Baker Bettie

4 Ingredient No-Knead Rustic Bread


This is the easiest bread recipe. With only 4 ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt) and no-kneading you can have fresh bread out of your own oven! If you are scared of using yeast, this bread will get your feet wet!

Rustic Bread sliced on a cutting board with butter on the side

4 Ingredient No-Knead Bread Overview

  • Skill Level: Beginner

I have been told by many of my readers that they are intimidated by working with yeast. But yeast bread is one of those things in baking that can range from being incredibly simple to being very complicated. 

No-knead bread is the easiest yeast bread you can bake. It will get your feet wet and make working with yeast feel less intimidating. And you only need 4 ingredients to make it: water, flour, salt, and yeast. 

Raw bread dough ball in a cast iron skillet

Ingredients in No-Knead Bread

Basic no-knead bread only calls for 4 ingredients: water, flour, salt, and yeast. That’s it! But you can also add in spices, herbs, and other add-ins like cheese, nuts, or seeds if you like to further flavor your bread! 

Yeast- The yeast for no-knead bread can be either active dry yeast or rapid rise (also known as instant or quick rise yeast). No matter which kind of yeast you choose, you can put it right into the dry ingredients without proofing it. Active dry yeast will need a little longer rising time than rapid rise yeast. 

The yeast is your leavening and what will make your bread dough rise. It is also what will flavor your bread. 

Water- Water wakes up and activates the yeast. Dry yeast is in a dormant state and needs moisture to wake up and being feeding.

The water is what can kill your yeast. You want to use very warm but not hot water. Somewhere around 110-130 F is great. If you have a thermometer definitely check the temperature. If you do not, error on the side of your water being lukewarm. 

Flour- Flour is the yeast’s food. Yeast feeds on sugar and will break down the starch in the flour to eat and create carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

The flour in this recipe can be either unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour. You do not want to use bleached flour as it will not develop a strong enough gluten structure. Bread flour will develop the strongest gluten structure and will allow the bread to rise higher and develop more chewiness. You can also substitute in some wheat flour for the white flour in this recipe (see recipe notes for details).

Salt- Salt not only flavors the bread, but also slows down the yeast a bit. Dough without salt will rise much faster resulting in larger air pockets and an uneven crumb to the bread.

Kosher salt or fine sea salt is preferable because it has a bit of a course grain to it, but if you only have table salt you can use it. Just cut the amount of salt in the recipe in half.

That’s it. Yeast, water, flour, and salt! If you buy yeast in bulk like me, you probably always have all of these ingredients on hand. It is really nice to be able to whip up a loaf of bread on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

And if you don’t want to sit around waiting for it to rise, store the dough in the fridge over night or even for a few days. It will slowly rise and will be ready for you when you want to make some bread!

This is a very rustic free form bread recipe. You can form it into two loafs or one big circle. You can also bake it straight on a baking sheet, in a cast iron skillet, or the best option is in a preheated dutch oven.

Rustic Bread sliced on a cutting board

How to Make No-Knead Bread

Step 1: Mix together your Dry Ingredients 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. If you want to add any spices, herbs, or other mix-ins, you can also add those in at this point. 

Step 2: Add the Warm Liquid

Warm your water to about 120-130 F (49-54 F). If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, this will feel very warm but not hot to the touch. Error on the side of a little cooler if you are unsure so you do not risk killing the yeast.

Next, add the warm water into the bowl and stir until all of the dry ingredients are saturated. It will look like there is not enough liquid at first, but as you stir, the mixture will come together into a shaggy and sticky dough. As soon as all of the flour is mixed in, you can stop stirring. 

Step 3: Let the Dough Rest & Rise

Place a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise. If your kitchen is very cold, sometimes inside the microwave or inside an off oven with the oven light on is a bit warmer. 

This step of the process is called “bulk ferment.” What will happen during this time is the yeast will begin feeding on the starches in the flour and will create carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. 

Let the dough ferment until it is about double in size. If you used active dry yeast, this process will take about 1 hour. If you used rapid rise yeast it will take about 30 minutes. 

Step 4: Shape the Dough

Dust the top of the risen dough as well as your hands with flour. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and gather it all up in your hands, gently pulling down on the sides to roughly form a ball. 

Now you can transfer it to your either a piece of parchment paper or directly into the skillet if you will be choosing that baking option.

Options for Baking No-Knead Bread

You have 3 options for baking your no-knead bread. You can place it on parchment paper and bake it on a baking sheet. You can bake it in a cast iron skillet. Or you can bake it in a preheated dutch oven (or an oven proof pot with a tight fitting lid). 

Baking the bread in a dutch oven (or lidded pot) is the best way to get a nice rise on your loaf as well as a crispy outer crust. This is by far the preferred method if you have this potion available to you. However, baking the bread on a sheet pan or in a skillet does still result in a beautiful loaf. 

Step 5: Proof your Bread

Cover the shaped dough with a piece of plastic wrap and then let it rise a second time. This is called proofing and will build up more gasses in the dough and also improve the flavor. 

Proof the dough for about 1 hour if you used quick rise yeast and about 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. 

Step 6: Preheat your Oven

Preheat your oven to 450 F (232 C) for about an hour while your bread if proofing. Even though your oven may indicate that it is up to temperature much quicker, the full hour will insure that every part of your oven is truly hot. 

If you will be using your dutch oven to bake your bread, put that in the oven to preheat as well. 

Step 7: Bake the Loaf

Once the dough is finished proofing, carefully remove the plastic wrap and dust the top of the loaf lightly with flour. If desired, you can use a sharp knife to score the loaf as well. This is optional and the loaf will naturally open in a rustic way if you do not score the loaf. 

If you are using the dutch oven, use oven mitts to remove it from the oven and transfer the whole loaf on the parchment paper into the pot and put the lid on top. If you are using a skillet or a baking sheet, you can go right into the oven. 

Slicing and Storing your Fresh Bread

Once your bread reaches a golden brown crust, remove it from the oven and place it on cooling rack to cool before slicing. Wait at least 1 hour, and preferable 12 hours before slicing. Waiting until the loaf is completely cooled will give you the best texture and flavor for your loaf. It will also prevent it from staling as quickly. 

Once your loaf is sliced, keep it out at room temperature on a cutting board, cut side down for up to 2 days. After that, I suggest slicing it and putting the slices in the freezer. Toast to refresh. 

Rustic Bread sliced on a cutting board with butter on the side

No-Knead Rustic Bread

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

This is the easiest bread recipe. With only 4 ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt) and no-kneading you can have fresh bread out of your own oven! If you are scared of using yeast, this bread will get your feet wet!


  • 3 3/4 cup (450 gr) flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour, see note for using whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 7 gr) active dry or quick rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 gr)  warm water (about 120-130 F)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and dry yeast until well combined. (If you are measuring with cups instead of by weight, make sure you lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cups without packing it down at all and then level it off. This will insure you won't end up with too much flour in your dough.)
  2. Add the warm water into the mixing bowl and stir until all of the ingredients come together into a thick dough that is shaggy and sticky. There should be no pockets of dry flour left, but it will be quite lumpy.
  3. Cover the bowl with a towel or loose plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise until double in size. This will take about 45 minutes if you used quick rise yeast and 75 minutes if you used active dry yeast.
  4. Generously sprinkle flour over top of risen dough and cover hands with flour. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and gather it all up in your hands. Start pulling down on all of the sides of the dough to form into a smooth ball (you can watch the video tutorial in the post to see a demonstration of this). Transfer to dough onto a piece of parchment paper if you will be baking it in a dutch oven or alternatively you can place it right into a greased cast iron skillet or a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it proof (rise again) for about 1 hour if you used quick rise yeast and 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. The dough should double in size again.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven for about an hour while the dough is proofing. This will insure that the oven will be completely hot when the bread goes in. If you are using a dutch oven, preheat to 450 F (232 C) and also place that in the oven to preheat. If you are baking on a sheetpan or in a cast iron skillet, preheat to 375 F (190 C).
  7. Once the dough is finished proofing, carefully remove the plastic wrap and lightly dust the top with a little more flour. IF desired, score the top of the loaf a few times with a sharp knife. This is optional and the loaf will naturally open up in a rustic way if you do not score it. If you will be baking the loaf in the preheated dutch oven, carefully remove it from the oven with oven mitts and place the loaf on the parchment paper into the pot. Place the lid back on top.
  8. If baking in the dutch oven, bake at 450 F (232 C) for 30 minutes with the lid on and then an additional 10-20 minutes with the lid off until deep golden brown. If you bake on a baking sheet or in a skillet, bake at 375 F (190 C) for 45 minutes - 1 hour until deep golden brown.
  9. Transfer the loaf onto a cooling rack and let cool for at the very least 1 hour before slicing.
  10. If bread is left over, place sliced side down on a cutting board and leave and room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, slice the loaf and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Toast to refresh.


  • Substituting Whole Wheat Flour: For the best texture, substitute only up to 1/2 the amount of flour with whole wheat flour. For every 1 cup you substitute you should substract 2 tbsp whole wheat flour. My preferred ratio of using wheat flour in this recipe is 2 1/2 cups white flour and 1 cup + 2 TBSP whole wheat flour.

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195 comments on “4 Ingredient No-Knead Rustic Bread”

  1. This is my favorite bread recipe so far. I make it using the Platinum instant sourdough yeast + sourdough culture. Right before putting it in the I oven, I brush a little olive oil on top and sprinkle it with course salt and dried rosemary. It turns out great every time! Thank you!

  2. I always come back to this recipe. It is so easy and good tasting. It also freezes well and I also cut is small sections to make brochette. I am very familiar with working with yeast as I make traditional holiday breads. However I was vvery happy with this recipe. It is very good for dipping in stews. Thank You for your time.

  3. I love this bread 

  4. Followed the recipe to the T and ended up with inedible bread. Not cooked through, rock hard on the outside. Tasted like salt and yeast. So much for ‘easy’.

  5. Hi Bettie.  I am making this bread today. I found or read that you let it proof IN the dutch oven. But then further down you say to place it in the dutch oven when it is already in there?  my bread proofed but it also became misformed because the paper had turned onto the bread. 🙁 

    • This is by far the best bread I’ve ever made, my family loves it! I make it at least once a week. Thank you for sharing!

    • In response to Cheryl on March 1, 2020:  I thought the exact same thing when I looked at the recipe online, but you MUST look at her video on the same webpage to understand what she was talking about.  Go online to her website and watch the video. On the video, she says things that are not in the recipe.   In the video, she explains you put the EMPTY Dutch oven in the oven for 1 hour at 450 degrees to heat up the Dutch oven.  (This is BEFORE you put the dough in the Dutch oven to bake.) I honestly do not know why it would take an oven 1 hour to heat up a Dutch oven to 450 degrees – seems like a waste, but it must be important.  I was just like you – so confused- until I watched the video.  Also, the video shows how to wrap and tuck the dough BEFORE you put it in the oven to cook.  This is important to see how to do this, since it is impossible to explain in writing.  She also explained using a Dutch oven will help the dough rise better.  Make sure you lift the parchment paper WITH the dough and place in the Dutch oven and put the lid on it before baking.  It will easier to lift out the bread when it is finished cooking if the parchment paper remains underneath it. I think the directions need to be more clear.  I’m sorry your bread didn’t turn out like you wanted it to – seems like a lot of work to not have it perfect.  Hope you have better luck next time.  Let us all know how it turned out.  Good luck

  6. Delicious.  It came out great though I don’t have a Dutch oven.  That brings up a couple of questions.  What size Dutch oven was used in the tutorial?  Will a French bread (not baguette size) baking pan work to make this loaf?  And if so, should the second rise be in the French bread pan? Three questions, after all.  Thanks.  And thanks for a great recipe.

  7. I also followed this recipe to a T and ended up with terrible bread. When I added the water, the dough was dry, not shaggy and sticky. Did not bake well either. Turned out dense and barely edible.

    • Hi Katie, sorry to hear you had issues with the bread. Since this is a tested recipe, I’d love the help you troubleshoot! How did you measure the flour? It sounds like there may have been too much in your dough. Make sure you spoon it into your measuring cup without packing it down at all, and then level it off!

  8. I always thought making bread was super complicated. This was really easy to follow and I have now done it twice. I noticed one or two comments on the hard outer crust, which for me, is kind of great for dipping the bread into red sauce. Thank you so much, Bettie, for the easy to follow recipe. Going to try some of your other bread recipes soon! Also, thank you Christine F. in the comments below. I brushed on some olive oil, salt, and rosemary on my second attempt and it came out amazing!

  9. I am excited to try this recipe.  If you bake it in a cast iron Dutch oven, do you need to oil the Dutch oven first?  Thank you

  10. This bread has been a life saver during the quarantine as I’m one of the luckies with yeast and flour. What size Banneton would you recommend for the yield of this recipe? Looking to level up my new bread hobby

  11. Hi there – is it a problem if the dough rises for longer and then proofs for longer – we have only one over and did not realize that my husband was making a 6 hour brisket – thank you?  Just want to make sure that the timing is not as sensitive as the numbers given or what I should do if it is – thank you so much!

    • Hi there, the dough can definitely overproof and then become dense when it bakes. You can pop it in the refrigerator to help slow it down if you cannot bake it within the timeline.

  12. I ended up with a hard crust at the top, and had to stop it at 40 minutes. Oven was at around 225 degrees C. The bread did not rise during baking at all. The bread is fairly hard inside. I made several mistakes which others could learn from:
    1. I ended up overproofing. For proofing the second time, I should have left it in the baking tray. But I put it back in the same dish over aluminium foll thinking I would lift it later. It expanded and so I had to transfer to the baking dish mid way, where it continued to rise.
    2. Plan ahead: I had some work to attend to and so got delayed by 45 minutes in putting the bread in.
    3. I forgot to mix the yeast before adding water, adding it only later !

  13. Prepared the dough in the a.m. intending to bake in the p.m. but got sidetracked. Can I refrigerate it after it’s been sitting on the counter all day?

  14. Hi Bettie I am on my third try for sour dough starter.. My question is: When I get to the maintenance (hopefully) stage, do I continue to use 25 grams starter, 25 grams ww flour, 50 grams of unbleached all purpose flour and 75 grams of warm water? Thanks, Chris

  15. Bread came out fantastic. I would like to make a bigger bread. Do you have a recipe for that one or can I just double the ingredients

  16. Can this be done in a breas machine?

  17. Recipe was so easy! Bread turned out fantastic! I used Dutch oven.  Wanting to add spices such as Italian seasoning or Parmesan but unsure of amount to use. Any recommendations are welcomed. Again fun simple recipe! You’re video was great too!

  18. I love adding honey & 1/2 cup of quick oats to the dough

  19. What is the serving size? It says the serving size calorie amount is 53 but I dont know the serving size is. I would expect it to be a slice but Im not sure. Thanks!

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