Homemade Bread Bowls

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

Welcome to 2018!! I’m not really sure where 2017 went, but I know where 2018 is going: BREAD. Or at least that’s where January’s headed. Tie on your aprons, gather your determination, and heat up that creamy soup. Let’s dive right into 2018 with homemade bread bowls!

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

Breadmaking 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.

Today I’m going to talk about the dough itself, convince you there’s nothing to fear, share the recipe, then walk you through step-by-step pictures so you can see the bread bowls come together. This is a priceless recipe that you can and will master.

Basic Bread Dough

These homemade bread bowls start with an ordinary bread dough. Dissolve the yeast in warm water to get things going. No need to activate the yeast– 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. (You’ll still use a bit of sugar in the dough itself, though… more on that next.) I highly recommend using a quality yeast like Red Star Yeast— it’s always my go-to brand for the best tasting breads!

Just 4 more ingredients: salt and olive oil for flavor, a bit of sugar to “feed” the yeast which creates carbon dioxide bubbles and allows the dough to rise, and bread flour. Bread flour contains a lot of protein which helps form a chewier, more dense, 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.

To give you the full picture, I use all-purpose flour when I’m making richer, softer, and more fluffy bread. Things like cinnamon rolls, butter rolls, doughnuts, and monkey bread. I typically use milk instead of water and I 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.

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

If yeast terrifies you, don’t hide your eyes! 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. So kick up your feet and get your soup ready.

Pictured inside my bread bowls? Lightened-up creamy chicken noodle soup!

Use This Dough for Anything

After the dough rises, which I chat about in the step-by-step pictures below, 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.

What’s more? We all lead busy lives, so make things easy on yourself by prepping the dough ahead of time and freezing it. See my make ahead tip.

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

Kevin, my in-house bread critic, had a lot to say about the bread bowls.

  • Big fan of the X score on top. 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. More on the X below the recipe!
  • The edges are the right amount of crisp. Two thumbs up.
  • How do you make them so shiny? (egg wash! remember from our pie crust designs?)
  • When can you make them again?

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

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Chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl

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, 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. For this warm environment, I preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C) then turn the oven off and place the bowl inside the warm-ish oven. Leave the oven door cracked a bit.
  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 two hours 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. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Pastry Brush | 2-cup Measuring Cup | Stainless Steel Chopper
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Begin with quality yeast. 🙂

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let it rise in a warm environment until (roughly) doubled in size, about 90ish minutes. I use my oven. Preheat it to 200°F (93°C) then turn the oven off and place the bowl inside the warm-ish oven. Leave the oven door slightly cracked open. I placed the bowl on top of a baking sheet because the bottom of the mixer bowl is plastic. 

Bread dough rising on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Use 2 baking sheets. Place 3 balls on each.

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cover lightly with a tea towel, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc. Let the dough rest for 20ish minutes. How cute is this towel!!!

Bread dough resting on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Bake until golden brown. Gorgeous!!

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

How to make homemade bread bowls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Add your soup. Dive in!

Chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl

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

164 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. We were blown away by the bread bowls so we tried the pizza crust and found it needed more time as it was hardly cooked. Maybe bake it without toppings first?

    1. Hi Leslie! I don’t usually bake this dough before adding the pizza toppings, but you definitely can. Maybe pre-bake a little, then add the toppings, then finish baking.

    2. Hi! I’ve made this as a pizza dough, fresh and frozen, I’ve found the trick is to make a really thin crust, and let it sit about 5 – 10 mins before adding the toppings. Comes out perfect everytime!

  4. I would love to try these! Could I by chance make these ahead, freeze & just thaw out the night before? They’d be for a party & I’m just trying to make as much food ahead of time as I can 😉

      1. Awesome! Not sure how I missed this! Thank you 🙂 I’m going to make them for my son’s 2nd birthday party to have with cheesy broccoli soup. Can’t wait to try them.

      2. I made these this morning, they look good except they turned out quite flat. The dough was very sticky after rising, I did have to keep adding flour otherwise they stuck to my hands when rolling. Was there something I did wrong?

  5. Yeast used to be something that absolutely terrified me.  A dear friend, who was a phenomenal baker, shared a tip with me that I’d like to share with anyone else who may be in the scared same boat. The warm water: run your tap on warm water over the inside of your wrist, the water is warm enough right before it tingles on your wrist. Sounds weird, but honestly ever since the first time I tried that method for checking the water temperature I have never had anything with yeast flop on me, now I just need to master the tricks of sour dough….

  6. 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

  7. Amazing recipe! Before that I had never made bread bowls, today I have made the first time.This recipe is perfect. Thanks for sharing the amazing recipe. Again thanku so much…

  8. Looks delicious. I want to try these but we don’t get bread flour where I live. Can I add gluten to all-purpose flour to make it strong? If yes how much gluten should I add to each cup of flour

  9. 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!

      1. I’m sorry, can you clarify if I let it rise until doubled and then shape into balls after it has been in the refrigerator? I am confused if they need to rise longer than 20 minutes after they’ve been in the refrigerator.

      2. Hi Taylor, after the dough has risen two hours in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap then refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator, punch it down again to release air bubbles (step 4). Then continue with step 5. They do not need to rise longer than 20 minutes after being in the refrigerator.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. My stand mixer has a stainless steel bowl. Will that affect the yeast as the metal might hold the temperature of the warm water longer?

    1. Hi Pat, I have never had any issues making this in a metal bowl! If you are concerned you can always do this step in a glass bowl and transfer it to your mixer.

  13. 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.

  14. I think i want to try to make these later this week with soup and have leftovers for lunch over my work weekend…do you think the bread bowls keep okay for 3-4 days?

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!!

  17. 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!

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