Skip to Content

How to soften bread

When it comes to softening bread it is best to think about two different types of bread. 
There are loaves of crusty bread such as a baguette, french bread, or a loaf of sourdough. 

Bread doesn’t usually sit around my house for long. But when it does, it drives me nuts when I go to get a piece for a sandwich or toast and it’s rough and dry.

And those long, crusty bread loaves come in open-ended packages of brown paper. How are we supposed to keep these fresh? 

When it comes to softening bread it is best to think about two different types of bread. 
There are loaves of crusty bread such as a baguette, french bread, or a loaf of sourdough. 

Then there are slices of bread, such as sandwich bread (think Sunbeam, Mrs. Baird’s, or Wonder brand). 

You can often soften both kinds of bread and revive them, but the steps change based on the type of bread you have on hand.

As you will see below, we have instructions for how to soften bread (loaves) and how to soften slices of bread.

These are the main ways in which we recommend softening bread

Contents

For whole loaves of bread or baguettes:

• Soften stale bread in the oven. 
• If you are in a hurry, softening stale bread in the microwave is an acceptable option.

For slices of bread:

• Soften slices of bread in the microwave.

It may sound strange but the best way to revive hard bread is to reheat it. The trick is to know how to reheat it properly. 

If you just take a slice of bread and heat it in the microwave, you will be disappointed. But if you follow our quick steps listed below you will revive that bread and be able to make that yummy grilled cheese.

Here is a quick rundown on how to soften bread:

This is a quick summary of our preferred methods for softening bread. (For full instructions, skip down to the step-by-step guides.)

1. Soften bread loaves: Moisten the outside of the bread loaf. Warm up the bread in the oven for five minutes.

2. Soften slice of bread: Wrap the slice of bread in a damp paper towel. Heat it up in the microwave for five seconds.

Can you soften stale bread?

Good news! You can soften stale bread but when you do, you will want to eat it right away. Once the bread has gone stale, it will never be quite as delicious as that fresh loaf of bread once was. 

Those long baguettes often come home with you in nothing but open-ended brown-paper sacks. How are you supposed to keep them fresh in those?

If your beautiful baguette has become rock hard, you can quickly bring it back to life by following a few important steps.

Can you soften stale bread slices?

You can soften stale bread slices, but they will never be quite as soft as when you first brought that loaf home from the store. 

These can be bundled four or five slices at a time, sprinkled with some water, wrapped in foil, and reheated in the oven or toaster oven on low.

But do know that if you reach for that loaf of bread and realize that the bag was never properly closed, you don’t just have to toss. 

Just remember, while the bread may soften, the fresh flavor may not return.

Or use up your old bread in our Baked French Toast here.

How to soften bread in the oven

The best way to soften whole loaves of bread or baguettes is to use the oven method. (If you are looking for instructions on softening sliced bread, scroll down.)

The first thing that we will do is moisten the crust of the bread. This may seem odd but we need to add moisture back to the dehydrated bread and then heat it up. 

Next, we will place the moist bread in the oven and reheat it.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

You want to use a low temperature to simply rehydrate the dry bread.

Step 2: Moisten the outside of the whole loaf of bread. 

Turn your kitchen faucet on so that the water is slowly streaming. 

You don’t want it to be at full force because you want to control how wet your bread gets.

Place the bread under the running water and moisten the outside crust of the bread. You don’t want to soak the bread but you do want the crust to get wet.

Note: If the bread has been cut avoid getting the cut side wet. You only want to moisten the crust. 

Step 3: Place the moistened loaf of bread directly on the middle rack and heat it up for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Remove the bread from the oven and serve it right away.

Tips and tricks on this method

• If you would prefer, you could use a spray bottle of water to wet the bread, or a pastry brush. 
• For this process, it doesn’t matter if you use warm water or cold water.

How to soften bread in the microwave

This is how you soften whole loaves of bread or baguettes in the microwave. 

If your loaf of bread has been cut but it’s still mostly in one loaf with a crusty outside, this process will work beautifully. 

If the bread has been sliced, you will want to follow our directions for softening individual slices below.

Step 1: Dampen a clean kitchen towel. The towel should be wet but not dripping. If your paper towel is dripping, just give it a gentle squeeze to get the excess water out of it. 

Step 2:
Wrap the loaf of bread in the damp towel and place it in the microwave.

Step 3:
Microwave the bread in 6-second increments until it is warm. This shouldn’t take more than 15 to 25 seconds max, depending on the size of the loaf. 

Pro Tip: Don’t overheat baked goods in the microwave as a general rule. It toughens the edges and unevenly heats the rest.

How to soften sliced bread in the microwave

This is how you soften whole loaves of bread or baguettes in the microwave. 

If your loaf of bread has been cut but it’s still mostly in one loaf with a crusty outside, this process will work beautifully. 
You can revive stale sliced sandwich bread, too.

It may never be back to the perfect bread that it once was but you can get most stale loaf of bread back to edible. 

This simple technique only requires a damp towel and a microwave.

Step 1: Wet a paper towel. You don’t want it to be dripping wet. 

Step 2:
Wrap the damp paper towel around the slice of bread.

Step 3:
Place the microwave and heat it for five seconds. 

Remove the bread slice from the microwave and check to see if it has softened. If not, return it to the microwave and heat for an additional five seconds.

The bottom line

You can bring that stale loaf of bread back to life with wet paper towels and a microwave. 

Want more tips on reheating bread? Find more here.

If you have enough time, I really do recommend the oven method for crusty baguettes.

How to soften bread

How to soften bread

Yield: 1 hard roll or crusty loaf of bread
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

If you find yourself with a stale bread roll or hard loaf of crusty bread, you can soften bread in minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of stale bread
  • Toaster oven or conventional oven

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. 
  2. Dampen the outside of the loaf of bread. If the bread has been cut, avoid getting the cut-open side wet.
  3. Place the dampened bread loaf in the oven and bake it for five minutes.
  4. Remove the bread and serve hot immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2006Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3695mgCarbohydrates: 373gFiber: 20gSugar: 43gProtein: 67g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Skip to Recipe