What to Make with Stale Bread: France, Italy, and Mexico Culinary Vacations

November 16, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Baguettes at a French bakery during a cooking vacation in FranceWe’ve come to the end of our bread-themed week, and so it only makes sense to talk about what’s leftover: stale bread. Whatever you do, don’t throw it out! All over the world people have come up with creative — and surprisingly delicious — recipes for stale bread.

Of course there’s the easy ways to not waste a single crumb – breadcrumbs and croutons come to mind – but from breakfast to dessert there are even more delicious full dishes to be had as well. Here are just a few dishes that our chefs recommend.

French toast

Some would even say that French toast is better with slightly stale bread. Why? Because it helps the dish retain a bit of crunch, and, if its a bit stale, the bread won’t get too limp when soaked in the milk and egg mixture.

Bruschetta and wine on Italy tourCrostini

For an appetizer, think: toast! After toasting the stale bread, you can top it with a wide array of toppings. In Italy, any vegetables in season are basically fair game, and you can learn more about traditional crostinis during a variety of our cooking vacations, including A Classic Tuscan Table at Villa Casagrande. If you’re in France, a good dollop of delicious tapenade would work as well!


One stale bread recipe from Tuscany – and one of our favorite traditional Tuscan recipes – is ribollita, a soup that combines bread and vegetables, including cannellini beans. Most popular during the Winter, ribollita actually translates to “reboiled.”

Check out one of our favorite Tuscany culinary vacations.

Tuscan bread salad, called panzanella, as made during our Tuscany cooking vacations.Panzanella

Another incredibly popular dish in Tuscany is panzanella, or a tomato salad. The dish combines the bread with tomatoes, of course, as well as other seasonal vegetables like cucumbers. Dressed with vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper, the recipe is simple, but very traditional.

Meatballs enjoyed on a cooking vacation in Italy.Meatballs

Many meatball recipes call for breadcrumbs, so why not use some stale bread that you have on hand instead? All Italians have their own family recipes, and many grandmothers swear by leftover bread and soaking it in milk or water, rather than using breadcrumbs. But meatballs aren’t only Italian! Try this recipe for French Catalan meatballs!

Cook French Catalan food in the Langudeoc.

Andalusian gazpacho on a culinary tour to SpainGazpacho

This cold soup from Spain has many varieties, and those from the Andalusia region feature bread blended into the soup to give it a thick, porridge-like consistency! (Check out this recipe for porra for an example.)

Learn to make gazpacho on a Spain culinary vacation.

Bread pudding

Let’s not forget dessert! A variety of bread pudding recipes call for stale bread, and this caballeros pobres recipe from our Yucatan cooking vacation is just one of them.

A basket of bread during our culinary vacations in Spain.How else do you waste not, want not with your leftover, stale bread?

By Liz Hall

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