A simple and delicious recipe for French bread made in the Dutch Oven- crisp crust, soft crumb, and perfect to serve with dinner.
Table of contents
❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe
The best French Bread. This is the easiest bread recipe ever, and is great for beginners. I still make it all the time because it’s good, not just easy.
Quick and easy. It rises easily and uses very few ingredients. If you knead it in the bread machine or stand mixer there is very little hands-on time, just rising time.
Good for beginners. If you are brand new to bread making, this is a great place to start.
Works well with many recipes. It’s good sliced with butter or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It also slices nicely for sandwiches or toast if you allow it to cool completely.
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 french bread:
- bread flour
- instant yeast (SAF brand recommended)
- cornmeal for sprinkling on the parchment
- Dutch Oven (if you don’t have one, no problem! Preheat a baking sheet in your oven and pour a cup of water in to create steam. This mimics the high humidity created by a Dutch Oven.)
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- dutch oven
- stand mixer/bread machine (optional)
- parchment paper
Step One: combine all ingredients and knead
The first step is simply to combine all the ingredients. There is absolutely no need to do things like testing the yeast and waiting for it to foam up, or anything like that. And if you are using instant yeast, you can just dump it in with everything else.
If you’re using a bread machine just add everything to the bucket and set it on the dough cycle. If you’re using a stand mixer, add it to the bowl and fit the machine with the dough hook.
You can also knead by hand, which is a bit tedious but get’s the job done.
After a few minutes of kneading, evaluate the dough. It should come together as a ball might be slightly sticky, but it should still cleanly pull away from the sides of the bowl or bread machine bucket. If it’s overly sticky, add flour a teaspoon or so at a time. If it seems too dry and is not coming together, add water a teaspoon or so at at time.
When the dough forms “windowpanes” when pulled apart, it’s done kneading and it can begin the rising process. Shape it into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm place to rise, about 1 hour.
Step Two: bake
Prepare the Dutch Oven by lining it with parchment paper. Once the dough has risen, shape into a ball again. Place on top of the parchment, rub the top of the loaf with flour, and slash the loaf with an X.
Cover with the lid and let it rise again for about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450. Make sure that you leave a big enough space for the Dutch Oven to fit in between the racks!
Once the dough is very puffy, it’s time to bake! Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes with it off, until golden brown!
Step three: let it cool
Let it cool on a wire rack before slicing.
🥫 Storage instructions
Once the french bread has cooled, you can store it in a bag or container on the counter for a day or two. If you want to store it for longer, you can place it in the fridge or freezer.
French bread is made with a higher ratio of flour to water, which results in a crisper crust and a softer crumb. It is also often baked in a Dutch oven, which gives it a nice crisp crust.
This recipe is specifically for the Dutch Oven, but you could try making it in a regular oven by baking it at a high temperature.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- When making french bread, it is important to use a high-quality flour. This will help to create a crisp crust and soft crumb
- Dutch ovens are perfect for baking french bread, as they provide consistent heat and create a nice crust.
- Make sure to score the bread before baking, so that it will expand properly in the oven.
- The key is to make sure the oven is nice and hot before you put the dough in, and that you bake it for a long time to get a nice crispy crust.
📘 Related Recipes
🍽 Serve it with
- Soup and bread are a match made in heaven, and this creamy tomato basil soup is amazing.
- Try serving with broccoli salad as a side.
Want more bread recipes?
- I’ve rounded up my favorite Dutch Oven bread recipes for beginner friendly baking.
- Check out my archive of bread recipes for some of our family favorites, from rolls to sandwich loaves to artisan breads.
- This is the same dough recipe I use for french sandwich rolls, just a different method.
📖 Here’s the recipe
Easy French Bread in a Dutch Oven
- Dutch oven
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2½ teaspoons instant yeast (SAF brand recommended)
- 1 ½ cups water
- pinch cornmeal for sprinkling on the parchment
- Combine all ingredients to form a smooth, soft dough, and knead. If you do this in a bread machine on the dough cycle, life will be good. Otherwise, a stand mixer with a dough hook will work, and will take about 7-9 minutes on a low setting.
- Allow dough to rise, covered, in a warm place. It will take about 60 minutes in a setting that is about 90 degrees. You can use an oven that has been slightly warmed and then turned off or sunny windowsill. (The bread machine takes care of this for you too.)
- After the dough has risen, remove from bowl and place on floured surface. Shape the loaf by pinching the bottom until the top is smooth.
- Prepare your baking sheet or Dutch oven by laying down a piece of parchment and sprinkling cornmeal on the parchment sheet. Place the round loaf on top of the parchment and rub flour on top. Slash with a very sharp knife.
- Cover the dough, either with heavily greased plastic wrap or the lid of your Dutch oven. Allow the dough to rise again. This will take another 45-60 minutes, in a warm place. Towards the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- When sufficiently risen, bake. If using a baking sheet, it will take about 30 minutes. The clay baker will take a bit longer. I bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, then another 20. with the lid off. The internal temp should be 200.
- Cool on wire rack and serve while still warm.
59 thoughts on “Easy French Bread”
I was sent this recipe from a friend and have made it easily a dozen times. Sometimes adding nuts, oil, even a bit of sugar. everyone loves it and I even bring it as a gift when going for dinner at a friends house. Thanks for posting such a useful recipe.!
so happy to hear this tony! thanks for taking time out of your day to let me know 🙂
I use my 4.5qt enamel Dutch oven. It’s perfect every time and this bread is very good for French toast or when used for grilled cheese sandwiches!
so glad you’re enjoying the bread karen 😊
First time making bread! I wouldnt say this recipe is beginner friendly…. Initially my dough looked VERY dry, I added more water until it became a dough i could knead. It was tough for ages and despite kneading for 30 minutes it didnt seem to want to past the windowpane test. After some googling I have no idea if my yeast was active or not active…. It just says its dry yeast!!
TLDR I have no idea what im doing but i tried XD
This bread turned out excellent.
I mixed it in a stand mixer for four minutes and finished kneading on a floured counter.
The crust is flakes crisp and chewy.
Will definitely be making it again.
How long is the bake time using an enameled dutch oven. I saw you mentioned a clay pot with cooking times. Thanks
hey Lisa, same times 😊
I made this recipe today and it looks sooo good! I can’t wait to try it in the morning. I used my bread machine to mix and do the first rise then into my Dutch oven for the second rise and baking. I just wondered if you had any tips to get it to have more holes in the dough? Or maybe this isn’t that kind of recipe.
I’m not an expert but from what I’ve read and the few recipes I’ve tried, to get the air holes in the bread (the more traditional baguette structure) you want a no-knead bread recipe with a wetter dough that you fold.
Thank you for this really easy recipe! I am a newbie to the bread machine and also baking bread and this was very simple, easy to follow. Thanks again!
I have used this recipe many times in my bread machine and it comes out wonderful every time. I do add 2 TBS of olive oil . Sometimes I add flax seeds , or 7 grain cereals to make it multigrain. But, it is a great recipe to keep and modified from time to time the way you want it. I love the fact that there is no sugar in this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.
thank you lolly! I will have to try the flax seeds that’s a great idea 🙂
Can I use all purpose flour?
What size dutch oven are you using for this?
Didn’t rise at all after a few hours
Hi! What would happen if I let it rise for longer than the recommended time? Thanks!
if it over-rises it can ccollapse in the oven (or before you bake) i’d recommend putting it in the fridge and that way it will rise muuuuuch slower. you can take it out and put it on the counter an hour or so before you’re ready to bake
I also dissolved the yeast into warm water and it turned out great. I guess it’s just a habit I have and when I saw it wasn’t mentioned I thought I better do that. So instant yeast doesn’t need dissolving, good to know 🙂 Great bread so soft and delicious. Thank you for this easy recipe and one that doesn’t need me to wait 12-16 hours before baking like other recipes I have tried.
I dissolved the yeast in warm water first and this recipe turned out very good! So easy to make. Thank you!
My dough didn’t rise on my first try, I started over but dissolved the yeast in warm water and then added to the dry ingredients. This worked much better. Other than that the recipe is very easy. I’m keeping this recipe with a note to dissolve the yeast.
jill i’m glad it worked out on the next try! did you use active dry yeast or instant?
I can’t wait to make this yummy looking bread, all I have is regular yeast, is that ok to use?
yes! you may just need slightly longer rise times 🙂
Regular yeast (it looks like little balls) should be proofed in water with a little sugar or honey before adding to the flour and other ingredients.
Instant yeast (it looks all ground up) can be used without prior proofing. Just add the dried instant yeast in with the dry ingredients.