Homemade Bread Bowls

These homemade bread bowls are crisp on the exterior and extra soft inside. They’re made from a basic, yet versatile bread dough using everyday ingredients. This recipe yields 6 bread bowls, but you could use this dough for pizza crust or smaller dinner rolls instead. See notes in the full recipe.

bread bowl with chicken noodle soup

Tie on your aprons, gather your determination, and heat up that creamy soup. Let’s dive right into homemade bread bowls!

Ingredients in Bread Bowls

  1. Yeast: We use active dry yeast to make bread bowl dough. I highly recommend using a quality yeast like Red Star Yeast— it’s always my go-to brand for the best tasting breads!
  2. Water: 2 and 1/4 cups is the perfect amount. Use warm water to cut down on rise time, about 110-115°F. Anything over 130ºF kills the yeast.
  3. Sugar: 2 teaspoons of sugar “feed” the yeast which create carbon dioxide bubbles and allow the dough to rise.
  4. Salt + Olive Oil: Salt and olive oil add flavor and richness.
  5. Bread Flour: Bread flour contains a lot of protein which helps form a chewier, denser, and, well, more bread-like… bread. (Technical terms.) We want a strong and crusty bread for our bread bowls and bread flour will help us achieve that.

If you’re a bread beginner, don’t be nervous about yeast. It’s just another ingredient added to the dough. We’re not doing anything special with it. We’re just mixing it with water. The magic happens during hands-off time.

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

2 bread bowls with soup inside

Overview: How to Make Bread Bowls

Bread-making probably seems impossible, but think of it this way: it’s one of the most basic foods. Just simple ingredients mixed together, left alone to work some magic, shaped, and baked. That’s the process and it’s 100% something you can handle.

  1. Mix the dough ingredients together. You can use a mixer or do this by hand. The dough should be thick, yet soft– and only slightly sticky.
  2. Form the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball and place it into a large, greased bowl.
  3. Let the dough rise. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm environment until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
  4. Punch down the dough. Place it onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Form each into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheets– 3 dough balls per sheet.
  6. Score an X into each. Lightly brush the tops of each dough ball with egg wash and use a sharp knife to score an X into the tops of each. The egg wash is what makes them so shiny! If not eating as a bread bowl, the X makes it easy to tear into pieces. Ease of breaking apart is crucial in a bread lover’s world.
  7. Bake. These bread bowls take about 30 minutes to bake.
  8. Cut out the tops. When cool enough to handle, cut a large round out of the top of each bread bowl. Scoop out the center (save the center to dunk into soup!) and fill with soup.

Bread Bowls Video Tutorial (2 Minutes)

This is A Basic Bread Dough

The dough we’re using to make bread bowls is a very basic bread dough. Made with common ingredients that most bakers have on hand, it’s simple, wholesome, and incredibly versatile. In fact, you’ll find the same ingredients in my sandwich bread and homemade pizza dough recipes. Using the same basic ingredients in varying amounts– like flour, yeast, water, and salt– produces incredibly different results!

Bread bowl dough is a lean dough, which means that it’s prepared without fat and produces crusty bread such as focacciabagels, and artisan bread. On the other hand, rich doughs make soft breads such as babkasoft dinner rolls, and glazed doughnuts. When I’m making softer and fluffier bread, I typically use all-purpose flour, milk instead of water, and add additional fat like eggs and/or butter. More fat usually means the dough takes longer to rise. Today’s bread bowls are a particularly “lean” dough, so the rise time is quicker.

There’s no need to activate the yeast for this dough (basic, remember?)– which is when you add a pinch of sugar to the warm liquid/yeast to ensure that the yeast is active or not. Modern yeast is most likely active and ready to go. Just check the expiration date on the package.

bread bowls on cooling rack

bread bowls on a wood cutting board

Use This Dough for Anything

After the dough rises, you’ll shape the dough into 6 balls and bake them. You’re not limited to bread bowls though! This dough can easily turn into a couple pans of traditional dinner rolls, crusty loaves of bread, or even a few pizza doughs. You can add seasonings like garlic powder (my suggestion!), Italian seasoning, onion power, rosemary, etc. So many ways we can enjoy fresh bread with this simple and versatile recipe.

One batch of bread bowl dough makes:

  • 24 dinner rolls
  • 3 crusty loaves of bread
  • 4 12-inch pizza crusts

See my recipe notes below the recipe for detailed instructions for making each variation, as well as my make ahead and freezing tips.

overhead image of bread bowls on plates with chicken noodle soup

What to Serve in Bread Bowls

The options are endless when considering what to serve in homemade bread bowls. A few of my favorites are crab dip, roasted garlic and bacon spinach dip, minestrone soup, slow cooker chicken chili, and lightened-up creamy chicken noodle soup (pictured inside today’s bowls). Here are all of my soup recipes for even more inspiration!

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Chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl on a tan plate

Homemade Bread Bowls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 large bread bowls
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade crusty and soft bread bowls- a delicious basic dinner roll recipe you should hold onto!


Ingredients

  • 2 packets Red Star® Active Dry Yeast (4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (540ml) warm water (110°F – 115°F)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
  • 6 cups (780g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for hands and surface*
  • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk

Instructions

  1. Pour the warm water over yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Or, if you don’t have a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Whisk together and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a towel. The mixture should be frothy and foamy after 5 minutes.
  2. If you do not have a mixer, you can mix by hand in this step. With the stand mixer running on low speed, add the sugar, salt, olive oil, 4 cups of bread flour, and seasonings (if using, see recipe note). Beat on low speed for 1 minute, then add remaining 2 cups of flour. Beat on low speed for 5-6 minutes. The dough should be thick, yet soft. And only slightly sticky. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl as it mixes. If it’s too sticky, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Then place into a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. (I just use the same mixing bowl– remove the dough, grease it with nonstick spray or olive oil, put the dough back in.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm environment to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes. Tip: For the warm environment on a particularly cold day, heat your oven to 150°F (66°C). Turn the oven off, place the dough inside, and keep the door slightly ajar. This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, close the oven door to trap the air inside with the rising dough. When it’s doubled in size, remove from the oven.
  4. Once doubled in size, punch down the dough to release any air bubbles. Remove dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down again to release any more air bubbles if needed.
  5. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut into 6 even pieces. Form each into a large ball.
  6. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Place 3 dough balls onto each. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes as the oven preheats.
  7. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Brush each dough ball with egg wash and, using a sharp knife, score an X into the tops of each.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool until ready to handle. The longer you cool, the easier they are to cut open!
  9. For serving, cut a large round out of the top of each bread bowl. Scoop out the center (save the center to dunk into soup!) and fill with soup.
  10. Cover and store leftover bread bowls at room temperature for a couple days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. You can also freeze the baked bread bowls for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: After dough has risen in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 4. OR freeze for up to 2 months, then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 4.
  2. Whole Wheat Flour: I haven’t tried this dough with whole wheat flour, but I expect it to taste a little dry. You may have to add a little more water.
  3. Half Recipe: You can halve this recipe to make only 3 bread bowls. Or make the dough as written and freeze half for later use (see make ahead tip).
  4. Adding Flavor: I love adding a little flavor to the bread dough. I tested the recipe with a couple teaspoons of garlic powder and could hardly taste it. (Though I could certainly smell it.) I increased to 1.5 Tablespoons and it left a light and lovely garlic flavor. Adding garlic powder is optional, but tastes wonderful in the bread. If it pairs nicely with your soup of choice, definitely add it. You can also add 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning or rosemary, or a Tablespoon of onion powder.
  5. Dinner Rolls: Makes 24 rolls, which is likely more than you need, but you can freeze half of the dough for later. Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough in half. Freeze half of the dough for later use (see make ahead tip) and form the other half into 12 balls. Place balls in a greased 9×13 baking pan. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Brush with egg wash, score with an X if desired (not necessary) and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 25-28 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown.
  6. Pizza Dough: Makes 4 12-inch pizza crusts, which is likely more than you need, but you can freeze half of the dough for later. Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough in half. Freeze half of the dough for later use (see make ahead tip) and form the other half into 2 large balls. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Flatten each ball of dough 1 at a time on a lightly floured surface or on a silicone baking mat. You could also do this directly on your greased pizza pan. Flatten and stretch into a 12-inch round circle. Brush with a little olive oil (no need for egg wash). Add toppings and bake in a super hot oven at 475°F (246°C). Pizzas typically take 12-15 minutes.
  7. Crusty Bread Loaves: Makes about 3 loaves of crusty bread. Prepare dough through step 4. Instead of forming into 6 balls in step 5, divide the dough into 3 pieces. You can freeze 1 or 2 pieces for later use (see make ahead tip). Round into a ball as best you can and place onto a lined baking sheet. Cover lightly and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. The dough will spread out a bit. Brush with egg wash, score with an X, and bake at 400°F (204°C) for 30 minutes or until the tops and edges are golden brown.
  8. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: bread bowls

Begin with quality yeast.

ingredients for homemade bread bowls

Pour warm water on top, give it a minute to combine and froth up, then add the rest of the dough ingredients. You know the dough is ready when it no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

2 images of yeast mixture in glass bowl and bread bowls dough in glass bowl

Let it rise in a warm environment until (roughly) doubled in size, about 90 minutes. I use my oven for this warm environment. See step 3 above.

bread bowls dough rising in a glass bowl placed in the oven

The dough will be filled with air. Punch the dough down to release those air bubbles. You’ll be left with a super soft dough. ↓

bread bowl dough shaped into a ball before cutting

cutting dough for bread bowls

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, about the size of a softball, and round them into balls as best you can.

bread bowls dough shaped into balls

Use 2 baking sheets. Place 3 balls on each.

bread bowls dough on baking sheet before baking

Cover lightly with a tea towel, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.

bread dough rising under kitchen towel

Brush with egg wash. The egg wash helps create a crisp golden brown crust.

brushing egg wash onto bread bowls dough before baking

Score an X on the top of the unbaked rolls. This helps the rolls expand.

bread bowls on baking sheet before baking

Bake until golden brown.

Bread bowls on cooling rack

Carve out a deep hole in the bread. Doesn’t need to be perfect. Just use a knife.

bread bowl with hand removing cut-out top

Add your soup and enjoy.

Chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl on a tan plate

How to make crusty and soft homemade bread bowls with step by step pictures. This is a delicious basic dinner roll recipe you should hold onto! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

102 Comments

  1. Can you use instant/rapid rise yeast for these? 

    1. Sure can! The rise time will be a little shorter.

  2. Thank you for challenging me to make bread. Your instructions were great and it was really easy. Nothing better than homemade bread. I used all purpose flour as I did not have bread flour. I had to add 5 TBS of additional flour in the mixer for the dough to no longer stick. Everything came out great. All of your recipes are fantastic !

  3. After comparing my bread bowl making attempt with fellow bakers, I have some questions…
    My X’s on the top of loaves lack pizazz, is there a special knife to use? Or special cutting technique?
    How do you get loaves so round and uniform? Do you weigh them?
    My bread bowls tasted amazing,in fact dear husband wants this to be the ONLY white bread recipe that I use.
    Sally, you stated dough can be shaped into a round loaf. Can I put dough in rectangular bread pans? Thanks for a delicious recipe

    1. Hi Willa! Happy to help.
      1) I just use a very sharp knife. My sharpest one! No special cutting technique.
      2) I eyeball how much dough for each bread bowl, but you can weigh them to be precise.
      3) You can definitely divide the dough between a few loaf pans.

  4. Sally, this is such a fun idea for a baking challenge! Thank you for posting it! I made these tonight, along with your slow cooker chicken chili. Both delicious! My bread bowls did come out a little flat though, not as round as yours. Could that be a sign of the first rise being too long? I’d like to try these again, and perhaps add some seasoning to dough 🙂 

  5. Thank you so much for such a great and easy recipe!! This was my first time using yeast and everything came out perfect! I made your creamy chicken noodle soup with it and everyone in my house enjoyed the meal!! I will definitely be making both again!

  6. I’ve made this recipe twice now, and it is DEFINITELY my new go to bread recipe! The first time I made chili to put in the bread bowls. Tonight, I opted to make mini loaves so that I could play with the flavours (for the kiddos and the DH and I). I used a garlic flavored olive oil in the recipe and then topped the loves with cheese (for the kids) and garlic, salt and dried parsley (for the adults). So delicious!! 

  7. Well Sally, I got brave and made them. My x’s didn’t turn out like yours, but at least I made them. I have a fear of yeast but everything turned out and they rose or raised? like they were suppose to. Everything on your site turns out right. I’m going to fill them with a copycat brocolli and cheese soup! Sorry about the spelling. I forgot how to spell after I retired 5 years ago. Thanks for all your recipes.

  8. Hi Sally,
    I love your recipes. Made the bread bowls tonight. I cut the recipe in half and made 3 bowls. I added a tablespoon of onion powder to the dough. I filled the bowls with cheese potato soup. Delicious!  Will be making this recipe again and again. 
    Rosie

  9. What a great recipe! These were really easy to make and they came out perfectly. I added the garlic powder and really enjoyed the flavor.

  10. I made these last night. The directions were easy to follow and they looked delicious coming out of the oven, but I found the flavor a little lacking. Granted I didn’t add any of the seasonings you suggested, but I think I was missing the tang of sourdough from Panera’s bread bowls. 
    But we still gobbled them up with some veggie chowder! Thanks for a fun recipe, I’m excited to follow your bake-a-long. : )

    1. Hi Mariah! Thank you so much for trying out the bread bowls. I love a little garlic powder, onion powder, or even Italian seasoning in the bread dough. Try that next time!

  11. First time making a bread bowl. This recipe is perfect. I didn’t have to use as much flour..i think about 1.5 cups left out but the direction on what to look for in the dough saved me from using too much dough. I also split into 4s instead of 6 bowls and it came out wonderful. We love huge portions. Baking time i just added 5 minutes for the larger bowls. I used 1T Italian seasoning plus 1T garlic powder. Went great with broccoli cheddar. Thank you so much for an awesome recipe

  12. Lauren Goehring says:

    Can I make the dough in a bread maker?

    1. Hi Lauren! Some readers have with success, but I personally haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do!

      1. Lauren Goehring says:

        It worked perfectly!

  13. Hi Sally, I made these once before and they turned out awesome! I am planning on making them for Halloween but want to make ahead and start tonight. I’m worried they won’t turn out as delicious as when I made them in one day. Do I really only let the balls rise for 20 minutes before baking them? We traditionally have soup and bread bowls for Halloween every year (since my mom was a kid) and so I don’t want to mess it up. I’m sure they’ll be great, but wanted to check. Any additional tips for make-ahead baking for this recipe would be great! Thanks!

    1. Hi Taylor! The dough rises until doubled, about 90 minutes. After shaping the balls, they only need about 20 minutes to rest before baking. I hope you LOVE them!

  14. These were great! I regularly make loaf bread and rolls, but love to follow recipes, so I used yours for my first bread bowls. They were perfect. I had no issues following instructions or need to change ingredients/amounts. We filled them with chili and loved them. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Stephanie Kurz says:

    I’ve used this recipe to make the bread bowls before (yum!) but I’m thinking about using it to make dinner rolls. Do you think rolls from this recipe would be suitable to use for sloppy joes or pulled pork sandwiches? Or are they more of ‘on the side’ type roll? Not sure if they would hold up to holding meat like that. Or do you have a different roll recipe you could recommend to hold meat?

    1. Hi Stephanie, Yes you can use this recipe to make dinner rolls! See the “Recipe Notes” at the end of the recipe for exact directions!

  16. Bread bowls have always intimidated me. These were easy and absolutely fantastic! I made the creamy chicken noodle soup to go in them. My family loved it, and my 5 year old was blown away that she could eat the bowl.

  17. Hi- I love this recipe- it had become my go to for bread bowls and loaves- thank you! I froze one of the three loaves last time and just want to be sure I have it right- I thaw it overnight in the fridge and then let it rise on the counter for 20 minutes before egg wash and baking? It said continue with step 4, but I’ve already pinched the air out and formed it into a loaf before I froze it. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Kristi! I’m so happy you enjoy this dough recipe. Makes great bread, that’s for sure! Since your dough is already shaped, let it thaw in the refrigerator, then let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before egg wash and baking.

  18. I can’t wait to make these this weekend! I just don’t know how much soup to make- How much soup does each bowl hold?

    1. Roughly 1 cup 🙂

  19. Kristin Bell says:

    I’m a very amateur baker and was really nervous to try these out but my husband was a craving a bread bowl so I gave them a shot. Halved the recipe and added 1 tsp onion powder and 2 tsp Italian herbs. Husband’s description was “superb”. Now I’m excited to make pretzels and pizzas. Thank you!!!

  20. thanks so much for the great recipe! so easy to make and so delicious! i added italian herbs to my bread bowls and not only were they crispy and soft but flavorful too. i wish there was a option to add photos here! coz they look great! can’t wait to try making them into dinner rolls next time!

  21. Thank you so much for this recipe. I’m a master of soup, but homemade bread has been my food nemesis for years. I followed your recipe, welcomed your encouragement, and made picture perfect bread. This recipe is easy to follow and delicious. I will definitely make this bread many times over. Thanks again

  22. I made these today to stuff with beef stew ! They look and smell amazing ! Cannot wait to try and fill them !

  23. I recently found your recipe so thought I’d try it. I let my Zojirushi bread machine make the dough then break it out into balls. So far has come out perfect, thanks.

  24. I have never baked bread before, and my bread bowls came out AMAZING! The steps were easy to follow. I did use my newly purchased bread maker to mix the dough, but everything else was done by hand. I am going to be making for a second time today, including a little extra so I have some extra dough to freeze. Thank you so much for recipe, and I look forward to making more of them!

  25. Your recipe says to let the dough rise in the warmed oven for 90 minutes …..as I scrol.ed through the recipe towards the end you say after it has risen for 2 hours….which is it. Unfortunately…I let it rise for 90 minutes….punched it down …rolled them into balls for bread and they baked flat….? Alot of work…very disappointed. I may try again another day with 2 hours rise time…please make corrections so others won’t have this problem?

    1. Hi Joyce, the dough can take anywhere between 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on the warmth of the environment where it’s rising. When it has doubled in size, it has finished that rising step. Sorry for the confusion!

  26. I have made these numerous times in my bread machine, and they are perfect. Had to make 2/3 of recipe because of size of machine, still perfect. Thought I had followed the recipe exactly the first time, then realized after bread was already rising that I had omitted the salt entirely…. still PERFECT! Thank you so much for posting this. Joan

  27. I made these yesterday to hold some chicken stew I had made, and they came out PERFECT. Lovely to look at and worked great. Thanks for another tasty and useful recipe!

  28. Steve Lemon says:

    Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

  29. I made this a few nights ago for my broccoli soup. My god it was good. I had to search it again because I’m using this recipe again tonight to make one big bread.

  30. Is it possible to make with all purpose flour? I cannot get my hands on any bread flour at the store or online.

    1. Yes you can Lori, they just won’t be quite as chewy.

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