Easy, No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
I was recently in a Facebook group where someone posted since they’ve transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, they just couldn’t seem to find a vegan-friendly bread option at their local grocery store, and, if they did find one, it was $6-10 dollars per loaf!
Now, I’m familiar that not everyone readily has access to plant-based or vegan options where they live due to various factors. If you’re in this position yourself, do know that you DO NOT have to spend $6+ dollars on a loaf of bread, or, worse, think that the decision you made to transition to a plant-based or vegan lifestyle is not worth it.
I want to teach you an easy way to bake your own fresh bread at home!
In this post, you’ll learn the right techniques how to make easy, no-knead artisan bread at home with a dutch oven. This overnight recipe is so good, you’ll be making this every weekend.
Now a lot of you may be (or may not be) familiar with the whole concept of easy, dutch oven bread as this was first introduced to home cooks and bakers by a man named Mark Bittman.
Ever since that introduction of no-knead bread, thousands of home cooks (including myself!) have tried their hand at the recipe because it’s just that darn good & easy to make!
In this No-Knead Overnight Dutch Oven Recipe, you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour: This is one of the most commonly found flours in most grocery stores. I commonly always have all-purpose flour on hand in my kitchen. You can use another flour of your choice to make this bread – the results may vary. Check out the FAQ section further down in the post if you’re curious about the different types of flour that can be used.
- Active dry yeast: Yeast is what gives traditional rise to bread. I personally hand in my pantry the Quick Rise Instant Yeast in this recipe & my results turned out great with no issues anytime that I’ve baked this bread. You can use Quick Rise Instant Yeast or the Tradional Active Dry Yeast.
- Sea salt: Salt is what gives the bread flavor.
- Water: Water is the best binder for this bread recipe. Most bread recipes call for the water temperature to range between 100 –130°F (depending on what type of dry yeast you use), but I used regular room temperature water with no issue.
Why You’ll Love This:
- If you can’t find plant-based or vegan-friendly bread: Baking your own at home ensures you are making the bread free from animal products if your local grocery store doesn’t carry what you need.
- Because this can be made in one pot: Making this no-knead dutch oven bread in a pot means you no longer have to invest in heavy, expensive kitchen appliances you’ll most likely never use again. When you purchase a dutch oven, you’ll not only be using this for this bread recipe but so many others!
- Because its made with simple pantry ingredients: Most of the ingredients in this easy overnight dutch oven recipe are pantry staples you’ve likely got on hand, which makes this stress free when you’re wanting to make bread to serve a crowd.
- If you loved this easy dutch oven bread recipe, be sure to check out my Wildly Simple Vegan Banana Bread & my Easy Vegan Scones.
How Does No-Knead Bread Work?
I sort of geek out when I can include a bit of scientific knowledge into my cooking or baking. When it comes to baking bread, there is a lot of science that bakers & home cooks have to consider.
The way no-knead bread works is kind of genius in my opinion. The simple act of combining a few humble pantry ingredients, adding in some dry active yeast, mixing it all together, and leaving it overnight creates a bubbly, gooey ball of yeast-activated dough that is absolutely divine.
According to culinary consultant, J. Kenji López-Alt, no-knead bread works is by the use of the flour’s natural enzyme breaks. The natural enzymes break down the long protein chains that are in the flour (which form gluten) & re-arrange the proteins into short protein strains so it’s nice & stretchy.
But, what’s best is when you leave your no-knead bread dough recipe overnight (18-24 hours is best), the proteins in the flour break down so much (or in this case, they perfectly align themselves into straight protein molecules) that even the slightest manipulation of the dough will cause the protein to jumble up and become ‘linked’ back together again.
I also find that when you leave your no-knead bread for 18-24 hours overnight, your baked no-knead bread comes out more flavorful – almost malty, than it would if you left your bread to proof for just an hour or so.
The addition of dry active yeast causes your bread to form a lot of carbon dioxide and bubbles throughout the dough, as this is what gives your dough the leavening and ‘kneading’ it needs that helps you to produce the most amazing, easy to work with dough so you can get a dough that has a more open soft interior.
Pretty cool, huh?
How to Make No-Knead Bread
To make your homemade bread, gather a large bowl and add in your measured flour, salt, active dry yeast (I used quick active dry yeast in this recipe), and mix with a whisk to evenly incorporate the ingredients.
When the flour mixture is evenly incorporated, add in your measured water and mix your flour mixture well with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
You want to mix around your flour ingredients until you get a shaggy dough. Don’t worry if your dough looks this way! It will all work out – trust me.
Cover your large bowl with plastic wrap and let your dough rise overnight on your countertop at room temperature for 18-24 hours. The next day, your dough will look to have doubled in size, have a malty-yeasty scent, and have lots of bubbles formed throughout.
Scrape your shaggy, wet dough out on a well-floured work surface with your hand or a bench scraper and form it into a ball. Also, make sure to cover your hands with enough flour so the dough doesn’t stick when you’re scraping your dough from its bowl.
I find the best way to do this is to tip the bowl on its side on your work surface and let the dough naturally hang and settle to one area of the bowl for a few seconds. From here, it’s easier to scrape your dough out of the bowl without too much disturbance of the wet dough.
Most important here is knead, or handle the dough too much! Overhandling will cause the dough to bind up and become too dense.
The overnight process of the bread’s natural enzymes and yeast have worked well to rest and relax the flour proteins so that you have a nice smooth ball of dough. Just roll the ball of dough around in the flour until it’s nicely coated and no longer sticky.
Once the ball of sticky dough is covered with flour, score the top of the dough with a sharp knife as shown in the photo below, or you can get fancy with it & really get creative here with your scoring techniques!
Place your scored dough ball on a large piece of parchment paper. Remove your 6-quart preheated dutch oven from your hot oven carefully with oven mitts & add in your dough ball lined with the parchment paper.
Make sure to crinkle the overhang of parchment paper over the cast-iron edge so it doesn’t get in the way of your bread loaf during the baking period.
Put your oven-safe lid on and place your dutch oven in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. After 30—40 minutes, remove the lid and bake for up to 15 minutes until you get a nice crackly crust that’s golden brown & flaky to touch.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you have to preheat your dutch oven for this no-knead bread recipe?
Yes, in order to get the best rise with your bread, the preheating of your dutch oven is crucial.
What size dutch oven should I use?
In this recipe, I used a 6-quart Jamaican dutch pot as this recipe makes a large loaf of bread, but you can always use a smaller dutch pot or oven to make this recipe. Just half the recipe and it should work out fine.
Is it OK to prove the bread overnight for so long?
Yes, it is ok to let the bread prove overnight for 18-24 hours. This not only allows your bread dough to double in size, but it also allows for the flavors to slowly develop to give you the best-tasting bread results.
What happens if you let the dough rise too long?
If you let the bread rise too long past 24 hours, your bread will take on an unpleasant sour taste and smell. For best results, stick to the time frame in the recipe. If you’re wanting to shorten the time frame, you can let the bread rise overnight for 12-18 hours.
I made this recipe but my bread came out so dense – what happened?
If your bread came out very dense, it could be that you used a different flour (such as whole wheat flour, bread flour, etc.) or you inadvertently ended up kneading the dough too many times which resulted in the dough forming the protein content that makes the bread dense and/or tough.
My bread came out gummy in the middle. What did I do wrong?
There are two reasons why your bread may have come out a bit gummy in the middle:
- You may not have preheated your dutch oven pot long enough: Taking the time to preheat your dutch oven or pot for at least 30 minutes helps to ensure even cooking of your bread.
- You sliced your bread too soon: I know, I know — I’ve been there too! So anxious to see if your hard work actually resulted in you baking the best artisan bread at home! But slicing your baked bread too soon doesn’t allow the bread to cool properly, hence, leaving you with a gummy interior. You can remove the bread from your cast iron dutch oven with a clean kitchen towel and cool the bread on a wire rack for best results.
Can I Make No-Knead Bread Without a Dutch Oven?
Yes, you can make no-knead bread without a dutch oven! Here are some other suggestions if you are wanting to make your own homemade artisan no-knead bread.
Please note: this recipe requires your dutch oven to be preheated up to 500 degrees. If you choose to use one of these methods to make your own no-knead bread recipe, please check that it can be safely heated to this high degree.
- Baking Sheet Pan: Shape your dough as per the instructions in this recipe and place your dough on a sheet pan and bake until cooked through and golden brown. With this method, your bread may bake and spread a lot as opposed to it being in an oven-proof vessel.
- Slow Cooker: Set your dough ball inside your slow cooker insert lined with parchment paper and line the underside of the lid with paper towels or a clean tea towel to prevent excess moisture from building up and making your bread soggy. Set your slow cooker on high for 2 hours until cooked through.
- Pyrex or Casserole Dish: Use the same as you would a dutch oven, just make sure the pyrex or casserole dish has a tight-fitting lid to aid in the steaming process of the bread.
Additions & Substitutions
Add-ins: You can add your favorite oils such as olive oil, walnut oil, or even plant-based butter. This recipe would also be great made with plant-based cheese shreds!
Substitutions: If you want to make this bread gluten-free, try using Bob Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 Ratio. Although I have never tried this recipe with gluten-free flour, I’ve heard other people have used this flour with no issues at all.
Spices & Herbs: Feel free to add in your favorite spices and herbs such as garlic, rosemary, thyme, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, parsley, or even chives.
Allergen-free: This recipe is naturally dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.
Storage & Freezing
Storing: You can store your no-knead bread tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in a bread container on your countertop. This bread can last up to a week.
Freezing: This bread & dough freezes very well! If you have extra baked bread leftover, slice or cube it up and add it to a freezer bag. This makes great stuffing, garlic bread, or even croutons for your salad! If freezing the dough, once proofed, gently roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball and wrap well in plastic wrap & store in a freezer bag.
Do note that frozen dough does expand! Just be mindful of how tight you wrap your dough in plastic wrap as it may over-expand and breakthrough (speaking from experience here!).
So here’s your recipe on how to make No-Knead Overnight Dutch Oven Bread!
Easy, No-Knead, Overnight Dutch Oven Bread
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 cups room temperature water
- Set out a large mixing bowl. Take out your measuring cup and measure 6 cups of all-purpose flour and add to the large bowl.
- To the same large mixing bowl with your flour, add in your salt, instant yeast and room temperature water. Mix all ingredients well until a large, shaggy ball of dough forms. The first time you make this no knead bread recipe, you’re going to think you did something wrong here because of the way the dough looks, but rest assured - you’re doing everything right! If your dough looks a bit too wet, add in some more flour - just a tablespoon at a time and mix again until incorporated.
- Cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a warm place on your counter. Let your bread rise on your countertop overnight for 18-24 hours. This time frame is ideal & gives you one of the best results.
- The next day, your dough should be doubled in size, bubbly, and have a strong yeast scent. When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. You want a nice hot oven as this will ensure your bread rise. When your oven is preheated, stick your 6-quart dutch oven or equivalent inside for at least 30-minutes.
- Take your large mixing bowl, remove the plastic wrap, and gently scrape your dough onto a well floured surface, making sure to get as much of the sticky dough from the bottom of the bowl. Try to have a bit of flour on your hands here as well. As you gently scrape the dough, you’ll see all the gluten strands that were formed overnight because the protein content has broken down. This is gold!
- Gently shape your dough, score it with a sharp knife and place the dough ball onto a large piece of parchment paper. If your hot dutch oven is ready, remove it from the oven with kitchen towels or oven mitts and lift the parchment paper with your dough ball into the hot cast iron pot (be very careful to not touch the hot pot with your hands as you bend the parchment paper around the edge of the cast iron pot.
- Cover your dutch oven & place your covered dutch oven in your hot oven to bake for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until you get a nice crispy crust on your loaf of bread & enjoy!
- This no-knead dough does not need to be kneaded like traditional bread baking. Remember to follow the instructions and gently handle the dough to avoid it getting too dense.
- Remember to check the expiry of your yeast. Old yeast will not allow the bread to bake & rise.
- Make sure to preheat your dutch oven. If it's not heated for at least 30 minutes, your bread will not properly form and it'll end up not cooking in the middle.
- If you don't have a dutch oven, you can still bake this bread. You can use a baking sheet, slow cooker, or a pyrex/casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Wow! This looks really good. My mom and I can’t resist bread and we are so excited to give this a try!
Thank you! Happy to hear you’re excited to try this! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
I always make bread with strong bread flour, but it’s very annoying when I run out and then have to run to the shop. Thanks for the recipe that gives great results with good old all-purpose flour! 🙂
Absolutely! All-purpose flour is the best pantry staple to have on hand 🙂
I couldn’t believe how simple this bread was to make! It was fluffy, soft and delicious!
Yayyy! So excited to hear this 🙂
Oh my goodness I could have eaten the whole thing! So easy, crusty and delicious. I will make it regularly as it’s so simple!
Amazing! So happy to hear this 🙂
it was super easy to make! thanks for the recipe, bye-bye store-bought bread! So happy!
You’re most welcome!
I’ve made the Mark Bittman version of this, and it’s fabulous! Yours is pretty much exactly the same. What I didn’t have when I last made this bread, however, was a Danish Dough Whisk. It’s a real thing, and not electric. It looks like an ampersand on a sturdy handle, and it’s fantastic for mixing sticky stuff. I have mine hanging in a kitchen window along with other big whisks. This bad boy is a real conversation starter., believe me. Let me know if you want a picture of it!
Hi Lizzie, a lot of breads are all similar in many ways – thanks for introducing me to the Danish Dough Whisk! Looks like I may have to get myself one 😉
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