Simple Bread Machine Sourdough

Most people love the idea of baking with sourdough because they see pictures of beautiful artisan loaves with deep crust, slashes, and all the rest.   And then the reality of their bread is a flat, weird, situation that is not quite what they expected. Anyone else?  

It’s time to end that sadness forever. Because once you master this bread machine sourdough recipe, you’ll have a foolproof loaf you’ll be proud of every time.

cut sourdough loaf on board

Bread Machine Sourdough (Foolproof, No Yeast!)

A truly simple sourdough recipe that is kneaded in your bread machine.  A great everyday bread for the sourdough lover.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
rising time 18 hours
Total Time 19 hours 15 minutes
Serving Size 10 slices


  • 3 cups bread flour 15.85 ounces/ 450 grams
  • 1 cup lukewarm water 7.75 ounces/ 220 grams
  • ¾ cup fed sourdough starter 5.65 ounces/ 165 grams
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon salt


  • Autolyze. Mix the bread flour, starter, sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl.  It will seem dryer than most sourdoughs, but don't add more water.  Use your hands to make sure everything is incorporated into a ball.  Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let it rest on the counter.  (It helps to measure out the salt into a separate container on place it on top of the towel so you don't forget to add it later.)
    bowl covered with towel
  • Knead. Place the dough and salt into the bread machine bucket and select the dough cycle.  The machine will beep when the cycle ends, but leave it there. it rise another 2-3 hours in the machine, for a total rise time of 3-4 hours.  The dough should look noticeably puffier, but may not have quite doubled in size.
    knead in machine
  • First rise. Let the dough rise another 2-3 hours in the machine, for a total rise time of 3-4 hours.  The dough should look noticeably puffier, but may not have quite doubled in size.
  • Shape. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and sprinkling it with cornmeal.  Take the dough out of the bread machine and gently shape it into a round or oval loaf.  The dough will be slightly sticky, but try not to use any flour when shaping it.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Second Rise. Place the covered loaf in the refrigerator to proof overnight.  Anywhere from 8-16 hours will be fine.
  • Prep for baking. In the morning, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with two racks: one in the center, one in the lower middle.  Place an empty rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack while the oven is preheating.  Remove the loaf from the fridge and gently rub with flour.  Slash the loaf with a lame or sharp serrated knife.
    dough slashed down center and on side.
  • Bake with steam. When the oven has preheated, pour 1 cup of water onto the empty baking sheet to create steam.  Immediately place the loaf inside, close the door, and bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for at least 4 hours before slicing. 7.  Store at room temperature, well wrapped, for up to three days,


My sourdough starter is 100% hydration (equal parts flour and water).  If yours is dryer or wetter, you’ll need to add a bit more flour or water.
To make ahead, fully bake the loaf, allow it to cool completely, and freeze, well- wrapped, for up to a month.
I have sometimes skipped the autolyse step and just thrown everything in the machine.  The loaf was still fine 😉.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

You’ll need the following for this easy loaf:

  • A bread maker! A basic model is fine; you are only using it for kneading and rising. I have this brand and use it almost every day.
  • Parchment paper. A sheet that will lay flat is much easier than wrestling with a roll every day.

🍴Baker’s schedule

Day 1: Prepare the dough in the bread machine and shape the loaf

This bread has an autolyze step that is a fancy word for “mix everything in a bowl and let it sit there”. Pour all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, EXCEPT THE SALT, and mix it up.

It may look dryer than you are used to seeing with sourdough bread. That’s okay.   Don’t add any more water. You can use your hands to make sure any dry bits get mixed in.

Cover with a towel and just let it rest on the counter for about 30 minutes.  I always measure out the salt and put it in a little container on top of the towel so I don’t forget to add it later. 

Come back after the 30 minute rest and the dough will probably seem less dry.  Great!

Then we put the dough and the salt in the bread machine bucket.  Set in on the dough cycle and press start. You don’t need to fold the dough or anything crazy like that.  Just walk away.

Since this is a true sourdough without yeast, it needs a longer rise time than what the bread machine gives it.   Let it complete the cycle, turn itself off, then leave it for 2 to 3 more hours. It won’t double in size, but should look noticeably puffier.  The cooler the room, the longer the rise.

loaf of bread on cooling rack

Now we take out the dough and shape it into a loaf.  It will feel sticky, but should not be too difficult to work with.  Don’t flour your hands or anything else. Prepare a baking sheet by laying parchment paper on top and sprinkling it with cornmeal, 

Roughly shape it into an oval without mashing it down.  Just gently shape. I don’t use any type of fancy technique.  When it looks like a smooth oval loaf, great.  

Place the loaf on the baking sheet and cover it with heavily greased plastic wrap.  

Put it in the fridge overnight.  I have left it in there up to 18 hours without any trouble.

Day 2: Bake the bread

When you bake up in the morning, it’s time to bake your bread machine sourdough. The earlier the better.

Preheat your oven to 450 with one rack in the center and one rack in the lower middle.  Place an empty rimmed baking sheet on the lower middle rack. We want to heat it up so it can create steam. The steam is an essential part of getting a well shaped loaf.

While the oven is preheating, take the loaf out of the fridge. It may not look that much bigger than it did yesterday. Don’t worry.

Gently rub it with flour (I use rice flour, but any kind is fine for this). and then slash it. If you want an “ear” on your loaf, do you main slash parallel to the baking sheet.

Once the oven has preheated, pour 1 cup of water onto the hot, empty baking sheet.

Immediately place the baking sheet in as well, close the door quickly, and set the timer for 45 minutes.

See how much oven spring you get with the steam? Amazing.

Let it cool at least 4 hours before slicing.

🥫 Storage instructions

Your loaf will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 4-5 days. (Towards the end, it will be good as toast but not much else.)

You can also freeze sourdough as long as you allow it to cool completely (overnight is best), and wrap it tightly before freezing.

🔍 FAQs

Can you bake sourdough in the bread machine?

Yes! Some readers have baked this in the machine. But you can’t just run a cycle from start to finish. You’ll need to remove the dough to rest in the fridge overnight, then pop it back in to bake in the morning.

Can you bake this in the Dutch Oven?

You sure can. The steam and baking sheet is really a workaround for those of us who don’t have one. 😊

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • No bread maker? No problem. Stand mixer sourdough is basically the same thing (and you can actually just knead it by hand too!)
  • Bread flour is best for this, but you can use all-purpose flour. However, you’ll need to reduce the water by 20% or else the dough will be too wet.

📘 Related Recipes

Looking for sourdough recipes that WORK, written in a language you understand? Sign up for my sourdough email series that takes you from making a starter to baking all kinds of sourdough recipes! You cangrab it here
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Simple Bread Machine Sourdough

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Katie, Thank you for this fantastic recipe. It is incredibly easy to bake and turns out a fabulous tasty loaf. I do the overnight proofing in a banneton which I put in a sealed plastic bag and this gives me a lovely shape. I have also reduced the cooking time by about 5 to 8 minutes because the first one I did got burnt. What is the best way of storing the sourdough loaf because I find it loses it crisp crust and goes a bit heavy after one day in a bread bag? Many thanks again for a recipe that does not require me to be tied to the kitchen for hours on end!!

  2. 5 stars
    Today was the 3rd recipe I made with this. EXCELLENT.. for 2 of the recipes I used 1/2 regular unbleached and 1/2 Best for Bread multigrain. I took the dough out of the machine to rise for 3 hours so the top wouldn’t get dry. the 3rd recipe I actually kneaded by hand and that worked too. 1/2 whole wheat flour for that one. This is working really well for me. Thanks… It’s Sourdough all the TIME now.. 😀

    1. Can I shorten the proofing time by leaving the loaf out of the fridge and on the counter? I have a very small fridge!

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Katie,
    Thank you for developing this amazingly fuss free recipe! I’ve just made my first loaf of sourdough based on your recipe, with my first ripened starter. The loaf was gone in a blink in my house!
    Hope you can help me with a few questions:
    1. If I wish to use whole wheat flour with white bread flour, what ratio would you recommend? Would you recommend adding vital wheat gluten to the whole wheat flour?
    2. Just to make sure – should I wish to make a slightly larger loaf, the amount of ingredients could be proportionally increased?
    3. Can I bake this recipe in a 9×5 loaf pan, with a baking sheet of water underneath for steam? I’m worried the steam method wouldn’t work well as the loaf tin encloses the loaf.
    Thank you x
    Ps. Your sourdough manual and YouTube instructional videos are also incredible! Thank you for taking time out to write it / make them.

    1. hi natalie! i’m so happy you like it!

      1. you can absolutely add whole wheat flour- i’d recommend substituting 1/3 for your first and increasing it from there. you CAN add the wheat gluten but it’s not necessary; i’d try it without first.
      2. yes, just increase the ingredients and it will work great
      3. for the sandwich loaf: yes that will still help the loaf rise! you will get a very crusty sandwich loaf and it if you want something softer, i do have a recipe specific for sourdough sandwich bread

    2. If you want to bake in a loaf pan, here’s a trick to make it work like a Dutch oven. You need 2 loaf pans and 2 metal binder clips. Put your dough into one loaf pan. Invert the other bread pan over the top of the one holding the dough. Clip the 2 pans together with a binder clip on each end. This will make steam inside your pans. Bake as directed.

  4. Hi Katie, thank you for developing this amazing no fuss sourdough method. I just made my first ever loaf today and it was wonderful. Starter used was also my first ever, fed-for-8-day starter (Bob). Very pleased. Hoping that my next loaf would rise a little more with a riper version of Bob.
    I have a few questions, hope you can help. I did read through the other comments but would like to make sure:
    1. This recipe is good for pro-rating into a larger loaf, correct?
    2. I can bake this in a 9” x 5” loaf pan, with a tray of water below (steam)?
    3. Can whole wheat flour be used? What is the recommended ratio with the white bread flour please?

  5. 4 stars
    Thanks for such an easy recipe. I used all-purpose flour but mixed only the water and flour at first and let it sit for 1/2 hour and then followed your directions from there. The loaf was very tasty, but the crust was very dark, especially on the bottom, and very crunchy. 3 days later it is much easier to slice. My oven temperature is accurate so any advice to have the loaf not taste burnt? Lower temperature or less time baking?

    1. hi carol! try less baking time! this one is tricky to have a time on because all ovens come up to temp differently after being cooled down from the steam. check at 30 minutes and see what you think!

  6. 4 stars
    Hi, i compelted my baking this morning! I dont think i slashed deep enough so there was no crack at the top and didnt spring as high as the one in your photo.
    I want to ask do I put the parchment paper onto the baking sheet along with the loaf? I find the instructions not clear for a first time sourdough baker. Also what is the purpose of the two racks? They are quite close together in space. Do you have a photo to show me these steps? Thank you!

    1. hi christina, yes the parchment goes under the loaf, on top of the baking sheet. it’s just to keep the loaf from sticking to the baking sheet. the lower rack is to hold your empty baking sheet, which heats up and creates the steam when you pour the water in. the distance between them isn’t that important. if you didn’t do the steam, that explains why your bread didn’t rise as high, or it could just be your starter needs a little more time to mature. hope this helps!

  7. 5 stars
    This was my first time making sourdough bread. I used San Francisco sourdough starter. OMG, this made a beautiful artisanal loaf of the best bread I’ve ever tasted! I love that it used the bread machine, and I loved that it was a true sourdough (no yeast). It was also pretty easy to make. I was blown away about how good this was. Sourdough is one of the most difficult breads to master, and I figured I would have to try different recipes and practice before getting it right. Nope, got a perfect loaf on my first try! Perfect crust, not dry, and the holes were the perfect size. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Katie just wanted to say thanks a million for the recipe, I baked this just now in the bread machine and it was absolutely perfect.

  9. Hi Katie, thanks for the recipe! Gonna make this tomorrow, could you clear up one thing for me please? When you say “Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let it rest on the counter.” how long should I rest it for?

    1. Katie, I loved how this loaf looks and tastes! Thank you! I’d like to make a larger batch – my bread machine can do recipes with 5 cups of flour. Have you ever scaled the batch size up? If not, advice?

  10. 5 stars
    I love your recipe. Thank you for finding an easier way to make sourdough. However, the confusing ingredient in this is the water. It would help to say “scant cup water”, 7.75 ounces, 220 grams. Because of course a cup of water is 8 ounces, or 240 grams.

  11. 5 stars
    THANK YOU so much for this recipe! I have been searching for a sourdough recipe that will give me a rustic, thick crust, great flavor and NOT take all day to knead and pamper and watch. The recipes I tried were either too complicated to do more than once or, when using the bread machine, didn’t come through on the crust and sour flavor. This hybrid recipe combines convenience and quality. I love it and have used it twice in one week.

      1. I’ve made this recipe multiple times and have learned a lot. Slashing deeply from end to end really makes a difference in how it turns out, for example. My favourite variation includes just under half whole wheat and just over half all purpose flour then I throw in a handful of ground flax. I feed the starter with whole wheat flour mostly, and dark rye flour on occasion. This seems to make the starter stronger/more bubbly than all purpose flour feeds. I’ll even be sharing starter with a friend to get her started soon.

      1. 5 stars
        This turned out amazingly! I mistakenly added salt with all the other dry ingredients, but it still worked out! It was such a great loaf of bread with a fabulous crust and softer centre! It looked so professional, I’m still in awe! Thank you, Katie, for all your instructions and this fabulous recipe!

  12. 4 stars
    Hi Katie,
    I`m having a little problem, when I get the doe out of the bred machine it`s very soft and cant form a ball with it, have to place it a dutch oven tried cutting down on the water but no different could it be the starter it looks good and is full off bubbles and is always fed the night before baking
    Regards John

    1. hi John! interesting! are you using bread flour? if you use all purpose flour it absorbs less water and you’ll have to decrease the water by quite a lot. I don’t think its your starter if it seems healthy. I would decrease the water even more, until it looks quite dry in the beginning as pictured. if you are already doing that I’m not sure what the issue could be 🙁

  13. Hi Katie, thank you so much for persisting & developing the easiest no fuss recipe. Success first time – very happy!!
    Can I bake the dough in a bread tin rather than having a free form loaf? I understand the crust will turn out different.
    Thanks in advance. Judy See

  14. Why can’t I leave the dough in tje bread machine and let it bake in there? Is there a better sourdough recipe for that (not trying to be lazy, just have a lot going on and sourdough starter coming out of my ears.

    1. hi Kathleen. you can, especially if your kitchen is very cool. otherwise cover the bucket and pop it in the fridge. then you’ll have to go to a bake only. cycle for the baking portion.

    1. the theory is that mixing the salt directly with the starter will do “something” bad if you mix it in too early. To be honest, I don’t think its that big a deal! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    I love you madly deeply! I am on YOUR sourdough cult of fans. After many failed attempts… SUCCESS! Thank you SO MUCH! Delicious!

      1. Would you recommend this recipe to bake – sourdough-
        in the bread machine ? – without steam ? Can I still do it ? – or bread is not going to come out at all? Just wondering :))
        Thank you for response .

      2. Hugo, you can! the machine actually seals up quite nicely, which creates steam. the only think is you’ll need to remove the bucket and cover it for the overnight rise in the fridge. then put it back in the machine to bake. my machine does not have a “bake only” cycle. so I’ve never tried it. but others have, with success! 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    Hi again, I’ve made this recipe many times with the steam pan method. Our family LOVES it! How do I adapt the baking process now to use a 5 qt. dutch oven instead? Thx so much.

    1. Mary Ann, it will work great in a Dutch oven. Don’t worry about the steam at all. Just place your loaf in the dutch oven lined with parchment. bake with the lid ON for about 25 minutes, then OFF about 25 minutes. the rest of the recipe is all the same 🙂