Breadcrumbs act as a binding and thickening agent, and also provide a crispy coating for meatballs, patties, and similar food. Don’t worry if your breadcrumb container is empty. This Tastessence article presents 16 easy alternatives to breadcrumbs. You will find at least one in your pantry.
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For the coating to stick, a dry item can be moistened with buttermilk, raw egg, or a marinade, before breading.
Breadcrumbs are an invariable part of crunchy mouth-watering snacks. Vegetables, chicken, or pork chops are coated with breadcrumbs before frying. The crumbs help bind the ingredients in meatloaves, patties, crab cakes, and other similar dishes. They make a crispy casserole topping too. Along with herbs, you can use them for pasta or soup topping. Thus, breadcrumbs are vital in almost all tasty recipes.
Breadcrumbs that you get in stores usually contain potential allergens like wheat and sunflower seeds. Moreover, they are often high in sodium, hydrogenated oils, and corn syrup, the elements that can affect your health seriously. Those who are allergic to wheat or gluten may like to make their own gluten-free breadcrumbs. Packaged breadcrumbs can be replaced with homemade breadcrumbs or with various other easily available food products. The following list also contains gluten-free breadcrumbs substitutes.
Easy Alternatives to Breadcrumbs
1. Crackers and Wafers
Take some Ritz/saltine crackers, some graham cracker squares, animal crackers, a few vanilla and chocolate wafers, and some ginger snaps. Place them in a blender or food processor. Use 1 cup of this finely ground powder for 1 cup of breadcrumbs.
2. Homemade Breadcrumbs
Place some slices of bread in an oven for about 20 minutes. Let the temperature be 300°F. The bread would turn dry and golden. Place the slices in a sealed plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin. If you want, you may put the slices in a food processor. You will get a fine dry powder. You can have 1/3 cup of dried breadcrumbs with 1 slice of bread. You can use crumbs made from raisin or sweet breads for stuffing or in stews. They would impart a unique flavor to the dish.
3. Bran / Oats Cereal
Don’t worry if you run out of prepared breadcrumbs. Bran cereal is low in calories, carbs, and fat. It contains almost 75% less sodium than packaged breadcrumbs. Moreover, it comes with twice the amount of fiber of regular breadcrumbs. Just crush the flakes to get a healthy substitute for breadcrumbs. If you don’t have bran cereal, take any fiber-rich cereal. To increase its nutritional value, mix it with some herbs such as basil, oregano, or parsley. Three cups of (preferably unsweetened) rice, corn, or wheat cereal flakes can be ground to get one cup of breadcrumbs.
4. Cheerios and Flakes
Put some plain Cheerios and wheat / rice flakes in a plastic bag and roll out. If you want, you can grind them in a food processor.
Panko, the Japanese style breadcrumbs are commonly used in the Asian cuisine. They are made from bread without crust and are low in sodium. They stay crispier and longer than regular breadcrumbs.
You can use quick (not instant) oatmeal as a breadcrumbs substitute in meatballs or in burger patties. If you wish, you can grind the oatmeal with the help of a blender. It would help bind the ingredients. This way, you can even add variety to your recipes.
You can use rolled oats seasoned with herbs. They do not contain sodium and are rich in fiber. They are low in carbs and calories too. You can use them as a binding agent in a meatloaf or in cutlets. Grind the rolled oats using a blender or food processor. Take 1¼ cup of oats for 1 cup of breadcrumbs. They will add bulk to meatloaves / meatballs, and will impart a different flavor and texture to the dish. Mixing ground flaxseed, garlic powder, thyme, or black pepper with oats would increase the nutritional value of the dish. You can even store these ground oats in an airtight container for future use.
Quinoa is packed with fiber and protein. Moreover, it is suitable for those who are allergic to wheat or gluten. It is a gluten-free substitute for breadcrumbs. Cook quinoa in water and drain. Place a paper napkin in a dish and spread the cooked quinoa on it. You can use the quinoa just like regular breadcrumbs. Or you can spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and place the quinoa in it for about half an hour. Use this toasted, slightly browned quinoa in place of breadcrumbs. If you want, you can add salt, pepper, and dried herbs to the prepared quinoa.
9. Potato Flour
Potato flour is gluten-free. It is used as a binder, breading ingredient, or as an extender. Add a little potato flour to fish / vegetable patties to get tastier patties and more servings.
10. Dried Coconut
If you have desiccated coconut, you can use it as a binding agent. Dried grated coconut or coconut flour can be used for coating.
You can use cornstarch for coating the patties or chicken before frying. Add some garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper to the starch for more flavor. Add the rinsed, dried chicken pieces, and toss well. For a thicker batter-style coating, add water to the seasoned starch and make a paste.
12. Flakes, Chips, and Croutons
You may use pretzels, plain potato chips, tortilla chips, cornflakes, frosted flakes, oven-baked crostini toasts, croutons, etc. in place of breadcrumbs.
You can coat the patties with toasted chopped nuts or nut meal.
14. Cooked Rice, Veggies
You can replace breadcrumbs in meatballs or meatloaves with cooked rice, veggies (carrots, celery, cilantro, mushrooms, onions, parsley, etc.), leftover cooked amaranth seeds, quinoa flakes, crumbled corn bread, etc.
15. Flaxseed, Chia Flour
Flaxseed or flaxseed meal is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They can provide a crunchy coating to patties. If you have chia flour, you can use it for breading.
16. Parmesan Cheese
You can coat the patties with Parmesan cheese before baking. It would form a salty, tasty crust.
The substitutes for breadcrumbs, mentioned above, are nutritious and easy-to-use. Apart from keeping the food moist, they also add flavor to it. There is no need to panic, if you don’t have breadcrumbs. You can use leftover food or other easily available items in place of packaged breadcrumbs.