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Take your comforting soup recipes up a notch by serving them in Homemade Bread Bowls! This easy bread bowl recipe is made completely from scratch with a handful of ingredients you’ll already have on hand. For extra ease, the dough can be made ahead of time and then risen and baked right before serving. Perfect for soups and dips!

Serving meals with bread is a given at our house! Our Soft Homemade Potato Rolls are great for holidays or just to have on hand, and our Roasted Garlic & Rosemary No-Knead Artisan Bread is so simple to make with little effort. It pairs perfectly with pasta or salads!

Homemade Bread Bowl filled with New England fish chowder

Copycat Panera Bread Bowls

It feels so special when you’re in a restaurant and they bring your soup out in a bowl made of BREAD! There is something so delicious and fun about being able to eat the container your meal came in! Our kids especially love it!

When you’re cooking at home and wanting the same level of food comfort from your own kitchen, you can whip up these homemade bread bowls in the morning or afternoon so they are ready to serve with dinner. Nothing beats the taste and smell of homemade bread!

This recipe makes 8 bread bowls and takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes, although most of that is rising time. There are only 4 people in my family, so I like to make the full recipe and then freeze half of the dough before the second rise. That way we can have fresh bread bowls for leftovers, or even save them for later. You can also freeze the baked bread bowls if you find that you have leftovers.

If you’re looking for that all-around homemade Panera experience, serve these homemade bread bowls with my Better-Than-Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup. They are made for each other! My Smoked Salmon Chowder would be another excellent choice.

But it’s just as fun serving your favorite dips out of bread bowls. It makes an interesting appetizer that looks fantastic on any dinner table or party spread!

Overhead shot of Homemade Bread Bowls, filling removed

Homemade Bread Bowl Ingredients

  • Warm water: Warm water, at around 110 to 115 degrees F, is needed to activate the yeast.
  • Yeast: I used active dry yeast which is super easy to find at the grocery store. This is what raises the bread so we can make it into a bowl!
  • Sugar: Yeast is alive, and living things need to be fed, so we feed the yeast with its favorite treat: sugar! This activates the yeast and makes it nice and bubbly, along with the warm water.
  • Salt: Add just a little salt to balance the flavor, otherwise it will taste pretty bland.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil is a key binding ingredient. It also gives a little flavor.
  • Flour: Bread flour is perfect for these homemade bread bowls! You’ll need plenty to make the dough, plus some extra to sprinkle on the counter and stop the dough from sticking to it while shaping the bread bowls. You can sub all-purpose flour if bread flour isn’t available, but the texture won’t be as chewy and good.
  • Egg and milk: These two pantry staples ingredients are combined to make an eggwash. This gives the final baked bread bowls a beautiful glow.

How to Make Homemade Bread Bowls

  1. Activate the yeast. Firstly, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Add the other ingredients. Secondly. add the salt, oil, and 2 cups of the flour, mixing well with the paddle attachment to combine. Continue to add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, switching to the dough hook partway through, until a nice soft dough forms. You may not need all of the flour.
  1. Knead it well! Next, knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl. It shouldn’t be too sticky. You can also knead it by hand which will take at least double the time.
  2. First rise. After that, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  1. Punch, divide and shape. Then punch down the dough to remove air bubbles and turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving space for the Homemade Bread Bowl dough to rise.
  2. Second rise. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 30-45 minutes until doubled in size again.
  1. Brush with egg wash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while the bread bowls are rising. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush it onto the risen bread bowls just before putting them in the oven.
  1. Bake! Finally, bake for 22-26 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for 15 minutes, then use a sharp serrated knife to cut lids off the top of each “bowl”. Remove some of the bread inside the bread bowl to make space for soup.
Homemade Bread Bowls ready for soup or a dip

Storage and Freezing Instructions

Like regular bread, you can store homemade bread bowls in a bread bin or ziplock bag on the counter for up to a week.

This is a great recipe to make ahead and freeze! You can either freeze the dough after shaping them into individual balls, and then thaw and rise before baking, or you can freeze the bread bowls after they’ve baked.

What can I fill these with?

My favorite fillings for homemade bread bowls are soups and dips! While the bread bowls are sturdy enough to hold thinner soups, they soak up more of the broth, so creamier soups tend to do best in bread bowls.

Soups:

Dips:

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour?

Yes, you can, however, bread flour is formulated to have more protein which encourages the gluten structure in bread, making the homemade bread bowls rise more efficiently and have a different, chewier texture. By substituting all-purpose flour, the dough also may not have as much height.

Homemade Bread Bowls on a wooden chopping board with tops at side

More Bread Recipes Like This

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Homemade Bread Bowls
Yield: 8 bread bowls

Homemade Bread Bowls

Take your comforting soup recipes up a notch by serving them in Homemade Bread Bowls! This easy bread bowl recipe is made completely from scratch with a handful of ingredients you'll already have on hand. For extra ease, the dough can be made ahead of time and then risen and baked right before serving. Perfect for soups and dips!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 cups warm water (around 110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6-7 cups bread flour, plus more for shaping
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  2. Add the salt, oil, and 2 cups of the flour, mixing well with the paddle attachment to combine. Continue to add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, switching to the dough hook partway through, until a nice soft dough forms. You may not need all of the flour.
  3. Knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until the dough is smooth and cleans the sides of the bowl. It shouldn't be too sticky.
  4. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough to remove air bubbles and turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving space for the dough to rise.
  6. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 30-45 minutes until doubled in size again.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while the bread bowls are rising. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Brush it onto the risen bread bowls just before putting them in the oven.
  8. Bake for 22-26 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool for 15 minutes, then use a sharp serrated knife to cut lids off the top of each "bowl". Remove some of the bread inside the bread bowl to make space for soup.

Notes

  • Make Ahead Freezer Instructions: You can let the dough rise, then punch down and shape into individual balls, then freeze the dough. Let thaw and rise before baking as directed.
  • You can also freeze baked bread bowls.