Pangrattato (Italian Breadcrumbs)

Crispy, garlicky and herby, Pangrattato is an Italian breadcrumb topping that will give extra texture and flavour to any dish. It’s the perfect way to use up stale bread and once you see how easy it is to make, you won’t be able to stop!

Pangrattao recipe

Jump to: ℹ️ Overview | 🛒 Ingredients | 📷 How To Make It |👨‍🍳 Recipe Tips |🍝 Serving Suggestions | 📝 Full Recipe Card | 🍽 More Italian Recipes

What Is Pangrattato?

Pangrattato, aka “poor man’s Parmesan,” is an Italian breadcrumb topping used to add texture and flavour to dishes. The word “pangrattato” in Italian literally translates to “grated bread.”

It’s made by toasting breadcrumbs (usually from stale bread) in olive oil until they are crispy and golden. Tossed with a bit of garlic, some herbs that might’ve been lounging around the kitchen, and occasionally a daring little anchovy or a zest of lemon for pizzazz, this topping turns any dish from meh to magnifico.

You can use crunchy topping as a budget-friendly substitute for Parmesan cheese in pasta dishes, but it can also be sprinkled over vegetables, salads, or casseroles to provide a delightful crunch and boost of flavour.

Plus, pangrattato gives leftover bread a second chance and once toasted, the flavour-packed bread crumbs will keep for 1-2 weeks I’ve made this pangrattato recipe multiple times with a variety of seasonings and I hope you will give it a go.

Pangrattao recipe

What You’ll Need

Here is what you’ll need for the pangrattato recipe. Find the full measurements in the recipe card below.

  • Stale bread – I used whole wheat sourdough but you can use whatever stale bread you’ve got. Whenever I have too much bread on hand and I know it will go to waste, I cut it up before it gets too stale. Otherwise, cutting hard break can be a challenge.
  • Olive oil – this will flavour the bread and give it some lovely oiliness that will bring it back to life.
  • Seasonings – garlic, chili flakes, dry rosemary, thyme and basil (or dry Italian herb blend), salt and pepper, grated Parmesan cheese and parsley. Parmesan can be left out, I like to use just a little bit to the crumbs extra umami flavour.
Ingredients for pangrattato

How To Make Pangrattato

Find the full recipe and nutritional information below. Here are some handy step-by-step photos.

  • Cut the stale sourdough bread into rough 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Pulse the bread cubes in a food processor until they form coarse breadcrumbs.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and swirl in some olive oil.
  • Toss the breadcrumbs in the skillet, stirring to coat them with the oil.
how to make pangrattato crumbs
  • Sprinkle in minced garlic, red chili flakes, onion powder, black pepper, dried thyme, rosemary, basil, and a pinch of salt. Cook the pangrattato mixture, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, stirring well to blend all the ingredients. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Making pangrattao in a skillet

Recipe Tips

  • Stale sourdough bread works best for making pangrattato as it provides a firm texture and enhances the flavour.
  • Feel free to customise the herb and spice blend to your taste preferences. Adjust the amount of red chili flakes according to your preferred level of spiciness.
  • Keep a close eye on the pangrattato while cooking it in the skillet. Stir frequently to ensure even browning and prevent burning. Adjust the heat if necessary to avoid overcooking.
  • Bake Instead of pan-Fry: Rather than cooking the pangrattato in a skillet with oil, you can opt for baking it in the oven. Spread the breadcrumb mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, mist with olive oil spray and bake at around 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crispy. This method reduces the oil used while still achieving a crunchy texture.
  • Add nutritional boosters: Enhance the nutritional value of the pangrattato by incorporating additional ingredients. You can mix in ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds for added omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Additionally, you can sprinkle in some finely chopped nuts like almonds or walnuts for extra crunch and healthy fats.
  • If you need pangrattato but don’t have stale bread, you can use this recipe with Panko breadcrumbs.
  • To Make it cluten-free you can use: gluten-free bread, gluten-free crackers, gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs.
Pangrattao breadcrumbs

Serving Suggestions

One of the most common uses is in pasta pangrattato or spaghetti pangrattato. It adds kind of dry sauce and lovely texture to soft pasta, and the flavour is really fabulous. You can add extra olive oil, garlic and lemon juice to the pasta.

I also love using it as a crunchy topping on pasta bakes such as my tuna mornay, mac and cheese and casseroles, as well as on soups (especially smooth pureed ones), roasted vegetables, and salads.

Pangrattato pasta
Pangrattato on soup

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Pangrattao recipe feature


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Author: Irena Macri
Servings: 8 servings
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Print Pin Save
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Calories: 78kcal
Crunchy, infused with garlic, and bursting with herbs, Pangrattato is the Italian breadcrumb topping that adds delightful texture and robust flavour to any meal. It's an ideal solution for repurposing stale bread, and once you discover its simplicity and tastiness, you'll find yourself making it all the time! 


  • 2 cups sourdough bread whole wheat pieces, 2 thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes adjust to your preferred level of spiciness
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • Fresh parsley chopped (for garnish)


  • Cut the stale sourdough bread into small pieces, roughly 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Place the small pieces of stale sourdough bread in a food processor and pulse until you achieve coarse bread crumbs.
  • Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet and toss them in the garlic-infused oil until they are coated evenly.
  • Add the minced garlic, red chili flakes, onion powder, black pepper, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried basil, and salt over the bread pieces in the skillet cook the pangrattato mixture on the skillet, stirring frequently, until the bread pieces turn golden brown and crispy. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, mix well to combine all the ingredients and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Use the pangrattato as a delicious topping for pasta dishes, roasted vegetables, soups, or salads. It adds a crunchy texture and flavorful kick to your favorite recipes.


Storage and shelf Life: Once the pangrattato has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for about a week at room temperature or up to two weeks when refrigerated.
Reheating: If you need to reheat pangrattato, it’s best to do so in the oven or a dry skillet over low heat. This helps to retain its crispiness and texture. Avoid microwaving, as it can make the breadcrumbs soggy.
Can I use fresh bread instead of stale sourdough bread? It is recommended to use stale bread for pangrattato as it yields better texture and absorbs the flavours more effectively. However, you can use fresh bread if you don’t have stale bread available. Simply toast the fresh bread cubes in the oven at a low temperature until they dry out slightly.


Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 28mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 127IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords: Pangrattato, Italian breadcrumbs, seasoned breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs, stale bread
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Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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