Homemade Italian Bread is one of the easiest bread recipes to make at home. It is a low-fat, classic recipe with a crusty, flavorful crust, and a soft, tender interior.
This simple Italian bread is made with basic pantry staples and is absolutely delicious. It pairs perfectly with a bowl of pasta topped with Bolognese Sauce, or a bowl of homemade soup, such as Lasagna Soup, Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana, Instant Pot Minestrone Soup.
There is something about walking into a kitchen and smelling homemade bread baking.
And while people can be intimidated by the thought of making homemade bread, this recipe for Italian Bread happens to be one of the easiest homemade bread recipes to make. It is made with simple ingredients and has a slightly crispy crust on the outside, but is perfectly soft on the inside.
Notes on Ingredients
- Flour--Use unbleached bread flour for best results.
- Water--Be sure to use warm water that is at about 105 degrees. If water is too hot the yeast will be killed and if the water is too cold the yeast will not be activated.
- Yeast--Be sure you use Dry Active Yeast (not Quick Rise Yeast) and be sure yeast is not expired for best results.
- Spices--I like to add garlic powder to give my Italian bread more flavor, but this is completely optional and is not traditional.
How to Make Italian Bread
Step One: Prepare the Dough
You can prepare the dough for Italian Bread by hand, using a stand mixer, or even by using a bread machine.
To prepare the dough using a bread maker, place the ingredient into the loaf pan in the order indicated per your machine's instructions. For most bread makers, this would be to pour in the warm water, top with the flour and salt and then make a well for the yeast. Set the cycle to "dough" and let the bread machine do its thing. Easy-peasy.
If you don't have a bread machine, don't panic. It is NEARLY as easy to prepare Italian Bread by hand or with a stand mixer.
- In a measuring cup, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let the yeast bloom in the water for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy.
- While the yeast is blooming, mix together the flour, salt, and optional seasonings in either the bowl for the stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the yeast water into the flour mixture and using either a wooden spoon or the mixing hook on a stand mixer, mix until just combined.
- Once the flour is fully moistened, it is time to knead the dough. You can do this by using the dough hook on a stand mixer and mixing at medium-low speed until the dough is nice and smooth and pulls away from the bowl easily. This will take about 5 minutes. If you are kneading the dough by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is nice and smooth. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until double in size--about 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of your house.
Step Two: Shape
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down the dough and shape it into a long oval shape.
- Cut diagonal slits on top of bread every 2-3 inches.
- Cover Italian Bread Dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Step Three: Bake
- While the bread is rising, heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- After the second rise, brush the bread with olive oil for a golden crust.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired for additional flavor, keeping in mind this is not traditional.
- Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
Storing Italian Bread
Italian Bread can be stored at room temperature, once cooled, in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days at room temperature.
You can also wrap the cooled bread well wrapped in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.
Bread is finished baking when you tap the bottom of the loaf of bread and it sounds hollow. But a sure-fire way to know your bread is baked perfectly is to take its internal temperature. Do this by placing a thermometer in the center of the bread. When it reads 190 degrees, your Italian Bread is baked to perfection.
Chances are you used too much flour in the bread dough. It is important to measure the flour by lightly spooning the flour into a measuring cup, rather than scooping the flour, to ensure accurate measurement.
To substitute instant yeast for active dry, use ½ teaspoon of instant yeast. And there is no need to bloom the yeast in water, simply add it to the dry ingredients.
King Arthur Flour has a guide for baking at high altitudes that will help you make the appropriate adjustments.
Homemade Bread Recipes
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Whole Wheat Dutch Oven Bread
- Cranberry Walnut Bread
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- Whole Wheat Rolls
If you enjoyed this recipe for homemade Italian Bread, I would love for you to leave a review and comment below.
Homemade Italian Bread
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 ½ cups unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons olive oil to give bread a golden exterior
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder optional
Using a Bread Machine
- Place water, flour, and salt into the bread machine in order specified by your machine. Make a well into the flour and add the yeast to the well. Set to dough cycle and turn on.
- Once the dough cycle is complete, punch the dough down shape into a large oval shape. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 to 60 minutes, or once dough has nearly doubled in size.
- Once the dough has doubled again, cut diagonal slits on top of bread dough every 2-3 inches
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack to cool completely.
Preparing without a Bread Machine
- Pour water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and let the yeast bloom, or get foamy and bubbly, for 5-10 minutes.
- Mix the flour, salt, and oregano, and garlic powder (if using), together and stir in the foamy water with a wooden spoon (or dough hook of a stand mixer) until incorporated.
- Knead until dough is nice and smooth--about 5-10 minutes.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in warm place to rise until doubled in size--about 1-2 hours depending on temperature of your house.
- Once the dough has risen, punch the dough down and shape into an oval-shape loaf. Cut diagonal slits on top of bread dough every 2-3 inches. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 to 60 minutes, or once the dough has nearly doubled in size.
- Brush the loaf with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Bread is finished baking when you tap the bottom of the loaf of bread and it sounds hollow. You can also take its internal temperature. When it reads 190 degrees, your Italian Bread is baked to perfection.
- Flour–use unbleached bread flour for best results. It is also important to measure by lightly spooning flour into a measuring cup to ensure accurate flour measurement.
- Water–be sure to use warm water that is at about 105 degrees because if the water is too hot the yeast will be killed and if water the yeast will not be activated.
- Yeast–Be sure you use dry active yeast (not Quick Rise Yeast) and be sure yeast is not expired for best results.
- Baking at a high altitude? Check out these adjustments that you may need to follow.
- Optional Seasonings--If you would like to season your Italian bread, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder to the flour mixture, brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese before baking.
- Storage: This bread will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days and can be frozen for up to a month.