These Cheesy Croutons Don’t Use Any Cheese

Make umami croutons and change your soup forever.

Published Sept. 16, 2022.

What’s the best part of French Onion Soup? The cheesy toast that soaks up the rich caramelized onion broth, of course. It’s even better if the toasts are spoonable croutons.

What if you could have all the umami goodness of the best cheese toast but without cheese? 

We know by now that it’s better to make your own croutons whenever you can. They’re incomparable to the stale, dusty squares you’ll find at the store (and cheaper too). Plus, you can customize them to fit whatever dish needs a little extra texture. Bonus: Eat them on their own as a snack. 

So, whether you don’t have any cheese on hand or are looking for a dairy-free alternative, these umami croutons provide all the savory tang you love without any cheese.

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Let’s be honest, plant-based cheese has come a long way, but there’s simply no substitute for the wonderfully melty Gruyère (yet). In the meantime, the complex nuttiness of an aged cheese can be imitated with miso, mustard, and nutritional yeast.  

These umami croutons were developed by Camila Chaparro as a plant-based alternative to French onion’s traditional cheese toasts. They turned out to be delicious enough to stand on their own as a crunchy complement to almost anything. 

Use them to top whatever you want, from other soups like Creamy Leek-Potato Soup to a  Kale Caesar Salad or even a “BLT” Pasta.

Umami Croutons on a sheet pan, going into the oven.
These croutons are crunchy, cheesy, and endlessly snackable. And they don't have any cheese.

Chances are, they’ll be ready before the soup’s done. Here’s how to make them:

Umami Croutons

Makes 4-6 servings (about 5 cups)

Total Time: about 20 minutes


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon table salt
  • 6 ounces baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces (5 cups)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk oil, nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, vinegar, and salt together in a large bowl. 
  3. Add baguette and, using your hands, massage oil mixture into bread. 
  4. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes.

Croutons may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day.

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