No Crumbs, No Problem: Substitute for Breadcrumbs

Substitute for Breadcrumbs

Are you looking for a gluten-free breadcrumb substitute? Do you prefer low carb bread crumbs for your Ketogenic diet? Are you wanting some healthier or crispier alternatives? Or maybe the cat just got to your breadcrumbs bag before you can? Whatever brought you here, we’ve got you covered with this extensive list of breadcrumb replacements for all your breadcrumb needs.

Oats — The Fiber-rich Option

Rolled oatsOats are grains that most people love to hate for its rich, mushy texture. Whatever your stand is on oats, they’re undeniably good for you. The grain is incredibly rich in fiber. Oats are good for your digestive health and in weight management. It also has high amounts of protein, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.

Plain oats are not very tasty but the grain makes a good binding and thickening agent for making croquettes, meatloaves, and meatballs, among others. They are also healthier than breadcrumbs so it’s a win-win.

Choose rolled oats over steel cut oats as they are too rough for most recipes. Also, instant oats don’t hold up well when cooked so they don’t make good binders. Although, if you only have instant oats, they are still pretty decent for coatings.

A food processor or blender is needed to grind oats if you want them in a very fine size. Otherwise, they can just be chopped with a knife.

  • Rich in fiber
  • Doesn’t require further processing if you don’t mind larger crumbs
  • Healthier than breadcrumbs
  • Lacks flavor

Crackers — An Everything-you-can-think-of Bread Crumb Substitute

CrackersCrackers make a crunchy and tasty coating for breading meat, vegetables, and almost everything that would taste good with a bread crumb coating. Crackers are also generally lighter and crispier than traditional bread crumbs.

What’s more, crackers are fun! They are an amazing alternative to breadcrumbs because of the sheer number of varieties you can try and experiment with. Although salty, sodium-rich crackers are more commonly used, there’s probably a cracker for almost all types of dietary needs and lifestyles. You can use gluten-free crackers, low carb crackers or wheat-free, keto friendly, vitamin B enriched crackers! The list goes on. And don’t get me started on the flavor choices—we have the good-old-saltines, the cheese‑ and butter‑flavored crackers, tomato or cinnamon flavored ones, and countless others!

The bottom line is, you can just grab a cracker for your particular requirements, anytime.

  • There’s an endless variety to choose from
  • Lighter and crispier than breadcrumbs
  • Generally high sodium content

Nuts and Seeds — The Nutrient-dense Alternative

Breaded chicken and fish are delicious. Know what’s even more delicious? A healthier breaded chicken and fish! Or in this case, nut-and-seed-coated chicken and fish. Nuts and seeds are not only flavorful, but they are also packed with various nutrients. They are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin E and healthy fats. Eating nuts and seeds can reduce your risk of cancer, heart and respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes, and various other life-threatening diseases.

Here are 3 of the healthiest nuts and seeds you can use. They’re packed with nutrients and make a great replacement for bread crumbs. You can always choose just one kind or get creative and mix up different kinds of nuts and seeds.

Chia Seeds

Chia SeedsHave you had chia pudding or chia water? If yes, then you know that chia seeds are great in absorbing moisture and they gain a wonderful jelly-like consistency. You can use the seeds as is or grind them into flour.

Chia makes delicious chicken breast breading. Its adhesive property also makes this seed a great substitute for breadcrumbs in meatballs and meatloaf! Here’s a nice recipe for Gluten free Chia meatballs.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower SeedsThese seeds are rich in Vitamin E, healthy fats, selenium and antioxidants. They were also found to help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

When using sunflower seeds, use raw seeds and remove the shell. You can skip the roasting and place the seed directly into the food processor.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can try and sprout the seeds before grinding them in order to get more nutrients? Check out this study.


AlmondsAlmonds are rich in protein, calcium, and fiber. This seed—yep, seed because apparently, almonds are not true nuts (because science!)—lowers blood cholesterol levels, reduces cancer risks and helps manage weight.

Almond crumbs are easy to prepare. First, roast the almonds in a pan or toaster for a few minutes. Next, let them cool. Then pulse the almonds on the food processor or blender until they reach your desired texture. Voila! You can use these steps with almost all large seeds and nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts. For more nutrients, you can also skip applying heat.

What’s better than a nutrient-dense, easy to make alternative, eh? Do note that nuts and seeds burn easily, so be on the lookout when frying your dish. You can also always bake instead of fry. It’s healthier too!

  • Flavorful
  • Loaded with nutrients
  • Easy to prepare
  • Burns quickly

Chips — The Not-so-healthy but Fabulously Crispy Choice

ChipsFor those looking for an extra crunch and don’t mind some less-than-healthy alternatives, then chips are an excellent choice. Some great examples we highly recommend are Doritos, Tortillas, Fritos and other potato chips and corn-based chips.

Because of their light and airy texture, chips also make a good panko bread crumbs substitute. If you’re not familiar with panko, it’s a type of breadcrumb that has a lighter and flakier texture than your garden-variety bread crumbs. Used as a coating, it’s crispier and crunchier when fried as it does not absorb as much oil.

Coat your baked fish and fried potato balls in some ground Doritos and revel in the unusual texture and flavor. You can always choose the traditional cheesy and meaty chips, or walk on the wild side and go for those spiced caramel and sourdough flavors. Just remember to adjust the seasoning on the rest of your dish as well. If your chip crumbs are already salty, to begin with, less salt on the dish would taste best.

Pro tip: If you’re in this solely for the texture, corn-based chips are generally crunchier.
  • Different flavors for different occasions
  • No processor or blender necessary
  • Can be used as a replacement for panko
  • Extra crispy indeed
  • Extra unhealthy, too

Cereals — The Breakfast Substitute

CerealsThey may not be as tasty, but unsweetened cereals sure are healthier than Doritos. There are lots of varieties to choose from. Corn flakes are a popular choice. It’s a gluten-free substitute for bread crumbs. Neither can you go wrong with plain Cheerios, rice flakes or wheat cereal.

Cereals are easy to grind without a food processor or blender. Just throw them into a ziplock bag, take the air out, seal shut, and hammer, er, ground away with a rolling pin or an empty wine bottle. Just like chips, cereals make good panko substitutes. Rice Krispies are especially successful.

Cereals can be bland or they can lose flavor when fried. It may be best to add salt, pepper, spices or some seasoning mix in the bag before grinding. Get creative and make your own mix by tossing a teaspoon or so of dried herbs like parsley, basil, rosemary into your bag.

Plain and unsweetened is the way to go! But if you’re in the mood to experiment—especially if there are kids in the house—you would be glad to know that aside from plain Cheerios and Rice Krispies, we’ve had acceptable results with Coco Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And nope, don’t bother trying with Fruity Pebbles. Just don’t.

  • No processor or blender necessary
  • Can be used as a replacement for panko
  • Can taste bland without seasoning

Pretzels — The Loopy Snack Substitute

PretzelsDid you want to make your favorite spinach burger but only got pretzels in the pantry? No worries. Pretzels are great for thickening and adding flavor. They make terrific binders for patties in your veggie burgers. For an oh-so-crunchy crust, coat the patty in pretzel crumbs too! Fish and chicken also turn out well when coated with pretzel crumbs.

The crumbs can also be used as toppings over casserole dishes and steamed vegetables. However, if the recipe calls for breadcrumbs made from fresh, soft bread, then you might want to give pretzels a miss. They make dry bread crumbs.

As this snack is usually already on the salty and savory side off the shelf, you may want to lessen the amount of salt in the rest of your dish, as necessary.

  • Great thickeners and binders
  • Very compatible with burgers
  • Makes dry crumbs

Vermicelli Noodles — The Gluten-Free Alternative

Vermicelli NoodlesVermicelli noodles or rice vermicelli is made of rice. It’s a gluten-free alternative, often used in Asian cuisine. Nutritionwise, the noodle is primarily composed of carbs.

Unseasoned rice vermicelli tastes bland but the ground, uncooked noodle makes a surprisingly crunchy coating. Unfortunately, it doesn’t turn brown when fried so the crumbs can look like tiny white worms all over your food. This doesn’t look very pretty but kids seem to get a kick out of it. Fun fact: Vermicelli translates directly to “little worms” in Italian.

  • Gluten free
  • Not very pretty when cooked

Parmesan — The Keto-friendly Option

ParmesanParmesan is an ideal Keto food. It’s low on carbohydrates and high in fat content. It’s also a sumptuous flavor enhancer.

One simple recipe idea is coating chicken or fish in butter and shredded Parmesan. Fry until the cheese acquires a beautiful golden brown color. The parmesan will give the food a slight crunch and a lovely cheesy flavor.

Pro tip: Try to zest the cheese instead of grating. This gives parmesan a lighter texture that allows it to adhere better to meat.

Here’s a must-try Keto fish recipe using two of our substitutes: almonds and parmesan.

  • Keto-friendly
  • Can be pricey
  • Not as crispy as other substitutes on this list

Quinoa — The Superfood

QuinoaQuinoa is one of the most popular health foods nowadays. The grain is gluten-free, rich in protein, high in fiber and antioxidants, and has all the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. With so many things being labeled as superfoods nowadays, it’s not surprising that the word has lost some of its impact. But believe us when we say that quinoa is the real deal!

Unlike other items in this list, however, you can’t simply toss quinoa into a food processor and pulse. It takes quite a bit of preparation.

Here’s how you can prepare quinoa when using it as a binder for meatloaf and meatballs:

  1. Wash and strain the uncooked quinoa until its soapy layer is removed.
  2. Spread the grain on a pan. Toast evenly on low heat for a few minutes until its dry and produces a nutty smell.
  3. Ground the toasted quinoa in a food processor.
  4. Mix the ground quinoa with your meat.

Preparing quinoa for coating:

  1. Cook the quinoa just like regular rice.
  2. Spread the grain thinly on a baking pan and bake on low heat for a few minutes until crispy.
  3. After the quinoa cools, break them apart and you can start the coating.
  • Very nutritious
  • Takes a while to prepare


Q: What if I have bread but not bread crumbs?

A: Turn that bread into crumbs! Toast or bake (we prefer to bake!) the bread until dry. Shred the toasted or baked bread to pieces and place inside your blender or food processor. Give it a spin and you’ve got your crumbs.

Q: Do the crumbs stay crispy for long?

A: If the dish is cooked and drained properly, the crumbs will stay crispy.

Q: I don’t have a food processor or blender.

A: You can use a rolling pin or empty wine bottle. A mortar and pestle work great too. If you’re using soft ingredients like chips or cereal, you can place them in a ziplock bag, roll your sleeves up, and crush those crisps using your bare hands.


We know how it can be frustrating to have prepared all the materials for your favorite recipe, only to find that one crucial ingredient is missing. It can also be disheartening to adapt to a new diet and lifestyle and have your favorite comfort food suddenly beyond your reach. We recognize that feeling. That’s why this guide is created for you to find the perfect bread crumb substitute that matches what you need. With a little creativity and just a few tweaks, you will still be able to complete that recipe and be comforted by your favorite food.

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