How To Make Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

Use toasted gluten free waffles for fabulous bread crumbs
Golden gluten-free bread crumbs made from toasted waffles.

Why not talk about simple pleasures? Like how to make really tasty gluten-free bread crumbs. Golden. Toasty. Slightly crunchy. When I first went gluten-free I missed the crunchy goodness that a buttered bread crumb topping adds to a home cooked recipe- especially comfort food. In fact, one of my favorite simple comfort recipes when I'm dragging my butt and too tired to cook is spaghetti tossed in extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and pan toasted bread crumbs.

So, after I found a decent (even wonderful) gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada Pasta) I tried making herbed crumbs for several of my favorite comfort foods, including my go-to Italian spaghetti with garlic and crumbs recipe.

In the green and groovy spirit of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, I first tried using failed gluten-free breads (you know, those sawdust textured doorstops that plunk out of the brand new replacement bread pan and land on the counter with a distinct gluten-free thud). The crumbs were either too gritty or too gummy- just like the bread. They had absolutely no character.

Then I tried a ridiculously expensive bag of store-bought rice based crumbs, but the texture was sandy beachy; and to this gluten-free goddess at large, the crumbs practically screamed "I am gluten-free".

Ah, but then one fortuitous day I felt a little nutty and inspired.

I reached into the freezer for some frozen gluten-free waffles, and thought, Hello! I toasted the icy suckers to a crispy golden brown, zapped them into crumbs in the Cuisinart, added dried Italian style herbs, sea salt and a drizzle of fruity olive oil and- yes!

Fabulous gluten-free bread crumbs.

The crumbs pictured above are actually gluten-free waffle crumbs, and they are our favorite gluten-free crumb topping. And no, the crumbs are not sweet (as a Dear Reader asked). But they are perfectly toasty golden and crunchy. Trust me.

How to Make Toasty Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

These easy to make gluten-free crumbs are a delicious topping for baked casseroles, simple pastas, and tender crisp vegetables tossed in olive oil and garlic.

What I do::

I toast 2 or 3 gluten-free plain waffles (this is my recipe for Savory Gluten-Free Waffles)
and break them apart; then I process them in my Cuisinart food processor, pulsing on and off until they resemble classic breadcrumbs (not too fine).

I add in several dashes of dried Italian herb mix, or a simple combo of dried basil, parsley and marjoram.

I drizzle in some high quality extra virgin olive oil as I pulse - just until they are moist and begin to stick together a bit.

To make a classic pan-fried crumb topping, I pour a tablespoon or so of good olive oil in a medium- not too hot- skillet and toss in the processed waffle crumbs. I add dried Italian herbs to taste and stir, shake the pan and brown them for a minute, then add the crumbs to the recipe.

To add these crumbs to recipes such as my vegan Garden Loaf or Karina's Maple-Apricot Glazed Meatloaf or these yummy gluten-free Italian Meatballs, proceed as directed but leave out the olive oil. You can also use these dry crumbs in gluten-free salmon burgers, tuna and crab cakes.

For convenience you can use packaged frozen gluten-free waffles for crumbs- they work fine. Or make your own sugar-free waffles ahead of time and freeze a bunch. I keep a bag of extra waffles in the freezer just for this purpose.

Not exactly earth shattering business, I know. It's not even a true recipe, Darling. But it's one of those pre-gluten-free pleasures I thought was gone forever. And I'm happy to say, it is not!



Brendon said...

This is an excellent idea that would have never occurred to me. I'm looking forward to trying it. Do you think that these would work as breadcrumbs for meatloaf? Do you put them into anything?

Anhow, bravo for creativity.

karina said...

Brendon, They're really good! I have not tried them in a loaf yet (we're mostly vegetarian) but I am going to try them in my Portobella/nut based loaf. I think they would work well; maybe not toasted *too* much beforehand; and I'd process them slightly finer than the crumbs I use on pasta and veggies. Let me know if you give them a try!

dani said...

BRILLIANT! I'm trying it tonight.

karina said...

For anyone hankering for Tuna Cakes, Brendon has posted a recipe using these Best Bread Crumbs made from Van's.

Check out his blog, Something in Season. It's listed to the right, in my links.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried the Lifestream Buckwheat or Mesa Sunrise GF waffles? I find them better than the Vans WF varieties.

karina said...

I've been so happy with the sugar-free yeast-free Van's that I haven't strayed. ;-)

aioseh said...

wow. this is a wonderful idea. and so easy. i always thought i would have to bake bread to get breadcrumbs!

thank you!

Anonymous said...

Another option for tasty GF breadcrumbs (say for schnitzel or in meatloaf) is to use a Cuisinart to grind a GF rice krispie-type cereal (Erewhon makes one that I think is called Crispy Brown Rice Cereal). It's not very sweet and yields good results, especially when mixed with seasoning. It depends if you want topping/fluffy breadcrumbs (then use the waffles, which I've also done) or light breadcrumbs (which is when I use this technique).

Karina said...

Thanks for the tips on using cereal. I loved Van's Waffles until I became sensitive to soy flour [Van's contains soy flour]. I'm now on the look-out for another gluten-free brand without soy or bean flour.

If I don't find one, I may have to buy a waffle iron and crank out my own. The question is: *where* in the hell would I store the darn thing? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Lifestream Mesa Sunrise waffles by Nature's Path, which do not have soy flour, but do have soybean oil?

Karina said...

Hmmm... No I haven't. I love Mesa Sunrise cereal.

Wish the waffles didn't contain any soybean at all, but I can handle a little bit of soybean oil now and then - I think. Haven't had it in a long while. Something to think about.

Thanks for the tip.


Lisa said...

Another wonderful option are Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs. You can purchase a box of already crumb-ed Corn Flake cereal - sometimes it's with the stuffing and sometimes it's in the baking aisle. I use these for pie crusts, casserole toppings, 'breading'etc.

You could also purchase a box of cereal and put it in the food processor.

Karina said...

Hi Lisa!

To the best of my knowledge, Kellogg's Corn Flakes [and Rice Crispies] are NOT gluten-free due to barley in the malt flavoring.

Please double check cereal labels, and whenever possible choose cereals that state gluten-free right on the box.

There are gluten-free cereals that would work for crumbs:

Barbara's, Nature's Path, Erewhon, and others.

Thanks for the idea!

Be well!


Stephen said...

would they work in place of breadcrumbs for crab cakes? I typically use panko now, which seems similar in courseness to your waffle crumbs.

Karina Allrich said...

Hey Stephen,

Yes, these crumbs would be fab in crabcakes. In fact, I haven't found a recipe yet that doesn't work with these crumbs.



Our Footprints said...

Thank you - this's an excellent idea!! I usually make GF crumbs from GF corn-flakes. Thinking to use this recipe to make meatloaf for my li'l munchkin - who happens to be GF :=(

mary said...

Just tried the bread crumbs on top of a recipe that combined vegan with a vengeance's "ricotta" and "pesto", tomatoes and zucchini YUM! It was a Tomato/Zucchini gratin. Divine!
Thanks so much for the encouragement, I love to read your Blog, and try new recipes. I am not alone as a food sensitive- artist.

Karina Allrich said...

Hi Our Footprints,

These crumbs would be fab in a meatloaf! Or a veggie loaf with mushrooms.

Hey Mary!

Sounds yum. I love the combo of zucchini and tomato in a gratin.



Allison said...

What a great idea!! Those waffles also make great "bread" for sandwiches, which I am addicted too. I am excited to give them a try as breadcrumbs, thanks!

Debbie H said...

Hey guys. I am new here and I was wondering if you could freeze these crumbs for any length of time if you made up more then you needed at one time?

Great site by the way!

Karina said...

Hi Alison- I love waffle sammiches. Have you grilled one yet? ;)

Hey Debbie H! Yes, I have frozen the crumbs in a zipped bag. It works. (I freeze only dry crumbs without olive oil added, though.)


KB said...

Karina-I recently found out that my son has food allergies, so my style of cooking has changed dramatically. I attempted crab cakes last night, and as I baked them, they became more like crab cookies (spreading out instead of remaining whole)so I cannot wait to try your "bread crumbs". I did not add any braed prodcut due to the gg factor. Thanks for the idea!

Karina said...

Hi KB- When I make crab cakes I use a mixture of crabmeat, these crumbs, a little seasoning and scallions, a dab of mayo to moisten (some folks use an egg white to bind the mixture). I fry mine in a little light olive oil. I've never tried baking them. The crumbs should help, but I wonder if they were baked too long, or the oven was too hot?

Hope they work out next time! ;)


Anonymous said...

Have you tried making these in advance and storing them until ready to use (without the olive oil)? Does it keep well?

Karina said...

Dear Anonymous, I generally make them as I need them- that said, though- I have frozen extras. Crumbs are best frozen dry- without oil. Toasted dry, first, even better. Pack them in a freezer bag- with no air.

Thaw them completely before tossing in olive oil and using in a recipe.


Karina said...

This original 2005 post has been revamped and edited and reposted today, July 9, 2008. The comments above above may reflect that fact.

Thanks, and have a fabulous week!



Paula said...

Great idea for crumbs! By the way, we just had Tinyada Pasta for the first time tonight and my g/f child gave it a big thumbs up and said this was the best pasta we've tried yet. Yeah!

Anonymous said...

Can this be done with gluten-free bread or the waffles are better?

Vittoria said...

Earlier this year I used GF waffle crumbs in a meat loaf. Alas, I did not yet have my handy-dandy Oscar and smashed them by hand. They did work wonderfully, though.

Hannah said...

I'm so happy for this idea. I usually use almond meal mixed with romano cheese for toppings but it's just not the same. Thank you so much for this site, I am inspired and happy to be in the kitchen again. After a really rough start to my third pregnancy I am gluten and cow-dairy free and having a site that gives you so many options is wonderful. The dark chocolate brownies are the best.

Guinnah said...

I used these with great success on your wonderful zucchini gratin - they were outstanding!

Anonymous said...

I just made a GF baked mac and cheese the other nite and wanted to top it with a crunchy bread crumb topping. I found that by processing GF Melba Toasts with chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder and then toasting them in the oven for a minute I had really good bread crumbs! Now I am excited to try the waffle crumbs!

Sorina said...

Now this looks fantastic

Alexander said...

Awesome new header/redesign, too!

Danielle L said...

How did you know that I was just trying to figure out what to do for bread crumbs to convert a yummy-looking veggie burger recipe into a gluten-free version? Psychic I tell you! Now I can't wait to try it

Karina said...

Paula- Yay- we love those thumbs up!

Anon- You can certainly make crumbs from gluten-free bread. I have used a simple tapioca bread for this. It works fine. The herbs and olive oil go a long way to boosting flavor.

That said, in my humble opinion, the waffles make tastier crumbs. Better texture, better taste. We just added them to meatballs the other night- scrumptious.

Vittoria- Great! We love these crumbs in meatloaf, too.

Hannah- I have tried the almond meal idea and it was "okay" but the meal didn't have the tender crumb that waffle crumbs do. Glad you like the brownies- aren't the the best? :)

Guinnah- Yes! I should add that into the post. The crumbs you see in the pic of my pesto Zucchini Tomato Gratin are indeed waffle crumbs! Thanks!

Anon- Sounds yummy. I bet you'll like the waffle crumbs, too!

Sorina- Thanx! ;)

Alexander- Hey! Thanks, Buddy. I felt inspired yesterday. The header needed a cleaner, simpler look I thought. xoxo

Danielle l- Ah. The whole psychic mind-bending trick. Don't tell anyone, though. It will be our secret. ;)


Phoebe Danielle said...

Wow! This looks so delicious. I might give it a try one of these days... Visit my blog if you get the chance

Anonymous said...

This worked GREAT! I used my own gluten-free waffle recipe and made breaded chicken with the results. It was so good - I couldn't tell it was gluten-free (My husband is the one with the wheat intolerance, not me). Now I can make all my favorite breaded dishes without using that pre-made yucky gluten-free bread crumb! Thanks Karina!

Mary Ann said...

Thank goodness that you came upon the waffle idea! Pure genius! I am going to make them soon and cannot wait to try them out! Thank you!

Joan said...

Hello! Just wanted to comment that we make a wonderful GF turkey meatloaf by using crushed Ka-Me rice crackers. We also add salsa for some great flavor. Give it a try~!

Anonymous said...

I gave these a go last night and they were great!

Josh said...

I have been following you for a while. I am so excited to try and convert a new black bean burger that I created into a gluten free version. I love these tips! Thank you.

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