This no-knead bread recipe will make any novice baker look like a pro! 5 minutes of work yield a crusty, golden loaf with a perfect soft interior.
If you’re curious about bread-making, no-knead bread is a fantastic place to start. This method was made famous by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. It’s wildly popular, and for good reason. Unlike many bread recipes, it requires no special equipment (aside from a Dutch oven) or finicky ingredients, and it takes just a few minutes of hands-on prep. Still, thanks to a long, slow rise, the bread comes out perfect every time, with a gorgeous golden brown crust and chewy interior.
I make a few tweaks to Jim’s recipe, swapping bread flour for all-purpose and amping up the flavor with lemon zest and rosemary. It’s bright, aromatic, and soft, the perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of soup or a delicious snack all on its own. Next time you’re in the mood for bakery-quality bread, skip a trip to the store, and bake this bread instead. It’ll be more fun, less expensive, and just as good (if not better). Trust me, this classic recipe isn’t one you want to miss.
No-Knead Bread Recipe Ingredients
You only need 6 basic ingredients to make a mind-blowing loaf of no-knead bread:
- Flour – Jim Lahey’s original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, and if it’s what you keep on hand, it will work in this recipe. However, Jack and I prefer to make this recipe with bread flour. The bread comes out slightly less dense, with a lighter, chewier texture that we can’t get enough of.
- Active dry yeast – This no-knead bread couldn’t rise without it!
- Lemon zest – I typically grate lemon zest when I’m cooking, but for this recipe, I dice it into small squares for a more intense lemon flavor. The whole loaf is lemony, but the bites with zest are extra-bright and fresh.
- Fresh rosemary – Its cozy flavor makes this loaf comforting and homey. Fresh thyme would be lovely here as well.
- Sea salt – It makes the bright, aromatic flavor of the lemon and rosemary pop.
Just add water, and you’re good to go!
How to Make No-Knead Bread
It’d be impossible to find an easier, more reliable bread recipe than this one. Here’s how you make it:
First, combine the flour, yeast, salt, lemon zest, and rosemary in a large bowl. Then, add the water and stir to form a very sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in a warm spot for 12 to 24 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold it over onto itself once or twice. Cover it loosely and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and quickly shape the dough into a ball.
Then, sprinkle cornmeal onto a flour sack type kitchen towel and place the dough, seam side down, onto the towel. Dust the top of the dough with more cornmeal.
Cover with another towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size, about 2 hours.
30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450°F and place a 4-quart covered Dutch oven in the oven as it heats.
When the dough has finished rising, carefully remove the pot from the oven (it will be hot!). Turn the dough over, into the pot, so that it’s seam side up. If it looks messy, that’s ok! Use a sharp knife to cut three shallow slits on top of the dough. Then, cover it, transfer it to the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the bread is golden brown on top.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out the bread. Slice, and enjoy!
No-Knead Bread Recipe Tips
- Let the dough rise somewhere warm. Because yeast responds to warmth, letting your dough rise in a warm place will yield the best results. We like to put ours on a sunny windowsill!
- Time the first rise based on your schedule. This bread turns out well after an initial rise of anywhere from 12-24 hours. That’s a big range! You might notice slight differences in the final loaf depending on how long the rise is (it’ll be puffier the longer it goes), but really, this range is just to give you flexibility. As long as the dough is dotted with bubbles when you move on to the next step, let it rise for as long as is convenient for you.
- Be gentle. When no-knead bread comes out well, it’s dotted with air bubbles, and it has a light, soft texture. To achieve this, be gentle with the dough. After the initial rise, turn the dough out of the bowl carefully, taking care to preserve as much volume as you can while you work with it. Whatever you do, don’t punch it down!
- Not sure if your dough is ready to bake? Poke it! To make sure your dough is ready to bake after its 2 hour rise, poke it with your finger. If it springs back right away, let it rise a bit longer. It’s ready to bake when it slowly bounces back.
Crusty and flavorful, this no-knead bread is delicious on its own with a pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy it as a snack or light breakfast, or pair it with any soup, salad, or pasta recipe.
We like to eat it fresh the first day with whatever we’re having for dinner. Then, I slice and freeze whatever’s left. Later, I pop frozen slices directly in the toaster to make avocado toast or to serve with a larger meal. If you don’t want to freeze your bread, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
If you love this no-knead bread recipe, try our homemade focaccia next!
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon diced lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup Cornmeal
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, lemon, and rosemary. Add the water and stir until blended. It will be very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot (75° is ideal) for 12 to 24 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface then sprinkle with a bit more flour. Turn the dough over onto itself once or twice. The dough will be very wet and sticky - that's ok - just don't knead the dough. Cover loosely and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Lightly flour your hands and gently shape the dough into a ball without kneading it. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a flour sack type kitchen towel and place the dough, seam side down, onto the towel. Dust the top of the dough with more cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size, about 2 hours.
- 30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450°F and place a 4-quart covered Dutch oven in the oven as it heats.
- Use oven mitts to carefully remove the pot from the oven. Turn the dough over into the pot so that it’s seam-side up. If necessary, shake the pan a bit to evenly distribute the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut three shallow slits on top of the dough. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 to 30 minutes more, until golden brown on top.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pot.
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe, via Mark Bittman and the New York Times.
I’m not crazy about cornmeal; can regular flour be used to sprinkle on top and bottom before baking?
Yep, that would be fine!