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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, homemade English muffins, and homemade 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. Just like when we make olive bread, 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!) We use the same cool water method for no knead honey oat bread.
  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. It’s the perfect starch in breakfast casserole
  8. With anything because homemade bread is everything’s best friend

See Your Homemade Artisan Bread!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 3 and 1/4 cups (about 430g) 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Love this recipe for taste but I’m having trouble getting a crusty top. The last time the it was crusty for about a minute or two and then softened . I use a cast iron dutch oven and always check internal temp before taking out of oven. I have some now in the fridge, thinking of taking it out of the dutch oven for last 10 minuets or so, would that help?

    1. Hi Debbie! Yes, that may help. Trying the method with the bread on a pan and a pan of water in the oven may result in a nicer crispy crust as well. But if you live in a particularly humid environment, bread will lose its crunch rather quickly regardless of the method. Let us know what you try!

  2. This recipe was delicious!!! I baked my loaves for 20 minutes and they came out perfectly! I had a hard time scoring the sticky dough, but it didn’t affect the taste.

    1. I have a question. First I have made this bread several times and love it. If I want to make four loaves instead of two do I just double all the ingredients and then divide the dough into four loaves?

      1. Hi Loraine! For the absolute best taste and texture, we strongly recommend making each batch of dough separately instead of doubling.

  3. I have tried this recipe twice, once with active and once with instant yeast. I allowed it to double in size for 3 hours. When I tried to shape them they kept flattening out and the dough was very sticky. When I baked them, they only rose slightly and barely got golden brown. I baked the first one 20 and the second one 25 minutes. Any idea what is going wrong? The only thing I didn’t do was after I shaped them, I didn’t let them rest for 45 minutes.

    1. Hi Angie! You want to be very gentle with this dough when shaping to maintain all the air bubbles in the dough. It’s ok if they flatten our a bit when shaping – just use floured hands and do your best. We do recommend letting the dough rest as the oven preheats. Hope these tips help for next time!

  4. I made it. Im over the moon thrilled with how it came out. I feel like I just came back from a french bakery with a baguette. my first yeast bread, first time, first try and its AMAZING. so happy. Thank you!

  5. This recipe confuses me. There is no punch down, no kneading. How does this bread work? I have 4 batches in process now. I will update tomorrow!

    1. Hi James! The blog post above gives more detail on the method, but this is a special no-knead technique for producing delicious bread. We hope you enjoy it.

  6. This is my go-to recipe now – it always comes out perfect. It’s barely any more effort than using a bread machine, but the result is worlds apart – anyone would believe this came straight from the artisan bakery down the road! I do use instant dry yeast sachets, which seem to work perfectly. I cover my mixing bowl well and then pop it into a warm cupboard for 3 hours before refrigerating. I have kept in the fridge for 24 hours and I’ve skipped straight into assembly – both have excellent results. I pretty much just slop the two halves of dough onto the baking sheet in a rough shape, barely touching it, then let the dough rest, then score and bake in my conventional oven using the ‘crispy crust’ tip.

    I keep at least one slightly pale loaf in the freezer ready for guests. I’ve found that it fits neatly in my Ninja Foodi air fryer – I pop it on ‘bake’ for 15 minutes at 140c, then leave it inside the cooker for another 15 minutes after the beep. It comes out perfect, just as crispy and soft as if it was freshly baked.

    On one occasion I was able to use the traditional wood-fired oven from our local museum, which dates from 1840, and that created a really robust brown crust that was appealing in a different way.

    1. I have made this bread numerous times and as always it comes out just the way it’s supposed to. It is very difficult to work with in the shaping as it is very sticky but don’t let that worry you just shape the best you can. That 45 min resting time is important. I have given up on trying to get a crispy crust on the bread to stay so I really enjoy the first slices with the super crunchy crust, so delicious. This is my go to recipe for Artisan No Knead Bread, thanks Sally

  7. Color me surprised and impressed. Such a simple recipe to follow and dare i say fool proof? 2 days yielded two delicious loaves. I came a doubting thomas but I am now enjoying a fabulous and simple turkey sandwich right now.
    A question, can this recipe be scaled up or does it need to be made in these size batches?

    1. Hi James, thank you so much for your positive feedback. We’re glad you’ve enjoyed this recipe! For absolute best taste and texture, we strongly recommend making each batch of dough separately instead of doubling.

  8. This bread is amazing. The instructions are easy to follow and the loaves came out beautifully. Everyone raved over how tasty the bread was and my husband said we need to keep this recipe on regular rotation. My new go to!

  9. I’ve done this before and it was super easy and came out great. My question now is, if I want to bake one loaf at a time instead of 2 loaves at the same time, should I divide the dough into 2 parts before making them rise and put inside the fridge? Looking forward to hearing from you soonest. Cheers!

    1. Hi Myla! See recipe notes for make ahead instructions — complete the bread through step three and from there you can divide the dough in two and freeze on half.

  10. I LOVE this recipe! I have made it every couple of weeks since it was published – so, so good!
    Today, I am looking for a Ciabatta recipe and when I searched your website for Ciabatta bread it took me to this recipe. Would this recipe make a good Ciabatta loaf? If so, any hints for success? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Janet! Artisan bread and ciabatta are very similar, but true ciabatta bread dough typically has more moisture in it. You could try shaping this in smaller ciabatta-style loaves, although we haven’t done so ourselves. Let us know what you try!

  11. OK sounds good. Thank you!
    I wonder if Ciabatta could be added to your list of things to try? It seems like a good shape for sandwiches in the summer! Thanks again!

  12. I followed the instructions exactly and the bread cooked well but was a very dense thick bread, is there something to help get more of the light crunchy air pockets in the bread?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Casey! Make sure to handle the dough with care to prevent popping all the bubbles inside the dough and very carefully follow the instructions above. Any changes in ingredients or method can change the texture!

  13. Just made this! Perfection!!! OMG
    I made 2 small round buns instead and baked for 26 min with a pan at the bottom with boiled water.
    Crust is super crunchy. I’m so happy. Thank You Thank You!

  14. Love how easy this is, with taste to match. I’ve been having trouble though with my loaves sticking to the nonstick pan. I flour them as instructed, but then they are impossibly baked on!

    1. Hi Meg! Using more flour or cornmeal should do the trick, though some bakers swear by using parchment to prevent sticking.

  15. Great recipe, the bread is outstanding! When I make it in a dutch oven I usually bake it for 45 minutes with the lid on then 15 with the lid off (so it becomes a beautiful golden colour). I love making this recipe and I’ll surely use it again.

  16. Great recipe.
    For a while I had an issue with the bread sticking horrendously to the pan, or too the parchment. The solution was a lot more flour and cornmeal on the bottom, and the secret to this recipe – the bench scraper. Even stuck pieces are whipped right off the pan with a scraper, without the damage you otherwise get.
    Another great reminder is to do as your told – just combine the dough, rise out and then in the fridge, tip it out cold, cut with bench scraper (ideally), very loosely shape, rest, bake, done. Five minutes plus resting and baking max.

  17. HI again, I am so thrilled I can make bread and it tastes wonderful but I need help with scoring. I have tried everything … knife, scissors and a bread lame. I don’t know if my dough is too soft but when I cut the dough doesn’t hold the cuts and just folds back over itself. And if there is still a little slice mark remaining it is gone once baked. Any ideas of what I can do to resolve this?

    1. Hi Loraine, keeping the scored cuts can be difficult if the dough is simply too wet and sticky. (and this dough is certainly both!) I recommend adding a little more flour such as 1/4 cup of 30g to the dough so it’s sturdier and holds the score a bit better.

    1. Hi Ellie, See recipe notes: we 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.

  18. Can I proof my yeast first and then mix it into the flour or does it have to be in the dry ingredients?

    1. Hi Nina, feel free to proof the yeast before starting– you can proof instant yeast just as you do active dry (non instant) yeast. For this particular recipe, I would warm 1/2 cup (60ml) of the water to about 100°F (38°C), whisk in the yeast and a very small amount of granulated sugar (about 1 teaspoon). Cover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. If the yeast is active, the top of this mixture will foam. Then mix in the rest of the water and other ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as written.

  19. I just tried this for the first time and it turned out great! Next time I’m going to add cheddar and chives!
    The instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Will be making this often! Thank you!

  20. Delicious bread, as always. We love your homemade bread recipes and this one was so easy!

  21. Tried a different recipe before this one, I ended up with a loaf of heavy bread (will freeze and use in my homemade stuffing). This recipe is amazing, I let dough sit in fridge for 20 hours. I opted for the pizza stone and the crispy method (using a cast iron for the boiling water). Baked at 475 for 25 minutes, this was the perfect bread! Very crispy, chewy crust and light and airy inside. This will be the only recipe I will use from now on… Thank you for sharing this recipe:)

  22. Delicious bread. One question…do you have the nutritional information on this bread?

    Thanks,
    Sonny

    1. Hi Sonny, glad you enjoyed this bread recipe! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076

  23. If refrigerated after making the dough and letting it rise for the 3 hours do you need to leave it out before making into loaves and baking? If so, how long would you recommend?

    I’m so excited to make this one!

    1. Hi Chrystal! You can proceed with the recipe with the cold dough. Enjoy!

  24. Hi! I am excited to try this recipe. Can I use two loaf/bread pans for this recipe instead of shaping them on a sheet pan? I was thinking of shaping them into the pans and then letting them rise some more before baking. Thanks!

    1. Hi Katya! 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.

  25. Delicious! I did the 20 minute with steam and it came out perfect. I’ve been making myself tiny sandwiches nonstop now! Will definitely share this recipe with friends!

  26. Flavor is delicious! Can I use parchment paper because my bread stuck on one side.

  27. This was my first attempt at baking with yeast using all-purpose flour for the recipe. The bread turned out perfect. My fear of baking is rapidly disappearing due to the ease of using Sally’s recipes.

  28. very good bread. what would happen if i added say 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil to recipe?

    1. Hi Erik, adding more liquid to the dough would take some testing in order to guarantee results, but how about brushing some on top right before baking?

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