This easy sourdough bread recipe is as foolproof as it gets. From start to finish, you’ll learn everything you need to know to make bakery-worthy loaves.
Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just trying homemade sourdough for the first time, you’ve landed in the right corner of the internet. With just a little technique and the right tools, sourdough bread-baking is actually quite straightforward. Get ready for your house to smell like heaven and for an unparalleled taste!
Kitchen Tools You Need for Sourdough Bread
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s cover off on a couple of essential tools that make the process that much easier.
- Proofing Basket – This is the set I own! It comes with two proofing baskets and a handy scoring knife.
- Dutch Oven – The Staub Dutch oven is my go-to, but feel free to use any brand!
- Dough Whisk – This dough whisk makes combining all the ingredients a piece of cake and removes pesky bubbles and lumps.
- Sourdough Starter – You can make your own starter or ask a friend to lend you one. If you want to go the homemade route, consider this book your sourdough starter bible!
How to Make Sourdough Bread
Making sourdough bread requires patience and a little bit of technique. Here, you’ll find the instructions broken down accompanied with handy photos for all you visual learners out there.
Prepping the Dough
- Combine the Water & Starter: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the water and sourdough starter together. Spoon in the salt and whisk again.
- Add in the Flour: Next, stir in the flour until the dough looks dry, rough, shaggy, and a bit sticky.
Pro Tip: to make bread dough more exact, get a scale and measure 520 grams of flour, 325 grams of water, 90 grams of the sourdough starter, and 1 tsp salt.
The First Rise (aka “The Resting Phase”)
- Cover the Dough: Next, cover the large bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (this is when the gluten will begin to develop and the bread will gain a nice surface tension for perfect crust).
Shaping the Dough & the Second Rise (aka the “Bulk Fermentation Rise”)
- Shape the Dough: Next, fold the sides of the dough over into the center to form a ball (this is a great time to fix any errors. Is there flour lingering at the bottom of the bowl? Incorporate it! Is the dough too sticky to handle? Add a bit more flour until it’s manageable!).
- Allow the Dough to Rise: Cover the bowl with a towel again and let the dough rise on the counter for at least 8 hours, or until it doubles in size.
- Shape the Dough: After the second rise, the bread dough should appear wet and bubbly. Place it on a floured work surface and stretch it into a large, rectangular shape. Fold it over into itself to form a small ball.
- Remove the Blemishes: To finish the shaping process, push in the bottom of the ball with your fingers, while simultaneously shaping it into as perfect as a ball you can with your other hand.
The Final Rise (aka the “Bench Rise”) & Scoring
- Pop the Dough in the Basket: Next, place the dough into the dough basket with the seam side up. Cover the basket and let the bread rest for 45 minutes at room temp (or for a couple of hours in the fridge).
- Preheat the Dutch Oven: Pop the Dutch oven inside the oven and turn the heat to 450°F.
- Score the Bread: While the oven is heating up, place the dough on a piece of parchment paper with the seam side down. Score the top as you please – get as creative as you want here!
Baking the Sourdough
- Bake the Sourdough: Next, place the bread inside the Dutch oven and bake it for 30 minutes with the lid closed. Remove the lid and bake it for an additional 20 minutes. Give the bread a bit of time to rest and then pull it out to sit on a cooling rack on the counter. Slice it with a sharp knife and enjoy!
Helpful Tips & Tricks
A couple of simple tips and tricks will help you bake this sourdough recipe like a pro.
- Fully incorporate the ingredients for the dough. When you’re first mixing the ingredients together, make sure that they are well-combined and there’s no pockets of flour or salt. You don’t want to bake these in!
- Don’t forget to feed your starter. To keep your starter alive, make sure to feed it 8 hours before you plan to bake. Equal parts lukewarm water and all-purpose flour will do the trick. Once it starts dropping back down, feel free to use it! See my complete guide on feeding and maintaining your starter.
- Know that the temperature of the water will affect the rise. The cooler the water you use, the slower the rise. The hotter the water, the quicker the rise. Depending on the temperature and season, you can adjust the temperature of the water to control the rise (think: use cold water and an overnight rise in the summer to compensate for the hot temperature outside).
- Don’t rush the resting. Each rise serves a specific purpose, so don’t rush the process. Patience is key when it comes to bread-making!
- Mark the bowl to know when your dough has doubled in size. To gauge when the dough has doubled in size, mark the bowl at the level it sits at pre-rise.
- Use a razor blade if you don’t have a scoring knife. If you don’t have a scoring knife, carefully use a razor blade to score the top of the bread.
- Use high-quality flour. Bob’s Redmill Bread Flour is my top choice for it’s superior flavor and high-protein content (protein = great for texture). King Arthur Bread flour is also a great choice!
Ideas for Serving
Now that you’re down baking, it’s time to put the loaf of sourdough bread to good use. Here’s a couple of ideas to inspire you!
- Sandwiches – Use your sourdough to make air fryer grilled cheeses or garlic toasted sandwiches.
- Soup, Salad, & Bread – Pair the sourdough with minestrone and a garden salad.
- Stuffing – Slice day-old sourdough into tiny cubes and use it to make holiday stuffing.
- Appetizer Toasts – Slice the sourdough into small pieces and use it to make smoked salmon tea sandwiches or crab mushroom canapés.
Best Practices for Storing Sourdough Bread
To keep the sourdough fresh for 4-5 days, store it in a plastic bag at room temp. Whatever you do, don’t put it in the fridge! Instead of keeping the bread fresh for longer, the refrigerator actually dries it out due to the cold temperature.
Why is my sourdough bread so flat?
Sourdough bread turns flat for two reasons: 1) it wasn’t shaped properly or 2) there’s too much moisture/hydration in the dough and it can’t hold its shape.
Why is sourdough bread sour?
Sourdough bread gets its signature sour flavor from the acids produced by the starter. When the starter interacts with a warm environment during the rise, the fermentation process kicks off and the sour flavor begins to develop alongside the bacteria.
What kind of flour do you use for sourdough bread?
Bread flour tends to work best for sourdough, but you can use any flour that contains a good amount of starch. Rye, whole wheat flour, or spelt are some other great options. Avoid using all-purpose flour.
Why is your homemade sourdough bread so dense?
The main cause of dense sourdough bread is under proofing. If there isn’t enough yeast activity in the dough, there won’t be enough gas. This will result in a dense and gummy loaf. That said, patience is key!
Can you double a sourdough bread recipe?
Yes! You can double the sourdough bread recipe and divide it into two separate proofing baskets. Just make sure that you mind the measurements, as sourdough can be finicky.
More Tasty Homemade Bread Recipes
- Baguette (The Easiest Recipe) – Classic, French-style baguette
- Honey Wheat Bread – Slight sweet, hearty wheat bread
- Easy Dutch Oven Bread No Knead Bread (Video) – White bread round
- Sourdough Bagels – Easy-to-make overnight bagels with customizable toppings
- Easy Whole Wheat Baguette – Hearty whole wheat baguette
- 1/3 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 1/8 cups bread flour
- In a large bowl, whisk the water and sourdough starter together. Add in the salt and whisk again.
- Stir in the flour (the dough will look very dry and that's totally fine). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside at room temperature to rest for 30 minutes.
- After the sourdough rises, fold the sides of the dough over into the center to form a ball. Cover the bowl again and let the dough sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours. After the dough rises, it should appear wet and bubbly.
- Flour your work surface generously. Place the dough on the counter and stretch it into a large, rectangular shape. Fold it over until it turns into a small ball of dough.
- To finish shaping the dough, push in the bottom of the ball with your fingers while shaping it with your other hand into a perfectly round ball. Turn it several times in a circular motion to work out any bumps or blemishes.
- Place the dough into a dough basket with the seam side up. Cover the basket with a towel and let the bread rest for 45 minutes at room temperature or for a few hours in the fridge.
- Place the Dutch oven inside of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Place the dough ball on parchment paper with the seam side down. Score the top as you please.
- Place the bread inside the Dutch oven. Bake it for 30 minutes with the lid closed. Remove the lid and bake the bread for an additional 20 minutes. Let the bread rest for a bit before slicing into it and enjoy!
Is it ok to use the starter after longer than 8 h after feeding?
Hi Alina, as long as the starter is active. I think this post might be useful for you: https://momsdish.com/feeding-…
In step 1 where you mix your sourdough starter with water, it mixed beautifully. Then i added 1 tsp salt and mixed it and the salt made my starter clump up and stick to the whisk. Is that normal? Will my sourdpught bread turn out?
Hey Tasha, that can happen but what you can do is add salt with flour. The bread still turns out great but this is pretty normal. I think I need to switch it to add salt with flour so its not concerning. Thank you for flagging this.
Hello part 2 of 1!! OK - when I feed my "SDS" YESTERDAY MORNING - & TO MY EXTREAM SURPRISE - MY REGULAR "SDS" had the look as if it had been over fed 10 cups of flour water!!!! I had been feeding it 2 cops flour 2 cups water 3 times in 36 hours & nothing like this happen B4?! So half of this 4 liter container had risen well past the top of the 4.liter container!!! I promise U I am trying hard to get to the point!!! My "SDS" HAD been more thin then think B4 yesterday morning - after this feeding which (within 30mins)hard produced moren then what was already in the container!! OK getting to my Q & after all this hoping I have the answer to it all! I know for certain this is well beyond alive!!! Here is where is gets CONFUSING!!! There is not a hint of sour smell @ all - smell very much like yeast!!! & If I haven't already txt that I have tried making your bread recipe with my SDS" B4 & after this huge rise with million of every sized bubble!! Now is there anything I can do to make this " SDS" less active & more sour?!?! I have had asked everyone else & only seen your comment area last night!!Nnn
Thank you juud ⁶⁶⁶ TO
Hi Bryan, thank you for sharing your process. I learned so many takeaways from you as well. I am not 100% sure if I am a good resource for your question, we prefer non sour taste of sourdough. I think the starter cant be freshly fed, it can be active but not fed as often as you did. Also, you have to let the shaped bread sit for longer, thats when it develops more of the sour flavor. I think searching for some youtube videos with tips might be helpful for you. I hope the two tips are a good starting point. Let me know what else you learn. 🙂
Thank You Very Much for your feed back & I did tell U it is a or was a Question THAT just isn't anywhere online!!! & You happen to be the only person who has replied back to this Q😊 Your Assume Love!! xo "bb"
OK - Natalya - I am sorry!!! I did write down my entire Questions with as many detail I possibly could so #1 maybe U could desifer what I may have done wrong #2 also for you to know where (it would be in your mind & not my mind) (if I had the answers in my head - there really wouldn't be this here purpose of You right!! (As always I was maybe only 10 word from finnishing & sending the message when this cell slipped & my thumb hit something & everything i had txt was gone!!!!
(I hope this is - sorry I have to start the Q another way!!! I ha have a simple (on my mind) question in my mind that needs an answer ASAP!!! Cuz seemingly I am the only person who has asked this so - must do it anyways - I just hope its nothing bad!!! I have seen PPL (s) leave U more then 1 mess9& that is what I am - not asking - hoping it's nothing bad in the long run & it shouldn't be more then just 1 next message after in send this one OK!!! Will try fitting it all here but if I have to start a next one OK!!! Ty😊 OK in short & I haven't seen my problem anywhere in 4 days of searching!!! Had to freeze my "SDS" (SOUR DOUGH STARTER) 6 months back & have revived it better then I thought - to this was 5 days ago feeding it 3 times in 36 hour time frame & using a 4 liter container - 5 days it has gotten to the 2 liter mark - half container!!
I had no idea you can freeze SDS, I need to research this!
Can this recipe make a regular loaf
Hi Carolyn, If I am understanding your question correctly, you are able to shape this recipe in a loaf shape. I hope this is the answer you're looking for.
do you use starter direct from the refrigerator, or room temperature?
fed or discard?
Hello Mary, feed the starter 8 hours prior to using it and keep at room temperature so that the starter is ready for you when it's time to bake. If you put it in the fridge it’ll make it dormant; I only stick my sourdough starter in the fridge if I’m not planning to use it any time soon. Hope this helps!
Hi, could this be done without a Dutch oven?
Hey there Anastasia, You absolutely can! Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Any suggestions on how?
Sure, You can take a look at step 9 in the recipe. Good luck!
Hey there!! If I’m on a time crunch can the 8 hour rise time be shortened?
Hi there Heather, I have not tried to speed up the rising process. If you give it a try, I would love to know what worked for you. Good luck!
Have you tried any other recipes from the book you mentioned in the comments section? Thanks
Hi Jessica, I have but mostly the book was a great guide when I got started. It helped me with the process.
Hi, can the second rise be more than 8 hours on the counter? Or should I put it into the fridge instead?
Hi Vita- it's fine if its more than 8 hours for the second rise! What you can also do is: after 8 hours you shape it, and then refrigerate the shaped bread until you are ready to bake it if you are unable to bake it right away.. Hope this helps!
The recipe says 45 minutes at room temperature for the second rise or a couple hours in the fridge. How long could I have it in the fridge without overproofing it?
Hello Emily- You can keep the bread in your fridge overnight even! Say the dough already sat on your counter most of the day, you can then shape it and stick it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and bake directly from the fridge the next morning. Enjoy!
This is the first time I've made edible bread of ANY kind! What an easy recipe with great instructions.
Hi Pamela - That's so awesome to hear! I'm glad you found the recipe to be accessible. We are so obsessed with sourdough.
Is their anyway to make all purpose like bread flour? Or do I specifically need to buy bread flour
Hi Anna- the type of flour really does make a difference in this particular recipe, so I would recommend using the bread flour for best results!
I thought it was hard to make a sourdough bread. I followed your recipe and it came out perfect from the first try.
Hi Nina- how exciting! Glad to hear your sourdough came out perfect. 🙂
After the 8 hours my dough was not wet and bubbly. Did I do something wrong?
Hi Emma- did it double in size?
Yes it doubled in size
Hi Emma- oh good! So if it doubled then you should be able to proceed with the recipe no problem. I hope it turns out beautifully!
I had the same problem. The top formed a skin. I followed the instructions and covered the dough with a towel. Was I supposed to cover with a plastic wrap instead?
Hi Katie, I recommend that you cover the dough with plastic in the recipe. Thank you for reaching out!
Hi Natalya, when feeding the starter 8 hours prior to using it, should it be left at a room temperature or kept in the fridge? Will it make a difference?
Hi Aly- Keep it at room temperature so that the starter is ready for you when you are ready to bake. If you put it in the fridge it'll make it dormant; I only stick my sourdough starter in the fridge if I'm not planning to use it any time soon.
Thank you, Natalya. Can the starter be kept at a room temperature longer than 8 hours? 10-12 hours?
Hi Aly- yes that should be fine, sometimes it takes a bit longer for the starter to grow after feeding it, so if it needs more time that's okay! I often feed the starter in the morning, mix the dough in the evening, let it rest overnight and then bake in the morning. Hope this helps!
How do I make the sourdough starter ?
Hi Kat- I got my starter from a friend and hope to have a recipe up on my blog in the near future! If you're not able to find a starter from someone you know, I would recommend buying one on amazon for now or even getting a specific book that I have found soo helpful as I learned all about sourdough. Here is the link to my sourdough storefront, you'll see both the starter and book linked there: https://www.amazon.com/shop/m…
How much quarts does your Dutch oven have?
Hey Ali- this dutch oven is an old one so I'm not sure of the exact size. However, I recommend using a 5 quart dutch oven, it's my go-to size. Here is a link to my amazon storefront with all my favorite dutch ovens. (The black one you see in this blog post was an old Target find that is no longer available, sadly). https://www.amazon.com/shop/m…
I have a question, how long can I keep it in the fridge and what temperature 🌡? after 8 yrs of proofing at the room temperature, hopefully that temperature is around 70-71? I don't want to overproof my bread. Thanks for the recipe 😊
Hi Irina- you can keep the bread in your fridge overnight even. Say you made the dough in the morning and then it sat on your counter most of the day, you can then shape it and stick it in the fridge and bake directly from the fridge the next morning. Hope this helps!
Sounds great, thanks 😊
I have a question.... if I put the dough in the fridge overnight and bake it in the morning.
Do I take out the dough and have it come to room temperature ?? Or i can put it in the oven from the fridge??
Thanks in advance ☺
Hey Anna, yes, you can can bake it direct from the fridge. When I am on a time crunch I use this method as well. Hope you love it!
Наталья спасибо за рецепт, я уже некоторое время пытаюсь научится печь хлеб на закваске и не получается, сегодня по твоему рецепту получился ОТЛИЧНО!!! Завтра опять буду печь😅😅😅
Hi Tatyana- that makes me SO happy to hear! Enjoy and feel free to tag us in your sourdough photos online! 😊 Happy Baking!
Thank you for the recipe, Natalya!
You're welcome, Irina! Hope you give my sourdough recipe a try soon!
What a beautiful looking loaf. Sourdough is life !!!
Thank you, Yana. Hope you get to try my recipe soon!
Good things come to those who wait.....and the wait is definitely worth it for this sourdough bread. SO GOOD.
Thank you, April!
To be completely honest, I was nervous to make this but it came out perfect! It is so delicious and really easy too. Thanks so much!
You're welcome, Heather. Making bread can seem intimidating, so we give as much helpful information as possible for your success!
It turned out really gorgeous! Thank you so much!!
Thank you, Toni, enjoy!