Homemade Artisan Bread (With or Without Dutch Oven)

Even if you’ve never made homemade bread or worked with yeast before, this homemade crusty artisan bread is for you. It’s the perfect beginner recipe because it only requires 4 ingredients without any special pans or mixer, there’s no kneading or complicated shaping involved, and 95% of the work is hands-off. Bread masters will appreciate this recipe too because it delivers with delicious flavor, a slightly crisp and mega chewy crust, and those signature soft holes inside like ciabatta or French bread.

homemade artisan french bread

Bread Beginners– Start Here

Have you ever wanted to master homemade bread? Real, crusty, chewy, delicious bakery-style loaves that taste incredible with dips, soups, sauces, and comforting dinners? This recipe is where you start. This artisan bread is for beginners, but even bread masters will appreciate its flavor and ease. It’s so fresh, so flavorful, and so surprisingly easy because it basically makes itself.

You only need 4 ingredients without any special pans or mixer, there’s no kneading, no poolish or dough starter required, and you can add herbs, cheeses, and spices to make a variety of bread flavors.

This base recipe will soon be on repeat in your kitchen. After you realize how easy it is to make real homemade bread, you’ll find any excuse to bake a loaf.

homemade artisan bread loaves

What is Homemade Artisan Bread?

When it comes to bread, the term “artisan” doesn’t mean 1 particular thing. But generally, artisan bread is homemade, fresh, crusty, and deliciously rustic looking. An artisan is a skilled worker, one who works with their hands. But ironically, there isn’t much “work” involved with this recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Bread

  • Easier than you ever imagined
  • Soft + flavorful
  • Chewy, slightly crisp crust
  • Shape however you want
  • No special pans, poolish, or dough starter required
  • Only 4 ingredients
  • You decide the length of time it rests

homemade artisan french bread loaves

Homemade Artisan Bread Video Tutorial

Like sandwich bread, focaccia, and bagels— the process is surprisingly easy. If you’re new to yeast, reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Only 4 Ingredients

The crustier and chewier the bread, the less fat in the dough– also known as a “lean dough.” We’re using a lean dough for our artisan loaf today. (If you’re curious, a “rich dough” is a soft bread dough with the presence of fat, such as butter and eggs– the kind we need for overnight cinnamon rolls.) Without fat, we’re left with the basics.

  1. Bread Flour: While you can use all-purpose flour in this recipe, I strongly recommend using bread flour. Bread flour produces a stronger, chewier bread and that makes a big difference in recipe with only 3 other ingredients.
  2. Instant Yeast: Instant yeast is key in this recipe. While you can use active dry if that’s all you have, any quick rise or instant yeast will produce flavorful results in less time. I use more yeast in this recipe compared to my cranberry nut no-knead bread and no-knead jalapeño cheddar bread. Why? Those doughs rest and rise at room temperature. However, for more flavor and just as much rise, I use more yeast and let the this dough rest in the refrigerator. (Cool air slows the fermentation process.)
  3. Salt: You can’t make good bread without salt and for best flavor, I recommend a coarse salt, such as coarse sea salt. I find the bread’s flavor lacking with regular table salt.
  4. Water: I normally encourage you to use warm liquid with yeast because warm liquid helps the yeast work faster. However, use cool or room temperature water here. Not freezing cold, not super warm– cool to touch. 70°F (21°C) is great, but the exact temperature doesn’t matter as long as it’s not hot or warm. The cooler the water, the longer the dough takes to rise and, usually, the better the bread’s flavor. (This is important since there are so little ingredients to add substantial flavor!)
  5. Optional Cornmeal: Dusting the pan with cornmeal adds a pop of flavor and a little crunch to the bottom crust. This is completely optional. If you have it, use it. If you don’t have it, don’t worry about it.

You can also add herbs and seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, dill, chopped onion, jalapeño, shredded cheese, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, etc. My no yeast bread is the quick bread alternative here– you can add flavors to that loaf, too!

homemade artisan bread dough in a bowl

collage of 2 artisan bread dough images

Baker’s Tip: Avoid adding too much flour to the dough as you work with it. The stickier it is– and the longer it sits in the refrigerator– the more likely you’ll have those big airy pockets of air in the crumb.

shaped artisan bread dough before baking

How to Make Homemade Artisan Bread in 5 Steps

  1. Mix the dough ingredients together. At first the dough will seem very dry and shaggy and you’ll question if it will even come together. But it will. Use a spatula at first, then switch to your hands to ensure all of the flour is moistened. The dough is actually a little sticky after it’s thoroughly mixed.
  2. Let it rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature for about 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
  3. Use right away or refrigerate. After 2-3 hours, you can immediately continue with the next step. However, for ideal flavor and texture, I strongly recommend letting the dough sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Yes, 3 full days! I usually only let it rest for about 18 hours. During this crucial step, the cold air slows the fermentation process and adds so much flavor and texture. So, you can bake bread in 2-3 hours or in 3 days. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. 🙂
  4. Shape into 2 loaves or 1 boule. Rest as oven preheats. You can shape the bread into a round loaf (boule) or two longer loaves. I usually make 2 longer loaves side-by-side on a flat baking sheet, about 9×3 inches each. Score with a sharp knife or bread lame. Preheat the oven to a very hot 475°F (246°C). The extremely hot air will immediately set the crust so the bread rises up instead of spreading all over. To help ensure a crispier crust, after the oven pre-heats– pour boiling water into a metal or cast iron baking pan/dish on the bottom oven rack. Immediately place the dough inside and shut the oven door to trap the steam. The steam will help create that coveted crisp crust. If you have a dutch oven, shape the dough into 1 round loaf, and bake it inside the dutch oven with the lid on.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Gently tap the loaves because if they sound hollow, they’re done.

Look at those deliciously soft holes inside! Reminds me of ciabatta or a French baguette, both of which can be a little more complicated to make.

slices of homemade artisan french bread

slices of homemade artisan french bread on a plate

Serve Artisan Bread With

  1. Slather with homemade honey butter
  2. Slice and dunk in crab dip, beer cheese dip, or roasted garlic bacon spinach dip
  3. Serve alongside slow cooker chicken chili or pumpkin chili
  4. As a dunker for minestrone soup or creamy chicken noodle soup
  5. With a big bowl of mac & cheese
  6. Use for my goat cheese & honey crostini
  7. With anything because homemade bread is everything’s best friend
Print
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homemade artisan bread loaves

Homemade Artisan Bread (With or Without Dutch Oven)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 8-inch loaves
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Even if you’ve never made homemade bread or worked with yeast before, this homemade artisan bread is for you. Watch the video tutorial above and review the recipe instructions and recipe notes prior to beginning. If you’re new to working with yeast, reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.


Ingredients

  • 3 and 1/4 cups (423g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and pan
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (see note)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) cool water
  • optional: cornmeal for dusting pan

Instructions

  1. In a large un-greased mixing bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt together. Pour in the cool water and gently mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will seem dry and shaggy, but keep working it until all the flour is moistened. If needed, use your hands (as I do in the video tutorial above) to work the dough ingredients together. The dough will be sticky. Shape into a ball in the bowl as best you can.
  2. Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and set on the counter at room temperature (honestly any normal room temperature is fine!). Allow to rise for 2-3 hours. The dough will just about double in size, stick to the sides of the bowl, and have a lot of air bubbles.
  3. You can continue with step 4 immediately, but for absolute best flavor and texture, I strongly recommend letting this risen dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Place covered dough in the refrigerator for 12 hours – 3 days. I usually let it rest in the refrigerator for about 18 hours. The dough will puff up during this time, but may begin to deflate after 2 days. That’s fine and normal– nothing to worry about.
  4. Lightly dust a large nonstick baking sheet (with or without rims and make sure it’s nonstick) with flour and/or cornmeal. Turn the cold dough out onto a floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough in half. Some air bubbles will deflate as you work with it. Place dough halves on prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, shape into 2 long loaves about 9×3 inches each (doesn’t have to be exact) about 3 inches apart. Loosely cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes. You will bake the dough on this prepared baking sheet. See recipe note if you want to use a pizza stone.
  5. During this 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C).
  6. When ready to bake, using a very sharp knife or bread lame (some even use kitchen shears), score the bread loaves with 3 slashes, about 1/2 inch deep. (“Score” = shallow cut.) If the shaped loaves flattened out during the 45 minutes, use floured hands to narrow them out along the sides again.
  7. Optional for a slightly crispier crust: After the oven is preheated and bread is scored, place a shallow metal or cast iron baking pan or skillet (I usually use a metal 9×13 baking pan) on the bottom oven rack. Carefully and quickly pour 3-4 cups of boiling water into it. Place the scored dough/baking pan on a higher rack and quickly shut the oven, trapping the steam inside. The steam helps create a crispier crust.
  8. Place the shaped and scored dough (on the flour/cornmeal dusted pan) in the preheated oven on the center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers loosely covered at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The dough can sit in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, so this is a wonderful recipe to begin ahead of time. You can also bake the bread, allow it to cool, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. You can also freeze the dough. Complete the recipe through step 3. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-friendly container. To bake, allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or for 2-3 hours at room temperature. Continue with step 4 and the rest of the recipe instructions.
  2. Flour: For absolute best flavor and chewy texture, I strongly recommend using bread flour. You can use a 1:1 substitution of all-purpose flour in a pinch with no other changes to the recipe. I recommend avoiding whole wheat flour in this dough. If necessary, use half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. The bread will taste a bit dense.
  3. Yeast: You can use instant or active dry yeast, but I highly recommend an instant (aka “rapid rise” or “quick rise” yeast). The bread will rise faster. I usually use Platinum yeast by Red Star, which is an instant yeast. 2 teaspoons is a little less than 1 standard packet. If using active dry yeast, there are no changes needed to the recipe. The rise time in step 2 may take longer.
  4. Salt: Use a coarse salt, such as coarse sea salt, in this bread. I find the flavor slightly lacking when using regular table fine salt. If you only have fine salt, reduce to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons.
  5. Water: Use cool water. 70°F (21°C) is great, but the exact temperature doesn’t matter as long as it’s not hot or warm.
  6. Round Loaf: If you want to shape the dough into a boule (round loaf) simply shape into a round ball instead of 2 loaves in step 4. Baking instructions are the same, but the loaf will take a few extra minutes in the oven. If you want to bake the boule in a dutch oven, see next note.
  7. Using a Dutch Oven: Follow this dough recipe through step 3, then follow the simple shaping/baking instructions (steps 2-5) in my Cranberry Nut No Knead Bread recipe including using the parchment paper. If your parchment paper can’t withstand heat this high, you can either lower the oven temperature and bake the bread for longer or grease the dutch oven instead.
  8. Using a pizza stone: If you want to bake your bread loaves on a pizza stone, place pizza stone in the preheating oven. Transfer shaped and scored loaves to hot pizza stone and bake as directed.
  9. No Nonstick Pan: If you don’t have a nonstick baking sheet, line it with parchment paper instead. Coat with a dusting of flour and/or cornmeal before placing the dough on top. Parchment paper can burn, so it’s best to check the box to see how much heat yours can tolerate. Lower your oven heat if necessary and bake the bread for longer until golden brown and when gently tapped, sound hollow.
  10. Flavor ideas: Before pouring in the water in step 1, add any of the following ingredients/combination of ingredients to the dry ingredients in the bowl: 4 cloves minced garlic + 3 Tablespoons chopped rosemary, 3 Tablespoons your favorite fresh herb (chopped), 1 cup your favorite shredded cheese, a diced jalapeño, 3/4 – 1 cup dried cranberries and/or chopped nuts, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, etc.
  11. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  12. Recipe adapted from King Arthur FlourRed Star Yeast, similar method originally from Jim Lahey.

Keywords: bread, loaf

902 Comments

  1. solid recipe with clear, simple video.

    1. I am new at bread making but have experimented with many. This was by far my favorite thus far. I mixed the dough using maldon salt and instant dry yeast and let it sit on counter for a few hours and decided to refrigerate for 2 days. I took it out of fridge and let it get to room temp for about 2-3 hours. I dusted the counter. It is a sticky dough but I used a large bench scraper to cut it in half and just rolled it onto parchment with cornmeal. Let rest for 45 covered with a light towel. Baked with the pan of water for 23 minutes. The bread was beyond what I expected. Crusty, light and soft on the inside. This is my new go to bread recipe!!!

  2. Found this recipe this morning and made it to go with beef stew supper as it’s a windy, winter day. Amazed! I used Fleischmans instant yeast, coarse sea salt and all purpose flour (we don’t live in town and it was too nasty to run out to the store for bread flour). Made the dough after lunch and let it rise (in a stainless steel bowl) next to crock pot until 4 pm – about 3 hours. I didn’t plan ahead far enough to refrigerate the dough, but went with one of the reviews that said it was fine not to. Separated the dough, formed into two 9×3 loaves, covered loosely (with the same Saran Wrap used to cover the bowl in the afternoon) for 45 min. Scored it, baked for 33 minutes and it got rave reviews at the dinner table. For my first attempt I did not add any seasoning but in future will try garlic, etc.

    1. Do you ever make this bread with a stand mixer?

      Please send instructions.

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Kara! We do not recommend a mixer for this particular dough– it’s very loose and sticky. A mixer wouldn’t be doing you (or the dough!) any favors. Luckily, it only requires a really quick mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Not much work involved!

  3. Question for Tammy/whoever uses this recipe for rolls – how many rolls does this make and how long do you bake them?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tracy, Careful shaping into rolls or buns– this is a sticky dough, so use floured hands. The bake time will be only a few minutes shorter. Bake until golden brown and when lightly tapped, they sound hollow.

  4. I have tried this recipe 10+ times, but am doing something wrong each time! I follow it exactly as instructed, and somehow my bread dough is super liquidy. Beyond flouring to help shape, can anyone reply with some tips or helpful feedback? Those who are not familiar with the recipe but familiar with bread making tell me that the cool water is a part of why my dough is so wet and slime-like, but I’m unsure:(

    1. Are you using the cup measurements or the weighted measurements? As a baker, I recommend using the weighted measurements. They are much more accurate when baking bread. That may help with your issue of a too-wet dough. 🙂

    2. This was so dissapointing. Followed directions to the T and bread came out so bad. Way too salty and barely risen. Inedible. Lets see if the squirrels or birds will eat it though i doubt it.

  5. I’ve made this bread twice and didn’t get it perfectly either time, though I followed the recipe almost exactly (I did not have instant yeast, so I had to use active dry). My bread is very dense. Is the active dry yeast the reason it is much more dense than shown in the picture?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maggie, thank you for giving this recipe a try! Active dry yeast should work just fine, but may need longer to rise – see recipe notes for details. Make sure to handle the dough as little as possible after rising to avoid deflating the air bubbles in the dough. Our baking with yeast guide may be helpful as well.

  6. Made this recipe and left in fridge for about 20 hrs before I baked it. I baked it in the oven without a dutch oven. I followed the recipe as described and it turned out great. We ate it with some chicken curry with coconut milk. It was crispy on the outside and chewy on in the inside. I wish the rise was higher but the recipe isn’t designed for that. It really is an easy recipe. I’ve tried Ken Forkish’s recipes and his are really good but you can’t compare to how easy Sally’s recipe is. I look forward to making this again adding herbs to it. Thank you Sally!

  7. This is such a wonderful bread recipe. I’ve made it so many times I’ve lost count and it’s my mom’s favourite bread. It takes me incredible straight out the oven with its crispiest crust I’ve ever tasted and such a soft and fluffy inside. So so good Sally

  8. This recipe is SO easy and SO good! The second time I tried it, right before baking, I lightly brushed some olive oil on top and sprinkled some sea salt. It is to die for! My only complaint is that I can’t stop eating it.

  9. Hi Sally! Do you think this could work with Bob’s Red Mill GF 1:1 flour? Any insight would be great. Thanks in advance!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lily, we haven’t tested a gluten free version of this recipe. If you try anything let us know how it turns out!

  10. Can I use a dough hook in a stand mixer for this recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We do not recommend a mixer for this particular dough– it’s very loose and sticky. A mixer wouldn’t be doing you (or the dough!) any favors. Luckily, it only requires a really quick mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Not much work involved!

  11. Followed recipe to a T and got an incredibly underdone bread. Needed to put back in over for more than 20 minutes than recipe called for! Not a fan.

  12. Hi, Beginner baker here.
    I followed the instructions , after adding the water and mixing the dough, I noticed dry flecks in the dough as I worked the dough. How/why did this happen and how can I avoid this in the future?

    Thanks,
    Dan

  13. My comment disappeared so I’m posting again.

    I tried the recipe for the first time. My dough is resting right now in the fridge. While I was mixing I noticed that there were dry “flecks” mixed in the dough. How or why did this happen and how can I avoid this in the future? Overall I think my dough was a little stiff overall and perhaps dry? I measured the water exactly at 70F, King Arthur Bread Flour <2 1/4 tsp (1 packet a little less trying to get to 2 tsp) Active yeast, coarse sea salt
    Any advice?
    Thanks,
    Dan

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dan! Could the flecks be the yeast? That’s perfectly normal. If your dough was dry, your flour may have been over-measured, how did you measure the flour? Make sure to spoon and level (instead of scooping) to avoid packing in too much flour into your measuring cups – or use a kitchen scale. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients in this post.

      1. Thanks for your reply, they were a bit larger “flecks” of dry dough, like the size of confetti. I scooped the flour with 1/2 cup measuring cups. I’ll check the post next time on properly measuring.

        In general, the dough was dry and “stringy” as I mixed in the water. Not soft and pliable.

        Thanks!

  14. Hi Sally. My family and I have enjoyed this recipe many times, however, now I must eat gluten free. Is there any chance this would work with AP GF flour? Fingers crossed you say yes!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laurie, we haven’t tested a gluten free version of this recipe. If you try anything let us know how it turns out!

  15. gayle cappelluti says:

    Hi Sally!!!
    I’m so excited to try this recipe today!!! My question: Can I top with sesame seeds? Will I need an egg wash to do so?
    Thanks for lways filling my home with delectable baked goods!!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gayle! An egg wash, brush of milk, or brush of melted butter will do the trick to help them stick – happy baking!

  16. When using a Dutch Oven to bake this bread recipe, what size is the Dutch Oven?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Doro! You’ll need a 6 quart or larger dutch oven.

  17. Hi Sally!
    I mixed this dough on Tuesday morning planning to bake it Wednesday night for dinner. I was not able to bake it until tonight, Friday (our power went out 2 nights in a row! ugh!). Even after it was left in the refrigerator for more than 3 days, it still came out amazing. Thank you, Sally, for this wonderfully simple yet delicious bread! One question…I do not have non-stick baking sheets. Any tips for helping this come away from the pan easily? Silpat? Parchment? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi LisaMarie! Make sure to dust your baking sheet with extra flour or cornmeal. You can definitely add parchment paper, just make sure it can withstand the oven temperature. (Usually says it on the box!)

  18. Really enjoyed this recipe. It was a success and fairly forgiving. Thank you

  19. I want to bake this today and want to use a pizza stone. My question is do you still use parchment paper on the stone or just bake it on the stone bare? Also, is Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt considered coarse salt for this recipe, or what type of salt constitutes coarse salt? I also have Fleur de Sel Sea Salt, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, and a Coarse French Grey Sea Salt from Penzey’s Spice Company but I am confused as to which to use because I do not bake bread & usually use them for different sweet baked recipes.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Debbie! You should be able to use your pizza stone with a sprinkling of extra flour or corn meal (like you would on a baking sheet). Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt would be perfect – enjoy!

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