In November 2006, the food writer Mark Bittman published a bread recipe in the New York Times that shook the world of bread bakers. The recipe, originally created by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan, was a no-knead bread that promised what many thought to be impossible: A crusty bread that is made with only 4 ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, and water) baked in a dutch oven (heavy bottom cast iron skillet with a lid) without the need for kneading.

No Knead Artisan Bread photographed right out of oven

It wasn’t long after it was published that this homemade artisan bread recipe gained a cult following and raving fans. According to the New York Times, even to this day, Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread remains as one of the most popular recipes of their website.

As the foodie that I am, I had heard about this no knead artisan bread recipe and the magic of baking bread in dutch oven, but never attempted baking it, mainly because I live in Vermont and I am spoiled with an amazing bakery right around the corner from where I live. Also, I am a little bit of intimidated when it comes to making bread.

No Knead Bread Recipe - Sliced rustic bread photographed from the top view.

However, when I saw an adapted version of it in Staub’s newly published cookbook, The Staub Cookbook (affiliate link), with an out-of-this-world photograph (similar to the very first photo on this post), I had to give it a try and see whether or not what everyone has been raving about was true.

It did not disappoint.

On my very first try, following the Staub’s recipe word by word, I was able to get the a bread that looks exactly like what you see in these photos. And here I would like to mention; I don’t consider myself as a bread baker or a person who enjoys the long process of creating crusty artisan bread that you see in foodie magazines.

But this recipe was different. For one thing, as the name suggests, there was almost no kneading needed. Second, the hands on time was no more than 15-20 minutes from start to finish. And lastly, all I needed was 4 ingredients (which is why some people refer to this bread as 4-Ingredient Bread in most websites and bread-baker circles).

However, like it is in anything in life, something had to give, and in this case, it was time (18-24 hours) and a dutch oven with a lid. If you have both, I guess it is not a bad compromise.

Intrigued? Read on…

How To Make Artisan Bread

I thought that it would be helpful to explain each step with helpful photographs. Therefore, below you will find step by step instructions as to how to make this crusty bread in your own kitchen with helpful tips.

Artisan Bread Ingredients – What is in this 4-Ingredient Bread Recipe?

4 ingredient bread recipe ingredients

Like I mentioned earlier, there are only 4 ingredients in this recipe and they are:

  • 3 cups of bread flour – I used King Arthur Flour
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast – Fleischmanns’ active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt – Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups lukewarm water – More on this below

If you a regular baker, you know that when it comes to baking you have to be very precise so I made it a point to share the brands that I used for my version of this no knead artisan bread recipe.

With that being said, as I was preparing for this recipe (reading through other people’s trials of this recipe) I learned that it is pretty “foolproof” and works with pretty much with every brand.

Please know that I am not being paid to refer these brands to you. Rather, my goal here is to be honest and helpful as you make it in your own kitchen.

What Does Lukewarm Water Mean?

While I was not able to find an exact definition to the meaning of “lukewarm” water, according to this article, if the water is warmer than your body temperature, meaning you touch it and feel like it is warm but not hot, then it is considered lukewarm.

In the context of this recipe, the ideal “lukewarm” temperature that worked in my testings was between 80 – 90 F degrees. If you have a digital thermometer handy, you can measure it, or if you don’t, you can do the feel test that I mentioned above.

Step By Step Instructions

Making Dutch Oven Bread steps - a woman is mixing flour and adding water
  1. Mix in the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pour in 1 ⅓ cups (316 ml.) lukewarm water.
How To Make Crusty Bread - A woman is mixing dough in a bowl and letting it rise
  1. Give it a mix using a wooden spoon. At this point, the dough needs to be quite sticky. If it is not, after you fully mixed it, add in more water in 1-tablespoon increments. Alternatively, you can use your clean hands to mix and feel the stickiness.
    Here, I’d like to mention that before publishing it in here, I made this recipe for 4 times and I had never needed to add more than 1 additional tablespoon into the mix.
  2. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit in a warmer part of your house for 18-24 hours (quick trivia: due to this lengthy time of rising some people also refer to this bread as overnight bread) .
    In my tests, I found that the bread baked after 18 hours of rising time was perfect, but the 24-hour one was also good.
    One important thing to mention here is that at the end of the rising time you might see a thin (kind of hard – for the lack of a better word) layer at the top of the dough (as you can see in the picture (4) above). Don’t be alarmed by that. In the next step, we will fold that into the dough and since it is a sticky one, the additional rising time will help soften it.
Rustic Bread Recipe being prepared - risen bread dough photographed from two different angles
  1. Lightly flour your kitchen counter, gently remove the dough from the bowl, and place it onto your work surface. While removing, you will realize that it is quite sticky. However, if you take your time and gently pull it by folding it onto itself, you will see that it will come out easily without any dough remaining in the bowl.
    Form the dough into a ball tucking the sides of the dough under. Transfer the dough onto a large parchment paper, lightly dust with a little bit of flour, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size. Again, I recommend letting it sit in a warmer part of your house.
  2. Towards the end of the rising time, place your dutch oven in the oven and pre-heat it to 450 F degrees. I will talk about the type of ovens and dutch ovens that are ideal for this recipe in more detail below.
    When ready to bake, take the now-very hot dutch oven out of the oven. Using the edges of the parchment paper carefully place the dough into the dutch oven. Put the lid on and let it bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue to bake another 20-30 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown as you see in the photos.
    At the end of the baking, remove it from the dutch oven, place it onto a cooling rack and let it cool for 30-45 minutes before slicing.
Freshly baked No Knead Bread Dutch Oven

If you are still with me and are encouraged to give it a try, I want to answer a few more questions that I had when I first read this recipe: (1) What is the best size of the Dutch oven for this no knead bread? (2) Can I bake this in a smaller countertop oven? (3)The best temperature to bake this bread.

The Best Size of Dutch Oven for this No Knead Crusty Bread

When I shared one of the photos of this bread on my Instagram feed, someone asked about the size of my dutch oven, which was a question that I had as well.

The original recipe on The Staub Cookbook doesn’t specify a particular size other than saying “a medium cast iron cocoette”. But what does that mean, especially if you don’t own that same exact brand?

To find the answer, I made this bread in 2 different size dutch ovens.

The first one, the navy blue dutch oven you see in the photos, was a 3 ½ quarts Le Creuset dutch oven (affiliate link). In my opinion, this was the ideal size for this dutch oven bread as it fit perfectly into the cast iron skillet and maintained its shape throughout the baking process.

The second dutch oven I baked this easy artisan bread was this 6-quart Lodge dutch oven (affiliate link). The result with this one was just as good. Before I tried baking in this larger cast iron skillet, I thought that the bread would spread quite a bit during the process, but surprisingly it maintained its shape quite well. Yes, it did spread a little bit, but it wasn’t too noticeable.

I wanted share this as I wanted to let you know that you can still make this homemade artisan bread even if you don’t own “the right size” dutch oven.

Overnight Bread sliced and photographed with jam

Can I bake this in a smaller countertop oven instead of a large wall oven?

Let’s make one thing clear here. I believe that spreading a thick layer of butter onto a slice of this homemade rustic bread is quite a satisfactory feeling after waiting for 24 hours for it to rise. Not to mention seeing my husband’s face when he saw the freshly baked dough while it was cooling on the counter.

However, it was important to me to not to break the bank with a high power bill at the end of the month just to experience the aforementioned feeling of accomplishment. So, to see if this bread would also work in a smaller countertop style oven (this Wolf Gourmet countertop oven is the one I own – affiliate link), I baked it in it as well.

It worked perfectly, just as it did in the large wall oven. The only issue was that the larger 6-quart Lodge dutch oven didn’t fit into my countertop oven when the lid was on.

That is why, please know that (depending on your countertop oven) this is a good option if you have a smaller (3 ½ quart dutch oven).

Best Temperature to Bake Bread

The original recipe in The Staub Cookbook suggested baking this no-knead artisan bread in a pre-heated 475 F degree oven.

In my case, the issue was that the highest temperature that my countertop oven provided me with was 450 F degrees so I didn’t have an option but to bake it in 450 F degrees.

To my surprise, it worked perfectly.

Then on my third try, this time baking it in the large wall oven, I tried baking it in the same temperature (450 F degree), and again, it yielded a gorgeous loaf of crusty bread similar to what you see in the photos.

I wanted to mention this because this is the only change I made to the original recipe in the book. If you are not sure of your oven temperature, you can get an inexpensive digital oven thermometer (affiliate link) to make sure that it is providing you with the temperature you need.

How Long To Bake Bread

In all 4 of my testings, in both ovens, the bread baked under 1 hour. Like I mentioned earlier, I had the lid on in the first 30 minutes and then I removed it for the latter part of the baking process.

The second part of the baking process, without the lid on, took between 23-27 minutes. However, a good indication is by simply looking at the crust. If its golden brown, you are good to go.

no knead artisan bread recipe on a cutting board with a bread knife next to it.

A Few Last Minute Notes on The Best Artisan Bread

  • Can I freeze this bread? Yes, you can. Simply let it fully cool to room temperature, wrap it in a plastic bag, and store in your freezer up to a month. When ready, thaw it on the kitchen counter (in its packaging) until it reaches room temperature, and then reheat in a 350 F degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Should I slice it before I freeze it? It is up to you whether you slice it or not. It is much easier to consume when sliced, but if you don’t seal the packaging properly, later you might run into freezer burn issues. So be sure to seal it well after you take the slices you need.
  • Can I make this bread with gluten-free or whole wheat flour?: I have not tried baking this no knead crusty bread using any other flour than bread flour, but from what I understand from a few articles I read on the internet, this recipe is not ideal if you are using gluten-free or whole wheat flour.
  • Do I need to grease the Dutch Oven before placing the dough into it?: No, you do not. The beauty of cast iron is that since it is so hot that it doesn’t let the dough stick to the pot. Plus, the parchment paper also helps.
  • Any decorations or scoring on top?: I haven’t tried scoring it in fun ways, but I saw a few people score the top with a sharp knife. So play around with it as you like.

Whether you are an avid bread baker or an amateur one like I am, I hope you found this post helpful and feel encouraged to give this easy no-knead bread recipe a try. As you make this recipe in your own kitchen, if you have any questions feel free to drop me a line via email or comment below. I’ll try to help as much as I can.

If you liked this homemade rustic bread recipe, you might also like

Great recipes to serve with this bread

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No Knead Artisan Bread

4.96 from 23 votes
Yields8 slices (1 Loaf)
Prep Time1 day
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 day 1 hour
No Knead Artisan Bread Recipe – This artisan style crusty bread gets its complex flavors and chewy interior from a 24 hour rising time. With only 4 ingredients, even the most intimidated baker can easily make this practically foolproof bread.

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups (360 grams) of bread flour
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups (316 ml) lukewarm water*

Instructions 

  • Mix in the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour  in 1 ⅓ cups (316 ml.) lukewarm water.
  • Give it a mix using a wooden spoon. At this point, the dough needs to be quite sticky. If it is not, after you fully mixed it, add in more water in 1-tablespoon increments. Alternatively, you can use your clean hands to mix and feel the stickiness.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit in a warmer part of your house for 18-24 hours.
  • Lightly flour your kitchen counter, gently remove the dough from the bowl, and place it onto your work surface. While removing, you will realize that it is quite sticky. However, if you take your time and gently pull it by folding it onto itself, you will see that it will come out easily without any dough remaining in the bowl.
  • Form the dough into a ball tucking the sides of the dough under. Transfer the dough onto a large parchment paper, lightly dust with a little bit of flour, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size. Again, I recommend letting it sit in a warmer part of your house.
  • Towards the end of the rising time, place your dutch oven in the oven and pre-heat it to 450 F degrees (230 C Degrees). 
  • When ready to bake, take the now-very hot dutch oven out of the oven. Using the edges of the parchment paper carefully place the dough into the dutch oven. Put the lid on and let it bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue to bake another 20-30 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown as you see in the photos.
  • At the end of the baking, remove it from the dutch oven, place it onto a cooling rack and let it cool for 30-45 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Please read the blog post for more details on the following:
  • the brands I used for this recipe
  • the type of dutch oven I used
  • the oven I baked it in.

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 584mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @foolproofliving or tag #foolproofeats!

This recipe is adapted from the No Knead Cast Iron Skillet recipe on The Staub Cookbook.

About Aysegul Sanford

Hello Friend! I'm Aysegul but you can call me “Ice." I’m the cook/recipe-tester/photographer behind this site.

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4.96 from 23 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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78 Comments

    1. 4 stars
      This recipes seems great, and it was SO easy. But, I keep getting a dense loaf after a couple tries sticking straight to the recipe. I am getting a good rise. I got a little more rise after tinkering with it a little on the second batch. I tried using 1/2 tsp of yeast and activating it in the water first. I am getting the same results. Just can’t seem to get the air in the middle. I want mine to look like yours!

      1. Hi Sara,

        Here are a couple ways to troubleshoot:
        – Let the dough rise in a warmer part of your house right before baking.
        – Make sure that your bread flour is as fresh.
        – The temperature of the oven is very important in this recipe. Do you use an oven thermometer? I have a new oven, but even with that, the temperature is sometimes off. So I recommend checking the temperature of the oven. Also, be sure to let your dutch oven warm up in the oven first.

        Can’t think of anything else right now. I have made this recipe over 50 times and never had an issue, but the temperature and the flour used are two things that might make a difference so I think those are two good places to start.

        I hope this helps.

    1. 5 stars
      Had this bread tonight md it was So tasty and simple to make. It was a perfect compliment to my pasta.

      1. That is music to my ears p’Kay.This No Knead Bread is a staple in our house too.
        Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to leave a rating.
        Cheers!