100 Techniques

Technique #70: Bake Bread without Kneading Dough

After one hour and no kneading, you can have an open-crumbed, crisp-crusted loaf many bakers would be jealous of.

Published Aug. 23, 2023.

This is Technique #70 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

Each technique is broken into three sections: why it works, key steps, and recipes that use it. Learn these recipe building blocks and you'll be set up for a lifetime of cooking success.

Jump to a Section

Great loaves of artisan-style rustic bread display some distinct characteristics—they're beautifully browned, with a thick-yet-crisp crust that breaks to a chewy, open interior. The word “artisan” implies you need professional skills—and plenty of time—to turn out loaves in this style, but that isn't true. Enter: the no-knead method of bread baking.

We've updated and perfected this beloved technique to create quintessential rustic loaves that require just a mix and some hand-folds.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Wetter Is Better

No-knead bread starts with a wetter dough than traditionally made bread; the high level of moisture in the dough and the extended resting time take the place of kneading in terms of developing the gluten network necessary for the bubbly, chewy crumb structure that is the signature of a good loaf.

With a dough with such high hydration, not only is there no kneading necessary, it’s not an option. The dough would be too sticky.

Folding Creates Structure

We may have avoided kneading, but it’s still imperative to physically manipulate yeasted bread dough to develop gluten. That’s where folding comes in.

Gently turning the dough over itself after letting the dough rest to hydrate, accomplishes three things: 

  1. It brings the wheat proteins into closer proximity with one another, keeping the process of gluten development going at a maximum clip.
  2. It aerates the dough, replenishing the oxygen that the yeast consumed during fermentation.
  3. It elongates and redistributes the air bubbles that turn into chewy open pockets once the dough is baked. The result is well-risen bread with a moist crumb.

Like with kneading, the dough evolves quite a bit just through this folding process, turning from a lumpy mass to cohesive dough.


Everyday Bread

Introducing the only cookbook to make homemade bread baking convenient by letting you choose what to do and when.

Destined for a Dutch Oven

The baking method is also an important part of the no-knead bread technique. We found that the optimal baking involves a Dutch oven, a preheated oven, and two different temperatures.

The humid environment of the Dutch oven does wonders for a bread's crumb structure and creates a shiny, crisp crust. Getting the pot good and hot before placing the loaf inside does even more wonders—it gets the water to vaporize rapidly to open the crumb and expand the loaf further. The immediate hit of heat in a preheated oven really turns your common pot into a steam-injected oven.

Just like a hot pot, naturally, a hot oven helps get the activity within your Dutch oven going. A dual approach, putting the loaf, covered, in the 475-degree oven we had preheated the pot in for greater oven spring, and then immediately reducing the temperature to 425 degrees. After 30 minutes, we remove the lid to finish browning and crisping the bread.

Step by Step: How to Make True No-Knead Bread

Now that you know the science behind our no-knead bread technique, take a look at the key steps.

Step 1: Combine Dough and Let Rise

Using rubber spatula, fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl, until dough starts to form and no dry flour remains. Cover and let it rise.

Step 2: Fold, Shape, and Rise (Again)

Use a series of folding and resting to create gluten and shape the dough. Let rise a second time.

Step 3: Preheat Oven

Place Dutch oven with lid in oven and preheat oven to very hot temperature.

Step 4: Score and Bake

Make a long slash in top of loaf and transfer to Dutch oven. Reduce oven temperature and bake covered for the majority of bake time. Remove cover and bake until loaf reaches 205 degrees. Cool before slicing.


Bread Illustrated

Our first cookbook devoted solely to bread baking highlights more than 100 meticulously tested recipes that will enable you to bake artisan bakery–quality bread at home.

Recipes That Use This Technique

And there’s “no-knead” to stop there! You can employ your newly mastered skills in these simple and delicious bread recipes below.


No-Knead Rustic Loaf

Not only is it possible to make a bakery-quality rustic loaf for your home table, it's now easier than ever.
Get the Recipe

Ready to learn another technique? Choose from our list of 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master.

This is a members' feature.