What is Crostini?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

In Italian, the word crostini means “little toasts,” which is an accurate description of this food. Crostini are made by thinly slicing bread, typically plain white bread, and toasting or grilling it so that it becomes crispy. The slices can be drizzled with olive oil and salt and then served plain, or they can be dressed with an assortment of toppings and used as appetizers or garnishes with foods such as soups. Crostini are very easy to make at home, or they can be purchased at many grocery stores and import stores.

Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.
Crostini with mozzarella cheese, chopped tomato and basil.


There are many uses for this toasted bread. Some bars put out plain crostini as bar snacks, because the salt and oil encourage people to drink more, and the bread assists with digestion. They are also often used for the bases of appetizers, as in the case of crostini grilled with heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, for example. Sometimes, this food is served as a side dish with foods such as steak tartare.

Ciabatta rolls can be used to make crostini.
Ciabatta rolls can be used to make crostini.

These small pieces of toast also can be floated on soups. They are sometimes toasted with various cheeses when this is done. Crostini also can be used like croutons.

Crostini with cream cheese, tomato, olive, and basil.
Crostini with cream cheese, tomato, olive, and basil.


To make this food, many cooks use custom-made loaves that will provide the the desired size of slices. Any type of Italian bread, such as ciabatta, also can be used. As a general rule, each individual crostini is designed to be held easily in the hand and might be bite-size as well. The bread is sliced very thinly, and the slices are grilled or toasted in an oven before being brushed with olive oil.

Olive oil, which is often used to top crostini.
Olive oil, which is often used to top crostini.

Once prepared, this food can be stored in an airtight container until it is needed. The slices can be served plain and warm, or they can be baked again with toppings and served hot or cold as appetizers. Cold crostini also can be topped with cheese, páté or another topping, creating an appetizer similar to a canapé.

Sturdy Consistency

These slices are thin and toasted, so they tend to be very hard. When they are used like croutons in soup, the soup tends to soften them, but they retain a bready texture even with soaking and will not dissolve entirely into the soap. Other sauces and dressing might soften the slices slightly, making them easier to eat. The slices hold their consistency well, so they make a good base for appetizers that are being made ahead of time, because they usually will not become soggy. If the slices are going to be served warm, the ingredients can be assembled beforehand so that the slices are ready to slide into an oven at the last minute.

Crostini topped with caviar, crème fraîche, and basil.
Crostini topped with caviar, crème fraîche, and basil.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@simrin-- You could cook the peppers with some olive oil and oregano and add some cheese to it, maybe feta, blue cheese or goat cheese. I personally love goat cheese crostini, delicious!


I had bruschetta crostini last week at someone's house for the first time in my life.

I did't like it. The bread was way too crispy, it was so difficult to bite into and difficult to chew! The bruscetta was okay but nothing special. And the whole thing was cold, I would have preferred a warm appetizer.

Are all crostinis this bad or was it just this particular one? I'm not impressed with this appetizer, I would never order it at a restaurant.


I have a sliced loaf of French bread in my fridge that's been waiting for several days for me to do something with it. Crostini sounds like a great idea!

Cheese is the topping that first comes to mind but it's been overdone. I think I want to try a more interesting topping. Any ideas?

I do have some bell peppers at home. Can I do a crostini topping with those?


@OeKc05 – I do a different take on crostini pizza. Mine is a fruity version.

I spread a mixture of cream cheese and powdered sugar on top of the bread after toasting it. Then, I add sliced strawberries and kiwi. It's a delicious dessert pizza crostini.

You do have to eat them right away, though. I found out that the kiwi will turn dark and spoil if you don't consume the crostini within a couple of hours.


I serve crostini instead of crackers at parties. To me, the dip tastes just as good on the bread as it would on a cracker, and you get that interesting texture that is definitely more appealing than the crunch of a cracker.

I've also eaten them as croutons. They were buttered and sprinkled with garlic powder and parsley before being baked, and they were as delicious as any restaurant crouton I've ever had on a salad.

They soak up the dressing really well, so they take on that additional flavor. They are like little flavor sponges.


If you are going to make olive oil crostini, then you had better invest in some good quality olive oil. I made the mistake of buying the cheapest kind I could find, and it tasted so terrible that I couldn't eat it unless it was mixed with other stuff. I had to cook the olive oil with some garlic and spices to make it bearable.


My husband and I like to make little pieces of crostini pizza whenever we have company coming over. They make some seriously satisfying appetizers, so no one is complaining of hunger while I'm in the kitchen making dinner for a couple of hours.

We slice French bread about an inch thick, and we coat it with tomato sauce. Then, we sprinkle mozzarella on top and put pepperoni slices on top of that.

The only complaint I've had is that people sometimes fill up too much on these. They have to watch how many they eat, which can be hard to do.


I want to make this kind of food myself!


I'm just learning about crostini and have been enjoying them only for about a month and find them very interesting and hopefully will be a good addition to my small wine and beer bar. Thank you very much for your comments.


this information is very simple and easily understandable. chandu


crostini are very easy to prepare, easy to serve, and the description mentioned above is very clear that everyone can understand easily.


Prosciutto crudo and fig is a gorgeous combination! Here's one to try, cream cheese blended with loads of sun dried tomato pesto, with a hint of chili if you are feeling adventurous! :)


The appetizer Crostini isn't exactly Italian, it was derived from French cuisine.


on a recent trip to London, i went to a wine bar that served a nice cabernet with crostini and prosciutto with fig/pear chutney. needless to say, it was marvelous.


These are delicious! Really easy to make and look very fancy. These make the greatest appetizers every and I could eat tons of them.

Post your comments
Forgot password?