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Amazing Artisan Bread for 40 Cents a Loaf - No Kneading, No Fussing, No Kidding

Update: If you're interested, I've written an update on this technique here.


What if I told you that instead of buying bakery bread for four or five dollars a loaf, you could make delicious handmade bread whenever you wanted, at a fraction of the cost and it is so easy a kid could do it?  Well, read on because this method of making artisan bread at home will change your life.  

You can make incredible bread without having to do all the usual time consuming tasks of breadmaking :

  • no need to make a new batch of dough every time you want bread
  • no need to proof yeast
  • no need to make starters or prefermented dough
  • no kneading! 

In the last few years, several methods for making easy no-knead bread doughs have crept up on the internet and gained popularity.  Among the most popular have been Jim Leahy's No-Knead Bread and Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois' Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  These breads drastically cut down the amount of time and work that it was always assumed had to go into artisan bread making.  Even the Zen Master of bread making, Peter Reinhart, has jumped onto the bandwagon, admitting that these no knead methods have made him rethink everything he knew about breadmaking:

"The results have forced me to reconsider all of the premises I once held sacrosanct".

So what is going on here?  

Boules Rising and Boules after Baking

The key is mixing up a high moisture, or "slack" dough, and letting it do a long fermentation in the refrigerator. It's long been known that a long fermentation contributes flavor to dough but it seems it also develops gluten and eliminates the step of kneading. The advantage in using refrigeration is that you can control the fermentation and you can make up a large batch of dough, enough for four loaves, and keep it in the fridge.  If you make a very wet dough, it will be able to last in the refrigerator a long time, gaining flavor as it ferments and allowing you to make bread whenever you decide. This is not to say there is not a place for multi-stage, time-consuming bread making techniques which require 15 minutes of kneading - I love making my homemade focaccia, which takes three rises every time I make a batch.  But this bread is absolutely a no-brainer.  You mix up a big batch of dough in one container, a process which takes only a couple of minutes (remember, there is no proofing of yeast or starters to make).  When you want bread, you cut off a hunk of dough and shape it. You can make various sizes and shapes: boules, batards, rolls or baguettes. It's just so convenient and makes such a beautiful bread with a crackly crust, you won't believe it.  I've even shaped the dough into rolls. Peter Reinhart points out that the home baker has an advantage over the commercial baker with this technique - the commercial bakery does not have the refrigeration space to use a method like this.  As a home baker, we can make up small batches of dough, refrigerate it and enjoy fresh bread whenever we want it. If you are buying fresh bread three times a week at $4.00 per loaf, you are spending about $50 a month on bread!  This bread is only about 40 cents a loaf to make.  And, since bread is best the day it is made, you don't have to drive to the grocery/bakery to get it every time  you want a loaf.

To see how easy it is to get a loaf ready, you can watch me form a loaf in about 30 seconds: 

This bread is very versatile, also.  In both Peter Reinhart's book and Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois' book, they give you many variations of breads made with the master bread recipe in each book.  You can make whole wheat breads, cheese breads, herb breads, breads stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, Challah, Semolina Bread and on and on.  Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have come out with another book, "Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day", for people who would like more whole grain recipes and gluten free breads.  This is a great book, too, and has lots of wonderful ideas in it. I have all three books and strongly recommend them if you want to try easy bread making.  It's nice to be able to make bread whenever the whim hits you - I have several types of doughs in my refrigerator, happily fermenting away.   

In these recipes, instant yeast is used, which eliminates the need for "proofing" the yeast.  Everything is simply mixed together. If you are interested in learning more about yeast, my recent "Yeast Explained" post may be of interest to you. Instant yeast is sometimes labeled "fast acting yeast" and is sold under the names of "Rapid Rise" and "Quick Rise" yeast.  Also, Bread Machine yeast is simply instant yeast.  I like to buy my yeast in the little jars instead of the packets because I can use only as much as I need out of the jar and it tends to be cheaper. 

One way of letting the dough rest and rise is to place it on a pizza peel, dusted with some cornmeal.  This works well when we make pizzas and pop them right into the oven.  However, for this the bread seems to stick because you have to let it sit so long on the pizza peel and rest.  So I place a small square of parchment paper on the pizza peel and put the dough right on that.  When I slide it into the oven, it goes in along with the parchment paper and bakes up beautifully.  If you want an extra crispy crust, just remove the parchment paper halfway through the baking time and return the bread to the pizza stone - this is what I do.

The dough can be stored in any plastic container with a lid or a bowl with plastic wrap placed over it. You want the gases to be able to escape as the dough rises, though - so wrap the plastic wrap over the bowl tightly and then puncture a little hole in the top.  It is nice to have a dedicated plastic container, though, in the fridge for your dough, because you are going to just keep it in there all the time.  Although these containers are recommended by the authors and the King Arthur Flour website has these nice dough rising buckets, I bought a square plastic-lidded container at my local grocery store because I thought it fit in my fridge better. You can see it in the photos below.  I place the lid on tightly, but I punched a small hole in the top. This is important to do.

So get out a bowl if you don't have a plastic container, mix up a batch of dough and have your first loaf tomorrow.  You won't believe it.  

No Knead Artisan Bread 

adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

for a printable recipe, click here
makes four 1 pound loaves.


  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets) 
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6½ cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour*

(My favorite way to make this bread now is to use half bread flour, half all-purpose flour and throw in ½ cup wheat bran into the dough.)

*After baking, if your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by ½ cup and/or increasing the baking time by 10 minutes.  


Mixing and Storing the Dough

1.  Warm the water slightly.  It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.  

2.  Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or a plastic container with a lid. 

3.  Mix in the flour - kneading is unnecessary.  (Note: I dump all this in my KitchenAid mixer, let it mix it for just about 10 seconds and then put it in the plastic container.  I just find it easier to let the mixer do this part). Add all of the flour at once, measuring the flour by scooping it and leveling it off with a knife.  Mix with a wooden spoon - do not knead.  You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  This step is done in a matter of minutes.  The dough should be wet and loose.

4.  Allow to rise. Cover with a lid (not airtight).  Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage can be purchased many places.  (I used a plastic square food storage container I got at my local grocery store. I now use a Rubbermaid 21-cup Dry Food Container.  I punched a hole in the top).  You want the gases to be able to escape a little.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top), about two hours. Longer rising times will not hurt your dough. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  So, the first time you try this method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.


5.  Shape your loaf.  Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a pizza peel (don't have a pizza peel - use an unrimmed baking sheet or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down).   Sprinkle the surface of your dough in the container with flour.  Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit), using scissors or a serrated knife.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go.  Dust your hands with flour if you need to.  This is just to prevent sticking - you don't want to incorporate the flour into the dough.  The top of the dough should be smooth - the object here is to create a "gluten cloak" or "surface tension".  It doesn't matter what the bottom looks like, but you need to have a smooth, tight top.  This whole step should take about 30 seconds!  Place the dough onto your parchment paper.

6. Let the loaf rise for about 30 - 40 minutes (it does not need to be covered).  If it doesn't look like it has risen much, don't worry - it will in the oven.  This is called "oven spring".

7.  Preheat a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.  Place an empty rimmed metal baking pan or broiler pan on a rack below the baking stone.  This pan is for holding water for steam in the baking step.  (If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom.  You will still have a great loaf of bread. Baking stones are cheap and easy to find - Target carries them - and are a must for making pizzas, so go out and get one as soon as you can.)

8. Dust the loaf with a little flour and slash the top with a knife.  This slashing is necessary to release some of the trapped gas, which can deform your bread.  It also makes the top of your bread look pretty - you can slash the bread in a tic tac toe pattern, a cross, or just parallel slashes.  You need a very sharp knife or a razor blade - you don't want the blade to drag across the dough and pull it.  As the bread bakes, this area opens and is known as "the bloom".  Remember to score the loaves right before baking.  

9.  Bake.  Set a cup of water next to your oven.*  Slide the bread (including the parchment paper) right onto the hot baking stone.  Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door.  This creates the necessary steam  to make a nice crisp crust on the bread.  Bake at 450 F for about 30 - 35 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf.  Make sure the crust is a deep golden brown.  When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while.  In baking terms, this is called "sing" and it is exactly what you want.  

* update: I have recently begun skipping this step with the water. I believe it caused my oven window to eventually crack and I have found that my bread is still great even without the water.  If you want an extra crispy crust, though, it is worth doing once in a while

10.  Cool.  Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture.  It's tempting to eat it when it's warm, and that's fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled.

11.  Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (with a hole punched in the top)  container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them.  When your dough is gone, don't clean the container.  Go ahead and mix another batch - the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does!

Bread is best eaten the day it is baked. Leftover baked bread is best stored at room temperature, unwrapped. Simply place the cut side of the bread on plate or counter.  If your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes. 

Check out the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website - Jeff and Zoe have great tips and recipes over there.

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Reader Comments (457)

I just made this bread and it was great! I love the crispy crust myself, but would like to make a loaf for my mother, who prefers a softer crust. Would omitting the broiler pan of water underneath result in a softer crust?

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJana

Hi there, I just made my first loaf of this bread and it was delicious! However, it might be worth noting in the instructions that you need to use a metal pan to pour the water into. I was distracted and used a glass pyrex dish, which (of course) exploded when the water hit it. Oops. Should have known better, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who could make this mistake!

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMyra

From The Italian Dish:

Jana: Sometimes I do not do the water part and the crust is still crispy, just not quite as much. Try it and see if you like it.

Myra: Whoops! Yeah, glass is a definite no - only a metal pan is safe. Thanks for sharing - I will update the post to include that!

January 24, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I have used this recipe for months, and always have a batch in my basement fridge! The bread is so fantastic and I am hooked for life.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Who knew something so good could be this easy. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I love this bread so much that I baked it with garlic and gave it to my friends for Christmas with a bottle of wine! Rustic and yummy. I'm in love xx

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Hi Elaine,
I am on my second batch of dough, since reading your blog. I cant say enough good things about it. So easy and so good. I am not much of a baker, but with this recipe I feel like I am one. Thanks again Kathy.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

This is a fantastic recipe. This recipe has restored my faith in "yes, you CAN make bread that requires yeast". Thanks so much for sharing.

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdonna

Thanks for posting this recipe, I think I came across this page on StumbleUpon and this has to be the best find I've had. I'm just a bachelor who's pretty stupid when it comes to baking, but this recipe is so simple. I have already started experimenting with various additions and changes. Thanks again!

p.s. I agree with Lild3b that the easiest way to form the bread is with wet hands after the dough has been in the fridge for a while -> no sticking at all.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Hi, I made bread using this recipe for the first time ever yesterday - it turned out perfect! I had to pull it out of the oven after only 25 minutes for fear it would burn and this gave me cause to fear it would be doughy inside...but it was AMAZING. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe - I have a feeling I'm going to be making this a lot from now on!

Here's the link to my blog post, if you're interested! :)

February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine N.

Your posted recipe is much too salty. I decreased the salt to 1 1/2 TEAspoons and it was perfect for everyone. Is it possible it's a typo?

February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterQueenie

From The Italian Dish:

Queenie: No, the salt amount is correct. It's 1-1/2 tablespoons. It's just right, but you can certainly adjust it if you want.

February 20, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Just made this and it was extremely easy to make and tastes wonderful. I just threw all of the ingredients in my kitchenaid mixer and let that do the work for me. The biggest problem I had was waiting for the bread to cool before I cut into it.

February 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Made the dough on Friday and baked a loaf on Saturday.
This was so easy to make and tasted great -Just ordered a pizza stone and a peel
No more trips to the bakery !

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShafey

Just wanted to thank you for posting this! It's the best bread I've ever made, and by far the easiest. A winning combination. I've even raved about it, with a link to your recipe, on my own blog,

February 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Bartel

This bread is wonderful my large family just loves it. Can I double this recipe.

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterptricia wyatt

This is a great recipe. I made it the other dy. I added some honey to wth batch and added different seasonings as topings on the bread. I made bruschetta with it, etc. I will definately keep this recipe. It was so quick and so easy. Thank you!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMC

I love this recipe. I follow it to the letter. Using the Kitchenaid, parchment, stone, and the plastic container with the hole. It raises and everything comes out perfect, accept the bottom of the bread does not seem to brown up really well. It does the oven spring. Can you tell me what to do. I preheat the stone at 450 degrees for 30 mins. I just love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. Your blog is so great it is my favorite recipe site and have shared it with all my friends and family. Just got my organic lemons for the excitied to get that started tomorrow for easter gifts.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandy Shellhart

From The Italian Dish:

Ptricia: yes, you can double this recipe. I do it all the time when my family visits and I'm going to be baking a lot of bread all week.

Mandy: I remove the parchment paper after the bread has baked for a little while. This helps, but the bottom doesn't really brown up a lot. You're doing it right, though. This is just the way it bakes. I'm glad you're enjoying the bread!

March 20, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

i have tons of regular yeast any way this will work with it.or is there anyway to convert regular yeast to fast rising

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkathy

From The Italian Dish:

Kathy: There is no problem in using Active Dry Yeast for the recipe - you just add a little more. You may find this post helpful for conversions:

March 21, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Thank you for sharing the recipe. I'm an avid bread maker and this one looked cool to make. The size and fullness varied with the amount of flour I added when preparing for second 30 min rise. Also, I removed the parchment paper close to the end of baking time. I wanted a browner bottom and the paper appeared to making it look and feel soggy. The last loaf I made I placed it naked on the pizza stone. It appeared it didn't make a difference with paper or without, it depends how long it stays in the oven. This time the loaf rose to a beautiful plumpness with a great looking crust. The bread taste great with butter, cheese, or pesto.

March 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I made the dough on Saturday and baked my first loaf Sunday...Awesome recipe. I don't have a pizza stone yet but I used a flat cookie tray. I used 1/2 King Arthur bread flour and 1/4 all purpose flour and Red Star instant yeast. Can't believe how good it was and it looked just like the loaves in the bakery. I have been trying to bake bread for over a year and have had some luck but this was so easy and it came out just great. Most of the other recipes I have tried involved me being home all day fooling around with the dough and then the bread did not always come out that great.

Tomorrow I am taking a loaf of freshly baked bread to a friend who just had surgery. She will be so pleased.

I can't thank you enough for this recipe.

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

This bread is FANTASTIC! It was gone within 45 minutes of taking it out of the oven... and we let it sit for 15. Good thing we have 3 more loaves-worth of dough in the fridge!

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Has anybody tried to make this bread using a gluten-free flour? I may try it soon to see if it works!

I have found a few really great gluten-free bread recipes, but I'm always out to try more.

April 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

So I bought the perfect size container and am all ready to start making the dough. Unfortunately, I don't have a baking stone. I'm hoping I can achieve the same effect with a large cast iron pan.
Any thoughts on this? Perhaps I should just play it safe and use a baking sheet.

April 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

From The Italian Dish:

Stephanie: Baking stones are so easy to find now at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. You should really pick one up. It's worth it. We make pizzas on ours, also. I don't know about your results with a baking sheet or cast iron pan. Good luck! I'm sure the bread will be okay, just not as crisp a crust as a baking stone.

April 15, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

The bread is in the oven right now! I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I didn't have parchment paper or a baking stone (I am in the Middle East, things are not as easily acquired here) so I am eager to see how it turns out. I think it will be good though. Thank you in advance for the recipe! :D I will post about how it goes.

April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetsyK

Hi! This is my second batch and I'm trying to get the hang of it, but both time I've made it I've ended up with different problems:
1. The first time the bread was delicious but it turned out flat. It was fine for dipping oil into but I wanted a taller loaf.
2. The second time, I got the hang of getting it into a nice ball, but after it rose, I shaped it into a ball again in order to get it higher. This time I tasted it and it was really dense.
I'm new to baking bread, so I'm not sure if there is skill involved that I'll get as time wears on or not. I've googled "dense bread" but there are so many different hints! (add this, add that, let it rise more, touch it, don't touch it)
Would anyone be able to help?

April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie

i know that this post was made 3 years ago but i just found it and i want to make this bread, but i need to know if a pizza stone is the same thing as a pizza peel, i would relly be thankfull if you could ansser this please, and thank you for posting this bread recipe

April 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbittersweet182

From The Italian Dish:

Bittersweet182: A pizza peel and a pizza stone are not the same thing. A pizza peel is a wooden or steel "paddle" with a handle which allows you to slide your dough into the oven easily and place it on a pizza stone, which is what you bake the bread on. Hope this helps!

April 26, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

thank you very moch for the reply, i am heading to find a pizza peel, i am so ready to start making this bread

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbittersweet182

I too love this recipe! I also use 1/2 regular flour/1/2 bread flour. I have found it takes a hour or more for the dough to rise after taking it from the fridge. I assume it's because it's so cold? I bought a new jar of yeast in case that was the problem. THANK YOU for this recipe!

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaymond

Do you know if the salt can be omitted from this recipe? My friend is going through cancer treatments and he must follow a no iodine diet. This would be perfect if its possible. I have made this and it is fantastic! Thank you! Suzanne

May 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne Bancroft

Iodine is only in salt that has iodine added. Salt with or without iodine is side by side on your grocer's shelf.

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Thank u so much John! I'm going to go get some today and I will make sure the dr. Okay s what I get. The young man is only 21 and going through a really difficult time so this will be a win for him, small but we will take it!

May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I made this today and found the recipe so easy I was sure it was not possible to make bread like your photo. . WHAT A MISTAKE. It was outstanding and to think there is more just to bake in my fridge !!

Many thanks from my family !!!!

May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

I am a new mum looking for a quick bread recipe as I love baking bread but just don't have the time anymore... this recipe is fantastic... I made a batch last night and already two loaves have been baked and eaten.... not so good for the waist line but so so yummy!! p.s. I increased the amount of wholemeal and decreased the white by half.... makes a more nutty flavour. :o) Thank you for a fantastic recipe!!

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicola

Oh, I am so looking forward to trying this technique and thank you for sharing it. Question, after I purchase my container can I punch the hole in immediately and then place the dough inside and refrigerate?

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Hokey Dina! I just threw the bread onto the middle rack and the cup of water into a baking-ware dish below the bread. Bakers around the world must be shaking their head at me. The glass exploded in my oven!

I am letting the oven cool off, will clean out the glass and try again -- this time maybe without the glass of water to steam up.

I am a very positive person. I look at it this way: the start to my bread-making days started out with a bang!
Question: there are spots of dry flour along the bottom edges of the container of my dough. I should have stirred it more when mixing. Should I start over or can I still use the dough?

You have a beautiful cooking blog! Thanks!

June 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKendra

I made this today. I added 2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats and 1/3 cup of flax seed. It's delicious!!

June 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I made this today and it was the first time I have baked bread. I used white bread flour with weat and it was very good....the family loved it.

June 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDesiree


can you use fresh yeast to make this bread?

Thanks for the reply!

June 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAn Detemmerman

Living in Indonesia I have made many attempts to make my own bread. Always failed! One day I came across this recipe and it always turned out fine. I add 1 cup of bran and a tbls of roasted fennel seeds. Delicious. Thank you very much

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

This is really something new for me, Thank you for sharing this and I'll definitely try this in our home.

July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGinoJum

Do you mix the yeast with sugar, as written in the directions of the instant yeast package?

July 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMare

From The Italian DIsh: Mare: No, there is no need to mix the yeast with sugar.

July 27, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

1,5 TABLESPOONS salt? Isn't that supposed to be teaspoons?

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShirley

From The Italian Dish:

Shirley: Indeed, it is tablespoons. It makes at least 4 loaves, which ends up being a little over a teaspoon per loaf. If that seems too much for you, you certainly can adjust it and the bread will turn out fine, it will just taste different.

July 28, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I made this bread and it was lovely! The second time I used less seasalt .....1 tablespoon instead of
11/2. It is just perfect for our taste. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

Is it possible to bake this bread in a loaf pan instead of shaping the loaves? I made a few loaves successfully, but (and I know this is sacrilege!) slices of the artisan bread don't fit into the toaster, and a more uniformly shaped loaf would be amazing.

Thank you! This is an awesome recipe, especially for a new grad student like myself who likes delicious food AND saving money!

September 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmilie

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