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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Buttered bread crumbs: an inexpensive topping that makes my casseroles "pop"

I use this bread crumb topping recipe for many of the casseroles that I make, from vegetables in a cream sauce casseroles, to Mac and Cheese, to Mediterranean tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini casseroles. Even a pyrex baking dish of plain, canned green beans when topped with buttered bread crumbs, looks and tastes like way more effort and cost than it really is.

The funniest thing happens with casseroles with this crispy crumb topping.  The top inch of the casserole gets taken, leaving the unadorned casserole or veggies, beneath, for "the next guy".

Simple and inexpensive -- about 6 cents worth of butter, plus about 4 cents worth of bread, total of 10 slim cents for a topping which really makes casseroles pop.

Crispy buttered bread crumb topping

In a small skillet, melt a generous tablespoon of butter, over Medium heat.

Tear 1 slice of bread into a food processor and pulse till crumbs.

Toss bread crumbs in the melted butter with a pinch of salt. Stir while sauteing, for about 1 minute.

Sprinkle over the casserole.

Toast, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. Serve.


  1. I rarely make a topping with bread crumbs but I should try it once. I save every piece of bread that is not eaten and make crumbs for the freezer. I use those mostly in meatloaf but I should try this. I happen to have some leftover roasted chicken meat in the fridge that might make a great casserole tonight with your buttered crumb topping!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Using buttered bread crumb toppings on casseroles was something my grandmother did often. She became a wife and homemaker right about the time the Great Depression started. Many of the meals she made felt like cooking remnants from that era. Growing up, I'd watch as she'd open a can of vegetables, put them in a casserole dish, tossed with a white sauce, and top with buttered bread crumbs, then bake. And that would be our lunch, in the summers I'd spend with her.
      Tonight, we're having a spinach, tomato and garlic gratin, topped with buttered bread crumbs.
      Enjoy your chicken casserole! It sounds delicious.

  2. I love a bread crumb topping on casseroles. I keep a sealed container of bread crumbs on hand for just such things. I don't usually add butter to mine though. I toast them on a low heat in the oven until they are crispy. Amusingly enough I do add butter and olive oil mixture to my croutons. I don't know why I do one and not the other. :-)

    1. Hi Busy Bee,
      Olive oil with butter for croutons is so tasty! I love the combination of the two fats together. I can hardly wait for summer salads!
      Well, making the bread crumbs without butter must work for you. They would still be crispy, so why not?!

  3. Hi Lli,
    Looks really good.
    Have a great day.

    1. Thanks, Patti! I hope your day is going well, today!

  4. Lili, just wanted to let you know I made the Scottish shortbread cookies this morning. Thank you for the recipe and most importantly the pictures and step by step instructions. It was a very easy dough to work with. I did leave my butter out due to our weather being cold lately and I was afraid the butter would not be soft enough. My cookies taste good but I may need a few more times in cutting them. Some were square, some were rectangular, and some were a funny shape. They tasted wonderful and that is all that matters. Again, thank you for the time and pictures you took. Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks for letting me know how yours turned out. I never know if I can clearly communicate how I do something, so someone else could have similar results. And I'm glad you liked the recipe.
      Our weather turned cold this week, and I noticed the butter is staying pretty hard at our current room temp. I'd have to microwave the dough/butter for about 10 seconds, this week, if I were to make another batch in this weather.
      As for shape, if anyone comments -- they're "artisan" shortbread!

    2. My husband tasted him and really liked them. That is all I ask. Laugh about the shape though, you would know they are homemade and taste better. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Lili, I'm going to try this, the next casserole I make. It would add a nice texture, as well as flavor with the butter.
    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I hope you enjoy it. Have a great day, yourself!

  6. I love this kind of topping. I usually just put the bread crumbs on top of the dish with dabs of butter. The butter melts and you end up with crunchy bread crumbs. However, browning them in a skillet first would assure that all of the topping would be crispy. Occasionally, my way, the butter doesn't melt into all of the topping. But it that's okay with me.


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