The process of making a sourdough leavened no-knead loaf (at least the way I do it) is almost identical to the instant yeast variety. I just substitute 1/4 cup of sourdough starter for the 1/4 tsp. instant yeast.

Of course, working with sourdough can alter things quite a bit depending on how wet you keep your starter and how healthy it is. Some starters are very liquidy and can be poured out of their containers. I keep mine pretty thick. It has to be spooned out of the jar. I go into quite a bit of detail on how I manage my starter in the various related videos.

That said, here’s the most basic recipe that I use quite frequently.


Artisan Sourdough No-Knead Bread
Artisan Sourdough No-Knead Bread

Our original contribution to the no-knead bread revolution: substitute live sourdough starter for instant yeast to create the ultimate no knead artisan bread loaf.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 18 hours

Yield: 1 Loaf


  • 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.

Follow video instruction for folding.

Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes.

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

Bake in covered La Cloche or Dutch oven preheated to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove cover; reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Let cool completely on rack.

Consume bread, be happy.

The baking times and all that are the same as the basic no-knead method. So you can easily just watch that video but follow this recipe. I usually bake the bread at 500° for 30 minutes with the lid on and then remove the lid and continue baking for 15 more minutes at 450°.

You might have noticed that there’s a bit of difference between what I say in the video regarding recipe quantities and what’s written. The weights shown are probably more precise, but you should be fine either way as there is a fair amount of leeway in this recipe.

Generally speaking, the wetter your dough the bigger the holes will be, which many people really like. However, a drier dough will make it easier to get the bread to rise while baking, giving you greater “oven spring” and a more spherical loaf versus a pancake. With practice, you’ll get so you can come closer to predicting how your bread will turn out just based on the consistency of the dough when you’re mixing all the ingredients together. You can adjust the amount of water and flour to get the consistency that suits you best.

Many people want to know how to make their bread more sour. Breadtopia reader, Rhine Meyering, enjoys success with this by using just 1/8 cup of sourdough starter and extending the fermentation time by refrigerating the dough. Click this link to his October 7, 2007 post to read what he says. It makes a lot of sense based on my understanding of sourdough baking too.

Also, click the following link to Ariela’s post of November 25th, 2007 where she describes her success with the sourdough no knead method using spelt flour. She includes the actual recipe she uses too – very nice.

No Knead Revisited – A Three Year Check Up It’s been over 3 years since the original New York Times no knead bread recipe was published. That’s also about the same time Breadtopia was born. By far the most common difficulty people write or call in about is with the dough being too wet to handle at the end of the long first proofing period and also when it’s time to place the dough into a covered vessel to bake at the end of the second rise. When you run into this, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it other than attempt to follow through on the instructions and ultimately wrest the dough into your heated baker and into the oven. Your “mistake” may turn out better than you expected and if nothing else, you’ll learn from it. The next time around you can do one or a combination of a couple things differently.

  1. Add more flour and or use less water than you did the first time. Dough has a way of getting more slack as it sits for many hours so if you start off with the dough being a little stiffer than you think it should be, that’s fine and maybe it’ll be easier to handle later.
  2. Consider reducing the long proofing time by several hours. Don’t get stuck on the idea of 18 hours. Depending on your room temperature and humidity, 18 hours may result in over proofing. When dough proofs too long, the gluten breaks down, the yeast looses some oomph and it can just get downright soupy. Most of the time, I find 12-14 hours to be about right. If you want or need to prolong the proofing time, but don’t want to risk over proofing, stick the dough in the fridge for several hours or overnight. That will slow things down a lot. Then resume proofing at room temp until it’s ready to bake.

The same principle holds true on the second rise. While 1-2 hours is the suggested range, I’m almost always at about 60 to 75 minutes.

Another concern we hear a lot is about the dough not rising much during that second short proofing period. I don’t see mine rise much then either and it doesn’t matter so long as you see a good rise during the first several minutes that the dough is in the oven. That’s called oven spring and it’s a very good thing. By keeping your proofing periods on the shorter side, you’re more likely to get good oven spring from the still vigorous yeast or sourdough starter.

Of course all of the above is assuming your yeast or sourdough starter is fresh and viable to start with.

In summary, most problems can be helped or solved by stiffening the dough a little and/or shortening the rising times.

If you’re new to bread baking, don’t think from reading this that it’s difficult or tricky to get great results. Most people find it a breeze and enjoy success right out of the blocks. Others may find it takes a few tries. It’s important to have fun with it and don’t worry about bombing. There’s no significant downside to bread baking but the upside can be fabulous. Enjoy!

March 20th, 2010 update: Beadtopia reader, Beth Adams, emailed this:

I have been a follower and contributor (through the comments sections) to the site for a few years. I just tried something that I wanted to share. I added a tsp. of lavender to the regular sourdough recipe and had great results when using it for sandwiches. Hope you are able to enjoy it!

June 7th, 2015 update: Beadtopia reader, Scooter Kidwell, contributed this about accelerating the no knead process when in a time crunch:

Super Fast No Knead: I had guests coming for dinner after playing a round of golf. Tried this:
10:00 a.m. Spooned 1 1/2 cups (appx.) of starter into my mixing bowl. Added about 1 1/2 cups WARM water. Salt. Mixed as usual. Covered, put in 100 degree proof oven. Played golf. Returned after five hours. Followed usual steps for no-knead. 6:00 p.m. began bake at 425 (we’re at 4500 feet) PERFECT loaf to serve at 7.

For more no-knead recipes using sourdough, check out No-Knead Recipe Variations.

Sourdough No Knead Bread


  1. Eric says:

    This is in reply to Sherry's post asking what she did wrong with her bread baking. The only thing I would say is that even though you don't have a proofing basket for the second rise, you can simply fashion one out of a bowl with a well floured cloth draped in it. Proofing the dough in a bowl will keep it from pancaking out on you like it did. Also you probably don't need to proof it for 2 hours. Mine is usually ready in about an hour or a bit longer. One of the most important aspects of the no knead technique is baking the bread in a covered baker of some kind. Preferably one sized properly to shore up the dough from again spreading out while baking. Wet dough will do that. So a smaller Dutch oven, in your case, probably would have helped, but also putting the dough in the preheating upright bottom and covering would have made it easier and helped too.

    Also, in answer to your question about baking 2 loaves, you can just double all the ingredients and divide the dough in half after the long proof so the 2 balls of dough can proof separately for the 2nd short rise. They can bake at the same time if you have room in your oven.

  2. txtita says:

    Wow! I made our first loaf with the new sourdough starter and followed the Sourdough No Knead recipe pretty close. I used All-Purpose flour because this was all I had on hand. After the first 3 hours, I refrigerated the dough overnight. I pulled it out of the fridge at 8 AM and let it come to room temperature (80°F) for 10 hours. The dough was very wet, but I decided to continue with the basic recipe. I used a wicker basket with parchment paper for the second rise. Then I was able to lift the very wet dough with the parchment paper into the pre-heated stone cloche. Since we are at an altitude of 2500', I decided to cut 5 minutes from the baking time with the cover, then finished with 15 minutes. The internal temperature was at 205°F when I pulled it from the oven.

    Next time I'm going to experiment and try to get more of an oven rise. I think I can do this with some additional gluten and maybe ½ cup more or flour in the dough.

  3. Eric says:

    Great job of improvising.

  4. MACHERSAN says:

    I have been using this recipe for a few years now sometimes with success and others-very little success. For the most part though, the bread always tastes good, its just ugly. I have 2 things-probably 2 posts, but I will try to get it with 1. 1) I follow the baking times exact, and I get an unusually dark crust - Do I shorten the covered time or the uncovered time? I have tried it both ways and normally I end up still with a dark crust but a "gummy" center. 2) I am having trouble getting a good tasting result with using this at 100% whole wheat flour-normally way to dry. Has anyone had success revising the ratios of flour and water or the baking times for this?

  5. egonzalez says:

    I actually had some pretty great success with this recipe. Was very relieved because it was my first time using this starter. I would like to attempt one with more of a whole wheat ratio. Probably a combination of Rye, Whole Wheat, and White Flours. Any suggestions or advice before I just go for it?

  6. Paul says:

    I have had good results starting with this recipe and adapting it for anywhere from 50% to 100% whole grain. My experience is that as you up the percentage of whole grain, you probably want to increase the percentage by weight of water along with it.

    Here's a loaf I just took out of the oven with flour as follows:
    300g sifted turkey red
    200g sifted spelt
    50g sifted emmer
    50g sifted einkorn
    30g wheat germ

    To that I added about 425g of water (~70% hydration which is on the dry end of my experiments) along with the starter and salt as specified in the original recipe.

    I also rolled the dough in the sifted out bran prior to putting it into the proofing basket. Baked at 500 degrees in a romertopf with cover on for 25 minutes then cover off for 20 minutes.

Earlier Comments

1,487 thoughts on “Sourdough No Knead Bread

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  2. Sherry

    Ok…I’m kind of ashamed to post this pic but I’d like some comments on what I did wrong here. When I turned the dough out after only twelve hours since it was ready, it was pretty sticky. I had to add flour and lift and fold maybe fifteen times so I could lift it into the towel. I had no proofing bowl so I put cornmeal on a towel and transferred the dough to the towel and covered with another towel. It seemed a bit flat but I figured it would rise some. After almost two hours it still seemed somewhat flat but had spread some. I tried to pick it up and transfer to the preheated pizza stone but it was too hard so I had to flip it over upside down which left it a bit ugly looking…lol! I did score the top and covered with preheated dutch oven bottom. I baked it correctly and this is what I ended up with.

    • Sherry

      The crust was extremely hard to cut and the center was tough and chewy. The flavor was great though!

  3. Sherry

    I made the pineapple juice starter and as you can tell by the pic it’s pretty healthy. I’ve never made sourdough bread. I want to use the no knead artisan bread but I’d like to know how to make two loaves and if you have instructions for them. Do the loaves have to bake covered or can they be put on a cookie sheet or in loaf pans?

  4. Cliff Warriner

    I was determined to make no knead sourdough bread and searched all over for the right recipe. I followed the instructions on to the letter. I was among those who got a very wet unmanageable dough after the first long proofing. I made great tasting bread but it was a little dense and flatter than I would have liked. I read the comments on the 3 year checkup and decided to keep trying with some modifications to my way of using the recipe. What brought me success in the end was to measure out the 1/4 cup of starter in a large measuring cup and adding water up to the 1 1/2 cup line. I used this as my total liquid to add to the other ingredients in the recipe. It made a stiffer dough but very workable and had a beautiful rise in the dutch oven. Thanks.

    • Nice adjustment!

  5. Ida

    Bobby McGovern, please tell me more about the fruit juice started? Where can I get the recipe for the starter?

  6. Scooter

    Super Fast No Knead

    I had guests coming for dinner after playing a round of golf. Tried this:

    10:00 a.m. Spooned 1 1/2 cups (appx.) of starter into my mixing bowl. Added about 1 1/2 cups WARM water. Salt. Mixed as usual. Covered, put in 100 degree proof oven. Played golf. Returned after five hours. Followed usual steps for no-knead. 6:00 p.m. began bake at 425 (we’re at 4500 feet) PERFECT loaf to serve at 7.

    • Rebecca

      You just used equal parts water and starter with a little salt? No additional flour?

  7. mark serocki

    hi everybody!
    im little bit confused about measurements
    In the recipe above 1cup=5oz in the video
    1 cup=4oz and at the end, i know that 1 cup is 8oz. So tell me please, wheres the real answer.

    • 1 cup of flour is about 5 oz (depends on the type of flour and how densely it’s packed). 1 cup of water is 8 oz.

  8. betty

    I baked the bread about 20 minutes longer at 400 with tin foil on top so as not to further brown the crust. The longer cooking time seemed to solve the wet (gummy) middle of the bread. Thanks Jamie.

  9. betty

    Thanks Jamie, I will try it this weekend and let you know how it turns out.

  10. gloria

    I had to laugh! I couldn’t figure out why I was getting such a wet sloppy mix! I was so bored with having to cook it for soooo long to dry out…. then I realized that US liquid cups were a lot smaller than British/Aussie cups… hahahaha.
    I can’t believe I was so dim. worked out the liquid in millilitres and it’s just right, now.
    Wonderful recipes!

  11. Linda

    How do you use this recipe without using plastic wrap. I covered my bowl with a cutting board, is that too airtight, then I cover my second rise with a bowl. Do I need more air?

  12. betty

    My sourdough no-knead breads are very tasty. However, I notice that in the middle they are a little “wet.” Do I need to cook the bread longer or do you think the cause might be something else.

    • Jamie Haynes

      I’ve had this trouble as well, and solved it with a longer baking time. I keep an eye on it during the “lidless” phase, but have taken to really let the loaf get quite dark (as opposed to stopping at light golden). I think this improves the crust as well. You could also pull the loaf from the pan and place it in the turned off oven with the door ajar. This works for me as a cure for the dreaded “gummy” center. Good luck.

  13. Kat

    Could this be baked in a crock pot?

    • How hot does a crock pot get?

  14. Federico

    Okay, how in the world do you achieve a real sour sourdough bread? I’ve only been able to make real sourdough a couple of times. I just get regular French bread. I’m using Breadtopia dry starter and leaving it in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks. Still, I’ve never been able to duplicate my earlier success despite holding my mouth just right and repeating “Mother may I?” (I even took 2 giant steps.) Very frustrating. What am I doing wrong?

  15. Donna Canning

    Amazing result with a cast iron pot. I can’t believe it went so well. I will bake this again.

    • Indeed!

  16. betty

    I have only been making bread for about 2 months and just made the sourdough no-knead bread. my best bread yet!

  17. Donna B

    Wow, that loaf looks amazing Bobby!

    I had great success with an ordinary flour/water starter for 2 years, but then, mysteriously it died. I would be interested in your fruit juice/flour starter recipe and also your bread recipe please :)

  18. I have great success with the Breadtopia method. I have adapted the recipe as follows:
    1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup starter
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    3 cups bread flour

    I bake in my preheated Dutch oven 30 minutes covered and 15 min. uncovered at 450 degrees.
    I bake bread twice a week and have also used my starter in cornbread and biscuits. Yum! Thank you to all who have posted. There is always more for me to learn!

  19. Bobby McGovern

    I’ve been baking artisan breads for years. I’ve never tried sour dough though. The idea of babysitting a starter put me off. However, I came across the flour & juice one and it didn’t seem like it would take over my life so I gave it a try. I didn’t have any pineapple juice on hand so I used apple juice instead. I alternate the feedings between rye, whole wheat and white bread flour. It’s been so active I figured it was a good time to give it a try.
    I made my first loaf today. At 14 hours it seemed ready, so folded, rested for 15, shaped and put it in the baneton for ~70 mins.
    Baked on the baking stone with my soup pot over it for 30. Removed the pot and continued for another 12 minutes or so. The internal temp was 208.
    So glad I stumbled across this site !

  20. Scott

    I’ve been making no-knead bread for quite a while now, starting what that famous NY Times article/recipe from Sullivan St Bakery and moving on from there.
    The one common element: putting the dough into an oven and heavy container that are both pre-heated.
    I was thus puzzled by this:
    “Place in a cool oven, set the control for 375oF, turn the oven on and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.”
    What the heck?
    I’m also puzzled by the amount of starter used: 1 cup fully active culture; when I’ve done no-knead sourdough, I’ve converted over the original n-k recipe that uses very little yeast by using 1/4 cup starter, as noted here. For a 12 or so hour proof at room temp (or higher, if using a proofer box) isn’t that an awful lot of starter?

  21. Frances

    I too had some loaves burn badly on the bottom, and then read about putting a cookie sheet under the baking utensil. It wasn’t clear to me if what was meant was to put the baking sheet on the same shelf as the pan and directly beneath it so it is resting on it, or if I should put the baking sheet on the shelf below the pan. Clarify??

    • I’d go with the rack just below but I thing it will work either way.

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