No-Knead French Bread loaves have golden, crisp crusts and lightly chewy centers. This homemade bread needs just 90 minutes of total rise time and makes two rustic loaves. It doesn’t require special methods or equipment. (No bread flour needed.)
Yesterday I shared the basic recipe for making No-Knead Everyday Bread which is baked in a bowl to produce a single, round loaf of bread. Today, we’re using that same recipe to make these French bread loaves. These loaves just use a bit of flour for dusting and can be baked on a sheet pan.
Whether this is your first time baking bread with yeast or you’re just looking for a quick go-to French-style bread to have in your back pocket, this recipe is for you.
Here’s how to do it!
Tools for Baking No-Knead French Bread
The key is not to overwork the dough for this rustic bread, so the loaves may not be exactly the same shape or size – but they will taste great! Here’s all you need to make them:
- Large Mixing Bowl – This is the bowl in which you’ll mix the dough and let it rise. Any large bowl is fine.
- Large Sheet Pan – A half sheet pan is the right size for baking two of these loaves of bread side-by-side, but you could also use two smaller sheet pans.
- Kitchen Scale – This is not necessary, but it’s easiest (and most accurate) to just measure the flour by weight right into the mixing bowl.
- Parchment Paper – This is optional, but to make the loaves easy to remove from the sheet pan, it’s a great idea to add parchment paper. (Note: Many brands of parchment paper have a recommended upper temperature limit, but there should be no issue with baking it above that temperature.)
Ingredients for No-Knead French Bread
- All-Purpose Flour – No special flour needed here – just regular all-purpose. Any brand is fine. In addition to the flour you’ll use in the dough, you’ll need a bit of extra flour to dust your hands and the dough in order to shape the loaves.
- Kosher Salt – This recipe was tested with Kosher salt, so use that for the right balance of saltiness. (If using table salt, reduce the amount you use by about half.)
- Sugar – Use regular granulated / white sugar. Don’t skip this – the dough needs sugar in order to rise.
- Fast-Acting or “Instant” Yeast – No-Knead French Bread uses a dough that rises quickly (making it a go-to for new bread bakers or those of us who want this ready fast) and requires Fast-Acting (not “Active Dry”) yeast. See the original post for No-Knead Everyday Bread for more details on this yeast.
- Warm Water – The water should feel quite warm, but not too hot to touch. Check the package on the yeast for the recommended temperature range. I usually heat tap weather in the microwave for about 90 seconds to reach about 120°F / 49°C.
How to Make No-Knead French Bread
Now you’ve got the tools and ingredients for no-knead French bread, here’s how to make it!
- Combine Dry Ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
- Add Warm Water – Pour water over dry ingredients (check the packaging on your yeast and use water at the temperature it recommends) and stir until no dry spots remain. The dough will be very sticky, but just scrape down the sides as you stir.
- First Rise (45 minutes) – Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and leave it on the kitchen counter to rise until the surface is topped with large bubbles and it has nearly doubled in bulk, 45 minutes. (If your kitchen is on the cooler side, let the dough rise for 60 minutes.) Don’t worry too much about getting the timing just right here – anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes should work.
- Shape Loaves – Set out a large sheet pan (or two sheet pans) and dust the surface of the pan with some all purpose flour or cornmeal. Dust the surface of the dough with flour or cornmeal and then dust your hands as well. Use a knife to slice down the center of the dough, separating it into even pieces (the dough is very sticky, so don’t worry about being super precise). Working with one half of the dough at a time, transfer it to the sheet pan and form it into a long baguette-shaped oval. Dust the dough or your hands with some more flour, if needed. Repeat the process with the remaining half of the dough.
- Second Rise (45 minutes) – While the oven heats up, let the dough rise on the sheet pan, uncovered, until nearly doubled in size, 45 minutes.
- Heat Oven – When the dough is about halfway through the second rise, place a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat the oven to 450°F / 232°C.
- Bake bread (25 minutes) – Just before baking, use a knife or kitchen shears to cut slits in the surface of the dough. (These slits help the dough to spread out and rise as it bakes, but they’re also decorative – giving the bread some more texture and color on the surface.) Bake bread in the heated oven until the top is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, that is the best way to check and see if the bread is done cooking. The bread should be 190°F / 88°C in the center.
- Cool Bread – Transfer loaves immediately to a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly and serve!
What to Serve with French Bread
- Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup – We always love this simple, light but creamy soup.
- One-Pan Italian Turkey Meatballs with Marinara – Slice these French bread loaves lengthwise, fill them with meatballs and marinara for meatball subs!
- Lemon Chicken Piccata – Charred sweet and sour lemon slices give seared chicken big lemon flavor and the light, creamy pan sauce is great over pasta or with this yummy French bread.
No-Knead French Bread
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Half Sheet Pan
- 4 cups/500g All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt (I use Morton’s or Diamond Brand)
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp Fast Acting or “Instant” Yeast (see note)
- 2 cups/473ml Warm Water (see note)
Make Dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Pour water over dry ingredients and stir until no dry spots remain. The dough will be very sticky, but just scrape down the sides as you stir.
First Rise (45 minutes): Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and leave it on the kitchen counter to rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes. (If your kitchen is on the colder side, let the dough rise for 60 minutes.)
Set out a large sheet pan (or two sheet pans). If you’d like, you can add a piece of parchment paper to the sheet pan which will make it easier to remove the bread and eliminate any chance of sticking. Dust the pan with all-purpose flour (see note).
Shape Loaves: Use a knife to slice down the center of the dough, separating it into even halves (the dough is very sticky, so don’t worry about being super precise). Dust the surface of the dough and your hands with flour. Working with one half of the dough at a time, transfer it to the prepared sheet pan and form it into two side-by-side baguette-shaped loaves. (If things get sticky, dust with some more flour as you work.)
Second Rise (45 minutes): While the oven heats up, leave the dough to rise on the sheet pan, uncovered, until nearly doubled in size, 45 minutes.
Heat Oven: When the dough is about halfway through the second rise, preheat oven to 450°F / 232°C.
Just before baking, use a knife or kitchen shears to cut slits in the surface of the dough. (These slits help the dough to spread out and rise as it bakes, but they’re also decorative - giving the bread some more texture and color on the surface.)
Bake bread (25 minutes): Bake bread in the heated oven until the top is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. (Use an instant read thermometer if you have one. The bread is done when it reaches 190°F / 88°C in the center.)
Transfer loaves immediately to a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly and serve!
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