Easy Homemade Crusty Bread

4.34 from 306 votes

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This crusty bread recipe is simple and fast to make,  anyone can make this homemade bread at home in three fast hours. It’s easy to see why this is our most popular of our many bread recipes.

Bread making was my kitchen weakness until this simple no-knead recipe came along. Read on, and I will show you step by step exactly how to do it with this easy method that uses just four ingredients.

2 loaves of homemade bread on a pizza peel.
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Making homemade bread can be intimidating. Please do yourself a favor and review the comments that follow this post.

Many readers have asked questions and offered feedback with this crusty bread recipe. From love letters to near-hate mail, this recipe for homemade bread gets all kinds of comments!

🍞About this no-knead bread recipe

I grew up in a big Mennonite farm family. My mom made cakes, pies, and other baked goods every day as a small part of her daily routine. I took too many of those skills for granted.

Then, I grew up and tried to grow a huge garden, like my mom. Not so easy. I tried to iron my clothes like my mom. Not so easy

And I tried to make homemade bread, like my mom. Again and again and again and always not so easy. Until this recipe came along, I’m not kidding.

Slicing a loaf of crusty bread.

What’s in it?

Part of the ease of making this crusty bread recipe is the shortlist of ingredients. Aside from water, there are only three others:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Yeast

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. No buttermilk, no scalded milk, no unusual ingredients. And, no kneading!

A loaf of bread with a glass of red wine.
Use a pizza peel or parchment paper to easily transfer this crusty bread to and from the oven.

To get a nice crust on this homemade bread, we use a steam bath. It is an age-old method of creating a crunchy and crusty outside. Placing hot water in a hot pan creates a steam bath that encases the dough and ensures you get a crisp finish. Scroll down for our step-by-step directions on how to do this.

Pro Breadmaking Tip: Another secret to ensuring a crisp crust on the bottom: place each loaf on a hot stone when it goes in the oven.

There are two easy ways of doing this, once it is ready to bake.

Once it’s ready to bake, simply place the pizza peel on the hot baking stone and the unbaked loaves will slide off with ease.

  • You can also use parchment paper to transfer each unbaked loaf to a hot baking stone. Allow the loaf to rest on a sheet of parchment paper (in the final raising stage.)

When the dough is ready for the oven, transfer the parchment paper to the hot stone. This will help you achieve the same crispy crust on the bottom.

Either of these methods work for creating a crisp bottom to a pizza crust recipe as well.

🔪 How to make crusty bread

(See the full crusty bread recipe below at the end of this post)

I’ve broken down the process to make this crusty bread into a bunch of steps for you. It looks like there are a lot of steps, but I promise, every one of them is super simple.

Adding ingredients, stirring, baking, and things like that. As I found out, making delicious homemade bread is not rocket science. In fact, it is not like black-and-white science at all; this is where the art of baking comes into play.

For example, there are variations in oven temperatures. Also, differences in humidity can make a difference. This can determine the amounts of liquid (water) vs. solid (flour) to get the right consistency.

Find what works for you by a little trial and error. Once you get it right, this is the only recipe for crusty bread you will ever need

1. Start with lukewarm water (100° F).

Pro Breadmaking Tip: Be sure your water is not too hot, or it will kill the yeast. By the same token, it has to be warm enough for the yeast to rise. For best results, I like to use this instant-read thermometer. Is the best one out there, and it is the one I always recommend using.

2. Add active 1.5 tablespoons dry yeast.

Adding water and yeast to a mixing bowl.
  • If you’re not sure if your yeast is good, proof it first.

How to Proof Yeast

Adding yeast to a bowl of water.

Proof your yeast by adding about 1/4 cup of warm water with a pinch of dissolved sugar. The sugar will give the yeast energy to produce carbon dioxide, which will “prove” the yeast is good.

Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, if the yeast bubbles and foams as shown, your yeast is alive and well and ready to help make bread.

Mixing bowl of flour and whisking flour with water.

3. Add flour.

  • All-purpose flour works fine for making homemade bread but bread flour will give you a chewier crumb because of it’s high protein content.
  • As the mixture gets thicker use a heavy wooden spoon to mix it, or a stand mixer with a dough hook, on a low setting.
Adding salt and stirring bread dough

5.  Add salt to the other ingredients.

6. Stir the dough again, cover it with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for two hours.

Dividing wet bread dough and spreading cornmeal on a cutting pizza peel.

7.  Set in a warm place. –

If possible, allow the homemade bread dough to rise away from chilly air or where there is a cold draft.

  • Sunny windowsills are great places for this to rise.
  • After the dough has risen, apply a light dusting of flour over it and divide it into two loaves.

The dough will be wet!

This is normal.

If you need to, add a little more flour to work with it and shape it, that’s ok!

Homemade bread dough that is wet and then with flour added to it

The dough on the left is too wet. The example on the right has had a little flour added to it and reshaped.

loaf of homemade bread before baking.

9. Continue to shape the loaves

Use the pizza peel for this and apply a light dusting of flour.

10. Score the top of each loaf before baking.

his will help guide the direction of expansion for each loaf as it bakes.

Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and let them rise again, for 40 minutes.

Steam bath for homemade crusty bread

11. Prepare a steam bath

Use some hot water from the stovetop. Place it on the oven rack under where the bread will go immediately after it goes in the oven.

  • Place a dry cast-iron skillet on the lower rack of the oven.
  • Place the unbaked loaves on the rack above the skillet.
  • Pour hot water into the skillet and close the oven door immediately.
  • Do not open the door of the oven until you remove the bread.

12. This crusty bread is ready to eat in about 3 hours

From start to finish. Only about 10 minutes of that time preparing the recipe. The majority of the time involves rising and baking.

Baking on a hot pizza stone will give you a beautifully crispy bottom to each loaf.

Important Note: This dough for this crusty bread recipe is very wet, and you may find it difficult to work with and shape. It’s supposed to be this way.

homemade bread in a cast iron skillet.

You can make this crusty bread in a skillet or Dutch oven

As a bonus, the dough keeps in the refrigerator, up to a week or two so you can bake it when you like. That way, you can make this recipe when entertaining. Your guests will think you worked for hours preparing it!

One more thing, if you’ve never had toast from homemade bread, you don’t know what you’re missing. I kid you not.

This crusty bread recipe is a game-changer, and I’m living proof. It’s not my mom’s recipe, but it’s not bad.

💭  Baking tips

loaf of homemade artisan breads with a dollop of butter on a knife.

Baking is not an exact science. Sometimes it takes a little playing in the kitchen to get any baked recipe “right.” I’ve been baking my whole life, since the age of 7. In my experience, nothing from the oven is more true to this concept than homemade bread (and rolls).

I’ve gotten some harsh criticism for this recipe in the comments below. A few people call it a “waste of dough,” “a waste of time”, and a bad recipe.

Folks, making homemade bread is not the same as going to the local bakery and picking up a loaf from the shelf! Until you make it a few times. Once you nail the method, I promise, you will feel like you reached a major kitchen win!

It takes a little practice. Other than some time, the cost of these ingredients is very small. You need to find out what works best for you and then make this recipe for crusty bread your own.

If the dough is too wet

  1. Add a little more flour to it, so it will maintain its shape.
  2. While it is rising, don’t be afraid to check in on it.
  3. If it needs to be “patted inwards” (from the sides), gently use the palms of your hands to shape it.

If making multiple loaves

Bake one loaf one at a time. If you need to adjust your oven temperature or baking times, you can try that with the second loaf. To illustrate what I’m talking about, take a look at these two loaves (from the same batch of dough.)

Two loaves of homemade bread.

The darker loaf (top) was baked first, at 450° for 30 minutes.

I thought the crust was a little dark and so for the lower loaf  (garlic and cheese), I reduced the oven temperature to 400° and cut five minutes off the baking time, to 25 minutes.

Both loaves were mouthwatering and chewy, but the crust on the second loaf is not quite as dark.

Let the Dough Rest Overnight in the Refrigerator

Loaf of homemade bread with butter, on a cutting board.

Allowing the dough to spend a night in the refrigerator will enhance its flavor and make it chewier.

  • Place it in a metal bow that will allow for further expansion because the yeast will continue to do it’s thing while in the fridge.
  • Place plastic wrap on any exposed surface of the dough to keep it from drying out.
  • Place a damp kitchen towel over the plastic wrap.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking, to allow it to come to room temperature and rise again.

Mix the dough by hand

Mixing the dough by hand is easy because it is not a thick heavy dough.

Instead, it is wet and sticky. Use a heavy-duty whisk if you have one or a heavy wooden spoon.

I tried to save some elbow grease and use my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer and this is what happened:

Loaf of homemade bread cut in half on a cutting board and serrated knife.

As you can see, I got a very dense crumb because it had been over-mixed. This loaf had the same great flavor, but the bread was not as airy and chewy the batch in the photo above it.

Use Quality Ingredients

If you’re going to go to all the work and mess of making your own bread do yourself a favor. Don’t skimp on cheap ingredients that are not of good quality. This is especially true of what you spread on it

If it’s butter, use the best you can find, from a known source or fresh and organic. Finally, nothing tastes better with crusty bread, than homemade soup.

💬 Common questions about making homemade bread

What’s the key to achieving a crusty exterior on my bread?

To get that addictive crusty exterior, maintain high moisture levels in the beginning of baking, often by using a preheated dutch oven or introducing steam with a water tray or misting the oven walls.

Why is my bread dense instead of airy?

Dense bread can result from under-proofing (not letting the dough rise long enough), using old yeast, or not kneading the dough sufficiently to develop gluten.

Do I really need to use bread flour?

While all-purpose flour can work, bread flour contains more protein, which helps develop the gluten structure and gives your bread a better rise and chewier texture.

What’s the best way to store this?

To maintain the crustiness of your bread while ensuring the inside stays soft, follow these guidelines:

Avoid Plastic Bags: Storing crispy bread in a plastic bag will cause the crust to soften due to trapped moisture.

Paper Bag or Cloth:Ideally, store crispy bread in a paper bag or wrapped in a cloth. This allows the bread to breathe while still offering some protection from external elements.

Keep it Cut-Side Down: If you’ve sliced into your loaf, store it cut-side down on a cutting board or counter. This helps preserve the crust’s crispness by reducing the exposed crumb’s contact with air.

Avoid Refrigeration: Storing bread in the refrigerator can actually make it stale faster. If you need to keep bread for an extended period, consider freezing it instead.

Freezing for Longer Storage: If you won’t be eating the bread within a couple of days, consider slicing and freezing it. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. When you’re ready to eat, thaw it at room temperature or pop slices directly into a toaster.

Remember, crispy breads like baguettes are best enjoyed fresh. Over time, even with proper storage, the crust may soften or the inside may become dry. If this happens, you can briefly reheat the bread in a preheated oven (around 375°F or 190°C) for a few minutes to revive its crispy texture.

Helpful Readers’ Comments for this Recipe

  • Consider adding the following for more flavor.
    • A bit more salt
    • Shredded cheese
    • Kalamata olive
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Whole wheat flour
    • Garlic or rosemary, etc.
  • Leave the water (for the steam bath) in the oven for the entire baking time.
  • If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a:
    • Cast-iron skillet
    • Dutch oven
    • Cookie sheet
    • Regular loaf pan
    • Casserole dish
  • If the dough seems to wet to work with, add a generous “dusting” of flour to it.

How to keep homemade bread fresh-tasting

Here are some tips to help keep homemade bread tasting fresh:

A bunch of food and leftover bread on a counter top.
Homemade bread can be kept fresh in many ways.
  1. Always keep bread in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight.
  2. If you won’t be able to eat the bread within a few days, it’s best to freeze it. You can also freeze bread easily. Jut use some plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Be sure to get all the air out before sealing. (Even zip-lock bags work for keeping bread fresh this way.)
  3. To refresh stale bread, try reheating it in the oven. Warm up your oven to 350°F (175°C) and place the bread on the middle rack. Heat for about 10 minutes until the bread is warm and the crust is crispy.
  4. To keep any bread fresh, you can keep it in the refrigerator. This will slow down the staling process, but the bread may become drier, and the texture may change slightly.
  5. If you want to get even more use out of your bread, you can make this easy bread pudding or croutons with it. This is a great way to use up stale bread and avoid waste.

What to Eat with Bread

You can serve this homemade bread with virtually anything, from holiday meals to homemade soups and more. These are just a few of the things to serve with crusty bread.

It’s also a great way to add some freshness to leftover meals. Things like reheated enchiladas or a leftover chicken recipe. You can even use this for our air fryer turkey burgers. The possibilities are endless!

Finally, give our air fryer brats a taste and use a slice of this bread to wrap around them. It’s a life-changing experience!

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Crusty Bread Recipe

4.34 from 306 votes
Fast and simple to make, this homemade crusty bread recipe is perfect for the novice baker or the award-winning chef! Adapted from The NY Times, recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours 25 minutes
Yield: 24 servings


  • 3 1/4 cups water, lukewarm, about 100° F.
  • 1.5 tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 6 1/2 cups flour, bread flour if you have it.
  • 1.5 tablespoon kosher salt, (May use less if desired.)


  • Combine water and yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add flour and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel.
  • Apply a light dusting of flour over the dough and divide it in half and shape into 2 loaves, rounding the top. If you only want to make one loaf of bread at this time, store the unused dough in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks until ready to use.
  • Place the unbaked loaf(s) on pizza peel that is lightly dusted with cornmeal. Apply light dusting of flour over top and cut three slashes into top of dough, using a searrated knife. Cover dough with kitchen towel and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 450° F with baking stone on the center rack. When bread is ready to go in the oven, slide the dough off pizza peel onto hot stone. Place 1 cup hot water into oven broiler (or other oven safe pan), on bottom wrack of oven. Quickly close oven door to created a steam bath within the oven. This will help produce a crisp outer crust.
  • Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy!



Top Tips for this Crusty Bread Recipe
  1. Read all of the instructions first.
  2. Have all of the ingredients and kitchen tools laid out and ready before starting.
  3. Make sure your yeast is alive. Proof the yeast to be sure.
  4. Use a hot stone or skillet to bake your bread on.
  5. Know your oven and babysit the bread as it bakes.
    1. Rotate if necessary to ensure even baking.
    2. If your oven runs hot, adjust the temperature as necessary.
  6. Have patience while making homemade bread and take notes.
    1. What works well for you in terms of baking time, temperature, the wetness of dough, etc.
  • If you don’t have kosher salt, use one-half the amount of table salt. So, for this homemade bread recipe, about 3/4 tablespoon of table salt.


Calories: 125kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 438mg, Potassium: 43mg, Fiber: 1g, Calcium: 6mg, Iron: 1.6mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!
Updated from the original post of April 6, 2017

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Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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  1. 5 stars
    Started making this bread, must have been right after you posted the recipe. Regular home made bread was always my go to, but it was lacking that bakery crustyness. This bread is easy, crusty and loved by all my family and friends. Always make a loaf of this bread to go in baskets with soup for sick friends and family, and it is well appreciated.

  2. Hi I’m just checking to see if u can add a little sweetness to this bread like sugar or honey ..😀debbie

    1. Sure! Just make sure you keep the texture/consistency of the dough in mind. You may need a bit more flour if you add honey (and vice-versa with the sugar.)

    1. Absolutely. I suggest placing it in a greased loaf pan for the second rise and then placing in the oven when ready to bake.

  3. 5 stars
    This is THE BEST RECIPE, most comprehensive directions! This is our “go to” for homemade bread when having company, or just when we need “warm fresh bread”! My daughter and I conquered this at the beginning of COVID 2020 and everyone that has had it, LOVES IT. As soon as its cooled enough to cut it, it gets devoured!

    1. Thanks Debbie! I’m beyond happy that you’ve mastered this recipe. If you’re anything like me at all, your life will be all the richer because of it! Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment. xo -Dan

  4. This bread turned out beautifully! I did change it a bit by pre- heating my big ole cast iron Dutch oven to 450 for 20 min, and then turning the loaves onto floured parchment paper, then covering with a lid, taking the lid off for the last 5 min. Can’t wait to slather some butter on this bread!

    1. Yaayyyy Bridget! Thanks for the feedback and be sure to keep making this bread and making it your own by modifying it to what works for you!

  5. 4 stars
    I love this bread but after I let the loaves rest, they’re so difficult to get into the pizza stone! Does the stone have to be preheated, or can I just let the loaves rest on my stone and put it in the oven?

    1. The stones do not have to be preheated but you’ll get a better bottom crust if they are hot when the bread goes on the stone. The easiest way to do this is to allow the loaves to do their final rising on a piece of parchment paper. Then, slide the parchment paper (with the bread on it) directly onto the hot stone. You can bake the bread on parchment paper (sitting on the stone.)

  6. Reading this recipe YOU say that cast iron would work. But then in your comments you say it will burn the bread. … Ummm so which is it?

  7. 5 stars
    I am a fairly experienced bread maker and I wanted to try something different. I found this recipe on Pinterest and gave it a try. It turned out pretty good. It tastes amazing but my loaves area a little wide and flat. I read through the recipe and saw that the dough was wet so I didn’t add much more than the recipe called for. I think I will add a little more next time. I baked it on a baking stone and like the texture.
    Working with the dough isn’t difficult as some claim, just different. If you’re used to a traditional dough, this really seams floppy and, well, wet like the recipe says.
    I definitely will make this again. I’m sure once I get used to handling no knead dough I will get better at knowing how it should feel
    Thanks for all the instructions and tips! Great recipe!

    1. Thank you so much for the comments! This recipe is a bit tricky sometimes to perfect but once you hit paydirt there is no going back!

  8. 5 stars
    Hi! This turned out perfectly! Do you happen to have a version using whole wheat flour for a rustic loaf? Thanks!

    1. Hi Erica, we’re so happy to hear this turned out for you. If you want to use whole wheat, you’ll need to use a bit more water because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than regular flour. Figure on about 2 tablespoons of water per cup of whole wheat flour. You may want to try this recipe first, by using 25% whole wheat flour, and then making changes and adjustments to your taste. Thanks for the feedback and excellent question!

      1. Hey Dan, so glad you are spreading this wonderful bread recipe around. I’ve been baking it for over 3 years now, since I found it on the New York Times cooking sight. If you want to give props to the creators of the recipe here is who the NYT sites. Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007).

        1. Hey Joe, with all of your experience baking this bread, I can confidently say that our readers would love any caveats for success that you have to share with them. We’ve done our best to show in detail, how to get the most out of each loaf of this timeless crusty bread recipe. However, we always appreciate more input from readers just like you.

  9. 4 stars
    Made this to serve with soup tonight! It’s delicious! Not quite as crusty as I would have liked, but I will definitely make it again! Quick & easy & sooo tasty!