The ideal basic sourdough, this no-knead sourdough bread is ideal for beginners and experienced bakers alike. It's a great weekly bread recipe and can be made with either starter or levain. You don't need special flour for this, just plain all-purpose, and a healthy active starter. See how to make sourdough starter.

Sourdough can be intimidating but it shouldn't be! No-knead sourdough bread is even easier to make than a regular yeast loaf and takes less hands-on time. It's all about being patient and doesn't need special skills or a lot of knowledge (though the more experienced you get, the better your bread will be). We've included loads of information in this post, and across the site, to help you make the best bread possible.

For more basic sourdough, try making your own sourdough pizza dough. If you don't have a Dutch oven but still want to make naturally risen bread, you can try this sourdough pan loaf instead. For a whole grain recipe make this 100% whole wheat sourdough bread.

A loaf of crusty bread in a parchment paper-lined pot.
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Ingredients

Sourdough bread recipe ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Flour: this recipe specifically uses all-purpose flour because bread flour can be tricky to find and varies a lot depending on where you live. If you want to add whole wheat flour, it can replace up to 40% of the white flour.
  • Starter: you can use either active starter or levain. Using levain will make a slightly milder tasting loaf. Active starter means starter that has been fed and is at its peak when added to the dough.
  • Water: depending on where you live, you might prefer to use filtered water rather than tap water. Some bakers say that their local tap water can make for less successful sourdough and there are sometimes additives that can slow down the rise or make the taste a little less pleasant.
  • Salt: choose fine grain salt. It doesn't matter if it's sea salt, table, or kosher, as long as it's finely ground.

Method

Process shots one through four for sourdough.

Step 1: whisk the starter and water together to combine.

Step 2: mix in the flour and salt to form a shaggy dough.

Step 3: start with your stretches and folds.

Step 4: do four rounds of stretches and folds, once every 20 minutes.

Process shots 5 through 8 to make a round loaf of crusty bread.

Step 5: let the dough rise for four hours before shaping into a boule.

Step 6: place the shaped dough into a banneton and let it rest in the fridge overnight. In the morning, score the loaf.

Step 7: bake the loaf for 25 minutes with the lid on the preheated Dutch oven.

Step 8: bake for another 20 minutes with the lid off and cool before slicing.

Top Tips

  • Wet your hands: before doing each round of stretches and folds, run your hands under the tap quickly to prevent them from sticking to the dough as much.
  • Don't worry about metal: this is a myth, and nothing bad will happen if you mix your starter with a metal spoon or use a stainless steel whisk or bowl. While you shouldn't store starter or mix sourdough bread in a copper bowl, almost all kitchen utensils are made from steel, so it's not an issue.
  • Moisture is key: use a damp tea towel to cover the dough and the shaped loaf. We like to pop a plate on over the tea towel, too. A dry towel and nothing else will let too much air in and will dry out the top of the dough, preventing optimal rise.

Recipe Notes

Start before 3 p.m. on the first day to avoid late-night prep work. The preliminary steps before letting the dough rise overnight will take about 5 hours, so it's good to start early.

To get the best surface tension, don't add too much flour to your work surface when shaping the dough. Try to move the loaf to a clean part of the counter, sprinkle just the top with some flour to prevent your hands sticking, and shape that way. You need a bit of pull and flour under the dough will prevent that.

We don't provide cup measurements for sourdough recipes because it needs to be exact and volume measurements aren't accurate enough. If you want to make sourdough bread, you will need a kitchen scale. They cost about $10 and will improve your baking like you wouldn't believe.

How to Store

Storage: keep your sourdough bread in a paper bag or wrap the cut end with something like beeswax wrap. See Sophie's full guide on how to store sourdough bread for more.

Freezing: the best way to freeze sourdough is to cut it into slices and freeze in an airtight container. Take individual slices out when needed and thaw them right in the toaster.

Slices of sourdough bread on a small oval plate with scalloped edges.

All-Purpose vs. Bread Flour

Most sourdough bread recipes will call for strong bread flour. It's a higher gluten flour that's easy to work with and makes very chewy loaves – great, but can be difficult for beginners. If you're in Canada you have access to the strongest bread flour around, same for the US. British and European strong flour is about equivalent to Canadian all-purpose flour.

So if you're in North America, you can get really great loaves using plain white flour and don't need to spend the extra money on bread flour to make excellent sourdough. Most of our sourdough recipes are made with all-purpose flour. If you're in the UK or Europe, this recipe will work with plain white flour, but it will be easier to make with strong flour.

Sourdough Essentials

If baking sourdough bread is new to you, these guides will be helpful in getting started:

How To Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch
Essential Sourdough Tools
How To Stretch And Fold Sourdough
How To Shape Sourdough Boules
Troubleshooting Sourdough Bread

More Sourdough Bread Recipes

If you make this Beginner's Sourdough Bread recipe or any other sourdough bread recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

A loaf of crusty bread in a parchment paper-lined pot.
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Basic No-Knead Sourdough Bread

The ideal basic sourdough, this no-knead sourdough bread is ideal for beginners and experienced bakers alike. It's a great weekly bread recipe.
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Resting Time16 hours
Total Time17 hours 35 minutes
Author: Kelly Neil
Yield: 12

Equipment

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Spatula or wooden spoon
  • Clean tea towel
  • Pot lid to fit mixing bowl optional
  • Banneton
  • Bench scraper optional
  • 6-quart (6 L) cast iron Dutch oven
  • Parchment paper
  • Sourdough lame or razor blade for scoring

Ingredients

Instructions

First Morning: Make The Dough (35 minutes)

  • In a large bowl, whisk the starter and water. Add the flour and salt; mix with a spatula until incorporated, then gather together by hand. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel and lid. Rest in the oven with the oven light on for 30 minutes.
    70 grams active sourdough starter, 300 grams warm water, 454 grams all-purpose flour, 12 grams fine-grain salt

Stretches & Folds (10 minutes stretching and folding + 80 minutes dough resting = 90 minutes total)

  • Remove the bowl from the oven. Perform a series of four stretches and folds every 20 mins for 80 mins total.

First Bulk Rise (4 hours)

  • After the fourth stretch and fold, re-cover the bowl with the tea towel and lid. Return the bowl to the oven with the light on for four hours.

First Evening: Shape The Dough (10 to 15 minutes)

  • Generously flour a banneton or bowl lined with a clean tea towel. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch and fold each quadrant of the dough then use your hands or a bench scraper to shape it into a smooth ball.
  • Cup your hands behind the dough and gently pull the ball towards you. The dough should stay almost in one place as the overall surface tightens slightly, creating tension over the top and sides of the dough ball. Rotate the dough ball 90º and repeat the tension pull on all four quadrants of the dough. After the last tension pull, use the bench scraper to gently and quickly lift the dough from the work surface. Flip the dough over quickly, and gently place it into the prepared banneton or bowl.

Second Bulk Rise (Cold Ferment, 8+ hours)

  • Cover the exposed dough in the banneton with a dampened tea towel and re-cover with the pot lid. Place it in the fridge for the second rise overnight (8 to 12 hours and up to 48 hours). The longer you leave the dough, the more sour flavor will ferment and develop.

Second Morning: Bake The Loaf (1 hour 45 minutes)

  • Place a cast iron Dutch oven, with the lid on, inside the oven. Turn the oven to 500ºF (236ºC). Once the oven reaches temperature, heat the pot for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the cold dough out onto a large square of parchment paper. Using a lame or razor blade, score the top of the loaf however you like.
  • Remove the preheated pot from the oven and carefully remove the lid. Lift the sourdough into the hot pot using the edges of the parchment paper as handles. Quickly and gently place the loaf into the pot and replace the lid. Return the pot to the oven and reduce the heat to 450ºF (230ºC). Bake the loaf for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 20 minutes more.
  • Transfer the hot pot to a heatproof surface. Again, using the parchment paper as handles, lift the bread out of the pot. Place the loaf directly on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before slicing, about 4 to 6 hours.

Notes

  • Start before 3 p.m. on the first day to avoid late-night baking.
  • Moisture is key: dampen the tea towel covering the dough to retain moisture.
  • Use minimal flour on your work surface to create better tension during shaping.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 2mg

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