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
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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


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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


Comments are closed.

  1. I just made this recipe with some butter, Italian seasoning, and cheddar cheese on top and I am blown away. Excellent recipe!

  2. Shannon Oakley says:

    I have tried a couple different bread recipes that have not turned out so well. This one was amazing, easy and delicious. I will be making it all the time.

  3. Jemima Sarkodie says:

    I am officially blown! Very easy steps to follow and voila! You are making your own bread! My loaves turned out amazing, chewy inside and crisp on the outside. Didn’t have much time to keep in the fridge for hours but the dough rose for 3 hrs room temp and I baked. Turned out great with great flavour. I will definitely try it again leaving it in the fridge a day or two and compare. I am a newbie bread baker but I already feel like a pro with Sallysbakingaddiction.com recipes.

  4. Christine Adamson says:

    I had never baked a loaf of bread in my life when I started to use this recipe. It is fantastic. My family loves the bread and I now bake it a couple of times a week. I’d like to try adding some sesame seeds. Any tips on that?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christine, I’m so happy this bread is such a hit with your family! We haven’t tested this recipe with sesame seeds, but I’d start with 1/4 cup of sesame seeds or more depending on how seed-y you want the bread (you could toast them first for even more flavor). See recipe note #10 for instructions on when to add them!

  5. Hi Sally,

    how long would you bake the bread if you were making one big loaf instead of two smaller ones?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi El, I’m unsure of the exact bake time but it will be a bit longer. Bake until the crust is golden brown and when you tap the loaf– it will sound hollow when done.

  6. Beautiful and tasty recipe so simple to make. My dough rise wonderfully in 2hrs in our climate (think hot & humid) but after leaving in the fridge for 12 hrs and settled for 45mins during baking it tends to be quite flat (maybe about 3inches tall) may I know how to remedy this?

    1. Hi, Ashley. I think your dough was overproofed, hence why it deflated when baked. You can try to leave it in the fridge for less than 12 hours (perhaps 7-9 hours).

  7. Have made this recipe 2 times already and my whole family is in love with it! Both times when I made it it has been hard to score the bread because it’s very sticky and it sticks to the knife. Anyone know how to score it without it being so difficult?

    1. Hi, Lu. When scoring, I would always sprinkle flour on the dough, it helps to give a clean cut. And also use a very sharp knife/blade, and just slash really quickly, with no hestitation.

  8. Hi Sally! I was wondering if I need to bake my bread at 425 degrees for parchment paper, roughly how long should I bake it for? Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jo, I’m unsure of the exact bake time. The top of the bread will be golden brown when done!

  9. Dennis Johnson says:

    I baked two loaves following these instructions just this morning. They were PERFECT! I have never been satisfied with my previous bread baking efforts, but Sally’s directions led me to bread heaven. Sally, thank you! I now have the confidence to work on developing more skills and doing much more baking. Courtly smooches from my wife and me!

  10. Hey Sally!

    This is my first time making bread. Although after 30 min in the oven the bread hasn’t turned golden, do you know what could have gone wrong?

    Thank you though! The recipe was really easy to follow!

  11. Have you tried this recipe with the instant sourdough yeast from red star? They say you can replace any yeast with it so I’d thought I try it for a quick sourdough loaf tonight.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chelsea, We have not tested it with sourdough yeast but let us know if you decide to try it out!

  12. Hi Sally. Can you double the recipe -by simply doubling the ingredients? Or will timings, etc change?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ria, For absolutely best taste and texture, we strongly recommend making each batch of dough separately instead of doubling.

  13. After doing step 1, I mixed up the instructions(!) and put the dough in the fridge for 24 hours without letting it sit in room temperature for a few hours beforehand. What’s going to happen if I continue with this batch? Thanks!

    1. Hi! The baked loaf will be just fine, but it won’t rise quite as much.

  14. This recipe and your super-clear video worked wonderfully for me! My first homemade bread in decades! I followed the recipe exactly as given, and the bread was just delicious with a great chew–like bread from a cool bakery! One question–could I halve the recipe and any considerations if I do so? So that I make just one loaf? (It’s so easy I’d rather make less bread more often). Thanks so much!

    1. So glad that you enjoyed this homemade bread recipe, Mary. You can halve the dough recipe with no other changes necessary. (Keep the rise/rest and bake times the same.)

  15. Love this recipe and the flavor of the bread, but I am having trouble with timing. Center of my single boule is still stodgy/doughy after 35 minutes at 475.

    Have been letting the dough rest out of fridge for 2 hours and in fridge for 2 hours (gotta have that good bread ASAP, can’t wait for it!).
    Wondering if it could be due to the amount of kneading I have been doing–currently, have just barely combined the ingredients and just barely deflated the dough while shaping into a boule. Thoughts? More kneading?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Carson! I’m glad to help. If you find the center interior of the bread not baking quick enough/properly, try reducing the oven temperature down by 25 or 50 degrees F and baking for a bit longer. All ovens are different and a lower oven temperature may be better for your loaf. No need to change how you prepare the dough.

  16. Delicious! I don’t have a bread maker, dutch oven, or a pizza stone and I never made bread in my life. But I had the ingredients so I gave it a try. It was easy to make and the instructions were easy to follow. The bread had a nice crust and was airy. I love that I can make and rise it on a hot day and wait for a cooler day to turn on the oven. Thanks for sharing your recipe, I can believe I made bread, and it was good 🙂

  17. Hi, Sally. You’ve been teaching me how to be confident at baking, srsly! We’ve been making your recipes and adjust it to our liking(flavor,sugar,salt,etc.) This one here became our daily bread, literally. We make it at night, then bake it in the morning for breakfast! It’s just that we are still having a problem scoring the dough because we don’t have a sharp knife lol. It was actually hard at first when we tried to bake this because we can’t control the heat of our convection oven( a small one). Eventually we figured that it’s actually just top bottom setting, same time. When we add sugar, just lessen the time, but it was more dense. Anyway, thank you for the wisdom.

  18. Bahareh Vafaei says:

    Hi Sally,

    Thanks for the great recipe, I have a question, can you please tell me 2 teaspoons instant yeast is equivalent to a few grams?

  19. maria caballero olins says:

    Hola Sally: gracias por tomarme en cuenta, de lo que me enviaste ya escogí dos recetas la de zuquini y este pancito que se ve ricoooo ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡
    Besitos y cuidense mucho de esta pandemia que está mantando mucha gente.


  20. I have been making this extraordinary bread almost every day for the last 3 months. It’s not only exquisite, but forgiving. But I do have a question… if, after cooling the bread, I suspect that it could use a few more minutes in the oven, can I put it back without compromising the loaf? (Today it sounded hollow when I took it out, but it seems less so after about 30 minutes on the rack…
    Thank you for your excellent recipes and your consideration.

  21. Hello Sally,
    I absolutely LOVE baking with your recipes I cannot count how many I have already done 😉

    I would like to know if I could mix the dough in a kitchenaid standmixer? If so, for what consistency am I aiming for?
    And how long should I aprox. Mix it for?

    Greetings from Berlin Germany

    1. Hi Greta, thank you so much! I do not recommend a mixer for this 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!

  22. Hi, love this recipe! I have been working on my bread baking since March– trying everything from sweet breads to sourdough. Yet this simple bread recipe, which is so much easier than sourdough or other complex loaves I’ve attempted, is always the most popular with my boyfriend! He says it’s “the best bread [he’s] had in [his] entire life”. I’ve had some fun with it– made it once with rosemary and garlic, and one time I sprinkled everything bagel seasoning on top, which I loved. But he seems to just like it best plain white served with some olive oil and salt/pepper 🙂 I will say, you’re right about the salt. I made the mistake of making it with table salt before buying coarse salt, and it made a WORLD of difference. Thank you for this website <3

  23. this is the best recipe I’ve tried so far. Bread turned out to be very flavourful (the overnight proofing in refrigerator must do the trick!). However, the air bubbles were very small so it’s a bit dense. I did follow the recipes, and allowed time for proofing (3 hrs on the counter then 12 hrs in the refrigerator). What else can I do to make larger air bubbles? (I wish I could post a picture here to show what I meant).

  24. Made this recipe with rosemary and garlic added and was great! Just wondering if you think braiding with a pesto through it would work? Sort of like your homemade cheese bread (need it to be vegan for friends!)

    1. Hi Lisa, so glad you enjoyed this bread! The dough is quite loose, so it’s not really possible to shape into intricate shapes. But you can use pesto instead of shredded cheese in the cheese bread recipe instead. To make it dairy-free, you can replace the milk in that recipe with water and butter with olive oil.

  25. I was going to ask the same question about water temp. I’ve made this three times now and it was delicious each time, but it’s been awhile since the last loaf and I started to second guess myself about the temp. Glad to know it’s 70º. But, curious, why is this one cool water and other recipes with active dry yeast lukewarm?

  26. oops. My question should have asked why instant yeast is sometimes mixed with cool water and sometimes with lukewarm. D

    1. Hi Deborah, you can use cold, cool, or warm water in dough recipes. The cooler the water, the longer the dough will take to rise. (And, sometimes, the longer the dough proofs, the better the flavor.)

  27. Daryl Fuentes says:

    The pizza is perfect and taste good. I followed your recipe.

  28. Lovely! Came out amazing! I would love to do this again and add herbs. Any ideas? Perhaps garlic and rosemary? Should these be added in the very beginning?

  29. Hi! I just made this today and my family and I loved them. Thank you so much.
    I just have one question, can we use whole wheat flour instead of bread or APF? I’m just trying to look for healthier options because I see myself baking this very very often.
    Thank you!

  30. Loved the recipe! Easy to execute and incredible results. I do have a comment: I lost the crispy crust once the bread cooled off ( it came out perfect out of the oven and we devoured one loaf!).. Any ideas why? Thanks!

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