This no-knead Dutch Oven Bread recipe will become a favorite in your house! It boasts a super crispy, crunchy crust with a soft interior, and practically no work! Bonus: It’s sugar-free!
If you don’t have a Dutch Oven, it’s time to get one, just so you can make this bread.
Here’s a link to the one I have. It’s the Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven With Lid. (Affiliate link).
My mom served a mission for our church in Germany in the ’60s. She was always talking about their crusty bread, and I always scoffed. To me, bread should be soft all over. None of this crunchy stuff.
But then one day, a friend brought some Dutch Oven Bread to church, and I was transformed. From that day on, I became obsessed with making this bread. I bought a Dutch Oven, solely to make sublime bread with a crusty exterior.
However, it did take me a few tries to get bread that I was absolutely happy with. Bread with a super crunchy crust–not just a sort-of crunchy crust. This recipe I’m sharing with you today fits the bill. And it could not be easier to make.
Why does using a Dutch Oven make bread crunchy?
It has to do with trapping the moisture. Honestly, I’m not sure how that makes the bread crunchy. I could do more research, but I honestly don’t care. I just care that it works, every time!
(Sorry I didn’t actually answer the question. But I’m sure someone will enlighten me in the comments).
Let’s make the bread already!
Ingredients for No-knead Dutch Oven Bread
You only need four ingredients for this no-knead bread, and I’m pretty sure you have them on hand all the time! (Bonus: There’s no sugar or oil in this bread!)
- All-purpose flour
- Yeast (active dry or instant)
Instructions for No-knead Dutch Oven Bread With Pictures
First, grab a large bowl and add your flour, salt, and yeast. Briefly mix.
Then add your water (use warm water) and stir together. A shaggy dough will form that looks a lot like biscuit dough. At first, the dough will seem dry, but as you keep stirring, it will get sticky.
Now you just cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it on your counter for 8-18 hours. The dough will rise, flatten, and have bubbles on the top.
Now you need to copiously flour your counter or a cutting board. Turn the dough out onto the cutting board. Don’t worry about punching it down. You’ll have to use a spatula to scrape it all out of the bowl. It’s o.k if it deflates.
You can see that the dough is still very sticky. Now you want to use a spatula or other non-stick implement to kind of fold the bottom of the dough up to the top. You can also use your hands, but make sure they are well-floured.
Keep turning the dough and gently folding from the bottom to the top. Don’t press down a lot. You’re trying to make a ball shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As you continue folding, you’ll start noticing bubbles forming under the dough. This is good. When you see this, you can stop folding.
Now get some parchment paper and crumple it up. Then uncrumple it and put it into a medium-sized clean bowl. Then gently turn your dough ball over (so the smooth side is on the top) set your dough ball into the bowl. (I like to use a bowl that is on the smaller size so my bread will rise up instead of out).
Loosely cover the dough with a cloth and allow it to rise slightly while you heat your oven.
Place your Dutch oven with the lid on inside your oven and turn the oven on to 450 degrees F. Allow to heat for 30 minutes. (Your oven will probably take almost this long to get to 450 degrees. You don’t need to wait another 30 minutes after it reaches temperature. Just 30 minutes from the time you turn it on is good).
After 30 minutes, your bread dough will have risen slightly.
Using a sharp knife, quickly and gently gut a gash or cross (or any shape you like) into the top of your dough.
(I tried to get fancy here, but it’s not necessary).
Carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven and take off the lid. Gently lift your dough out of the bowl using the parchment paper and set it inside your hot Dutch oven. USE HOT PADS and put the lid back on your Dutch oven. It’s o.k. if some of the parchment paper is sticking out of the lid.
Place the Dutch oven back into your oven and bake with the lid on for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, remove from the oven and take off the lid.
Look at that brown crackly crust! If you want even more color, you can put the bread back in the oven without the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes. (Also, if you are a bread purist, you can use a thermometer and make sure the bread has reached 190 degrees F in the center).
After about ten minutes, carefully lift the bread out of the Dutch oven using the parchment paper (or you can slide a large, sturdy spatula under the bread) and place on a wire rack to cool.
Allow to cool for at least an hour before slicing (good luck!)
This bread is best eaten the day it is made. Allow to cool completely (several hours) before storing inside a plastic bag at room temperature. Note that the crust will soften the longer it is stored.
If you aren’t able to eat all the bread within a couple of days and it starts going stale, it will make wonderful toast!
Can I bake this bread without pre-heating my Dutch oven?
Yes! If you are wary of pre-heating your Dutch oven (or your Dutch oven instructions say not to pre-heat it) you can place this bread in a cold Dutch oven and then into your 450-degree F. oven. Just bake for one hour instead of 45 minutes.
What is the best way to cut no-knead Dutch oven bread?
Please use a sharp, serrated bread knife. Because the crust is so thick (especially on the bottom), it can be a little difficult to cut all the way through. If you turn your bread on its side, you’ll have the best luck cutting without smashing your bread and without having to saw away at the bottom.
Can I add other things to this bread?
Yes! This bread is so versatile and can be made with infinite flavor combinations. Try some freshly-cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Or some fresh rosemary and garlic. This bread is also wonderful for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, or 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110-115 degrees F)
- Add flour, salt, and yeast to a large bowl. Stir briefly with a wooden spoon.
- Add the warm water and stir until a shaggy, buscuit-like dough is formed. Dough will be wet and sticky.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set on your kitchen counter for 8-18 hours. Dough will rise and flatten on top, and many bubbles will form.
- Generously flour your clean countertop or cutting board. Use a spatula to transfer all the dough from the bowl to your floured surface. Don't punch down the dough.
- Using a spatula or well-floured hands, gently pull the dough from the bottom to the top, rotating the dough and repeating until you have formed a ball of dough. Keep rotating and pulling from the bottom to the top until you see bubbles start forming under the surface of the dough. The ball may be slightly misshapen, but that is o.k. The ball should be mostly smooth.
- Get a large piece of parchment paper and crumple it up. Then uncrumple it and place it inside a medium-sized bowl. Gently turn your ball of dough over and place it inside the bowl on top of the parchment paper with the smooth side of the ball facing up.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth.
- Place your Dutch oven with the lid on inside your oven. Turn your oven on to 450 degrees F. and allow to heat with your Dutch oven inside.
- After 30 minutes, remove the cloth from your dough. It should have risen slightly. Quickly cut a gash in the top with a very sharp knife.
- Carefully remove the hot Dutch oven from your oven and take off the lid. Using the parchment paper, carefully lift your dough out of its bowl and place it inside your Dutch oven. USE HOT PADS and put the lid on your Dutch oven. It is o.k. if some of the parchment paper is sticking out of the lid.
- Place your Dutch oven back inside your oven and bake bread for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove from the oven and take off the lid to see the color of the crust. If you want your crust to be darker, place back in the oven without the lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- After the bread has been out of the oven for at least ten minutes, gently lift the bread out of the Dutch oven using the parchment paper and place on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing.
After the bread has fully cooled (at least three hours) store any leftovers in a plastic bag at room temperature. This bread is best the day it is made.