9 Genius Substitutes for Bread Crumbs

Don't run out to the store for a last-minute ingredient! Use a genius substitute for bread crumbs instead.

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Hard Pretzels or Salted pretzels snack for party in white bowl on wooden floor


Pretzels are a great all-purpose substitute for bread crumbs. You can pulse them in a food processor until they’re super-fine and use them as a binder for meatballs or meatloaf. Or keep them coarser for a crispy coating on fried food. Keep in mind that pretzels are usually saltier than bread crumbs, so you may want to reduce the salt in the recipe for this swap.

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Nuts mix in a wooden plate; Shutterstock ID 355672364

Crushed Nuts

Any variety of nuts will work for this swap, so try mixing and matching your favorites! They will stick best as a coating when they’re chopped super-fine in a food processor, and they’re especially delicious when used on chicken or fish recipes.

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Closeup of a snack plate. Stack of crackers on grey plate and grey napkin over white background
Andriana Syvanych/Shutterstock


Crushed-up crackers make an excellent bread crumb substitute in baked dishes like meatballs or meatloaf. The crackers work just as well as the bread crumbs to hold the meat mixture together, and using varieties like salty saltines or buttery Ritz is a great way to add an extra burst of flavor to your dish.

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Rolled oats, healthy breakfast cereal oat flakes in bowl on wooden table
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Rolled Oats

Oats are a fantastic healthy swap-in for bread crumbs, and they can be a gluten-free alternative if you’re choosy with your oats. Simply place them in the food processor and pulse until they become a fine powder. They don’t have as much flavor as bread crumbs, so we recommend spicing up crushed oats with herbs or seasonings when using it as a coating.

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Crispy potato chips in a wicker bowl on old kitchen table
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Potato Chips

The best part about using potato chips as a bread crumb substitute the way their ability to add zesty flavor. This is especially true if you choose barbecue or onion flavored chips! Crush the potato chips in a bag or pulse them in a food processor until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Try them on chicken strips like we did here.

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Sliced white bread; Shutterstock ID 352819853
Gamzova Olga/Shuttertock

Fresh Bread

If you have bread around, you have bread crumbs! You can use any bread you like, including gluten-free options. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use about twice as much fresh bread, as the dried bread crumbs are more concentrated and take up less space in a measuring cup. Or, you can dry the bread first to make homemade bread crumbs.

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Most unsweetened cereal works well as a bread crumb substitute, but cornflakes are our favorite — especially when we’re making chicken! Cornflakes have a delicate flavor and an ultra-crispy texture. The easiest way to turn them into crumbs is to place them into a large bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

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almond flour high in protein, low in carbohydrates, low in sugars and gluten free - a rustic wooden scoop on grained wood background

Almond Flour

Almond flour (sometimes sold as almond meal) has a coarse texture and a nutty flavor, making it a great gluten-free substitute for bread crumbs. You can use it in meatball or meatloaf mixture, but we especially like using it to dredge meats like pork chops to create a crispy exterior.

Next, try cooking with another gluten-free substitute—chestnut flour.

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Cooked rice in bowl with spoon and dishcloth
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Cooked Rice

This substitute definitely won’t work on fried foods; cooked rice is too mushy to crisp up, even if you fry it at high temperatures. But if you’re making a dish like meatballs or meatloaf, cooked rice works as a perfect binder. If you’re not convinced, try these stuffed cabbage rolls, and you’ll be sold!

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially when she can highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.