread drawer and the freezer. Everything — from my homemade bread and rolls to bagels and baked goods like cupcakes, muffins, and banana bread — goes into the dehydrator when it becomes stale.

Baked goods typically go “bad” by either getting stale or by molding. “Getting stale” just means drying out a bit when drying isn’t wanted. Molding requires moisture and, of course, must be thrown out. But once you dry your bread (whole, cubed, or crumbled) it will keep mold from occurring. (Make sure you put your dehydrated goods into jars as soon as they cool to prevent moisture re-absorption.) I make croutons, bread crumbs, and yummy snacks from all these items with my dehydrator. This is a considerable money savings and I am not wasting what I can no longer eat because it has gone stale.

Dehydrate sweet baked goods that have gone stale for snacks or to add to trail mixes, ice cream treats, and any dish where you want a bit of sweet crunchiness.  I also take bread cubes and flavor them with cinnamon sugar for a snack. We eat this right out of the dehydrator if I don’t get them into a bowl quick enough!

Bagel bites are delicious, but have you checked out the prices of a small bag lately? I throw down a few bagels onto my cutting board and slice them up. Into the dehydrator they go overnight. In the morning I have a gallon jar of bagel bites all ready for the big game day or the next movie night. We love cornbread and French Bread bites too.

Speaking of movie night, you can bring new life to moist potato chips, pita chips, crackers, or leftover popcorn by placing them in your food dehydrator so they become crisp again.

Seasoning can either be done before OR after dehydration. It is important, if done before dehydration, that you not use oils/butter so your result is kept from quickly going rancid. I like keeping both flavored and unflavored cubes and crumbs on-hand. Popular flavors in our home are Italian bread crumbs and the aforementioned cinnamon cubes.

Note: Bread does not shrink when it dries. The volume will be about the same.

Croutons (Yeast Breads and Rolls)

bread cubesYou can do this with any yeast bread. The next time you are in the grocery store check out the day old bread and see what you might be able to pick up at a discounted price. If you bake your own bread think how awesome it have your own baked goods dried and reserved for later use. It is so easy to throw together quick meals that seem as if you spent hours working to prepare them when you have a few little extras tucked away in the pantry.

One of the advantages of making dehydrated bread cubes is that you can now eliminate moldy bread from happening because you  can’t get around to using it in time.

One of the problems with seasoned breadcrumbs and croutons is that they often have oil in them to make the herbs adhere.  These homemade croutons can be unseasoned. Besides the longer shelf life, they can be seasoned just as you like for whatever you are making, be it Italian, French, or my favorites, cinnamon sugar. I have given the procedure for both seasoned and unseasoned croutons.

Be sure to put a fruit leather tray on your bottom rack to catch the crumbs because there will be crumbs.

  1. Slice the bread into approximately 1/2 inch slices.
  2. Cut the bread into small cubes (approximately 1/2 inch cubes).*
  3. Optional: Add Italian seasoning, garlic salt, onion salt, Parmesan cheese, and/or other herbs for flavor. I don’t use oil. The bread is moist enough that the dried seasoning will grab hold and won’t shake off. If your bread is dry, mist VERY LIGHTLY with water to allow the seasonings to adhere.
  4. Place in the dehydrator and dry overnight 115°F until crisp.

*Or tear each slice by hand into rustic, artisan croutons.

Seasoning AFTER dehydration. If you prefer to season your cubes after dehydration, here is what I do.

  1. In a skillet on medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press, and a generous pinch of Kosher salt.
  3. Add some of your dehydrated croutons to the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sauté and keep turning the croutons for a couple of minutes so they are lightly coated all over with the butter mixture.
  4. Repeat until all croutons are prepared.

Some bread crumbs and some toasted garlic will be left in the skillet after each batch. Use a spatula to scrape all that tasty stuff out of the skillet and onto your croutons.

Some suggested flavorings for Croutons:

  • Salt, pepper, onion powder, basil, and oregano
  • Flavoured salt i.e. garlic salt, onion salt
  • Herbs (fresh or dried)
  • Parmesan cheese or powdered cheddar cheese
  • Seasoning mixes like pizza blend or buffalo wing mix

Some suggested uses for croutons:

  • Use these plain or seasoned in any recipe you have that calls for bread cubes.
  • Use to top a salad.
  • Serve with soup. Croutons and tomato soup are popular in my house.
  • Make your own version of the popular stove top stuffing.
  • As topping on casseroles; Macaroni and cheese topped with toasted bread cubes or tuna noodle casserole. Simply drizzle melted butter over the bread cubes and top your favorite casserole. Bake in the oven until brown for a wonderful crunchy topping.
  • Use these plain with your favorite bread pudding recipe.
  • Use as a topping on your favorite soups.
  • Make your favorite flavors to snack on. Cinnamon sugar or pizza blend or whatever floats your boat.

Bread Crumbs

  1. Breadcrumbs-doneDehydrate your bread crusts separately or use the whole loaf. If you are planning on just breadcrumbs, whole slices of bread will dehydrate just fine.
  2. Optional: Add Italian seasoning, garlic salt, onion salt, parmesan cheese, and/or other herbs for flavor. I don’t use oil. The bread is moist enough that the dried seasoning will grab hold and won’t shake off. If your bread is dry, mist VERY LIGHTLY with water to allow the seasonings to adhere. (If you wish to season after dehydration: see the directions for croutons above.)
  3. Place in the dehydrator and dry overnight 115°F until crisp.
  4. Simply buzz them in a food processor to make crumbs. Or dump your dehydrated pieces into a Ziploc and run a rolling pin over them to crush. You can also add seasonings at this time.

Some suggested uses for Dehydrated Breadcrumbs:

  • Season them with olive oil, parsley, thyme, and garlic and use them to stuff artichokes
  • Season with your favorite herbs and sprinkle over green beans
  • Mix breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, and basil. Dredge chicken cutlets in beaten egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture before frying. Or try the KFC blend to flavor your bread crumbs.
  • Use in meat loaf instead of cracker crumbs
  • Breaded pork chops seasoned with garlic powder and sage
  • Use them as they are or mixed with flour for breading foods you intend to fry
  • Add in oregano, thyme, basil, and parsley to make Italian bread crumbs
  • Use seasoned bread crumbs to coat egg washed chicken and then bake it up to be covered in pasta sauce for chicken parmesan.
  • Salisbury steak, stuffing, casseroles, and mac and cheese
  • Corn bread will crumble to a nice consistency for cornbread stuffing

Bagel Chips

bagel bitesI use bagels, English muffins, and French or Italian bread to make these bites. For the big game day, I combine a tray of these different chips with 3-5 dips and I usually have to fill it twice as they go fast.

  1. Slice bagels no more than 1/2 inch (vertically or horizontally, doesn’t matter).
  2. Season them with savory flavors such as garlic, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper, or make them sweet with sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Lay the slices out on the dehydrator racks. Set the temperature at 115°F and allow to dehydrate overnight or until they are crisp.

Sweet Tooth Crouton Bites

Sweet Tooth CroutonsYou can turn cupcakes, cake, quick breads (like banana bread), and muffins that have passed their prime into great snacking bites too. These will have the texture of biscotti and they can be made with any flavor you can imagine.

You can dust them with brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, and/or other spices either before or after dehydrating. Kids of all ages go wild over these treats!

  1. If your chosen baked good is frosted, cut off the layer with the icing on it. This cannot be dehydrated.
  2. Slice into approximately 1/2 inch slices.
  3. Cut into small cubes (approximately 1/2 inch cubes).*
  4. Optional: Generously coat pieces with sugar and/or spices. Don’t use oil. If your baked goods are dry, mist VERY LIGHTLY with water to allow the seasonings to adhere.
  5. Place in the dehydrator and dry overnight 115®F until crisp.

*Or tear each slice by hand into rustic, artisan croutons.

Some suggested uses:

  • Throw them in a bowl and snack on them.
  • Serve them with mixed berries, yogurt, or pudding.
  • Float them in your hot chocolate or coffee
  • Serve them with ice cream instead of sprinkles
  • Grind them up and use them as crumbs to make a pie crust
  • Coat egg-washed fruit with crumbs made from your sweet croutons bake


  • Bread Croutons will last a long time if stored correctly in a vacuum-sealed mason jar. I have found that storing them in Food Saver bags is a bit precarious due to the sharp edges of the cubes. I took my plain croutons and bagged them in one-cup portions.
  • Bread crumbs can be stored in vacuum sealed bags. I have bread crumbs that are 2 years old and still fresh.
  • The bagel bites and sweet bites are not for long-term storage. Keep them in a tightly sealed container out of heat and light for snacking. I usually throw a desiccant packet or two in with these also.

Final word: Don’t forget your dehydrated fruit and vegetable powders for these. They make great seasonings (and sneak in a bit of nutrition too).

  • Make a pizza blend using tomato powder to coat your crouton bites
  • Try raspberry powder on chocolate cake bites
  • Coat banana bread bites with an orange powder/brown sugar/cinnamon blend
  • Use your garlic, onion, celery, and/or carrot powders to liven up your bread crumbs
  • Enjoy dill pickle powder on croutons instead of reaching for those potato chips to snack on
  • As with all things, let your imagination and taste buds run wild!

6 thoughts on “Zero Waste—Dehydrating Stale Baked Goods

  1. The bread crumbs that you bag/2 yrs old ,
    Were they plain or seasoned?

    1. Admin says:

      I bag plain and then season depending on the dish Wanda.

  2. Wendy says:

    Thanks will try this.

    1. Admin says:

      I think you will enjoy 🙂

  3. Jan says:

    Wow! Great information! Thanks.

    1. Admin says:

      Thank you Jan. Glad you found it helpful !!!

Comments are closed.