My Favorite Go-To Sourdough Bread Recipe

4.99 from 146 votes

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This basic go-to sourdough bread recipe creates the perfect crusty on the outside, tender on the inside loaf that’s just waiting to be sliced, toasted, and slathered with butter and jam!

loaf of sourdough bread on parchment and black and white towel.
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I’m here to tell you that sourdough bread baking does NOT need to be fussy or overly complicated. My method for sourdough baking does not include hydration rations, creating an autolyse, or any equipment that isn’t necessary. It’s simple and easy for anyone to get a handle on. This bread is delicious dipped in my creamy chicken noodle soup, or as the bread on my  ultimate hummus and veggie sandwich.

When I first started making sourdough bread, I spent a MONTH trying a million recipes and failing over and over again (I made 7 loaves over one week until I got ONE that was kinda right). I just didn’t understand enough and they were too fussy, and you know that’s not my style. I tell you that for a few reasons. If it takes you more than one loaf of bread to get it perfect, that’s normal, but you also shouldn’t fail for a month trying, and I’m here to help prevent that.

sourdough bread ball rolled onto a white table.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • I love this simple sourdough bread recipe because it generates the best flavor and texture, and it’s sure to please everyone in your home.
  • Your house will be filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread
  • This recipe only uses four simple ingredients.
  • You can customize the dough by using different flours or adding your favorite herbs and spices, making it adaptable to your preferences.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Active sourdough starter
  • Flour-  all-purpose or bread flour
  • Warm water
  • Salt

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities 

How to Make Sourdough Bread

Step 1. Combine active starter, warm water, flour, and salt in a bowl. Stir well to form a rough dough. Cover and let it rest for 1 hour.

Step 2. After the hour, gently fold the dough edges into the center until it forms a ball. Let it rise for 8-10 hours or overnight.

Step 3. Transfer the risen dough onto parchment paper, score the top, and place it in a preheated Dutch oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4. Once baked, let the bread cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing. Serve fresh or store leftovers for later use.

Recipe FAQs

What ingredients do I need for sourdough bread?

You only need a sourdough starter, flour, water, and salt. That being said, I have had the best luck using unbleached flour and, if you can, organic flour. The natural yeast in the starter seem to do better with these flours. And as far water goes, I use tap water. If your water is highly treated you might want to consider using bottled or filtered water. If you have a lot of chlorine in your water, you can let a glass of water set out overnight and that will give the chlorine time to dissipate a bit. Those are small things and you don’t have to worry about it, but if your dough isn’t rising as well as you’d like, you might want to see if changing up your flour or water matters.

How do I make more of my starter?

Easy — simply feed it more! When you are getting it ready for baking, if you’d like to bake more than one loaf or make a recipe that uses more than 50 to 70 grams of starter, just feed it double: 100g of both water and flour. If you need even more than that, when the starter has peaked, feed it again. Repeat until you have the amount of starter that you need.

How does the temperature of my house affect my sourdough bread?

It will change how long it takes for your bread and starter to rise after being made or after a feeding. A cool house will take longer to rise, and in a warm house your bread will rise much faster. You’ll find that it takes longer in the winter for your bread to get ready, and it’ll be faster in the summer. That being said, you can do things to help even out the temperature. You can use warm water on cool days in your starter or in your bread or you can wrap a warm towel around your bowl or starter jar. There’s all kinds of tricks, I’d try a few if you are finding your starter or bread are being slow to rise.

How do I revive a neglected starter? How do I store my starter when I’m away or not baking? How do I make a homemade sourdough starter myself?

Lucky for you I wrote a giant post all about how to start/keep/revive a sourdough starter and you can check that out with any sourdough starter specific questions.

What equipment do I need to make sourdough bread?

You can get all kinds of things, but I’m here to tell you, you can make due with what you have at home, too. You’ll want a bowl and fork to mix the dough, a dish towel to cover the bowl with, parchment paper for moving the bread to the pan (though foil sprayed with cooking spray works in a pinch, too), an oven safe pan with a lid (a 4 to 5 quart pan is perfect), and a sharp or serrated knife to score the top.
Things that are nice to have: a scale for more accurate measuring, a dutch oven with a lid for baking (they trap the heat well and are just so nice to work with), a bread proofing basket instead of a bowl to let your shaped loaf rise in (it’s kind of fun to have), and a lame (or razor blade on a stick) is fun to make the marks on top. So you can go basic and if you get more into it, you can get a few specialty items like the bread basket, a dutch oven, and a lame.
One note on the bread proofing baskets or banneton: They come in a few sizes and shapes. I’d recommend getting a 9-inch round one. I have found that unless you have a really large dutch oven, the long or oval loaves don’t really fit in anything to bake them.

Do I need to heat my dutch oven before I add my bread for cooking?

No! You certainly can but after a fair amount of testing I have found that starting my bread in a room temperature dutch oven worked just great, and it was so much easier to not deal with a pot that was 450 degrees F. and trying to get the bread into it.

Expert Tips

  • Ensure your sourdough starter is at its peak before using it in the recipe. Feed it the morning before or at least a 2 hours prior to making the dough.
  • Scoring the top of the dough allows for controlled expansion during baking.
  • Let the bread cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
  • To make your sourdough bread more sour:
    • Feed your starter whole grains, like rye or buckwheat flour; they tend to make the bacteria happy!
    • Keep your sourdough starter thinner by feeding it less often. The waste that the bacteria make (like the whey in yogurt) is called hooch and it’ll make your bread more sour tasting. Stir it in instead of pouring it off, and use after the starter has fallen (instead of at its peak in rise).
    • Choose whole grain sourdough recipes; they’ll have a more sour taste then all white flour recipes.
    • Let your sourdough bread dough rest longer. The longer it rests, the more sour it gets.
    • Younger starters tend to be more mild; your starter will get more sour as it develops and ages.
  • To make your sourdough bread more mild (less sour):
    • Feed your starter white flour (like all-purpose); less whole grains lend to a milder flavor.
    • Bake breads with all-purpose flour.
    • Don’t ferment or rest your dough as long. I do an 8 to 10 hour first rise, but then I only let it rest for another 1 to 2 hours after it is shaped. If you’d like it more sour, you can rest the shaped loaves for another 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
    • Feed your sourdough starter often, pour off any hooch that it might make, and use the starter when it is at its peak in rise.
woman holding two slices of sourdough bread over black and white checkered towel.

How to Serve and Store Sourdough Bread

Enjoy freshly baked sourdough bread on the day it’s made for the best taste and texture. Serve slices of warm bread with butter, olive oil and balsamic, or your favorite spread. Sourdough bread also makes delicious sandwiches such as club, turkey, cucumber, and ham salad, and is perfect for a grilled Monte Cristo, pesto grilled cheese, or cheese steak sandwich.

Once cooled, store leftover sourdough bread in an airtight container or bread box at room temperature for up to 2 days. You can store sourdough bread in the freezer as well. Let the loaf cool completely, then wrap it in foil, and then wrap it well in plastic wrap (or store in a large zipper-topped bag). When you’d like to eat it, let it thaw at room temperature for 5 to 6 hours. Then remove it from the plastic and foil. Spritz the loaf well with water (2 to 3 good spritzes!) and then wrap it back up in the foil. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. It’s almost as good as new.

I made a video too for visual learners!

More Sourdough Recipes to Consider

sourdough bread in dutch oven with red handles
4.99 from 146 votes

Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe

This basic go-to sourdough bread recipe creates the perfect crusty on the outside, tender on the inside loaf that’s just waiting to be sliced, toasted, and slathered with butter and jam!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Rise Time: 8 hours
Total: 9 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 1 large loaf

Ingredients 

  • 50 grams active starter, (1/4 cup)
  • 350 grams warm water, (1 1/3 cups + 2 tablespoons)
  • 500 grams all-purpose or bread flour, (4 cups and 2 tablespoons)
  • 10 grams salt, (1 1/2 teaspoons)
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Instructions 

  • The day that you’d like to make your bread, feed your starter. I like to feed mine the morning before I plan to make my dough or at least a few hours before. Your starter will be ready to use when it is at its peak and before it starts to shrink back down in size.
  • To make your bread dough, measure out your active sourdough starter into a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the water, and stir well with a fork to combine well.
  • Add the flour and salt, and use the fork to combine the mixture well. It will won’t look like like bread dough yet; just stir it well to combine and that’s good enough.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel, and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • After an hour, use your hands to gently pull the edge of the dough near the side of the bowl and push it down into the middle of the bowl. Do this, rotating round the bowl, until the dough starts to look like bread dough and comes together in more of a ball. This should take about a minute of going round the bowl 2 to 3 times pulling and tucking into the center.
  • Cover the bread dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise for 8 to 10 hours at room temperature. This is known as the bulk rise. I typically let mine rise overnight.
  • After the bulk rise, gently remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Tuck the edges of the dough into the center and work around the edges until you’ve tucked them all in. Flip the ball dough over. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Using your hands, gently pull the dough ball towards you, letting its grip on the counter pull it into a tighter ball. Rotate the dough slightly and repeat around the edges until you’ve formed a tight ball (if this is confusing, watch the video on the post where I demonstrate how to do this! It’s not hard once you see it done once).
  • Prepare a bread proofing basket by dusting it well with flour (if it’s new, you’ll need to season it by spraying it with a little water and then adding the flour so it sticks), or you can use a medium mixing bowl (about 8 inches across). To prepare the mixing bowl, you’ll want to coat it generously with cooking spray and then flour very well, or you can line it with a kitchen towel and dust it very well with flour.
  • Place your dough ball, smooth top down, into your prepare basket or bowl, and cover with a damp towel.
  • Let the dough rest for 1 to 2 hours, at room temperature, or until it’s spread out a bit and looks puffy.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Gently turn your bread dough out onto a piece of parchment paper (I like to put my parchment paper on top of a thin cutting board, put the paper and board on top of my bread basket, and turn it over gently).
  • Remove the dough from the bowl. Score the top with a lame, or sharp knife (serrated knife works, too).
  • Use the corners of the parchment paper to lift the dough into your dutch oven. Place the lid on the dutch oven.
  • Place the dutch oven in the hot oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and put the dutch oven back in the oven, uncovered, for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  • The bread will be very dark and sound hollow when tapped when it is done.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, and then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing and serving.
  • Sourdough bread is best eaten the day of, though leftovers make great toast or grilled sandwiches.

Notes

  • I’m sourdough obsessed and wrote a whole cookbook about it! It has step by step photos for this recipe if that’s helpful. You can buy a digital or hardcover copy of the sourdough cookbook here. 
  • If the bottom crust is too dark, try lowering your oven temperature by 25 degrees.
  • I have SO many sourdough bread tips and tricks in the notes of this post. I highly recommend reading it and watching the video before starting if this is your first time.
  • You can store sourdough bread in the freezer. Let the loaf cool completely, then wrap it in foil, and then wrap it well in plastic wrap (or store in a large zipper-topped bag). When you’d like to eat it, let it thaw at room temperature for 5 to 6 hours. Then remove it from the plastic and foil. Spritz the loaf well with water (2 to 3 good spritzes!) and then wrap it back up in the foil. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. It’s almost as good as new.
  • After I mix up my dough, to “refresh” my starter, I simple feed it. I’ll keep 25 grams of the leftover starter and mix it with 50 grams of water and 50 grams of flour by weight. If I’m baking tomorrow, I’ll just leave it on the counter. If I’m not baking again the next day, I’ll let it rest at room temperature for a few hours and then store it covered in the fridge until I’m ready to bake again. See my post on how to make a sourdough start for tips on sharing it with friends and keeping it healthy while not baking.
  • NOTE! A few people are having issues with dough that is very wet, sticky, and will not hold it’s shape when worked with. It just turns into a blob of dough when they handle it and spreads as soon as it’s turned out of a container. I am finding that there is more variation in the amount of protein and gluten in all-purpose flour that I thought would be the case. I’d recommend getting Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur Flour all-purpose flour, organic if you can. I have tested all my recipes using those two flours. If you find you are having this issue, please reduce the water by 50 grams and/or increase the flour by 50-100 grams when you are mixing up your dough the first time. It’s much easier to make these changes in the beginning instead of trying to add flour at the end. Please see the posts for pictures and video on an appropriate texture for your bread. It’s better if it’s a little on the thick side the first mixing than wet.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 of 8 servings, Calories: 228kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 486mg, Potassium: 67mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 3mg
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410 Comments

  1. Judy says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I think the recipe has a typo for the cups of water. My dough came out super dry and when I watched your video you put more than 1-1/3 cups in. 350g is closer to 1-1/2 cups. Just a little help for those like me whose dough was dry.

  2. Judy says:

    Is this dough supposed to be super dry at first? I felt like there was too much flour and I didn’t even add the 2 tablespoons. After writing this I read a comment below and watched your video and I see the problem. The recipe lists the cups of water incorrectly. That looks more like two cups than 1-1/3 cups. Just letting you know so you can correct it if you want. This is my first attempt at sourdough. Thanks.

  3. Marsha Taylor says:

    Hi Melissa,

    My dough came out very sticky the first time…but we ate the bread and it was delicious.

    I’m making it again today and I noti ed that 350 g of water was about 2 cups…so I tried it with 250 g of water + about 1 1/2 Tbsp of water. It, the dough, looks better already. Can you verify the grams of water, please. Thank you.

    1. Melissa says:

      The grams are correct but you can make adjustments depending on the flour you use and your starter!

  4. Debbie says:

    I love the recipe but for some reason I keep getting a lot of air pockets in my bread. What am I doing wrong.
    Thank you!

  5. Kari Dickerson says:

    This recipe is the BEST! Coming back to baking after 10 years off, I started with this recipe as it seemed simple. The very first loaf was SO impressive. I then tried a few more complicated recipes from books I have and they just weren’t great, and were so much more work. I e since made this recipe several more times and I just don’t think it can be improved upon. Thank you, Melissa!

  6. Bree says:

    If I don’t have a Dutch oven how can I cook it?

    1. Melissa says:

      A big pot with an oven safe lid!

  7. Holly says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I fed my starter before bed last night and just tried to do the first step, prior to the 1 hour rise and my dough is so dry. I’m really not sure what I did wrong. I tried to add water and now it’s wet with dry clumps mixed in – is it ruined?
    Please help!
    (I used King Arthur’s AP flour)
    Thank you!

    1. Melissa says:

      Did you measure things on a scale? I have good luck leaving it alone for a little and the working with it after letting it rest, it tends to absorb more after a little white.

  8. Terri Seravalli says:

    Thanks you for sharing your recipes and videos. Do you ever let your dough rise overnight in the refrigerator instead of on the counter?

    1. Melissa says:

      You can, it is a slower rise in the cold so generally it makes it a little less puffy in the morning and takes it longer to rise the second time so just adjust as needed.

  9. Jan says:

    5 stars
    I have just started making sourdough and I am so thankful that yours was the recipe I tried first. The video makes everything so easy to understand and I have been producing amazing bread ever since. Thank you so much!

  10. Cassie says:

    4 stars
    First time doing any bread homemade and this recipe is great! Only question is I’m having trouble with the bulk rise with a damp towel. Would it do better with plastic wrap you think?

    1. Melissa says:

      You for sure can use plastic wrap. I like to use beeswax wraps too.