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Overnight Sourdough Bread

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If you’re looking to get started with sourdough (or natural yeast) then you are in the right place. All it takes is flour and water and a little time to be able to make your own bread from a sourdough starter. You’ll be amazed how easy this overnight sourdough bread recipe is. No kneading or heavy mixing is necessary. So, let’s make some delicious artisan bread!

staub dutch oven with a loaf of overnight sourdough bread cooling

Sourdough Starter

First thing’s first: The best sourdough bread starts with an active, bubbly sourdough starter.

You’ll need an active starter to make any sourdough recipe. I’m linking my easy sourdough starter recipe. This fast sourdough starter is literally fail-proof thanks to my pro tips. And it has step-by-step instructions – perfect for a beginner.

You can also get an established starter from Etsy like I did, or get one from someone locally.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can make this Easy Sandwich Bread or Grandma’s Potato Rolls instead.

Slices of Sourdough natural yeast bread

What is Natural Wild Yeast?

Sourdough is wild, natural yeast. It comes from mixing water and flour together, and letting it ferment in a warm spot. Natural yeast is a living organism, so it needs nutrients and air to thrive.

The kind of yeast you buy in the store is referred to as commercial yeast. It is quick and easy to use.

Using natural sourdough yeast gained popularity in 2020 when commercial yeast was in short supply. Why rely on getting yeast from the store to make homemade bread when you can make your own?

Plus, you can use your starter to create other things, like Sourdough Pizza Crust, Sourdough Stuffing, or even soft crusted Sourdough Sandwich Bread. This overnight sourdough recipe yields a perfectly soft but chewy pizza crust. And it’s our favorite pizza!

photo of natural yeast starter

Sourdough Bread Benefits

The natural, wild yeast used to create sourdough bread offers several health benefits as this Healthline article discusses:

  • Natural yeast slows digestion to help you feel fuller for longer. The lactic acid and natural salts in sourdough slow down digestion.
  • The organic acids produced during natural yeast fermentation lower the glycemic index of sourdough bread. This helps keep your blood sugar in check.
  • Due to the natural yeast in sourdough bread, consuming it lowers the body’s glycemic response to all carbohydrates. Amazingly, it was even more so than if the person had whole wheat bread made from commercial yeast. This response to carbohydrates remains lower for hours after the natural yeast is consumed.
  • Natural yeast has been shown to help strengthen the immune system. And, the lactic acid produced by sourdough bread inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and mold.

As you can see above the health benefits in sourdough bread are numerous.

Learn more about why sourdough bread is healthier and more nutritious in this article on the health benefits of sourdough.

This sourdough bread recipe uses an overnight rise that allows the grains to ferment with the starter.

The fermentation process creates gut-healthy enzymes and acids. Most other types of bread do not provide these healthy enzymes and acids.

Hooray for freshly baked bread that’s yummy and healthy!

green bowl with a loaf of no knead sourdough bread

Why Overnight Sourdough Bread?

This overnight sourdough recipe does not require kneading, unlike many other recipes. Instead, it uses an easy folding technique that stretches the gluten.

Natural, wild yeasts need a longer rise than doughs with commercial yeast. This fermentation allows the natural yeast the time needed to rise the bread. An 8-10 hour rise is common for this overnight fermented or “bulk” rise.

So, preparing the sourdough in the evening, and letting it rise overnight is ideal. Within a few hours of waking, you’ll have fresh sourdough bread.

How to Make Artisan Sourdough Bread

In the morning, feed the starter to get it active and bubbly. Wait 4 to 12 hours before using so that it’s at optimal activity. Below is an example of the rise and activity after a feeding:

photos of natural yeast sourdough starters

In the evening, stir down the starter and remove 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) to make the bread.

Since I am an infrequent baker, I put rest of the starter in the fridge until I need it. Refrigeration hibernates the sourdough starter, allowing me to feed it every week or two, instead of daily.

bag of King Arthur Flour and sourdough natural yeast mixed

Mixing Easy Sourdough Bread

In a large bowl, add the 1/4 cup of sourdough starter. Mix in 1 2/3 cups of warm, filtered water until dissolved. Add 4 1/4 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of fine sea salt.

Stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until a thick, shaggy dough forms. Wet your hands, and finish mixing dough by hand. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

No Knead Sourdough Folding

Coax the dough from the bowl and fold the dough for 15 seconds. Grab part of the dough, stretch it out, push it into the center of the dough, then turn the dough 1/4 a turn. Pull, stretch, push and turn in a clockwise rotation.

Sourdough
King Arthur Flour

Overnight Fermented Rise

Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp clean towel, and let rise overnight (at least 8-10 hours). Sourdough needs a longer rise to allow the dough to ferment and rise.

In the morning, lightly flour your counter-top and shape the dough by folding it again. Allow the dough rest 10 minutes.

Use a banneton proofing bowl or line a medium bowl with a towel and dust with flour. Let dough rise for 30 – 60 minutes.

Sourdough bread rising in baneton basket
sourdough recipe

Baking Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread

Preheat your oven to 450º. Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, and turn it over onto the counter top. Next, slash the top of the sourdough with a sharp serrated knife.

Gently lower the parchment paper dough into a cast iron dutch iron, with a tight fitting lid.

a loaf of easy sourdough bread ready to bake in the oven

Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake 20 minutes. After that, carefully remove the bread from the pot and bake it directly on the oven each for 10 minutes to crisp the exterior.

Let the artisan sourdough bread cool for at least one hour before cutting. Otherwise, the loaf of bread will deflate if cut too soon.

Cut natural yeast sourdough bread shown

Just look at this beautiful loaf of artisan sourdough bread! With this easy sourdough bread recipe, you’ll soon have your own beautiful bread, too.

See Below for the Complete Sourdough Recipe with Video!

sliced sourdough bread from this 
Sourdough bread recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make sourdough bread without a cast iron dutch oven?

Yes, a heavy oven-safe pot with a lid will work. Use one that is about 9″ to 10″ in diameter and 6″ high.

I ran out of parchment paper. Can I use wax paper instead?

Don’t use wax paper. The wax will melt in the oven at this high temperature and you’ll have a mess on your hands. Instead, use a long sheet aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Sodium in Sourdough Bread – how much is in it?

This recipe as made contains 241mg of sourdough in each slice. A slice is 1/12th of the loaf.

Will this overnight sourdough bread recipe work with all purpose flour?

Sure, though you will experience a slightly smaller loaf. If you have vital wheat gluten, use 4 cups of all purpose flour and 4 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten in place of the bread flour.

My sourdough bread did not double in size overnight.

The sourdough needs a warm area for the bulk (overnight) rise. Find a warm place (75º – 85º F) like an oven with the light on, a warm window, or above the refrigerator or dryer to set the bread for 2 hours.

How can I keep the bottom of my bread from turning so brown?

An easy fix is to add a layer of corn meal on the bottom of the dutch oven, and place the parchment paper on top of that. Dutch ovens that are darker in color tend to brown the bottom of the bread more.

How will I know if my sourdough bread is done?

If you’re unsure if the sourdough bread is fully baked, the internal temperature should be around 195º – 200ºF.

What can I use stale sourdough bread for?

You can easily soften stale bread in the microwave. Cover it with a damp paper towel and microwave it at 50% power for 30 – 60 seconds. However, I like using my leftover, hardened sourdough bread as Sourdough Stuffing or Air Fryer Croutons.


Easy Overnight Sourdough Recipe

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4.96 from 23 votes

Easy Overnight Sourdough Bread

This is the perfect sourdough bread for a beginner! It is easy and forgiving and virtually foolproof. Just follow the process and you'll be rewarded with an amazing loaf of sourdough. I recommend starting this bread in the evening and letting it rise overnight.
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword Breads, Sourdough, sourdough bread, homemade bread
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Combined rises are approx. 12 hours 12 hours
Total Time 13 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 155kcal

Equipment

  • Heavy Dutch Oven with Lid
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (60g) sourdough starter
  • 1 ⅔ cups (350g) warm filtered water (95º to 100º F)
  • 4 ¼ cups (500g) bread flour
  • 1 ½ tsp (9g) sea salt

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the starter. Mix in warm, filtered water, stirring until dissolved. Add bread flour and salt. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until a thick, shaggy dough forms. Wet your hands, and finish mixing dough by hand. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • Coax the dough from the bowl and stretch and fold the dough for 15 seconds. Grab part of the dough, stretch it out, push it into the center of the dough, then turn the dough 1/4 a turn. Pull, stretch, push and turn in a clockwise rotation. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise overnight (at least 8-10 hours).
  • In the morning, lightly flour your counter-top and shape the dough by stretching and folding it again. Let the dough rest 10 minutes. Line a medium bowl with a towel or use a banneton with linen cover (see photo), and dust heavily with flour. Let dough rise in it for 30 – 60 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 450º. Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, and turn it over onto the counter top. 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 (see photo). The pot does not need to be preheated.
  • Add the covered pot 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 and bake it directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes to crisp the exterior.

Video

Notes

Let cool for at least one hour before cutting.
Store sourdough bread at room temperature in a bag for up to 5 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 241mg | Potassium: 42mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

This sourdough recipe was adapted from the Everyday Sourdough recipe in Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa. I can’t recommend her book enough! It’s full of beautiful photos and delicious sourdough recipes.


Get More Sourdough recipes:

Now that you have the easiest sourdough recipes, let’s bake some amazing sourdough!

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52 thoughts on “Overnight Sourdough Bread”

  1. Hello. If my starter only increases 30% in about12 hrs should I feed it every 12 hrs or every 24 hrs until it’s fully active?

    Reply
    • It depends on how old your starter is, if it’s less than a week old just keep feeding it once a day (24 hours). As the starter matures it will get strong enough to double in size within 6 hours as long as it is kept at least 75ºF. If your starter is older than that and it is not doubling in size within 6 hours, I would check to see if the starter is kept warm enough, that you are not using bleached flour (or organic flour) for feedings, that you are feeding the proper ratios of water and flour, and that you are using filtered water. If you are already doing those suggestions, then you could try feeding your starter every 12 hours.

      Reply
  2. Hi,
    This recipe looks super easy and I have to try it soon. I was wondering why I can’t rise the dough in the Dutch oven if it doesn’t need to be preheated? It just sounds so much easier that way. Thanks for a great recipe.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this bread a ton and I love how easy it is! If I wanted to add olives/rosemary/etc. when would it be best to do that? Thanks!!!

    Reply
  4. Please add a jump to recipe button! It’s hard for some people like me to scroll like I had to in order to get to the recipe.

    Reply
      • Everytime I press that button it takes me to the top of the main page instead of a printable version. Loaf turned out beautiful but I’d like to print a hard copy too to save me all the scrolling!

        Reply
    • An oven-safe, heavy pot with a well-fitting lid. Fox example, a stock pot or soup pot. The idea is to keep the steam generated during baking inside the pot.

      Reply
  5. I didn’t put the pot into the oven to preheat, but I did have it sitting on the stove top as the oven was heating.
    I got really nice oven spring and the loaf was pretty crusty after 20 minutes with the lid off. I took it from the pot and placed on the rack but it only needed about 5 minutes to finish. Internal temp was 209 degrees and crust is beautifully browned and crisp.

    Reply
  6. One question I have…other recipes have told the baker to put the cast iron pot into the oven to preheat, putting the risen dough into a hot pot.
    Is this recipe not doing that?

    Reply
  7. OK now waiting the 8-10 hours for the sourdough to rise. This will be my third try but with a different recipe. It’s actually more simple than the other recipes but I don’t have a dutch oven. Any suggestions? I’ll just use a casserole dish with tin foil for a cover. Hopefully that will do, until I get a dutch oven. Thanks for the recipe and I will post the results.

    Reply
  8. Would it be possible to take the loaf out after the 20 minute bake without the lid, then hold it at room temperature until later in the day to conduct the final 10 minute crisping an hour before serving?

    Reply
  9. I love this recipe however the last few times I’ve made it my loaf isn’t rising as much as it was before. I waited the right time after feeding my starter. What am I doing wrong

    Reply
    • If your starter is as active and bubbly as it was before, then I could suggest either letting it rise longer or find a warmer location for the rise. Keeping it warm is essential to the bulk fermentation (overnight) rise. 75ºF to 80ºF is ideal.

      Reply
  10. Hi, I love to bake bread in the afternoon so it’s warm for dinner. How can this be adjusted so I would bake around 3-4:00 in the afternoon? Thank you!

    Reply
    • That’s a good question. In the winter, I have had to use a longer bulk (overnight rise) because my house is cooler overnight, meaning I’m baking my bread later in the morning or early afternoon. If you house isn’t noticeably cooler in the winter and you want to bake bread in the afternoon, then my suggestion would be to mix the dough very early in the morning (preferably before 6 am) using 100ºF water and keep it in a warm place like an oven set to 85ºF or your oven with the interior light left on. Be sure to let the bread cool for 1 hour before slicing. Let me know how this turns out 🙂

      Reply
  11. Hi
    I’m new to the world of sourdough. I made your recipe and it came out beautiful! How can I get a more sour taste?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Jodie, I’m so glad you sourdough loaf came out beautiful! The way I made my sourdough starter have more of a “sourdough” taste is by feeding it less frequently. Younger starters often have a more mild taste. I suggest you try googling how to make a sourdough starter taste more sour if you’d like a quicker process.

      Reply
  12. This recipe worked great. I’ve now made it twice and with different starters and both were good. I have a tip for baking it . It did get dark on the bottom the first time I made it so I used a roasting rack underneath it for the second time.. I just put the parchment paper with the loaf on top of the rack. It worked great. The parchment paper keeps it from sinking through the rack. The bottom is beautiful. If you have a rack, try it underneath. I made all the difference for me.

    Reply
    • Using a rack is a great idea! I use a round Silpat under mine, but I bet the metal trivet from my Instant Pot would work perfectly here.

      Reply
  13. Tastes good every time, and is simple to follow. The only problem I have is my dough rises so much it sticks to my damp cloth during the overnight rinse. Should I flower the top of my dough, or deal with losing some dough everymorning?

    Reply
    • Have you tried using plastic wrap instead? I spray the underside of the plastic wrap with cooking spray to prevent sticking. If you don’t want to use plastic wrap, I would sprinkle flour over the loaf before covering with a towel.

      Reply
  14. Hi! I was wanting to make smaller rectangle loaves to give out for gifts to neighbors. Can I bake these somehow in foil loaf pans?

    Reply
    • I think the best way to do this would be to get small round foil pans and bake them individually in a Dutch oven. I’m coming out with a sourdough country bread recipe soon that is baked in rectangle bread pans.

      Reply
  15. Thank you so much for this! Got my first sourdough starter as a gift, and all the other recipes were excruciatingly specific about times, temperatures, prep… awful intimidating. But I’ve tried this recipe 3 or 4 times and gotten a beautiful loaf with the most casual treatment, it makes me feel so accomplished! Me and my roommate thank you.

    Reply
  16. This is an amazing recipe! Easy to follow and the results are a very beautiful and delicious loaf. I din find that the heat might be too high though. I only cooked the first 30 cover and the 20 uncovered, I skipped the extra 10 direct on grill as it looked already too done. Can I reduce to 425 or 400?

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t change the temperature unless your oven runs hot. You need the high heat to help rise the loaf quickly. If your loaf was done in that period in your oven, I’d just keep baking it the way you did.

      Reply
  17. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. It’s excellent.
    Also, thanks for all the sourdough information.
    Your blog is beautiful.

    Reply
      • 5 stars
        Hi 🙂 in the video you don’t knead/fold it in the morning, but just shape it, but in the written recipe it says to fold? I had the most beautiful dough in the AM but I managed to break it by folding and kneading, making it a wet sticky mess. Is it easy to break sour dough? I am going to try again and do like you do in video, gently rounding and not folding again.

        Reply
        • Definitely stretch and fold it in the morning, I’m not sure why yours turned out wet and sticky. If that happens again, flour your hands well so that a little more flour gets mixed in. I might have accidentally edited that from my video, but I’m so glad you let me know. It needs a new video anyway!

          Reply
          • 5 stars
            I had this exact same question, the video does not show that, but the recipe says it. I made two loaves and did one each way. They were both beautiful – the first one is delicious, haven’t cut into the second one yet. Probably won’t help me much though, because I’ve lost track of which is which!!!

            But it is a WONDERFUL and easy recipe. THANK YOU!!

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