5 Amazing Breadcrumb Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

If you find yourself without bread or crumbs, or if you’re trying to cook without gluten, there are lots of great substitutes. You may even have some in the pantry already! Most of these replacements have a neutral flavor, but others could potentially change the nature of your recipe, so experiment freely until you find your favorite alternative!

Breadcrumbs are made by pulverizing dried or toasted bread. You can purchase a canister of breadcrumbs, but they are just as easy to make at home and will have more flavor and fewer preservatives. They are most often used for one of two reasons: binding ingredients together or creating a crunchy coating or topping. [1]

Breadcrumb Substitutes

Breadcrumb substitutes are a cooking staple and make recipes taste delicious. If you don’t have any on hand or are looking for a gluten-free alternative there are plenty available, such as cereal, nuts and seeds, rice or quinoa, chips or crackers, and potato, nut, or chia flour.

A bowl filled with breadcrumbs

You can use breadcrumbs to top your casseroles and thicken stews as well as soups. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Breakfast cereals are made to be nutritious and delicious, so raid your pantry and get creative! Unsweetened corn flakes or oats make a great crust for chicken cutlets, and rice cereals are delicious on roasted veggies. Cereal varieties with honey or cinnamon in them are a ready-made crumble for desserts!

Nuts and Seeds

Grind down raw or roasted almonds, pecans, or any nut you like until they are a powder – not a paste. Use this powder in place of breadcrumbs for a protein-packed, nutty flavor, but be careful because nuts can burn quickly! You may need to cook on lower heat if this is your replacement choice.

Rice or Quinoa

Cooked rice or quinoa can be used in place of breadcrumbs to make meatballs or crab cakes. You might want to reduce the amount called for, however, as it will add more moisture to the dish.

Puffed rice is another excellent crunchy alternative. You may be able to find it at your grocery, but taking the time to make your own is rewarding and delicious. Brown or wild rice has great nutty flavors, and quinoa has a vegetal taste that will complement roasted potatoes, asparagus, and more. [2]

Chips or Crackers

Seasoned, salted, and crispy – everything you could want in a crumb topping. Crushed chips or crackers add their flavor to pasta toppings and fried or roasted meats, or gives a salty edge to dessert crusts.

Potato, Nut or Chia Flour

Flour makes a great coating for turkey or black bean burger patties. A dusting won’t add much flavor, but will make a great crunchy crust, and works as an excellent gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs. [3]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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