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.
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.
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 .
Potato, Nut or Chia Flour
Flour makes a great coating for turkey or black bean 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.