This easy sourdough artisan bread recipe is mixed together, kneaded in a stand mixer and left to rise with minimal hands-on time. The magic happens when it's cooked in an enamel cast-iron pan, which gives it a perfect crispy crust and delicious soft interior.
You can find more easy bread recipes on the Best Bread Recipes page!
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Ever since I grew my first sourdough starter and explored how to make sourdough bread, I've wanted to be able to make a really good loaf of artisan sourdough bread like my favorite regular yeast easy artisan bread.
Although I had a few successes with bread shortly after beginning to bake with sourdough, I realize now that the reason I thought it was so great was just because it didn't look like my previous disaster! (TIP: See the "Important Note" below to know when your starter is ready to make a loaf of bread.)
What I really wanted was a sourdough bread recipe that had a crispy crust with nice holes inside, but that was still easy to make.
One similar to my super easy artisan bread which bakes in an enameled cast iron pot.
What I mean by 'easy' is a simple, everyday kind of sourdough bread recipe that uses cups to measure, few steps, and very little science involved, sort of like our great-grandmothers would've made.
If you'd like to get really into sourdough - which can quickly become complicated (and frankly, overwhelming to me), I've found Northwest Sourdough to be very thorough and not too hard to follow for those wanting to dig a little deeper.
I searched for a couple years to find a technique that would produce a loaf of artisan sourdough bread that was all the things I wanted.
When I found this great recipe I knew right away that I could adapt it to be even easier, use my favorite enameled cast iron pot, and consistently turn out good loaves.
And it did!
This is truly the easiest sourdough bread recipe that anyone can make.
I want to say, too, that for me an easy bread is always made with a stand mixer, but this recipe can be made by hand - you will just have to work a bit harder.
Sourdough Artisan Bread Video Tutorial
Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread Recipe Steps
Step 1. Start by mixing all the ingredients (flour, water, starter, optional honey, and salt) in a bowl just until combined. Let sit for 15 minutes
Step 2. If using a mixer and dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
TIP: You may add more flour as needed, a little at a time, to create a dough that's still clinging to the bottom of the bowl, but also clearing the upper part of the bowl. It should be tacky, but not cling to your finger.
Step 3: Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours.
TIP: I use plastic "shower cap" type bowl covers like this which I wash and reuse over and over - I've had many of them for years. I've found plastic keeps the dough more moist over the long rise than a damp towel.
During the 3 hour rise, turn and fold the dough once or twice by bringing all the edges of the dough to the center.
Step 4: Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours.
TIP: I do this right over the bowl with my hands oiled from the dough, which is usually enough - add more oil to your hands if needed.
Step 5: After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet or small skillet (see tip below), sprinkle the dough with flour and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment.
Shape it in your hands right over the parchment. Make sure there's a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier.
TIP 1: I flour my fingers after setting on the parchment and then use them to push the edges under the loaf to get the shape I want, make it more compact, and create more surface tension.
TIP 2: Shape the dough into a small skillet to keep the edges from spreading as much as a cookie sheet.
Step 6: While the shaped dough is resting, set an empty enameled cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees (alternately, you can use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes. (See FAQs below for cooking without a dutch oven.)
When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2-3 places).
Step 7: Transfer the slashed loaf to the hot pot (or stone) by holding the edges of the parchment to gently lower into the pot (the bread will bake while on the parchment).
Replace the hot lid and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Look at that crust! That's bread-beauty right there, isn't it?
Blistered and cracked and bubbly. This may be the best sourdough bread recipe!
What about using all whole wheat flour?
The sliced loaf pictured above was made with whole wheat bread flour (verses the previous loaf pictures made with whole wheat white flour), so the crust isn't quite the same, but still passes the test.
And the interior is a bit more dense, but still full of holes, chewy, and with just a touch of sourness. Perfection.
Since sourdough starter is best when it's used weekly (or every two weeks), I now make this sourdough bread recipe more than my favorite easy artisan bread. But either is a winner recipe, in my book.
I have gotten many comments on this recipe along the lines of, "great flavor, but it was so flat," or "I let it rise all day and it didn't double." Here's what I learned on my sourdough journey:
You cannot make bread with a new starter. It needs time to grow and strengthen to be able to rise bread.
You may be able to rush it if you're doing a lot of feedings, but it may take weeks or up to a month for the starter to be strong enough to raise bread.
How do you know if a starter is strong enough to raise bread?
Here's the test I use and find the easiest:
If your starter doubles in less than 6 hours, it is strong enough to raise bread.
If you don't have a way to measure, use a piece of tape on the outside of your container - anything that allows you to see if it's doubled. When it's doubled, you can confidently use this recipe!
Wait, what do I do with all the starter I'm making, feeding, and removing during this time?
Make recipes that don't need strong rises like regular breads:
- whole wheat sourdough crackers
- sourdough English muffins
- sourdough waffles
- sourdough cheese batter bread (use this when you're this close to making bread - the batter doesn't need to rise as much, but still gives a nice bread).
Shop this sourdough bread recipe:
- This is a great quality, decently priced enameled cast iron dutch oven, similar to the one I use. Here's another option for a bit less that's very similar, too.
- Here's a rising bucket that holds a lot and is easy to see when your starter is doubling.
- This is my favorite brand of white whole wheat flour (made from hard white wheat).
- And I use this brand for hard red wheat flour ('regular' whole wheat). My starter is fed with this.
Timing Tip for How to Make Sourdough Bread
The timing of sourdough bread was hard for me to figure out in the beginning, since it takes longer to rise than regular yeast breads, so I thought I'd give you a typical timeline to have a loaf for dinner.
To have this sourdough artisan bread ready for an evening dinner:
- Feed your sourdough starter the night before you want to bake.
- Start the sourdough artisan bread recipe the next morning.
- Let the dough rise until early afternoon before baking and cooling in time for dinner.
That said, I have been known to rush it when I've forgotten to feed the starter the night before. If you find yourself in that situation, you can feed the starter right when you get up in the morning and let it sit until it is bubbly, about a couple of hours, and then proceed with the recipe.
Made this way, the bread doesn't have quite the optimum time to cool, so you'll have a warmer loaf with a bit more squished crumb - but we've sure never minded.
Sourdough Artisan Bread FAQs
Can you proof this bread in the fridge overnight?
Yes, the second rise can happen in the fridge. Let the dough come to room temp for about an hour before shaping and heating the pot for the 40 minutes.
How do I bake this without a dutch oven?
You will have the best results with a dutch oven or some type of pot with a heavy lid. But if you don't have one, here's how to bake it:
- After shaping the loaf on the parchment on the counter (or in a small skillet), place either a baking stone, cast iron skillet, or cookie sheet into a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
- Creating Steam: To try and get the crust we all love, you'll need to create some steam (that's what the dutch oven does - it traps the steam): put a pan with water on the bottom rack to heat while the stone heats OR spray the dough with water right before putting in the hot oven to bake and see which you like best. Also, if you have any deep lid that will fit over the dough and allow to rise, you can add that OR try tenting aluminum foil over the top.
- Baking: Slash and use parchment corners to transfer dough to your hot stone and bake 15 minutes, turning the dough halfway, and then bake until done, another 15 to 20-25 minutes.
When do I add other chopped ingredients, like herbs, dried fruit, nuts, and olives?
These add-ins can be kneaded into the dough at step 2, after the first step of letting the dough sit for 15 minutes.
A Few of the 1000+ Reader Comments:
Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread Recipe
- 3+ cups (360-400 gr) flour white whole wheat, whole wheat, unbleached, or a combo
- 1 ¼ cups (296 ml/300 gr) warm water*
- 3/4 cup (177 ml/150 gr) active sourdough starter 75%-100% hydration (I prefer 75-90%)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml/21 gr) honey**
- 1 ½ teaspoons (9 gr) salt
- Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl) just until combined and then let sit for 15 minutes.
- Using a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes. (TIP: You may add more flour as needed, a little at a time, to create a dough that's still clinging to the bottom of the bowl, but also clearing the upper part of the bowl. It should be tacky, but not cling to your finger.)
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours, turning and folding the dough once or twice.
- Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours. TIP: I do this right over the bowl with my hands oiled from the dough, which is usually enough - add more oil to your hands if needed.
- After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet, sprinkle the dough with flour and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment. Shape it in your hands right over the parchment. I often flour my fingers after setting on the parchment and use my fingers to push the edges under the loaf to get the shape I want and make it more compact. Make sure there's a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier. TIP: I often shape the dough in a small skillet to keep the edges from spreading as much as a cookie sheet.
- To Bake with a Dutch Oven: While the shaped dough is resting, set an empty enameled cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees (alternately, you can use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2-3 places) and transfer it to the hot pot (or stone) by holding the edges of the parchment to gently lower into the pot (the bread will bake while on the parchment).
- Replace the hot lid and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- To Bake without a Dutch Oven: After shaping the loaf on the parchment on the counter (or skillet), place either a baking stone, cast iron skillet, or cookie sheet into a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.Creating Steam: To try and get the crust we all love, you'll need to create some steam (that's what the dutch oven does - it traps the steam): put a pan with water on the bottom rack to heat while the stone heats OR spray the dough with water right before putting in the hot oven to bake and see which you like best. Also, if you have any deep lid that will fit over the dough and allow to rise, you can add that OR try tenting aluminum foil over the top.Baking: Slash and use parchment corners to transfer dough to your hot stone and bake 15 minutes, turning the dough halfway, and then bake until done, another 15 to 20-25 minutes.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Looking for more sourdough bread recipes & ways to use your starter?
You can go here to see all of An Oregon Cottage's easy sourdough recipes and tips!
This recipe was originally published in 2015 - it was updated in 2018 and 2022.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read our full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.
First time using my gifted starter and I’m sooooo excited! Best sounding recipe I found that isn’t overnight! I added some herbs and it’s cooling now. Can’t wait to see the crumb shot!
Sounds wonderful - so glad you tried this recipe, Caitlin!
Appreciate the review 🙂
Love the recipe but hate all the pop-up ads!
I'm glad you like the recipe, Crissy!
Wish I could do away with the ads, but they allow me to keep the blog open and full of content. I do still have the "x" out in the corners which a lot of sites are getting rid of, so you can remove them.
TIP: if you are using a recipe, hit the "print" button to bring it up in an ad-free window and use that to work from (you don't have to print, just use that window). Works on any site 😀
This was my first time to make a loaf of sourdough and it came out beautiful if I do say so myself! I love the video, it really helped me to understand exactly what to do. I wish I could post a pic because I'm really proud of how beautiful it is! Thank you so much, my grandma is smiling in heaven!
Yay!! I'm picturing your beautiful loaf as I read 🙂
I made the recipe and the loaf rose well, but it came out paler than expected. I've been working on my starter over the last few weeks I feel comfortable that it is very active. I am used to using a thermometer for doneness, and I waited till it was about 212 degrees F. I didn't use a Dutch Oven, but a Sassafras Ceramic bread dome. I also used Bread flour. I've regularly made yeasted boules in thed bread dome before and they come out darker and crisper. Any suggestions?
I'm not familiar with bread domes - do you need to up the temperature when baking?
My bread usually errs on the side of too-brown and crisp in the dutch oven, so that's the only experience I can give!
Amazing! I am fairly new at sourdough, and I had tried several recipes with not much luck, but I will go no farther. BEST BREAD EVER.
I did make a few changes because I misread, but it was fine. I did the stretches in the evening, and then put it in the fridge overnight. I took it out in the morning and waited 2 hours then baked it and it still turned out super nice. Thanks for the perfect recipe.
Yay!! Sourdough is pretty forgiving of rising and responds well to a fridge rising. 🙂
BRENDA A CHRISTENSEN says
My first sour dough bread, and I also fridge rose overnight, simply because I timed things wrong. Baked on a pizza stone, with my old Club aluminum dutch oven size pan as a lid, with a sheet of water on below.
Not only did my bread turn out amazing, it may very well be one of the best loaves of bread I've eaten - ever! Crusty, chewy, perfect density... mmmm. Probably should not make this too often. My waistline won't forgive me!
Yay, Brenda!! I'm so glad to know it worked with the baking modifications, too.
I don’t know what happened. The first rise was great. The second rise was great. I transferred to parchment while preheating the oven and the loaf lost all of its integrity. Large wet cracks all across the loaf. I reformed the dough into a nice ball and baked it. Little to no rise, and ugly cracks all over it. I’m disappointed, but want to try again. Any ideas?
Hmm, I can only guess, but it sounds like overproofing (which is rarer with sourdough, but can happen). Is your kitchen warmer this time of year? Maybe let it rise less time, especially in warmer weather.
I am having the same problem many times. I don't think mine is overproofed but maybe. Did you find anything to help?
The starter may be more wet than mine - have you tried adding a bit more flour?
Yes and no, I have tried adding it but at the end and then it was a mess-it fell apart, I'm going to give it another go and try adding throughout the process and see if that's the issue.
What size Dutch oven is necessary for this recipe? I think mine is a 4quart.
4 quart works great, Amy! You can use up to a 6 quart, though small helps keep the loaf in a rounder shape.
I made this twice and kept wondering why it tasted flat.
Then I checked and discovered that 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt weighs 9 grams, not 6. I bake everything by weight.
It’s better now. No need for you to post this, only suggesting that you check and correct if you agree, for the benefit of future users.
It really is a good recipe.
Thanks for the tip, David - I'll make note of that!
I liked this. Next time I’ll up the salt by a gram or so. I think this is just my personal taste.
My bigger issue was that the crust was soft. I cooked it in a cast iron Dutch oven at 450F for 15 minutes covered and then 15 open. Internal temperature was 207F when I pulled it and it was quite brown on top.
The dough was very wet and so I don’t think it lacked for steam.
The only difference between the baking instructions for this and the no-knead yeasted bread I make is that here we cook at a constant 450 and the other recipe keeps the lid on for two-thirds of the baking time.
Do you think that’s worth trying? Or might there be some other reason for my soft crust? As slack as that dough was, could it still have been too dry? Or maybe I added too much flour in shaping. Still, the lame dragged a lot through the wet dough.
This recipe is positively a keeper and I’d appreciate your advice on perfecting it!
Hmmm, I often have the issue of too-crisp crust and worry I will cut myself while trying to slice it, ha!
You could try your other cooking method to see, since it sounds like your dough was wet enough.
I also found this article that mentions cooling in the oven as a way to get a crisp crust and may be worth a try, too: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2015/08/09/make-crusty-bread
Hope one of these options works!
Leslie P says
I couldn't find a way to make a comment other than this so I hope you see it. Can I make this in a loaf pan so that it is more like loaf bread rather than "free form" bread? I want sourdough loaf bread. Thanks for your help.
I haven't tried that, Leslie, but I think you should be able to. Of course it will be more of an artisan texture with a harder crust than we're used to with loaves.
I do have a soft sourdough sandwich loaf that we love if you'd like to try that: Easy Soft 100% Sourdough Sandwich Bread - One Rise & Overnight Options
Just starting to work with sourdough and this looks much less complicated than most recipes.
If I make my dough in the morning, is it ok to let it stay on the counter until I get home from work 8 hours later?
Or would it be better to let it rise in the fridge all day?
Then when I get home, turn, fold, etc?
Sourdough is a pretty forgiving dough, Michele, and you can do either of these ways. If you fridge it, it will take a bit more time to warm up again (maybe not what you'd like after work?), so I'd go the counter route - it will just be more fermented after it's longer sit. You may also be able to get away with a shorter second rise (or eliminate it!), so play around with the timing to see what you like best.
I love this bread recipe but want to increase it by 30%. Do I increase all ingredients by 30%. That would mean 390ml of water and 230g of starter with 520g flour. Seems like a lot of liquid.
I have no idea how to increase by that amount, Ann - sorry!
I think it should scale up pretty well. It's already a lot of liquid, but I think we want the very wet dough to give us the steam and crust we're looking for. I think salt should be around 11-12 grams for this.
The baking time will be different, too, maybe 16 or 17 minutes with the cover on, and then take it off. I've been baking until the internal temperature is 208-210F, and I've been pleased, finally getting the crisp crust I wanted.
What a wonderful loaf of bread! I used white whole wheat and regular whole wheat and added a multi-grain mix. This was much easier than my other recipe, which had longer rising, and came out beautifully. It’s also the first time that my scoring pattern held and showed up. Thanks for a great recipe, Jami. It will be my new “standard” one now.
Yay - that sounds wonderful, too, with your flour types!
Hi Jami...I have been baking bread for a couple of years now using your exact recipe with great success. Question...if I make this into two loaves instead of one, does the baking time change?
Yes, since the loaf will be smaller, but not by much - I'd start testing at maybe 5 minutes early (it may be good to use a thermometer the first time so you can get an idea - it should be 200 degrees in the center when done).
Thank you so much for this easy to follow recipe! I'm gluten intolerant so I do an 18 hour raise and it works perfectly! I get to eat bread, real bread! The trick I use at the end is to use Gfree flour to shape and cover. Amazing!
So nice to know, Jennifer - thank you for the tip and review!
Hi Jennifer (or Jami, whoever might see this!)
I came to the comments looking for info on a longer ferment. I’ve made this recipe almost weekly for the past couple of months, always using the exact timing here, and our whole family loves it!. However, we’d love the added benefits of a longer ferment and further gluten reduction. I’d love to know at what point in the process you do the long ferment? Do you mix the dough and start the ferment right away - or mix, turn and fold, and then ferment? Also, do you leave it in the fridge or counter for the 18 hours? Thank you!
Hi Alex! When I want a longer ferment, I do all the turning and then instead of letting it rise another 2 hours (step 4), I put it in the fridge. It can stay there for as long as I need, but usually overnight. I let it come to room temperature on the counter for an hour or so, shape it and proceed with the recipe.
Hope that helps answer your questions! -Jami
Thank you so much, Jami! I actually found another comment after I wrote mine, which pointed me to the FAQ part of the recipe (not sure how I missed that before!), so I was leaning toward doing just that! I’m about to complete the first rise, and it’ll go into the fridge afterward. Thank you! Oh, and as a side note, I made this with 100% whole wheat a few days ago as an experiment and it came out very well! I added some extra water, but left everything else the same. Definitely a denser crumb, but still soft and chewy - and the earthiness was far more enjoyable than I imagined it’d be! I’d make it again just to complement certain meals, and I think it would be delish with strawberry preserves. Yum!
Oh, that's good to know, Alex - I've never gone 100% with it because I wasn't sure if I'd like it as much. 🙂
Just tried this recipe for the first time. My starter is exactly one week old today so I was unsure of its potential. I fed it this morning and started the recipe at about 3:30 pm. Starting so late in the day, in combination of the low rise potential (being a fresh starter and all) I folded early by about twenty minutes for each hour, left out the last full hour altogether, and let it rest after forming for 30 minutes.
I got a good rise! The loaf is enormous and beautiful. Still letting it rest/cool but it has a nice hard shell thats slowly softening as it cools. Looks promising and smells delicious!
Amazing! That's wonderful, you must have a robust starter. 🙂
I'm currently on round #3. This has been a great way to start getting into sourdough bread at home for me. I was able to split this recipe and do two sandwich sized loaves. I found a recommendation to preheat the oven to 500, then when you put the bread pans in, lower the temp to 375 and bake for 45 minutes.
I'm so glad this recipe has been helpful for you, Rebecca!
Thanks for that great tip about making into loaves, too.
This recipe is AMAZING and so very delicious! Your video and instructions make it so easy to follow. This will be my go to bread recipe from here on out! I do have a few questions for you: If you want to double the recipe to make 2 loaves, when is it best to split the dough? After kneading or after the 1st rise (Step 4)? Also how do you store your bread (as you are eating through it) to keep that crispy crust? It gets soft in a plastic bag on the counter.....
You'll want to split it after kneading, Laurie.
I haven't found a way to keep the crisp crust in storage - we usually toast it to create it again. I've heard good things about storing in linen bread bags, though - you may want to try that!
David Marcus says
Instead of storing in a bag, bread may be kept cut-side down under a light towel for several days. The crust stays crisp and as long as the cut is flat the bread stays fresh.
Thanks for the tip, David!
video?? how did I miss that?? I have my starter ready - I will make it tomorrow
Glad that's helpful - have fun!!
My first loaf is in the oven now. So far so good. Here’s to a great outcome
My family loved it. I am definitely sharing Guys, Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
I’m addicted to have this bread on hand always. Can I freeze the dough or should I freeze after cooking?
With sourdough it's best to freeze after baking!