easy crusty bread {dutch oven}

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~ crusty dutch oven bread ~

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” ~M.F.K. Fisher

This is a very easy recipe that yields a gorgeous loaf of crusty bread! This is the perfect bread to make on a lazy day off when you don’t plan on leaving the house. Stay in your jammies, watch old movies or read a good book, write letters, knit… It takes between 8 and 18 hours for the dough to proof, so it’s a good idea to mix up the dough before you go to bed to give it a head start while you sleep…

In a large bowl, dissolve:

1 packet active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)


1 and 1/2 cups warm water

Mix in:

3 cups all-purpose flour


1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended

The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a 70 degree room for 8 – 18 hours. The dough is ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles. Flour a work surface. Place dough on it. Fold it over on itself twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

With floured hands, shape into a ball. Place a clean dish towel in a big bowl and sprinkle a little cornmeal over so you have enough to coat the underside of your loaf.

Place the dough ball, seam side down, on towel inside the bowl and sprinkle the top of the loaf with a little more cornmeal.

Cover with the other end of the flour sack towel, or cover with another clean flour sack towel.

Allow dough to raise for 2 hours in a warm spot. This is when I turn the oven on. I set the dough bowl on one of the burners and the warmth from the oven is the perfect temp. to encourage the dough to double in size. You know the dough is ready to bake when it doesn’t readily spring back when poked with your index finger.

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. 20 minutes before the dough is done rising, place your Dutch oven (6 quart size) in the oven to get it ready for the bread. When dough is ready, remove pot from oven, lift off lid and place bread dough in the pot, seam side up. Shake gently a couple times to evenly distribute the bread. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes. The bread should be beautifully browned. Remove to a rack and allow bread to cool one hour prior to slicing and serving.

This is seriously the best bread I’ve ever made. Jeff and Gracie concur 🙂




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  106 comments for “easy crusty bread {dutch oven}

  1. January 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Oj oj – 8-18 hours?? I’m not sure if I could be that patient! If it’s really as good as you say it is, perhaps I could be persuaded to give it a try… “for science”! 🙂

    • Melissa
      January 8, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      OMG…not even kidding. this bread is amazing, and it’s so darn EASY I hardly feel like I can take any credit 😉 enjoy.

    • September 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

      I have made similar bread that I proof for 12 hours. I find that it’s easiest for me to prep it before bed and cook it in the morning =) Makes the wait much easier!

      • Melissa
        September 26, 2012 at 11:26 am

        Hi Bree! that’s exactly how I do it too! mix up the dough before bed, and voila! 😉 xo

        • September 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

          I definitely need to try this recipe! It looks phenomenal!

          I wonder if quick rising yeast could be subbed out for someone needing it more quickly? Thoughts? I am fairly new to the cooking and blogging world and it’s all trial and error for me! LOL

          • Melissa
            September 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

            Hee hee…well…I’ve never tried this with quick rising yeast. If I were you, I’d just try it this way the first time and then experiment 😉 I know it works this way. xoxo

  2. January 8, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Bread is totally my weakness…I could lose myself for days over a fresh loaf.


    • Melissa
      January 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      This bread is so good. You will love it….and this recipe is way easy 😉 xo

  3. Jennifer | Mother Thyme
    January 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    What a great recipe I will definitely be trying this very soon. One of my goals for this year is to bake more breads opposed to always grabbing a loaf at the bakery and try a variety of bread recipes so this is the perfect recipe! Adding this to my Bread board on Pinterest! 🙂

    • Melissa
      July 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

      enjoy, Jennifer! 🙂

  4. January 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

    You know I had to pin this but no I need a Dutch oven! Sounds like a good Valentine’s present to me!

    • Melissa
      January 9, 2012 at 9:45 am

      perfect! 🙂

    • Peni
      June 17, 2014 at 1:08 am

      Try Amazon.com and check out Lodge brand dutch ovens…excellent, metal lid handle, very heavy & beautiful! About $50.00 compared to some that are hundreds! This is very high quality for little money.

  5. January 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    This bread looks fantastic and I love the crunchy crust. I’ll have to give this one a try.

    • Melissa
      January 9, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      enjoy, Carrie 🙂

  6. January 11, 2012 at 8:14 am

    WOW!! I never knew the dutch oven could bake bread! Awesome idea! I am saving this one! Thanks 🙂

    • Melissa
      January 11, 2012 at 8:16 am

      best bread EVA! 😉 enjoy Kristen!

  7. January 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

    OMG, i could eat that whole thing! I can practically smell it…

    • Melissa
      January 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

      it’s amazing. and SO easy! enjoy sweet Justine! xo

  8. January 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

    PS. Forgot to say I found this recipe through Newlywed Blog’s linky 🙂

    • Melissa
      January 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

      LOVE that blog! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  9. January 18, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I saw a recipe like this back in 2006 on Martha Stewart – I THINK from the bakery BREAD in NYC! I made it then and loved it! I have done a lot of work with yeast over the past few years so I really think if I made it again, I could make it even better. Thanks for sharing!

    • January 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

      PS Who needs to pay $4 for a loaf of bread at Whole Foods when you can make THIS at home? 🙂

      • Melissa
        January 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

        exactly! 😉 thanks for commenting!

    • Melissa
      January 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

      There are so many recipes for Dutch oven bread on the internet. The only way I can think of to improve this recipe is to make two next time 😉 I discovered the recipe over at the Mother Earth News website. xo

      • January 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

        ok, melissa… You have me sold! My next new project will be to make this recipe tomorrow! Thank you so much for sharing! I will try this recipe from Mother Earth News. So excited.. and if I can possibly think of a way to do 2 loaves, I SO WILL! 🙂

        • Melissa
          January 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

          enjoy 😉

  10. January 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    just took an amazing bread baking course yesterday and this looks like the tops!! Hope you are having a relaxing Sunday sweetie!

    • Melissa
      January 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      aw! thanks! you have a relaxing weekend too! xoxo 🙂

  11. February 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Oh yum this bread looks fantastic Melissa! I wish I had a slice for breakfast …

    • Melissa
      February 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

      It’s really good. Best bread I’ve ever made, and the easiest too 🙂 xo

  12. February 1, 2012 at 11:13 am

    This is my family’s favorite bread! We’ve been making the Jim Lahey/Sullivan Street Bakery version every Friday since we first discovered it in the New York Times. So easy, and so good! It’s so versatile too. Sometimes we throw in cheddar cheese, or make it with different whole grain flours. I love that you can throw the ingredients together before you go to bed, and have bread ready the next night for dinner!

    Your loaf turned out beautifully!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

    • Melissa
      February 1, 2012 at 11:15 am

      You’re right, Jenn, that really is the beauty of this bread! I doubled the recipe last time and it came out perfect! thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  13. February 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I will never buy another loaf of bread!! I’m into rustic and crusty!! xoxo Ally

    • Melissa
      February 22, 2012 at 12:07 am

      enjoy my lovely Ally 🙂

  14. March 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I love that this bread uses a dutch oven and is crusty! Crusty bread is very popular in my house, yum!

    • Melissa
      March 29, 2012 at 8:36 am

      please let me know what you think after you try this. 🙂 it’s like bread magic.

  15. Becky Young
    September 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

    This sounds like the bread I made about 30 years ago for my parents 25th wedding anniversary. My neighbor taught me this. All the guests loved it and wanted more. She called it Bishops bread. I lost the recipe, so I will have to try this again. Are you sure only 1/2 tsp of yeast?

    • Melissa
      September 26, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Hi Becky! Actually, I should go back in and change that. thanks…it does work with 1/2 tsp. but I’ve upped it to a packet. 🙂

  16. Alison Arsenault
    September 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I will be putting this on to proof before I head to bed tonight.
    Looking forward to tasting the results tomorrow.

    • Melissa
      September 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      excellent, Alison 🙂

      • Alison Arsenault
        September 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm

        It is in the bowl now. Could I use a large casserole in place of the dutch oven do you think?

        • Melissa
          September 27, 2012 at 7:06 am

          I’ve never used a casserole in place of the Dutch oven for this recipe, so I’m not sure. The Dutch oven gets extremely hot and holds it’s heat differently than a glass casserole would. My guess would be that you won’t end up with the same crusty loaf. good luck! hope it works for you 🙂

          • Tina V
            November 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

            I think you might be able to…I got a similar recipe from a Pampered Chef which used their covered baker…I still haven’t tried her recipe…and now I have your too! Swoon!

          • Melissa
            November 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm

            Hi Tina! Enjoy 🙂

        • Rebecca
          February 26, 2013 at 3:23 am

          Hi Alison, did you try to bake your bread in the Pyrex or Casserole as I don’t have a Dutch Oven too !!

          Melissa, I don’t quite understand —( When dough is ready, remove pot from oven, lift off lid and place bread dough in the pot, seam side up. Shake gently a couple times to evenly distribute the bread. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.)You mean we just lift up the raising dough and drop it into the Hot heated Dutch oven and shake gently ? Will it be flatten when we lift it up ? Normally we place the dough into a tin and let it raise then bake it.
          I try to bake bread for breakfast as I’m Chinese, don’t eat too much bread in a day. But I try to bake them myself to avoid all the unhealthy chemical.

          • Melissa
            February 26, 2013 at 6:18 am

            Hi Rebecca! 🙂 You have to use a cast iron dutch oven for this, a Pyrex/Casserole won’t work because it won’t get hot enough.

            When the dough is done rising, take the pre-heated Dutch oven out of your big oven. Take lid off of Dutch oven. Gently pick up dough with your hand and drop it in the Dutch oven. Shake gently. Replace cover. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 20 minutes (or so.)

            I hope that helps. 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!

          • Alison Arsenault
            March 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm

            Sorry for the dealy we were away for a family wedding in Jamacia. I used a stoneware casserole. Made the bread very very crusty. I agree that the cast iron dutch oven would be the best for this bread.

          • Melissa
            March 6, 2013 at 12:39 am

            thanks for letting us know, Alison! Hope you had a fabulous vacation 🙂

  17. November 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Melissa -I just made this. Have tried over the years for a good, hard crusted bread and never succeeded until this one. I just cut into it and it’s fabulous. Thanks for this easy recipe. I think next time I’ll proof a little less time. It seemed like when I did the second rise, it didn’t want to rise very much – but it rose in the oven and is just delicious!!

    • Melissa
      November 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      Hello Leigh! YAY! I’m so happy you like the bread. i think it’s just awesome…super crusty, yummy, chewy bread with very little effort. XO and thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  18. December 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    not for sure what you mean by Dutch oven,wouldthis be the same as a cast iron covered roasting dish from Paula Deen? thank you.

    • Melissa
      June 16, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Hi Darlene 🙂 If you have a cast iron roasting dish with a cast iron lid, you’re in business. That will totally work. Enjoy!

  19. December 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    not sure what you mean by dutch oven, I have a Paula Deen cast iron oval dish with cover, is this suitable?…Thank You.

    • Melissa
      December 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Darlene,
      here’s a good definition of a Dutch Oven….


      thanks for stopping by!

    • Bruce Tracy
      December 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      The International Dutch Oven Society website (idos.org) can tell you all about Dutch ovens.

      • Melissa
        June 16, 2014 at 7:54 am

        Thanks, Bruce! 🙂

  20. Tina
    December 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve been making this bread for a while now…and yes, it is that good, you can eat the whole thing yourself! The whole house smells so yummy the entire time it’s baking.
    On a side note…the quantity given for the yeast—a packet is 2 1/2 tsps.,not 1 tbls. A small difference that would probably make little difference. Just clarifying.

    • Melissa
      December 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Tina! yes, I’ve made this dozens of times too. such a great recipe. it’s funny you should say that about the yeast… I’ll have to go in and correct that measurement. The weird thing is that the original recipe (that I found in Mother Earth News) just calls for 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Seems like it wouldn’t be enough, so I always make it with a whole packet. Always turns out awesome. I’ve doubled the recipe several times which works too 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

      • Tina
        January 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        I have made it with as little as a 1/4 tsp. of yeast…I do this when I want to make a larger batch. You can keep it for up to 10 days (or more) in the fridge so that it slowly develops. You need at least a full day(2 is better) to allow the yeast to do it’s job). By the end of the time it is almost like a sourdough bread.I make smaller loaves this way and always have some dough ready to go when I’m ready to bake some off.

        • Melissa
          January 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm

          good to know! thanks Tina 🙂

  21. Tina
    December 29, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Ooops…misprint–that should have been 2 1/4 tsps…not 2 1/2tsps.

    • Melissa
      December 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      hee hee…thanks again 😉

  22. Donna H
    December 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Do you know if I would need to make any changes for altitude? I’m at 6000 feet. I want to try it but would hate to mess it up on the first try.

    • Melissa
      December 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      I don’t think there are any recipe changes for high altitude. 🙂 It’s a pretty forgiving recipe. Thanks for visiting, Donna!

      • Donna H
        December 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        Thank you, Melissa. I’m going to try this recipe this week. It sounds SO GOOD!

        • Melissa
          December 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm

          enjoy! 🙂

  23. Bruce Tracy
    December 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    How does it taste without the salt?

    • Melissa
      December 29, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      like it needs a little salt 😉

  24. December 31, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Oh, this looks so good, and it sounds like a fun project, too! 🙂 What size (qt.) dutch oven do you use? Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Melissa
      December 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hi Joy! I use a 6 quart Dutch oven. I’ve also doubled the recipe and used the same pot….and it works great! thanks for visiting! enjoy 🙂

      • December 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        Wonderful! Thank you so much! 🙂

        • Melissa
          January 1, 2013 at 1:24 am

          yay! so pleased you like it! thanks for visiing 🙂

  25. February 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Good stuff!! Love!!

    • Melissa
      February 4, 2013 at 12:13 am

      Thanks Ally! Such a wonderfully easy recipe…and some of the best bread I’ve ever had! 🙂 enjoy, my sweet friend! xoxoxo

  26. Keri
    February 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Will this work with an oval Dutch oven?

    • Melissa
      February 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      it sure will, Keri! 🙂

      • Keri
        February 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

        Fantastic! I’m going to start it tonight. Thanks!!

        • Melissa
          February 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm

          YAY! enjoy! 🙂

  27. Nancy McCann
    February 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    What brand of Dutch oven so you personally use?

    • Melissa
      February 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Giada’s brand from Target! 🙂

      • Nancy McCann
        February 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

        Dear Melissa,
        How do you handle your dough from bowl to dutch oven without deflating it? Do you have a secret in handling the dough.?

        Also, thank you for giving me brand of your dutch oven.

        • Melissa
          February 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm

          Hi Nancy 🙂 I just gently lift it out of the bowl and gently place it in the Dutch oven 🙂 no secret. XO

  28. Sue
    July 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Love this recipe. The Mother Earth News recipe w/1/4 t of yeast is what I always follow and it turns out fantastic.

    • Melissa
      July 7, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      It’s a great recipe, Sue! thanks for stopping by! enjoy 🙂

  29. Jean
    July 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I want to make this, but I have no Dutch Oven and can’t swing the cost for one, is there another vessel I could use??~~thanks

    • Melissa
      July 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Hi Jean. Not that I know of. Someone I know tried to make it in a casserole and it didn’t turn out. I think you need a cast iron dutch oven for this particular recipe. sorry about that. thanks for inquiring.

      • Jean
        July 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm

        thanks Melissa, for the info!

        • Melissa
          July 9, 2013 at 10:21 pm

          My pleasure, Jean! Happy to help 🙂

  30. Robyne
    August 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Looks delicious! Going to make it soon, but I have a quick question. Do you spray oil or butter the Dutch oven at all? Thank you! 🙂

    • Melissa
      August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Robyne! No need to spray the Dutch oven before placing the bread inside. I never have and it works like a charm. thanks for stopping by! enjoy 🙂

  31. Betty
    October 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Do you have to knead this bread at all like when you are just putting it together. Does it hurt if you do it a couple of times? Just wondered because I have a habit of kneading bread when I make it. Or maybe for this one you are better not to do that.

    • Melissa
      October 26, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Betty! No, you don’t knead this bread at all. It’s better if you don’t and will rise higher.

  32. Diana
    February 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I was wondering if you double the amounts… How long do you bake it for? Would you bake it twice as long, or the same at 30 mins lid on & 20 mins lid off?

    • Melissa
      February 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      When you double the ingredients, you still keep the cooking time the same, Diana 🙂 Thanks for asking! great question.

  33. Aim
    June 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Hey, looks yum 🙂 thanks for the recepie…problem is I don’t hav a Dutch oven. Is it possible for me to make this recepie in regular oven? Like by using clay pot or something?

    Also how about a little sugar in the dough? Will it taste good?

    • Melissa
      June 16, 2014 at 7:59 am

      Hi Aim 🙂

      You have to use a cast iron dutch oven for this… and I believe adding sugar to the dough would keep it from rising the way it’s suppose to. thanks for stopping by! Great questions! 🙂 XO ~M

    • Joanne
      September 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Aim, A Dutch Oven is not a cookstove! It is a cast iron pot with a lid. I read your comment and thought you were confused, If you are not, sorry, just trying to help!

  34. sheila
    September 3, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I would like to try this bread with BOB’S RED MILL ALL PURPOSE GLUTEN FREE FLOUR! Do you think it will work?

  35. OLIVIA
    September 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm



  36. Linda
    November 5, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Have you tried the “Miracle Boule” by Laura Calder?

  37. Linda Welch
    December 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Can you try this with gluten free flours?

  38. Cynthia
    December 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve made this bread many times – never fails me! Very delicious I use it in my overnight egg casserole.

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