It always happens—I have a cookout and end up with an odd handful of leftover hamburger and hot dog buns. I may have good intentions of grilling out again the following weekend, but a couple of weeks later I discover the bag of forlorn buns hidden behind cereal boxes and granola bars.
Instead of hoping for another cook-out, take matters into your own hands and give leftover hamburger buns and hot dog buns a new life with one of our 10 fun ideas. You’ll never toss out another stale bun again.
Leftover hot dog or hamburger buns, olive oil, and a bit of seasoning are all you need to make homemade breadcrumbs. Start with 2 to 3 cups of torn buns and then process them until coarse (for more texture and crunch) or fine (for applications like breading chicken or fish). You can toast them in oil right away or freeze for later use. Sprinkle the toasty crumbs over pasta, vegetables, salads, baked fish, or fried eggs.
A homemade crouton is a crouton worth eating. Crunchy, warm, and buttery croutons are a great way to use up any leftover bread before it goes stale and add delicious heartiness to salads, soups, and more. Our recipe calls for 8 cups of cubed bread, but it is easy to scale down if you don’t have enough burger or hot dog buns available. You can freeze the plain cubes for up to a few months, or the toasted croutons will keep in a container for a few days.
Everyone needs a quick and easy garlic bread recipe in their back pocket to serve with favorite pasta entrées. This is ours! While it calls for a loaf of bread, it’s easy to swap in leftover buns instead. Use the first method (for toasted garlic bread) and smear the butter, garlic, and parsley between the buns before placing in the oven. Serve anytime you need some toasty, garlicky carbs to go with your meal.
Breakfast casseroles are typically made with Italian or French bread, but they also work extremely well with cubed hamburger or hot dog buns. For the best results, cube the bread and let it sit out overnight or toast in a low oven until a bit dried out. That way, the bread will absorb the egg mixture better when you mix up the casserole. Try this blueberry recipe for a sweet version.
Decadent bread pudding is a favorite, year-round dessert, but did you know you can make it with hamburger buns? Yep, you can. Again, stale buns work best here. The dessert has long been a clever and delicious way to use up leftover bread, and buns are no exception. Bread pudding also makes a nice sweet brunch dish alongside eggs and bacon.
French toast is one of our favorite use-it-up recipes, transforming stale bread into a special breakfast. Your French toast won’t be the conventional shape when using leftover buns, but it’ll still taste delicious. Top simply with butter and maple syrup, or go all-in with fresh fruit, jam, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and more.
Don’t just think sourdough or whole-grain bread: a warm, grilled sandwich can be made with essentially any bread you have on hand, including hamburger buns. The pan or griddle will crisp up the bread while keeping the interior perfectly soft. A Cuban sandwich is always a favorite, but any grilled or panini-style pressed sandwich is a great candidate for using up buns.
Similar to garlic toast, bruschetta can be made using hot dog or hamburger buns. Use a rolling pin to roll the bun halves until they’re slightly flattened and cut into hand-held size slices, if needed. Brush with olive oil, then toast or broil until golden brown before spooning the fresh tomato mixture over top.
Some classic soups include day-old bread to add body to the broth. It’s a great way to use up leftover bread like buns and give them a whole new life. Make sure the buns are stale (dry to the touch) before using in bread soup, white gazpacho, or tomato and bread soup.
Stuffing (sometimes called dressing) turns leftover bread into a savory, flavorful side dish that’s a must at Thanksgiving. If you’ve got leftover hot dog and hamburger buns, then use them as an excuse to enjoy stuffing any time of year. It pairs well with chicken, turkey, and pork chops, and the whole family will love enjoying the Thanksgiving classic any old night.
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com