This simple 6 ingredient focaccia dough is a wonderful starting point for many different flavors, including garlic rosemary herb focaccia. The homemade bread is chewy and soft in the center with a mega crisp exterior. For the BEST flavor, let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. Olive oil seeps down and infuses every bite. You’ll love it!
Let’s make focaccia!! I’ve been working on perfecting focaccia for awhile. This recent batch is a favorite and we shared it with a bunch of friends over the weekend. (We seriously have so much of this stuff in the freezer that I was glad some of it found a new home!!!)
Focaccia is an Italian yeast bread. At the heart of it, focaccia is pizza dough without the sauce and cheese. Though it appears plain, focaccia is anything but boring. Its defining characteristics are the olive oil infused flavor and deliciously crisp exterior. Olive oil enrobes the entire crust, seeping into the interior as the bread bakes. Herbs and garlic are popular toppings, but you can add anything like olives, tomatoes, sesame seeds, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, pesto, caramelized onions, and more.
Pizza is a meal, but focaccia can be part of a meal, an appetizer, a soup dipper, a sauce soaker-upper, and even the crust of a sandwich or panini. Regardless of how and when it’s served, this garlic rosemary herb focaccia is remarkably chewy, rich, and flavorful.
Video Tutorial: Garlic Herb Focaccia
Sit back, relax, and watch as I walk through each step in this garlic rosemary herb focaccia recipe. In fact, most of the “work” is hands-off while the dough rises and rests so you can literally sit back and relax when it’s your turn to make it!
Only 6 Ingredients in Focaccia Dough
Focaccia dough comes together with only 6 basic ingredients. Whether or not you’re a seasoned baker, I bet you have most of these items in your kitchen. This recipe yields a big pan of bread and leftovers freeze wonderfully. (We’ve been snacking on test recipes for weeks now!) If you don’t need that much bread on hand, feel free to halve the recipe.
Let’s quickly discuss the importance of each ingredient.
- Yeast: Yeast raises focaccia bread. If you’re nervous about working with yeast, I encourage you to review my Baking with Yeast guide. You can use active dry or instant yeast. I played around with different amounts and ultimately favored the bread with less yeast than some other recipes call for. The flatter the focaccia, the more the interior is infused with the olive oil and toppings!
- Sugar: 2 teaspoons of sugar feeds the yeast.
- Warm Water: When combined with liquid and sugar, yeast makes dough rise. Use warm water to cut down on rise time, about 100-110°F. Anything over 130ºF kills the yeast.
- Salt: A lot of focaccia’s flavor comes from salt and this dough requires a lot of it. For the best flavor, I strongly recommend using kosher salt
- Olive Oil: Some recipes only call for olive oil as the topping, but adding olive oil to the dough creates a richer tasting bread. You’ll also use it to coat the pan and top the dough before baking. Use your favorite kind– I prefer extra virgin olive oil.
- Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour: I tested this focaccia with both and prefer the bread flour variety. Both are great, but bread flour has a higher protein content so it yields a chewier texture. This recipe calls for 4.5 – 5 cups of flour and if using bread flour, you’ll need closer to 4.5 cups since it absorbs more water. If using all-purpose flour, you’ll need closer to 5 cups. It all depends on how sticky the dough feels. Adding a bit too much or too little flour won’t ruin the recipe, so don’t be nervous.
How to Make Garlic Herb Focaccia
Focaccia is a very simple bread. This recipe requires a rise, plus a considerable amount of “resting” in the refrigerator. Most of the dough’s flavor is developed during this cold resting period, so I don’t recommend rushing it. You can’t rush good bread.
- Make the dough: Mix the ingredients together, then knead the dough by hand or with your mixer. I like doing this by hand and you can watch me in the video.
- Let the dough rise: Place dough into a greased bowl, cover tightly, then set aside to rise for about 2-3 hours.
- Flatten dough out onto a baking pan: Punch down the risen dough to release the air, then use your hands to flatten the dough out onto an oiled baking sheet. If the dough keeps shrinking, cover it for 5 minutes to let the gluten settle.
- Let the dough rest in the refrigerator: The cold temperature slows down the rising. In fact, there’s so little yeast that the dough will hardly rise at all during this step. Let it rest in the refrigerator for as little as 1 hour and up to 24 hours. The longer it rests, the better the flavor. I recommend at least 12 hours. You won’t regret it!
- Remove from the refrigerator: Let the dough hang out on the counter as you preheat the oven and prep the toppings. It will rise a little bit, but not much.
- Preheat oven: Focaccia bakes in a very hot 450°F (232°C) oven.
- Dimple the dough: A good stress reliever! Use your fingers to dimple the entire surface of the dough. The dimples give the olive oil and toppings “a place to go.” This step is fun!
- Add toppings: A simple blend of fresh garlic, rosemary, thyme, and basil is a favorite, but I have plenty of focaccia topping suggestions listed below. No matter which topping you use, drizzle olive oil all over the surface.
- Bake: Bake until golden brown. I set the oven to broil for the last minute to really crisp up the surface. Highly recommended!
The dough stretches to fit a large baking sheet. You can also divide the dough in half for 2 smaller focaccia loaves. I love that there’s no rolling pin or complicated shaping required.
After the dough rests in the refrigerator, dimple it with your fingers, then add toppings:
Make Ahead Recipe
As mentioned above, the longer the dough rests, the better it tastes. Focaccia is a convenient make-ahead recipe since you can do most of the work the day before serving. The bread tastes AWESOME warm from the oven, but it lasts all day if you want to bake it several hours prior to serving. Leftovers keep well for a few days or even a few months in the freezer, but some of the crispiness is lost over time. However, a few minutes in a preheated oven quickly brings leftover focaccia back to life!
Freezing dough: You can also freeze focaccia dough just as you would freeze pizza dough. After the dough rises in the mixing bowl, punch it down to release the air, coat it with a little olive oil, then cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes on the counter. Finally, shape the dough on the baking sheet and continue with the recipe.
Garlic & rosemary herb focaccia is a classic favorite, but you can customize it with various toppings. There’s truly no limit and here’s a list to prove it. Leave out the garlic and herbs (or keep them!), drizzle the dough with the olive oil, then add any of these toppings:
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Cherry Tomatoes or Sliced Tomatoes
- Parmesan (add before or after baking)
- Pesto (add before or after baking)
- Sliced Zucchini
- Pine Nuts
- Sliced Lemons or Lemon Zest
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Raw or Caramelized Onions
I topped a test batch with the garlic & herb olive oil called for in the recipe below, plus some pine nuts and thinly sliced tomatoes. We all DEVOURED it.
More Simple Homemade Bread
- Homemade Pizza Dough
- Easy Soft Pretzels
- No Knead Jalapeño Cheddar Bread
- Cheesy Breadsticks
This simple 6 ingredient focaccia dough is a wonderful starting point for many different flavors, including this garlic rosemary herb focaccia. The homemade bread is chewy and soft in the center with a mega crisp exterior. For the best flavor and texture, let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight.
- 2 cups (480ml) warm water (between 100-110°F, 38-43°C)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (slightly less than 1 standard packet)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 4 and 1/2 – 5 cups (565g-630g) all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus more for hands
Topping & Pan
- 5 Tablespoons (75ml) extra virgin olive oil or more as needed, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3–4 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, and rosemary (or 2 Tablespoons dried herbs)
- sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the dough: Whisk half of the water (1 cup; 240ml), 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining water, olive oil, salt, and 1 cup (130g) flour. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds, then add 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) more flour. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. If the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the last 1/2 cup (60g) of flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. The dough can be a little too heavy for a mixer to knead it, but you can certainly use the mixer on low speed instead. If the dough is too sticky as you knead, add more flour 1 Tablespoon at a time. The dough should still feel a little soft, but shouldn’t stick your hands. Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
- Let the dough rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with a teaspoon of oil or some nonstick spray– just use the same bowl you used for the dough. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until double in size. (Tip: For the warm environment on a particularly cold day, heat your oven to 150°F (66°C). Turn the oven off, place the dough inside, and keep the door slightly ajar. This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, close the oven door to trap the air inside with the rising dough. When it’s doubled in size, remove from the oven.)
- Prepare the pan: Generously grease a 12×17 inch baking pan (with at least 1 inch tall sides) with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. This is the base layer of the bread, so be generous with the oil. A pastry brush is helpful to spread it.
- Flatten the dough: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Place on the oiled baking pan, then stretch and flatten the dough to fit the pan. Don’t tear the dough. If it’s shrinking (mine always does), cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before continuing. This lets the gluten settle and it’s much easier to shape after that.
- Let the dough rest: Cover the dough tightly and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. The longer it rests, the better the flavor. I recommend at least 12 hours.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature as you preheat the oven and prepare the toppings. Keep it covered. It may rise a little during this time, but not much.
- Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C). Allow it to heat for at least 10-15 minutes so every inch of the oven is very hot.
- Prepare the toppings: Whisk the 3 remaining Tablespoons of olive oil with the minced garlic and herbs. Set aside.
- Using your fingers, dimple the dough all over the surface. You can watch me do this in the video above. Drizzle on the olive oil topping and use your hands or a pastry brush to spread it all over the top. Add a little more olive oil if needed so the dough is completely covered. (This creates the crisp crust!) Sprinkle with a little coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes or until lightly browned on top. If desired, broil on high for the last minute to really brown the top.
- Cut and serve hot or let it come to room temperature before slicing and serving. Focaccia tastes wonderful warm or at room temperature. Cover leftover focaccia tightly and store at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. To reheat the slices, you can use the microwave or bake in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 5 minutes.
- Freezing Instructions: After the dough rises, punch it down to release the air as instructed in step 5. Freeze the dough or portions of the dough to make at a later time. Lightly coat all sides of the dough ball(s) with olive oil. Place the dough ball(s) into individual zipped-top bag(s) and seal tightly, squeezing out all the air. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes on the counter, then continue with shaping the dough to fit the baking pan as instructed in step 5. (Even after thawing, the dough must still rest in the refrigerator as instructed in step 6.)
- Make Ahead Instructions: The is a wonderful recipe to begin the day ahead of time. The dough must rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours, as instructed in step 6. I’ve let it go for as long as 30 hours and the flavor is incredible. I wouldn’t go past 24-30 hours.
- Smaller Portions: This recipe yields a big pan of bread. You can divide the dough in half and bake smaller portions on 2 baking sheets or 9×13 inch baking pans. If desired, you can divide the dough in half and freeze half of it. Or you can halve the entire recipe.
- Yeast: You can use instant or active dry yeast instead. The rise time in step 3 may be a little quicker if using instant yeast. No matter which yeast you choose, you only need 2 teaspoons which is a little less than 1 standard 7g packet.
- Flour: You can use all-purpose flour or bread flour. All-purpose flour is convenient for most, but bread flour produces a chewier bread. No matter which you choose, the focaccia is still soft and rich with a crispy exterior. Either flour is fine and there are no other changes to the recipe if you use one or the other. You may need slightly closer to 5 cups of flour if using all-purpose.
Keywords: garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, bread