Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread Recipe

This is it, folks. The basic no-knead bread recipe by Jim Lahey that incited an insurrection among bread bakers everywhere. It’s an adaptation of Lahey’s phenomenally and outrageously lovely “football-shaped pugliese” sold at Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan.

As easy as this recipe is, Lahey cautions that it’s not exactly an impromptu sorta thing. “This bread is incredibly simple and involves little labor, but you need to plan ahead. Although mixing takes almost no time, the first rise requires from 12 to 18 hours. Then you’ll need to shape the dough and let it rise for another 1 to 2 hours. The longer rise tends to result in a richer bread, but you need the patience and the schedule to do it. After preheating the oven and the pot, you’ve got 30 minutes of covered baking, another 15 to 30 of uncovered baking, and about an hour of cooling. And please, don’t gulp down that first slice. Think of the first bite as you would the first taste of a glass of wine: smell it (there should be that touch of maltiness), chew it slowly to appreciate its almost meaty texture, and sense where it came from in its hint of wheat. Enjoy it. You baked it, and you did a good job.”

There you have it.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Take the Time To Read This! Note

Lahey took great care to include as many tips and tricks in this no-knead bread recipe as he possibly could to ensure you have spectacularly satisfying results at home. Don’t rush through this recipe and skim the details. Each word, each visual cue, each explanation has meaning. Rely on the description of how the dough should appear or feel more than the timing, seeing as conditions vary from kitchen to kitchen. And know that, as Lahey says, “Even the loaves that aren’t what you’d regard as perfect are way better than fine.” No argument from us on that.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 3 H, 30 M
  • One 1 1/2-pound loaf


  • 3 cups (400 grams) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed


  • 1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups (320 milliliters or 320 grams) water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a wet, sticky dough. This should take roughly 30 seconds. You want it to be really sticky. (Many people who bake this bread find the dough to be unusually wet. Remember that most of the water is meant to be released as steam during baking. Besides, you’ll be handling the dough very little, so you don’t have to worry about your hand looking like some creepy monster that just crawled out of a lagoon.)
  • 2. Cover the dough and bowl with a plate, towel, or plastic wrap and set aside to rest at warm room temperature (but not in direct sunlight) for at least 12 hours and preferably about 18 hours. (Ideally, you want the room to be about 72°F. In the dead of winter, when the dough will tend to rise more slowly, as long as 24 hours may be necessary.) You’ll know the dough is properly fermented and ready because its surface will be dotted with bubbles and take on a darkened appearance. This long, slow fermentation is what yields the bread’s rich flavor.
  • 3. Generously flour your work surface. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to turn the dough onto the surface in one blob. The dough will cling to the bowl in long, thread-like strands and it will be quite loose and sticky. This is exactly what you want. Do not add more flour. Instead use lightly floured hands to gently and quickly lift the edges of the dough in toward the center, effectively folding the dough over onto itself. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. That’s it. Don’t knead the dough.
  • 4. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal. Place the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust the surface with a little more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover the dough with another cotton towel and let it rise for about 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will hold the impression of your fingertip when you poke it lightly, making an indentation. If the dough readily springs back when you poke it, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
  • 5. A half hour before the dough is done with its second rise, preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and place a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot and its lid (whether cast iron or enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.
  • 6. When the dough is done with its second rise, carefully remove the pot from the oven and uncover it. Also uncover the dough. Lift up the dough and quickly but gently turn it over into the pot, seam side up, being very careful not to touch the pot. The blob of dough may look like a mess, but trust us, everything is O.K. Cover the pot with its lid and bake for 30 minutes.
  • 7. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is beautifully browned to a deep chestnut color, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a wire rack. Don’t slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Apr 23, 2015

For me, this is the PERFECT bread recipe. Making bread is my obsession. I have made nearly every bread recipe you can name. As much as I love the ritual of old-fashioned bread-making—kneading, resting, proofing, etc.—this no-knead bread recipe is my go-to loaf. I base this on two things: texture and flavor. This is hands-down the best-tasting "white bread" that I have ever eaten, let alone made. I use a digital scale and weigh my ingredients, it just seems more accurate for me. So, that would be 400 grams bread flour, 8 grams table salt, 1 gram instant yeast, and 300 to 310 grams 55- to 65-degree water. Good bread takes several hours to produce. GREAT bread takes nearly 24 hours. If you rush this recipe, you will be doing yourself a great disservice. When Jim Lahey says this dough should be wet, trust him, it will be as wet as a ciabatta dough. VERY WET. When folding the dough, it doesn't have to be precise. I simply pull 4 edges up and toward the center. Then simply turn the dough, seam side down, on a floured cloth or linen. Do not scrimp on the flour for the tea towel. You will NEED a THICK coating on the cloth or it will stick when you flip it into the 450°F Dutch oven. Trust me. Don't fret over how the dough looks when you put the lid on and just slide it back in the oven, set your timer for 30 minutes, and, like some crazy magic, when the lid comes off, it will always be perfect. The last 15 minutes is the hardest for me. I always want to take it out of the oven before it turns a lovely dark brown. DON'T DO IT! Let it bake without the lid for at least 12 minutes. Remove your masterpiece from the oven, carefully place it on a cooling rack (I use 2 silicone spatulas) and, while you're admiring your mastery, listen. The bread will crack and hiss and sing. Truly one of the most beautiful sounds that you'll ever hear.

  1. Larry Noak says:

    THIS is my go-to bread recipe and my FAVORITE bread cookbook of the 20 or so that I own. The rye bread recipe is utter perfection!

  2. China says:

    Do you have a recipe for sourdough bread ?

    • David Leite says:

      China, I don’t, but I have heard and read that if you let this dough rise the first time and then refrigerate it for three to four days, you will have a more complex, sour taste. Not a sourdough, but closer.

    • Evie Weinstein says:

      China, The very best sourdough is the one by Chad Robertson in his book Tartine Bread. In short, here’s the short and modified version recipe:

      Ingredients (Use a scale!)

      • 1 cup (5 oz.) whole wheat flour
      • 2 1/2 cups (11 oz.) white bread flour
      • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
      • 1 1/2 cups purified water
      • 1/4 cup starter

      Mix together the dry ingredients.

      Dissolve 1/4 cup starter into purified water.

      Add water / starter to dry ingredients and stir until the water is incorporated.

      Cover with plastic and let sit 12-18 hours.

      For the last 3 hours, fold the dough every 30 min – as though you were making a box (4 folds, long sides and 2 ends). As you do the folds, gently pull out each “side” to lengthen your pull before folding toward the center. This creates the long gluten strands that make those beautiful holes in the crumb.

      Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes.

      Transfer to well floured towel, parchment paper or proofing basket. Cover with towel and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.

      Prehead the Dutch oven to 500 degrees (with lid).

      Bake in covered Dutch oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.

      Remove cover; reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 12-15 minutes till brown.

      Let cool completely on rack. LIsten to it crackle as it cools!

      Consume bread, be happy.

  3. Dana Fernandez says:

    I make bread on a regular basis using Charles Van Over’s Best Bread Ever recipe and it’s delicious. I can’t wait to try this with the 24 hour fermentation! Also, I would love to have the rye bread recipe if you’re willing to share. :)

  4. Xara says:

    Hi, I wanted to add that I do this recipe with sourdough, and it works well. You might have to reduce a bit the water (didn’t measure). Anyway, the exact same recipe yields a great sourdough bread.


    • David Leite says:

      Xara, would love it if you could share more details. I tried to make a sourdough version, but it didn’t come out too well.

      • Xara says:

        Hi again,

        As I am not a native in English, please excuse me for any language errors– I don’t really know technical bakery terms!

        What failed in your recipe How was the bread afterwards? I’m really a lazy baker, so I do most things without weighing, but I did weigh today. Even when doing things without weighing, and even the time I put too much water in, this recipe always comes out very well (better than any other recipe I tried).

        I use the exact proportions with semi-whole flour (110g), but reduce to 300ml of water or less when using white (65g) flour, with variations depending a bit on my sourdough’s texture that day. Today I measured 200g of sourdough, it’s less than half the jar, but enough with such a long rise at room temp. For step 1, I mixed sourdough first, then water and salt, then only add flour. After that, I follow the recipe.

        If the dough ends up having too much water, it’s obvious as at step 3: the dough will keep expanding on whatever surface you put it, without much hope of shaping it at all (I still tried). If that happens, after a desperate attempt to shape it, just perform step 4 but put the towel in a big kitchen bowl (“cul de poule” – I have no idea what the English term is for that) so the bread won’t keep flowing. You’ll be able to pour back everything from the towel to the oven dish, and even if the crust will look messy, it’ll still be extremely good bread. This recipe is so forgiving ! Next time, just put a bit less water, to be able to follow the recipe as-is.


    • Anita says:

      Thanks. You answered my question. I love sourdough and was wondering if this recipe could be used for it.

      • David Leite says:

        Anita, I haven’t been able to turn this into a sourdough recipe. But I’m the worst person to ask. I’ve killed every starter that has ever entered our home. But Xara seem to be proficient. I’d try her method.

  5. Xara says:

    Sorry for posting again: I realize that I gave the coarseness of flours according to French standards. Here’s a table and explanations, apparently in the UK and US, there is no such numbers. I’m pretty sure that because of these variations in flours, most readers will have to make adjustments in water.

  6. Rachel says:

    This might be a silly question but I can’t get instant yeast where I am…can I use active dry yeast and just proof it first and then follow the steps as listed above? Thank you!

  7. Mary says:

    Dear David,

    Can I add olives to this recipe and have my bread come out okay? Thank you.

    • David Leite says:

      My dear Mary, absolutely. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of well-drained chopped olives to the dough when you mix it. It should be perfectly fine. I’ve added cheese, bacon, sausage, rosemary–in short, all kinds of fold-ins. I’ve never had a problem. But…if you want to play it safe, use Jim’s olive bread recipe.

  8. Claudia says:

    Just made my first no-knead bread with your recipe. Loved it! I added dried onion to it and very good. Thank you!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re so very welcome, Claudia! I dare say you’re going to be hooked, just like us, by the no-knead approach…

  9. Nancy bradley says:

    I have to say after more or less “retiring” from bread baking I’m back in it full swing! It is true you get ” the bug”! Only one drawback is you want to eat the whole loaf! This is when it’s nice to give it away! I don’t buy bread anymore. Only flour and yeast!

  10. Piet says:

    Fantastic! But you already know that. What I don’t understand is why do you do the second rising in a tea towel? Why not just return the dough back into the bowl? Perhaps add oil or flour/cornmeal to the bowl first.

    • David Leite says:

      Piet, glad you liked it. The tea towel makes flipping the dough easier. Some people have greased the bowl and had success flipping. Adding flour or cornmeal to won’t sufficiently cover the surface of the dough and it will stick to the bowl. (I’ve even had problems with the dough, which is quite wet, sticking to the tea towel.) Hope this helps.

  11. Carolyn in Utah says:

    I tried Jim Lahey’s recipe for calzone dough last week and it was better than any other yeasted dough I’ve ever made ( I have an unfortunate history with yeast– everything I make turns to heavy bricks) and it had a complex flavor, bubbly texture… It was a miracle. I am sooo going to try your recipe David!
    One question: I can’t find any mention of greasing the dutch oven before putting in the dough. Is this correct?

    • David Leite says:

      Carolyn, so glad you’re liking the Lahey Method. It’s really simple. And, nope, no need to grease the Dutch oven. Just drop it in and bake. (But definitely make sure you spread a good layer of flour or wheat germ on the towel because this is a wet dough.)

  12. Eileen says:

    Can this be doubled or tripled? I have lots of family coming and would like to make more than one loaf at a time

    • David Leite says:

      Eileen, we’ve never tested it that way. Because each recipe makes just one loaf, I’d be concerned that you’d deflate the dough after the second rise by dividing.

  13. Leslie says:

    My grandson loves this recipe but was just diagnosed with diabetes and would like me to try making with half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. Will it work. Does anyone have an easy good sandwich whole-wheat flour bread recipe

  14. Ana says:

    Could you send me the ciabatta recipe from that book, please? Thank you in advance xx

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Ana, we don’t have that recipe from his book, sorry. If you want a recipe for ciabatta that is NOT no-knead, we can heartily recommend this ciabatta recipe, which is one of the most popular recipes on our website. Be sure to read the instructions carefully as it’s a very wet dough (as are most Italian breads) and requires a little special handling.

  15. Linda Shaver says:

    Can I use a stainless steel Dutch oven for the baking of the no knead bread?

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