When you take your first bite from a warm slice of dutch oven sourdough bread, you’ll realize that nothing tastes better than bread made from scratch at home! This classic no knead sourdough recipe uses just 4 ingredients, and the no-knead dough can rise throughout the day or overnight. With a little patience and our pro tips, you can be enjoying a homemade loaf before the end of the day!
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Easy Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread
This no knead sourdough recipe makes a classic round boule, baked in a dutch oven. The method yields a rustic, artisan-style loaf that is slightly crispy and chewy on the outside, and fantastically fluffy and soft on the inside.
Sourdough is fantastic for making all kinds of tasty baked goods. From sweet treats like apple cake to savory pizza crust, a good sourdough starter is about the most versatile ingredient in the kitchen!
Each bite has that signature sourdough tanginess that will have you craving another slice.
For those who live in colder climates, you’ll love that the dough can be left to rise during the day versus overnight – when it’s typically colder and therefore more difficult to get a great rise in the evening.
There are only 4 ingredients (including water) needed to make a delicious loaf of sourdough bread from scratch:
- Sourdough starter – absolutely necessary for this recipe; try my easy homemade sourdough starter recipe
- All-purpose flour – You can substitute bread flour for some of the all-purpose. See the recipe cards for exact amounts.
If you’d like to make a whole wheat loaf, we recommend making our no-knead whole wheat sourdough bread recipe instead!
- Sea salt
- Warm filtered water – Ideally, the temperature of the water should be about 105°F.
Are you looking for a soft sourdough bread that is not baked in a Dutch oven? Super soft sourdough sandwich bread is great to keep on hand for lunches (kids love it!), and a is always welcome on the dinner table.
Equipment and Supplies
You’ll want to use a 4-quart to 5-quart dutch oven for baking this sourdough bread recipe. The smaller size supports the bread during its fast rise in the oven and provides a taller loaf.
A dough whisk is handy for stirring the thick batter.
Using a clear bowl for rising makes it easier to see the fermentation activity going on below.
How to Make Sourdough in a Dutch Oven
Below are the foolproof step-by-step directions for making this amazing bread. You’ll love how easy (and delicious!) this bread is!
Mixing the Dough
- Add the sourdough starter to a large glass bowl. Stir in the water until the starter is completely dissolved. Now add the flour and salt. Use a dough whisk or wooden spoon to stir until a thick and shaggy dough forms. If it’s too thick you can finish mixing the dough by hand. Leave the dough in the bowl, and cover with a clean and slightly damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Next, activate the gluten by stretching and folding the dough for 15 seconds within the bowl. To watch the technique, check out the video tutorial in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Grab the edge of the dough, stretch it up and press it down into the center of the dough, then turn the dough 1/4 a turn. Continue stretching the dough as you move in a clockwise rotation.
- Cover the bowl with a clean damp towel, and let it rise in a warm area (75º to 85º F) for 6-8 hours. The dough should double in size and look bubbly as shown below.
Shaping the Loaf
- Now let’s shape the loaf. First flour your countertop, and tip the dough from the bowl onto the countertop. Stretch and fold the dough again as you did before. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, line a medium bowl with a towel or use a banneton with linen cover (see photo), and dust heavily with flour. Transfer the dough into the bowl and let it rise for 30 – 60 minutes.
Baking the Bread
- Preheat your oven to 450º (without the dutch oven). Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, and turn it over onto the countertop so that the dough is on top of the parchment paper. It should hold its shape well.
- Next, slash the top of the loaf with a lame or sharp serrated knife. This will allow the steam to escape and crust to expand without cracking. Gently lower the parchment paper with the dough into the dutch oven.
- Bake the dutch oven with the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes. Use oven mitts to carefully remove the bread from inside the pot (on the countertop using a trivet is best) and bake the loaf it directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes. This is essential to create that perfectly crisp exterior.
- Remove from the oven and let the sourdough bread cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Recipe Tips and Suggestions
Using a round dutch oven will give you the typical round sourdough loaf. But, you can use an oval pot instead.
Use the same brand of flour for consistent results. We have the best success using either organic King Arthur All-Purpose flour, Arrowhead Mills Organic All-Purpose Flour, or Wheat Montana Premium All-Purpose Flour.
If you prefer extra tangy sourdough bread, replace 1/4 teaspoon (up to 1/2 teaspoon) of the salt with citric acid or sour salt for a tangy kick to your sourdough.
Use a glass bowl to proof the dough. This will let you see the bubbles throughout the dough that let you know the dough is ready.
Keeping the dough warm (75º to 85º is ideal) during the bulk rise (6-8 hours) is key for proper fermentation. See the tips below for how to keep your sourdough dough warm.
If the ambient temperature is less than 75°F, you may need to let the sourdough rise for 10 hours or more.
If your dutch oven has a dark bottom, like Lodge or Staub, use an oven-safe trivet or round silpat liner to keep the bottom from darkening.
To keep the dough warm during colder months:
- Place it above your refrigerator (if there’s room). There is typically a good bit of heat that gets trapped up above the fridge.
- Use the “proof” setting of your oven (Renae sets hers to 85ºF.) and set a timer.
- You can use a pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot, to proof the dough. Use the yogurt setting (don’t use the warm setting – it’s too hot!) and adjust the timer for 6 hours.
- If there is a a sunny room in the house that stays warm, keep the dough covered in that area.
- Place the bowl in the oven with the door closed and light on to create a slightly warmer climate without actually turning the oven on.
Dutch Oven Sourdough FAQ
When it’s ready, the dough should be about double in size, with a softer and smoother top. You should be able to see bubbles in the dough – this is where a glass bowl comes in handy.
Yes, you can substitute all-purpose flour 1:1 with bread flour.
Substitute up to 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with bread flour, but I do not recommend using all bread flour as this yields a denser loaf. Also, add 1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to get a higher rise.
Store sourdough in a sealed bag or container and keep it at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread
- In a large bowl, add the sourdough starter. Add in water and use a dough whisk or a wooden spoon to stir until dissolved. Stir in the flour and salt until a shaggy looking dough forms. Finish mixing dough by hand in the bowl until all the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Pull the dough from the bowl with a dough scraper or by hand onto the countertop. Stretch and fold the dough for 15 seconds (see video below): grab the edge of the dough and bring it straight up it about 4 inches and tuck it into the center of the dough. Then, turn the dough 1/4 a turn. Continue this process until the dough has come full circle and it has tightened.Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel (or plastic wrap if you live in a dry area) and and let rise at room temperature or a warm area (72º to 80º F) for about 10 hours to ferment. Do not refrigerate the dough. The dough should double in size and look bubbly on the surface and under the dough when fermented.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Pull the dough from the bowl and shape the dough by stretching and folding it again. Let the dough rest 10 – 15 minutes. Line a medium sized bowl with a towel, or use a banneton bowl with linen cover (see photos), and dust heavily with flour. Let dough rise in it for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450º (without the dutch oven). Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, about 20 inches long, and turn it over onto the countertop (see video). Slash the top of the loaf with a lame or sharp serrated knife. Gently lower the parchment paper dough into a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. NOTE: If using a Dutch Oven with a dark interior, I recommend insulating the bottom with a round silicone sheet underneath the parchment paper. You can also place the pot on a baking sheet. This helps the bottom crust of the bread from getting too dark in color.
- Place the covered pot in the the oven and bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 20 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the bread from the pot. Bake it directly on the oven rack for 5-10 minutes to crisp the exterior (if needed). To ensure your bread is cooked through you can check the internal temperature. It should be 195ºF to 205ºF.
- Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.