Who Invented Croutons?

Most eaten a Caesar salad know that croutons are often included as an ingredient. But who first thought to put small pieces of bread into the salad?

Don’t get fooled by the name of the salad! Or who first came up with the idea of putting croutons in a salad!

We will give you some clues as to who invented croutons.

The credit for inventing croutons goes to.

France

That’s right. French people are the ones who invented croutons.

The French invented the dish “panade,” a soup containing bread soaked in milk or cream. It has been documented to be consumed by weary travelers who needed food to restore their energy before continuing on their journey.

By the 1400s, the term ‘panade’ became associated with stale bread soaked in water, wine, or broth and flavored with spices, onion, cheese, etc. By the 17th century, small cubes of bread called “croute,” or crusts, were added to flavor stews and ragouts.

The idea of serving small pieces of fried toast alongside salads did not appear until the 20th century. They were used in the United States by Oscar Tschirsky, who worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

It was called “Chicken à la Queen” that consisted of poached chicken breast with peas, butter, and seasonings served on a toast spread with anchovies and topped with a slice of hard-boiled egg.

Tschirsky is also credited for creating another dish that made him famous apart from his Chicken à la Queen. He named it a Waldorf salad. Its consisting of apples, celery, grapes, mayonnaise, walnuts, and more specifically, ended up being the eponymous salad after New York’s famed Waldorf Hotel, where it would become popular during the late 1800s. He was often thought to be one who invented croutons, but the French beat him for a century or two.

Today croutons are often made with cubes of bread, lightly seasoned, and then baked or fried until crisp. Croutons can be plain or flavored with herbs, garlic, onion, cheese (commonly Gruyère), or other ingredients depending on the salad.

Types of Croutons:

There are many types of croutons; each can be categorized depending on the ingredients used to make it. We have listed the most common ones below.

Plain Croutons: Just cubes of bread baked or fried until browned and crispy. Some may add salt, pepper, or other spices to flavor it.

Cheese-flavored Croutons: Also known as “Gratin” croutons where they are sprinkled with cheese (commonly Gruyere). They are browned in the oven for a few minutes so that the cheese melts over them, giving them an even more flavor. These are often added to soups such as French onion soup, where you can find them floating at the top.

Crumbs Croutons: These are crushed pieces of bread used as topping for soups, pasta, rice dishes, etc. They are usually smaller than croutons found in salads but more meaningful than the plain ones.

Panko Crumbs Croutons: Japanese-style breadcrumbs are more prominent and less crunchy/crispy than standard breadcrumb croutons. We don’t know who invented croutons in Japan, but these are some of the best versions of croutons in the world. Panko is made from crustless white bread without filling, so it can be broken down more quickly. It also produces lighter and crispier results when fried or baked.

Garlic-flavored Croutons: Usually flavored with garlic salt or powder and butter and olive oil. These are baked until golden and crispy, then sprinkled with garlic salt to give it a bit of flavor.

Parmesan Croutons: Large cubes of bread that have been marinated in olive oil and garlic, then topped with parmesan cheese before baking or frying. These are often added to salads where they can be found as a layer on top.

Poppy seed-flavored Croutons: To make these, the bread cubes are dredged in beaten egg white and poppyseeds before baking or frying until golden and crispy. These can also be caused by sprinkling poppy seeds over the bread cubes before serving.

Herb Croutons: Seasoned with herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, etc, then baked or fried into golden perfection. These are great for soups and pasta dishes but can be incorporated into salads.

Garlic-Parmesan Croutons: The bread cubes are first glazed with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan cheese before baking or frying. These are often used as a garnish for soups, but they can also be added to salads or any dish where croutons are desired.

Onion Croutons: To make Onion croutons, finely chopped onions are fried until translucent, then mixed into the cubed bread portions before seasoning with salt and pepper before baking or frying. If you know who invented croutons dipped in onion, let us know – we owe them a beer. They’re great for French onion soup but can also be used in salads or topping on baked potatoes, casseroles, etc., where you want that extra flavor.

Note: For different flavored croutons, you’ll want to use specific ingredients such as parmesan cheese (for Parmesan croutons), garlic powder (for garlic-flavored croutons)

Famous Crouton Dishes

The French onion soup is probably the most famous crouton dish. It consists of a rich broth, slowly simmered and flavored with onions and other ingredients (commonly beef stock or bone broth) topped with toasted bread and melted cheese. 

Using stale baguettes is the key to making the perfect mound of melted cheese on top of your French onion soup. Cut them into half-inch-thick slices, then bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy around the edges. Place under a broiler for a minute so that it gets even crispier before being added to your bowl. We suspect the one who invented croutons made them specially for this dish!

Tortilla Soup is another popular crouton dish where tortillas are cut into small cubes and fried until golden brown and crispy, then sprinkled over the soup.

Croutons are also common in salads and can be found in countless varieties such as:

Crumbs Croutons: These are breadcrumbs that have been seasoned with salt to add flavor. They’re great for pasta salad, potato salad, etc., where you want a simple dressing to emphasize the taste of the ingredients used rather than mask them.

Panko Crumbs Croutons: Again, these are breadcrumbs, but this time they’re made from white bread without any filling. These produce lighter and crisp results when fried or baked than standard breadcrumb croutons.

Chunky Croutons: Cut as cubes or slices of fruit cakes topped with a flavorful glaze. They’re crusty on the outside and moist on the inside. A savory version can be made by using pate as a filling which is then baked into the bread cubes before being topped with cheese and broiled.

Butter Croutons are made from stale bread torn into rough pieces then soaked in butter or oil before being baked or fried until golden brown and crispy. This type of crouton is best suited for salads where you don’t want a rich dressing to overpower the other ingredients, such as leafy vegetables, tomatoes, etc.

Now you know who invented croutons, as well as the most famous meals containing them.

Check out our other articles on incredible inventions on the Who Invented page.