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’ve made this bread 5 or 6 times – mostly as round boules and once as 2 separate loaves as shown in the video. The first couple were excellent. Unfortunately the last 3 loaves have all been very doughy inside even when the crust is well cooked and dark. I’ve made it with a Dutch oven (using the recommended method) and on a baking sheet – same issue. I’ve measured the internal temp with an instant thermometer (205 – 210 each time) but it keeps coming out with a slightly underdone texture. (The baking sheet effort was especially doughy near the bottom.) Any suggestions? I hate to give up this recipe after the 1st 2 excellent efforts but doughy bread just isn’t fun.

    1. I made this the first time and the crust is great but a little doughy on the inside….would love to get some insights as I don’t want to give up on this easy recipe

  2. Great taste! Love the crust and texture… but, my loaves look more like biscotti vs nice and round… what do I need to change? I weigh the flour and use a liquid measuring cup… but it’s still a flat, wide loaf…

    1. Same as mine, I weigh both the flour and water and my dough never looks a stiff as hers. I’ve made it 2 times now, increasing the amount of flour, buy 10g a time, they’re slowly becoming more round. Making one today with 235g of flour (only make 1 loaf) see how it turns out.

  3. I have made this bread many times in the past six months or so…it is a foolproof, absolutely delicious bread!

  4. This bread won’t rise in the oven no matter what I do. I have tried 3 tomes, followed the recipe EXACTLY, made it twice by refrigerating overnight & once baking it right away & the dough just spreads out & bakes flat. I’m using the rapid rise yeast. The dough doubles in size during the rising process but as soon as I take it out of the bowl it deflates, & continues to spread sideways during the 45 minute rise time before baking. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Jenn, it sounds like your dough could benefit from more flour. If it’s too sticky to the point that it’s unworkable, you can gently work in more 1/4-1/2 cup more flour, especially if it’s a particularly humid day. Always use floured hands and flour your work surface generously as well.

  5. In the process of making it, resting in the fridge for 3 days, I’m sure it’ll turn out amazing 🙂
    Don’t shoot me down yet! I just wanted to review it before finishing anyway to thank and congratulate the author. This is such a thoughtful recipe, you cover all the bases, you mention all substitutes (both ingredients and cookware) and how to make it in different conditions + video and pictures to help alongside. . This is such a gem of a recipe, and you didn’t bore us with your life like so many do to fill the page
    All recipes should be written like that 🙂 pure perfection. Thank you for taking the time to share that with us

  6. I have tried this several times now by weighing out the ingredients and always have to add significantly more flour because the “dough” that’s made with the weighed measurements is sloppy wet, not anything like the video. It tastes good, but it just never seems to work as written.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Becky, 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.

  7. Hi Sally, I just made Artisan bread last weekend using your recipe. It is my 1st time making artisan bread. I followed all your steps, 1st rise 2 hours and keep in the fridge for about 20 hours. Then bring out and let it rise 2nd time for 1 hour. I am happy to say that I’m quite happy with the outcome. My bread come out beautifully. I don’t have cast iron or dutch oven, so I used my ceramic casserole with glass lid which I heat in the oven 30 mins before I put my dough. But for temperature I put 200c. I’m afraid to use higher than that because I never use more that 200c before. I baked for about 30 mins with lid on, after that remove lid and bake another 15 mins. The moment of truth is when I cut it. The inside texture i guess if I bake 45 mins with lid on it could probably well cook. 30 mins it only just almost cook. Then I tried to put back in the oven and bake 10 mins. But silly me, it makes the bread outer crust become really hard to cut. On the taste, I am using regular salt. I missed the part that you put note that have to reduce 1 1/2 tsp instead of 2tsp. Yes, 2 tsp regular salt a slight salty. Anyway, this is my 1st experience. I will definitely redo again your recipe. Thank You so much for sharing the great recipe.

  8. I have made this several times both individual loaves and a round single loaf, I was wondering if I could drop the dough when ready to put in the oven into a oblong baking tin?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ray, There is a little too much dough for a standard size (9×5 inches) loaf pan, so you could try dividing the dough in half and using 2 loaf pans. The edges should still crisp up and the bake time may vary.

  9. I was skeptical about the recipe because it was so easy and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The bread was light with good crumb and flavor. I followed the recipe exactly except I cut it exactly in half–only wanted one loaf. Added 1 garlic powder and 1 t minced onions as per the flavor ideas. My dough was a looked a little wetter than Sally’s per the video. However, it wasn’t flat and I was happy with the results. Next time I will try the overnight rise.

  10. Laura Callihan says:

    I’ve made this dough successfully before with my sister, but I’m having trouble with making it again. The dough doesn’t seem to come together no matter how much I work it and even if I add a tiny bit more water, and then when I refrigerate it, it comes out really lumpy. Should I add even more water?

  11. Made this bread today- the two loaves. It was so much fun. I’ve never tried baking bread before and felt so professional when my apt started to smell like a bakery lol. I wanted to try the ‘crustier’ crust so put a muffin tin with the cups half-filled with water on the bottom rack in the oven (I had to improvise as I don’t have another shallow pan). They turned out great! Not super airy and hole-y in the middle which could have been due to a number of things (not too dense though, either), but will definitely keep using this recipe. I only had all-purpose flour on hand to use so next time will try the bread flour, as recommended. Thank you for this recipe; the video is super helpful too. So cool to eat and share fresh bread you just made, yourself! <3 <3

  12. I love this recipe! It is so easy and a hit at my house. I sautéed an onion, chopped garlic cloves and added rosemary as per your recommendations. It was delish.

  13. Let me start by saying I absolutely love this recipe. The air bubbles make me look like a pro.
    I used regular salt and decreased the quantity to the required 1 and 1/2 teaspoons but it came out pretty salty.
    Can I decrease the salt even further?
    I honestly love that there is no fermented smell that I usually get when making bread.

    Please advise

    1. You can certainly reduce the salt even further if you’d like. 1 teaspoon of regular table salt is fine.

  14. First time making bread. Always wanted to but was nervous. Came across this recipe and I knew I could do it. Used my pizza stone and both loaves came out beautifully and tasted delicious.
    Thank you for the easy recipe. Making more tomorrow!

  15. Mines was a sloppy mess after 3 days is this because I used a mixer?

    1. Hi Gary, I don’t recommend a mixer. Just a few stirs to bring the ingredients together. You don’t want to overwork the dough. Try sprinkling flour on your wet dough to help it come together.

  16. I found this recipe during a 3 days blizzard. I made homemade soup and wanted a nice loaf of bread to go with it without having to attempt running to a grocery store. I was skeptical up until the time I cut it. Amazing!
    I prepared it according to the directions and had it resting in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours. It was so easy to assemble from start to finish. The dough was sticky and that was easily remedied using floured hands to shape.
    I was nervous about the high oven temperature. I put water in an aluminum pan on the bottom rack in the oven for steam as recommended in the recipe notes.
    I did use all purpose flour as that’s all I had on hand and it was fine.
    I am so glad I gave the recipe a try. I will be making this recipe a lot. Thank you!!!!

  17. I wanted to give you some feedback on your recipe to make bread with only four ingredients. I did not think it was possible but I am surprised, it is one of the most delicious breads I have ever eaten and it was very easy to make. This bread, this recipe, is quite delicious and easy to make.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe with the public.

    Take care,

    Lucia, a now happy bread maker.

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