Can You Reuse Bread Crumbs?

Bread crumbs are tasty and so versatile that you’ll find yourself using them in a variety of dishes. Bread crumbs are also really easy to make.

Some people wonder if it’s possible to reuse bread crumbs for other dishes. You can reuse bread crumbs, but that doesn’t mean you should. The truth is, bread crumbs are so cheap to buy and easy to make that there’s really no point in trying to get extra use out of them.

Bread Crumbs Can Pick Up Bacteria

Fried chicken fillet made with bread crumbs that you can reuse if you have to
Bread crumbs are a popular ingredient in fried chicken.

Before you decide whether or not to use your leftover bread crumbs, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, according to professional chefs, bacteria never actually dies just because you freeze a certain food. Freezing foods will inhibit the growth of bacteria, but not kill it outright. Eventually, all food that is frozen and in your freezer will go bad.

Second, if you top a certain dish with bread crumbs and then decide to use some of those same bread crumbs on another dish, you have to remember that if the bread crumbs touched that dish, they could have bacteria on them that could spread when you reuse them.

For example, let’s say you’re cooking fish and topping it with store-bought or fresh bread crumbs, then you decide you want to remove some of those bread crumbs because you suddenly remember that you need bread crumbs for another dish later on. You sprinkle the bread crumbs over the fish, then remove some of them before the raw fish becomes cooked fish. Is this bad? It could be, because the fish has bacteria on it, and the bacteria may have just spread to the bread crumbs.

Breaded fish made with bread crumbs that you can reuse if you have to
Breaded fish is a classic dish made with bread crumbs!

What if the Bread Crumbs Don’t Touch Meat?

Let’s say you’re making a dish that requires sautéing the regular bread crumbs, but you never place the bread crumbs on top of fish or raw meat of any kind. Should you still keep the leftover crumbs? How about freezing your leftover bread crumbs?

Again, you will probably be fine if you do this, but why take the chance? Remember the first thing we discussed in this article: bacteria never completely dies in the freezer. So even if you have just a tiny bit of bacteria on your leftover bread crumbs, why risk ruining a dish in the future?

The bottom line is that while you can reuse fresh or store-bought bread crumbs, it is never 100-per-cent safe to do so. While it’s possible your food will taste just fine and be safe to eat, it’s easy and inexpensive to simply prepare or buy unused bread crumbs for that particular dish. This is especially true if you’re cooking something like raw chicken, which needs to be cooked thoroughly. Regardless of what you’re cooking, it’s better to use new, unused bread crumbs every time.