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

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

artisan bread dough

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 baking pan 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.

homemade artisan french bread

homemade artisan french bread

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
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 (420g) 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

967 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! I attempted this recipe however my dough ended up much wetter than the one in the picture. I used bread flour and used exact measurements as listed in the recipe…any reason why that is?

    1. Hi Brenda, a dough’s consistency relies on many variables including how you measure the flour, brand of flour, even the weather and humidity in the air. While this should be a sticky dough, it sounds like yours is a little too sticky. Don’t be afraid to add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more flour to the dough before letting it rest at room temperature.

      1. Loraine Stecewycz says:

        My dough was also very gooey. I had to add about 3/4-1 cup extra of flour and after 12 hours in the fridge it was still extremely stick and flat on the baking dish. I measure precisely (as directed). I did not have bread flour but that was the only difference. Just seemed like way too much water for the flour. Is 1-1/2 cups of cool water accurate? To the 3-1/4 cups of flour? It did grow and tasted good but I really had to work hard to get it right with the measurements.

    2. Hi Sally
      my first time making bread and I will continue to do so with this amazing recipe!
      Thank you so much for sharing, it was a big hit with my family and me:))

  2. Stephanie Hall says:

    I did a google search for” making bread with “Brewer’s Yeast” and your site came up… but I couldn’t find any information about it??? Does the proofing or blooming process take longer, does the rising take longer? I’ve been told that it can be used, but have not been able to find any recipes or specific instructions about using it… I have been looking for regular yeast for over a month here, and have not been able to catch it when it comes in at the stores☹️

    1. Hi Stephanie, I’m unsure why this page would turn up for those results. I’ve never made bread with brewer’s yeast before but maybe a reader can chime in. Since you mention you can’t find yeast, I recommend my no yeast bread if you’re interested. It’s a favorite!

  3. Lovely instructions, Sally. I have a question for you as I pass this along to a beginner: what is the target hydration? My calculation, using your weight measurements, is 85%. To me that is a very wet and slack dough, a challenge for the beginner to handle. This lines up with Brenda’s comment above. Am I missing a thing? Thank you!

    1. Thanks Doug! 85% is accurate. This dough is supposed to be fairly sticky. No complicated shaping or steps involved, so it’s perfect for beginners. A little extra flour on hand helps when forming the dough into loaves. Hope you give it a try.

      1. claudia e silbert says:

        USE A SILICONE SCRAPER TO MANIPULATE/KNEAD THE DOUGH AFTER RISING. ELIMINATES STICKYNESS PROBLEMS SINCE IT IS NONSTICK. KITCHENAID MAKES A SET FOR $12 ON Amazon.

  4. Gretchen H Nelson says:

    I made this yesterday and it was my first time making Artisan bread. I only had regular flour and I followed the recipe to the letter. The dough came out a bit too thin so could not form it into two but used my newly purchased Bread bowl. It came out absolutely perfect!! It was just delicious !! My husband loved it. I will be making it again and again!!
    Wonderful!!!

  5. This bread was amazing! Why are people complaining about this AMAZING bread?

  6. This turned out great! Thank you for sharing it.

  7. Della Domingo says:

    Hi, Do you keep the temp at 475 for the entire baking time? Thanks, Della

    1. Hi Della- yes, keep the oven temperature at 475 for the entire baking time.

  8. I just made this bread today.
    I added 3/4 cup dried cranberries and 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts to the dough. I also used the water bath as described. I made one big round-shaped bread and baked It for 33 minutes. It turned out great!! The outside is crisp, but the inside is so fluffy and moist. My family really liked it!
    Thanks for the great recipe!!

  9. First time baking bread and my loaf turned out “okay”. I used active dry yeast because that’s all I could find. I did some searching and it looks like with active dry I need to “proof” it in warm water then add? I would appreciate any suggestions. I’m determined to master this!

    1. Hi Susan, if using active dry yeast, the process is the same. I swap between the two all the time.

  10. I adapted this recipe to make a chilli and garlic loaf by replacing the 2tsp of course salt with 1tsp of chilli salt and 1tsp of Garlic salt – delicious!

    Great recipe, great bread every time!

  11. AmiLicious says:

    Hi Sally! I’m in the process of making this bread and am wondering, if I’m using a baking stone, should I still put flour and corn meal on the stone? If so, would I do that before or after preheating the stone?
    Thank you for your time! So far, this recipe is super easy!

    1. Hi! I always add it after preheating the stone.

  12. I left my dough in the refrigerator overnight. Now I’m ready to bake, but do I need to warm up the dough at all, or just put it into the oven cold?

    1. No need. It will begin to come to room temperature (mostly) after you shape it, cover it, and let it rest for the 45 minutes.

    2. Very good

  13. After leaving it in the refrigerator over night can i just use half the mixture and leave the rest in the refrigerator for the day after to use.

    1. Definitely.

  14. Hi Sally,
    I’m about to try this recipe but only have fresh yeast….. is this suitable please?

  15. I followed this recipe exactly. When I took loaves out of oven , they were stuck to pan.
    Could not remove them without tearing the bread

    1. Baked one loaf of this bread yesterday, holding the 2nd for tomorrow, it was delicious! It was stickier than yours & the scoring marks wouldn’t hold & it flattened more than yours… did 1.5 tbsp. of rosemary… Wonderful flavor & great toasted! Thanks so much!

  16. Hi, busy with my daughter in the kitchen yesterday and put my dough straight in the fridge before letting it rise! Is there any comeback? Can I leave it out today for a couple if hours? Have made this bread previously and it was delicious! Thanks.

    1. Hi Katy, Yes try just leaving it out today before baking! Let me know how it turns out!

  17. U am 2 months into baking with yeast, and I’m hooked. Nothing is more rewarding than making a beautiful bread. I’ve made this bread a 4 times now, using both the with and without Dutch oven, plain, and versions with olives, roasted garlic and lemon/thyme. And every time it comes picture perfect. Love it.

  18. Lean Pienaar says:

    Hi Sally,

    I made this recipe and it came out very nice. Thank you. The one loaf was gone within a day as I need to force my self to stop eating it :-). I love the crust and chewiness of the bread. It is such an easy recipe to follow. I will definitely make this again.

    Kind Regards
    Lean Pienaar

  19. Wonderful! Thanks so much for this recipie.

  20. I have made this bread probably a dozen times the past few months. My son and daughter in law are vegan and will demolish an entire loaf themselves, so I always make two! It’s really easy and delicious. I would recommend letting the dough sit at least overnight in the fridge, however it’s great even if you don’t.

  21. Hi Sally! I just made this recipe twice (but I added rosemary and substituted some of the water with olive oil). This time, I allowed it to rise for 2 days and used active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, but I saw that you said above that you use them interchangeably. When I put the loaf to bake, the dough had doubled in size from the yeast and there were tons of holes and air pockets. However, when I took it out from the oven, there weren’t any holes and it looked really dense, not like the pictures you showed. It tasted delicious and really soft, but did not have any holes like in the picture. I would really appreciate any advice!

    1. Hi Ananya, I wonder if the 2nd loaf simply needed more time in the oven. (Especially if it was dense.) Try extending the bake time– an extra 5 minutes could really help!

      1. Thank you so much for the speedy reply and the input! Also, I was wondering if you have any recommendations for baking with multigrain flour?

      2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Ananya, We recommend avoiding whole wheat/whole grain flour in this dough. If necessary, use half bread flour and half whole wheat flour. The bread will taste a bit dense.

  22. Emily Phelps says:

    Do you have any tips for high altitude? Do I need to adjust any ingredients?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emily, I wish I could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  23. Rebecca Fuhr says:

    Hello,

    Can this recipe be made with a sourdough starter?

    Thanks,
    Rebecca

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca, We haven’t tested it. Let us know if you do!

  24. Hi Shelly, my oven can only go up to 450deg F. What should I do? Should I increase baking time?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can bake at 450 for longer. I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed but bake until the crust is golden brown. Gently tap the loaves– if they sound hollow, the bread is done.

  25. I made this bread today. It was soooo good. My husband kept telling me it was the best bread ever. I’m a novice bread baker, and this was so easy. I have another bowl of dough resting in the fridge right now that I added shredded cheddar cheese to so we can have fresh bread again tomorrow. Thank you, Sally, for the awesome recipe.

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