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It is so easy to make Italian Bread at home with just a few simple ingredients. Nothing beats soft, crusty bread warm from the oven!

This Italian Bread has a similar consistency and taste as Classic White Bread, but is in crispy loaves like French Bread. Of all the yeast breads you could try to master, this one is one of the simplest!

Slices of Italian bread served in a towel covered bowel.

A Simple Yeast Bread

Making homemade bread really isn’t difficult, especially making simple loaves like this Italian bread recipe. You don’t even need to pull out a mixer; all you need is a large mixing bowl!

This recipe only requires SIX ingredients, and I would bet you already have most of them on hand. And the finished product is not just one, but two loaves of delicious homemade Italian bread!

So don’t let the yeast intimidate you. This crusty Italian bread recipe really is quite simple!

How to Make Italian Bread

Making artisan Italian bread is easy and worth the effort!

DOUGH. Whisk together water, yeast, sugar, oil, and 2 cups of flour in a large bowl till smooth. Let sit in a warm place till bubbly, about 30 minutes. Add the salt and enough flour to make a soft dough.

KEAND + RISE. Knead a few times on a floured counter till smooth. Return to bowl. Cover and let rise till doubled, about an hour.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a long loaf about 12 inches long. Place both loaves on a greased baking pan.

  • Sometimes I like to cut the dough into four pieces during this step and make smaller loaves. They are perfect for taking to neighbors!

Let loaves rise till doubled, 30-45 minutes. Cut a few diagonal slits across the top of each loaf.

BAKE. Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the loaves cool on wire racks.

I like to brush the tops of my loaves with butter when I take them out of the oven. It makes for a softer crust. For a crisper crust, skip that step.

Proofing tips

Speed up rise time. This recipe requires 2 rise times. The temperature of the kitchen, humidity, and elevation can all have an effect on how long the dough takes to double in size.

The dough rises faster at a higher elevation so you may not need an entire hour. Higher humidity and warmer environments can also cause bread dough to rise faster.

Creating a warmer environment. I like to use a heat-proof glass or metal bowl to proof my dough so that I can place it in warm environments to let it rise almost twice as fast. It’s also helpful to use an oiled bowl to keep the dough from sticking.

My favorite method is to pour very hot water into a separate smaller bowl.

  • Place the bowl of dough on top of the hot water bowl making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl of dough.
  • The steam from the water will warm up the dough causing it to rise faster.
  • Once you have the dough set out on a baking pan, I pour the hot water into a 9×13 baking pan and place the baking sheet on top.
  • Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise. 

How to tell the bread has been proofed long enough. Eyeball the dough first. When it looks like it has doubled in size poke it with your finger. If the dough springs back and fills in the dent, let it rise longer. If the dent stays, it’s ready.

Ingredient Tips

Yeast. This Italian Bread Loaf calls for instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast. This yeast doesn’t need to be activated in water before use. Active dry yeast may be used.

  • Add very warm water to a bowel and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar.
  • Allow it to sit for a few minutes until bubbly.
  • Then mix the oil and flour into the yeast mixture.

Flour. I used all-purpose flour for this recipe but bread flour can also be used to create more of a chewy and airy texture. In STEP 1 only mix in 2 cups of flour. The remaining 3 cups of flour are used as needed.

Add another 1-2 cups in the latter part of STEP 1 to mix a soft dough. Add more flour as you knead the dough. The amount of flour used will be determined by the humidity of your environment.

Additional Recipe Tips

Bread not rising. It can be a bit tricky to determine why a certain recipe didn’t work out. However, there are a few common reasons that can cause bread to not rise:

  • Not using the yeast correctly.
  • Using expired yeast. 
  • Mixing the yeast directly with the salt can kill it. 
  • Not allowing the dough enough time to rise. 
  • Overproofing the dough can cause it to fall. 
  • Keep the dough covered so that it doesn’t dry out and impede the rise.
  • Over or under-kneading will affect how the bread proofs.

How to knead. Kneading the dough activates the gluten which creates an elastic dough vital to achieving the desired shape and texture of the final loaf.

  • Stand mixer. Use a stand mixer with a dough hook and let it mix for 5-6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should eventually pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough remains sticky add a little flour.  
  • By hand. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough in half and press it with the palm of your hand. Repeat for 7-8 minutes. Add a bit of flour until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers as kneading. 

Scoring bread dough. Scoring bread dough just means using a sharp blade or scissors to make shallow (¼ to ½ inch) slits in the top of the dough before baking.

These slits act as a vent for rising air to escape during the bake time. Without the “vents,” the air still rises and causes the bread to slit in odd areas.

Prepped Italian loaves on a pan ready for baking.

Serve this with

This rustic Italian bread is perfect on its own, especially slathered with some butter or dipped in flavored olive oil. But it also makes fantastic Garlic Bread!

Because the bread is soft and absorbent on the inside, I also recommend dipping it in some soup. Some of our favorite dishes to make this with, include:

Two loaves of crusty Italian bread baked on a sheet pan.

Storing Info

Because homemade bread like this Italian Bread doesn’t contain any preservatives (like bread from a store), they only stay fresh for a short period of time.

STORE. To keep your loaves fresh for as long as possible, store them in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature, or wrap them with plastic wrap making sure the entire loaf is covered.

FREEZE. Let the Italian White Bread cool then place it in a freezer-safe bag to store.

FREEZE the dough. I would recommend baking the dough and then freezing it for later. However, the unbaked dough can be frozen, just note that it may not rise quite as well as it would have when freshly mixed.

Since some of the yeast will most likely die while in the freezer, increase the amount you use by ½ to ¾ teaspoons of yeast.

  • Complete steps 1-3 as directed in the recipe.
  • Do not let the dough rise a second time, instead place the shaped loaves in the freezer.
  • Once frozen, wrap each loaf tightly with plastic and again with aluminum foil.
  • When you’re ready to bake the dough allow several hours for it to thaw and rise before baking. 
Slices of Italian bread served in a bowl with a towel.

Recipe FAQ

What are the differenced between French bread and Italian bread?

While they’re fairly similar bread loaves with a crusty exterior and soft center, French Bread is typically longer and narrower, while Italian bread is shorter and plumper. They also have a slightly different flavor and texture.

Why is my bread not rising?

There are numerous reasons your dough may fail to rise, but some of the most common ones are: using expired yeast, not using the yeast correctly, not allowing the dough enough time to rise, and under-kneading the dough.

For more delicious bread recipes, try:

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4.95 from 90 votes

Italian Bread Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
It is so easy to make Italian Bread at home with just a few simple ingredients. Nothing beats soft, crusty bread warm from the oven!
Servings: 2 loaves
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Rise: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups very warm water
  • 5 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
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Instructions 

  • Whisk together water, yeast, sugar, oil, and 2 cups of flour in a large bowl till smooth. Let sit in a warm place till bubbly, about 30 minutes. Add the salt and enough flour to make a soft dough.
  • Knead a few times on a floured counter till smooth. Return to bowl. Cover and let rise till doubled, about an hour.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a long loaf about 12 inches long. Place both loaves on a greased baking pan.
  • Let loaves rise till doubled, 30-45 minutes. Cut a few diagonal slits across the top of each loaf.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 375°F for about 30 minutes or till the crust is golden brown.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 1379kcal, Carbohydrates: 257g, Protein: 44g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Sodium: 3522mg, Potassium: 621mg, Fiber: 17g, Sugar: 7g, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 15mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Bread
Cuisine: American, Italian
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




76 Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    5 stars
    I made this bread so many times, over the last few years, it’s that good. I added Italian herbs to it, just enough to flavor it. I don’t make it any other way. Thank you foyears, r sharing.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      That would be so yummy!! I am so glad you like it!! Thank you!

  2. Keri says:

    4 stars
    Mine didn’t brown. Is there a reason?

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      So there could be a few reasons why bread doesn’t brown properly… the most common are: Oven temperatures are too low, the dough was over or under-proofed (which means it didn’t rise enough or rose a little too much). Sometimes a good egg wash can help with the browning too. This recipe doesn’t call for an egg wash, but you can definitely add one. And that would help with browning. You’d just crack and egg and whisk it in a bowl. Then at step 4, brush the egg on top of the dough after cutting slits in the loaves, before that second rise. Hope that might help!

  3. Sharina says:

    5 stars
    I love bread so much. Do you? Well, If you are this is perfect for you! But if you’re not. Well, I invite you to try this Italian Bread that only requires a few ingredients to make.

  4. Olivia says:

    5 stars
    Homemade bread is the best! This Italian bread was so easy to make and it turned out perfectly, thank you!

  5. Sally says:

    5 stars
    My family couldn’t believe I made this bread from scratch! Everyone thought it was amazing. And it was surprisingly easy to make!

  6. Hannah says:

    4 stars
    Taste was good, used about 4.5 cups of flour. They came out a bit flat though… not sure if I did something wrong :/

  7. Kayla says:

    3 stars
    To much salt for our liking. I also used active dry yeast. Not thinking, 5 teaspoons was wayyyy to much, lol, it ballooned out after rising half in a loaf pan (for sandwich bread). The texture was very good for making sandwich bread & the other half for making hamburger buns. I’ll just adjust the salt amount.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      You can definitely adjust the salt! Thanks for the feedback and for giving the recipe a try!

  8. Shelly says:

    5 stars
    This is a family favorite.

  9. Beth Endy says:

    I used a mix of both, worked out perfectly.

  10. Beth Endy says:

    5 stars
    My favorite bread recipe by far. Delicious!