« Limes (Recipe: lime curd) | Main | Saffron (Recipe: lamb tagine with prunes and apricots) {gluten-free} »

Dry bread crumbs (Recipe: chipotle meatloaf)

Updated February 2011.

Bread crumbs

If fresh herbs are better than dried, why are dry bread crumbs sometimes better than fresh?

Dry bread crumbs, made from dry or toasted bread, are used to add bulk to meat dishes (think meatballs and meat loaf) and crunch to casserole toppings, which is why most of us have them in the pantry. They're easy to make, but even easier to buy, and they have an incredibly long shelf-life.

(Contrary to what you read, dry bread crumbs don't last forever, so here's a tip: after you open the canister, mark the date on top. If you don't use them within six months, toss them out.)

Almost any bread can be used to make bread crumbs, though more flavorful bread will make -- you guessed it -- better crumbs. When you slice a loaf of fresh bread, save the heels and leftover slices in a bag in your freezer. When you need bread crumbs, take out those bread bits. Let the bread sit out (no bag) overnight to get a bit stale, or, when it's defrosted, slice into 1/2-inch slices and bake in a slow oven (200°F) until very dry. When the bread is completely cooled, process the slices in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and grind to desired consistency.

Mixed with minced fresh herbs, parmesan or romano cheese, salt and pepper, dry bread crumbs make a perfect topping for baked pasta dishes or stuffed chicken or fish croquettes. And, though cauliflower is one of the two things banned from my kitchen, I think bread crumbs would make a fine topping for a cauliflower gratin.

Chipotle meatloaf

Chipotle meatloaf

Adapted from the Parish Café, Boston (via the Boston Globe, January 2006), this meatloaf can be a little bit spicy -- or a little bit more spicy. Serves 4-6.


Olive oil (for the pan)
1 lb 93% lean ground sirloin
1 lb 80% lean ground beef
1/3 cup ketchup
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp each kosher salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp shredded romano cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together lightly with your impeccably clean hands. Press mixture into the loaf pan and cover with foil. Set the loaf on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until browned.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Turkey meatloaf with fig gravy 
Florida crab cakes
Jennifer's Criminal Crab Cakes
Sicilian-style spaghetti

Other recipes that use dry bread crumbs:
Breaded and baked chicken drumsticks, from Simply Recipes
Creamed collard greens with parmesan bread crumbs, from YumSugar
Sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms, from The Merry Gourmet
Pasta with baked tomato sauce, from Smitten Kitchen
Chipotle meatballs, from Jane Spice Recipes

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I think, from your picture, that American breadcrumbs are coarser in texture, which is much better. Here in Spain we grind them to the finest dust, which isn´t very good, I think, I prefer to make my own for that sort of thing.
Love the meatloaf.

Well, I'm sure the cannister in my cabinet is older than six months, so I'll be sure to label the next one. More recently, I've made my own, but should probably let the bread get more stale. I love meatloaf and chipolte - what a great combination together!

I make my own breadcrumbs from all the left over bread we have. It's often a mix of different kinds of breads but I really like the texture. Like Ximena mentioned the ones we get here are very fine - not too great.

mmmmmmmmm great recipe.

Also, ....the chalkboard of the blogher specials of the day link to other interesting blogs and good recipes.

mmmmmmmmmmmmm chipotles mmmmmmmmm

Lydia, yet another great recipe! I love meatloaf and have never thought of adding chipotle to the mix. Yum!

Also, I posted a little award for you on my blog today! Check out http://canelaycomino.blogspot.com/2008/02/and-winner-is.html

Great tip about the marking the date on the canister. I have a lot of tossing to do!

Oh, Lydia... I haven't had cauliflower gratin in ages, and I love the stuff. Just so you know it, it's noon here in Sao Paulo now and my lunch hasn't arrived yet. :)

My kitchen pantry is full of leftover bread, which I am planning on using as a bread crumb. My favorite leftover bread to grind is Brioche or challah! Fantastic for adding a sweet note.

Reading about chipotles (wow, I thought I had arrived when I learned to say that properly) made me remember that I need a new can of harissa. Thank you!

What a great tip about the bread crumb date... it is a general reminder to check our cupboards. Also I'd say this meatloaf could have a hit of that cowboy ketchup too!

I have a propensity for freezing leftover dried breadcrumbs...along with other staples (nuts, wholewheat flour, desiccated coconut)...


Lobstersquad, different brands are different grades of coarseness here; I like this brand because it has more body than some others.

TW, the older I get, the more I label, because my memory sure isn't what it used to be! I'm a total chipotle addict and would add it to everything, but even the kids in my cooking class liked the meatloaf spiked with these peppers.

Meeta, I do the same -- grind up old pieces of all kinds of bread to make crumbs. I keep odd ends of cheese in the freezer and grate it for toppings, too.

Marcia, I agree...mmmmmmmmmmm!

Gretchen, thanks so much! And I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Ronnie, sometimes I'm shocked when I reach into the pantry for something and see how old it is.

Patricia, I will happily send you any cauliflower gratin that comes my way -- it's one of the few vegetables I absolutely do not love.

Warda, brioche bread crumbs sounds amazing! Of course when Ted bakes brioche, only crumbs are left, because it is so delicious.

Sue, no denying that you are a heat lover like me! My pantry feels naked without a can or two of chipotles and a tube of harissa in the fridge.

Callipygia, I keep Sharpies in the kitchen to remind myself to date things! And yes, a bit of Cowboy Ketchup might just find its way into this meatloaf....

Jasmine, I do use my freezer for a lot of storage. I also keep spices in there.

I try to be frugal and make my own bread crumbs from heals and leftovers, but they are never as good in meatloaf as the store bought crumbs. Maybe it is my debased palate!

Hi Lydia....another tip on saving the store bought bread crumbs (this I just recently learned) is to just put the container in the freezer to keep them fresh...use as needed. It works well with Panko bread crumbs nicely, too.

Love the meatloaf idea.


Caution -- never buy seasoned bread crumbs. They've got 3 times the salt!

I *ALWAYS* leave my stale bread crusts out too long. They get tough and the food processor can't chop them. I like your idea of toasting them slowly. Maybe that will make the bread brittle enough to turn into crumbs.

I've never bought canned chipotles, only the dried ones. The canned chipotles have a lot of salt, but it's not really much if you are using only a tablespoon of that per pound of meat. And I guess they're easier to use, since they are already stemmed, seeded, and softened. Don't know how fast I'd be able to use the other 18 chipotles in the can!

I have to be careful with chipotles. My kids overracted to my chipotle squash soup! Even after I cut the chipotles down by two thirds.

Mimi, I do think we get used to certain tastes, and many of us grew up on meatloaf made with commercial bread crumbs.

Pam, thanks for the tip!

Family Nutritionist, welcome to The Perfect Pantry, and thanks so much for your advice. I've had the same experience with overly stale bread; putting things in the freezer, and toasting rather than "air drying", will help. Your chiles in adobo will keep for months and months in the refrigerator (the vinegar is a preservative) if they're removed from the can and stored in a glass jar.

Everyone's doing meatloaf... and you're all making me hungry! This sounds tasty, Lydia!

Are these the same as panko? I use them quite often when making Japanese fried pork cutlets.

I had no idea bread crumbs were graded by size- like I've said before- I always learn something when I visit.

I usually make my own because the brands I have purchased before are all too fine. I like sauteeing fresh bread crumbs to toss with pasta...and cauilflower :(

I do like panko though, because they sort of dissapear- like in crab cakes. The meat loaf sounds tasty and spicy.

Michelle, it is tasty -- hope you'll try it.

Tigerfish, panko are really little flakes of bread, much lighter than these bread crumbs, but they can be used interchangeably.

Katia, I do like this particular brand, which has more body than some of the others. And for those traditional dishes like pasta, regular bread crumbs are the ones my mother used, so that's what I tend to use, too.

I love Panko, always have it in my pantry. And the meatloaf recipe looks fabulous, particularly with the chipotle in adobo. Yum!

Sher, I'm a panko fan, too. But for more traditional meatloaf, I always end up with more traditional bread crumbs. Perhaps I am a creature of habit....

I've just concluded that those "failed loaves" where the yeast didn't do its job are just no good for breadcrumbs. The slices are too dense and too tough. Even the rolling pin can't do much to them, and if I start bashing, it makes a really odd noise. I might be better off making FRESH crumbs and then drying them.

I've already got an entire refrigerator door shelf devoted to spicy condiments! I think I need to finish one off before I introduce a new one. For a while there, I didn't have room for the peanut butter and jelly.

Have you ever tried Bufalo Chipotle sauce?

Family, the act of bashing those bread crumbs sounds like fun -- but, like everything else, I guess the quality of the finished product depends on the quality of the bread to start with. I, too, have a fridge full of spicy condiments, but I'm not familiar with Buffalo Chipotle sauce. Will have to look for that -- it sounds spicy and smoky and wonderful.

This meatloaf sounds over the top in taste and with a little zing from the chipotle...great comfort food:D

Bellini Valli, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. This meatloaf definitely has zing, but for those who don't want quite so much, it's easy to cut back on the amount of chipotle. And, like all meatloaf, it's great in sandwiches the next day.

Wow Lydia! I first read this recipe and thought it really needed onions or parsley or something, but I followed it to the letter and boy was I surprised by the flavor!
I'd love some suggestions for side dishes. I will definitely be making this again.

Cynthia, I'm so glad you liked it -- this is really one of our favorites. I like to make roasted butternut squash or beets, but maybe at this time of year asparagus would be nice, too.

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

I have the chipotle peppers to use and this sounds wonderful.

Thanks for the bread crumb info, too. I like to make my own, and now I know how to make them better.

Can't wait to make this recipe! I love chipotle anything.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.