Pangrattato (Italian Bread Crumbs)

Pangrattato is a simple yet flavorful Italian bread crumb topping that can elevate any dish. In Italian cuisine, pangrattato, often referred to as ‘poor man’s Parmesan, is a way to add texture and flavor to dishes.

What is Pangrattato

Pangrattato, the Italian word for bread crumbs, is an Italian bread crumb topping made from stale bread, garlic, and herbs, fried in olive oil until golden and crispy.

This flavorful garnish is traditionally made by frying or baking bread crumbs in olive oil, then adding garlic, herbs, and spices.

Popular Italian Recipes using this Pangrattato recipe: Butternut Squash Ravioli, Mushroom Ravioli, and Italian Stuffed Artichokes.

Bread, herbs and seasoning next to a black cutting board.

Ingredients

This recipe for pangrattato is a basic recipe. You can certainly amp it up, but you’ll need to use this as the basis:

  • Bread – stale bread works best (sourdough bread, French, and wheat work well!)
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Olive Oil

You can also use leftover homemade garlic bread.

Italian breadcrumbs in a clear bowl.

How To Make

There are two ways to make this at home: oven-baked or pan-fried. We go with oven-baked, but either way works well.

Oven-Baked

1. Pulse the bread in a food processor.
2. Add the herbs, garlic and seasonings and mix to combine.
3. Drizzle in the olive oil.
4. Cook for 60-90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Pan-Fried

1. Pulse the bread in a food processor.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the garlic.
3. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown.
4. Add the herbs and seasonings and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Un-toasted breadcrumbs vs toasted breadcrumbs.

Before and After

The picture on the left shows the breadcrumb mix before oven-baking and the picture on the right shows it after it comes out of the oven.

Add-in Ideas

The beauty of pangrattato lies in its simplicity and versatility, but you can step it up to suit your taste. Here are some popular add-in ingredients to consider:

  • Herbs – Thyme or Parsley
  • Lemon Zest
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Anchovies

Ingredients to make Pangrattato in a clear glass bowl.

Seasoned Bread Crumbs Uses

Here are our favorite ways to utilize this Italian breadcrumb topping:

Pasta Topping – Add texture and flavor to any pasta recipes, such as Lobster Ravioli Sauce or Sugo. Its provides a nice contrast to soft, tender pasta.

Salad Topping – Sprinkle pangrattato over salads for an added crunch. It works particularly well with Caesar salads.

Baked Vegetables – Toss pangrattato with vegetables before roasting them. It will form a flavorful, crispy coating as the vegetables roast.

Casserole Topping – Sprinkle on top of casseroles before baking.

Breaded Chicken – Bread chicken for a twist on traditional breaded chicken. (Shake and Bake Chicken or Milanesa de Pollo)

Milanese de Pollo on a white plate with rice.

Meatloaf Coating – Add to meatloaf to keep the meatloaf moist (Smoked Meatloaf)

Egg Substitutes For Meatballs – Pangrattato makes a great meatball binder.

Fish Topping – Coat fish fillets before baking or broiling for a crispy crust.

Macaroni and Cheese – Stir pangrattato into the top layer of your macaroni and cheese for a crunchy topping.

Stuffed Peppers – Mix pangrattato with ground meat, rice, and seasonings for a flavorful stuffed pepper filling.

Baked Clams or Mussels – Top clams or mussels with pangrattato and then broil until the pangrattato is golden and the shellfish are cooked. (Steamer Clams)

Eggplant Parmesan – Use in place of breadcrumbs in eggplant Parmesan recipe.

Hand holding a mason jar full of Pangrattato.

Variations

  • Similar to bacon, the longer the bread crumbs sit, after pulling from the oven, the crispier they’ll get.
  • Add a bit of salty umami by adding grated cheese. Thing Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano.

Storing Pangrattato

It’s important to store your pangrattato properly, so it maintains its crunch. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, and it should last 1-2 weeks.

To keep it fresh longer, freeze for up to three months.

The inspiration for our recipe uses oregano, so that’s another herb to consider!

Pangrattato in a white baking dish with silver spoon.

Pangrattato (Italian Bread Crumbs)

Pangrattato is a simple yet flavorful Italian bread crumb topping that can elevate any dish. In Italian cuisine, pangrattato, often referred to as 'poor man's Parmesan, is a way to add texture and flavor to dishes. 
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 652kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $3

Ingredients

  • 5 oz bread, torn into bite size pieces (about 2 cups) ((*Note 1))
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F. 
  • Place the bread, rosemary and and basil in a food processor and pulse until small crumbs form. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
    5 oz bread, torn into bite size pieces (about 2 cups), 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • Add the garlic, salt, and black pepper to the bowl and massage with your fingers, until fully combined.
    1 tbsp minced garlic, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the bread crumbs and massage for another minute, until fully incorporated.
    2 tbsp olive oil
  • Transfer to an oven-safe dish (not a flat cooking sheet) and evenly spread out. (*Note 2) Do not pat down the crumbs. Transfer to the oven and bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Depending on how fresh the bread way, you may need another 15 minutes of cook time.(*Note 3)
  • Once golden brown, remove from the oven cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Note 1 – stale bread works best. Try sourdough, French, or wheat!
Note 2 – Use a high-wall dish so the crumbs don’t burn before drying out.
Note 3 – If the bread is fresh it will take longer to cook than stale bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 652kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 1254mg | Potassium: 258mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @foodieandwine or tag #foodieandwine!

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