Homemade French Bread is crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. Learn how to make French bread at home with this easy bread recipe and slather on the butter for a delicious snack!
Homemade bread is one of the best things to come out of any oven! Some of our other favorite bread recipes are Easy Rosemary Focaccia Bread, Soft Garlic Parmesan Homemade Breadsticks, and Sweet Molasses Brown Bread.
Who doesn't love a good, chewy loaf of soft french bread? It's the perfect thing to serve with a bowl of soup, a crisp salad, for making sandwiches, or just for tearing and eating for a snack.
Slice your loaf and smear with garlic butter then toast it under a broiler to make garlic bread or top with pizza sauce and your favorite toppings to make French bread pizza for an easy 20 minute dinner solution. And of course the leftovers make fantastic French toast.
Homemade French bread is actually a simple bread recipe that is easier to make than you might think. Forget the mediocre loaves from the store. Once you try this beginner French bread recipe you will never want to go back to those lackluster loaves again.
This is a quick overview of some of the important ingredients you'll need for this French bread recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Flour: I have made this with bread with both all-purpose flour and bread flour and honestly, I don't have a favorite. Both work great, but the bread flour gives chewier results while all-purpose flour produces slightly lighter and fluffier bread.
- Yeast: I always use active dry yeast, which requires proofing first. But instant yeast can also be used.
- Warm water: I have found that most people who struggle with making bread are using water that is too hot and kills the yeast. It can come from the tap but should just be nice and warm, not hot, to the touch. If you have a digital thermometer, it should be between 105° and 110°F.
How to Make French Bread
If you are using active dry yeast, start out by proofing the yeast in warm water that is between 105° and 110°F with a little sugar for 5-10 minutes until foamy. If the yeast doesn't get bubbly, chances are it's either old and expired or your water was too hot and you should start again.
Add the salt, olive oil, and half of the flour, mixing until it starts to combine. I like to do this in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. It's okay if it's still lumpy.
Add the remaining flour about ½ cup at a time while the mixer is running, until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until a smooth dough forms. Then turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer back on and knead for 2 minutes longer, then transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean cloth. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a clean surface. Cut the dough into two halves and pat one out into a large rectangle that is roughly 9x13-inches. Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder from the long edge, tucking the ends under, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a perforated French bread pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough to shape a second loaf of bread.
Cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap or clean towel and let rise another 30 minutes until puffy. Preheat the oven to 375°F while the bread is rising, then brush the loaves with an egg wash and slice gashes into the top of each loaf with a sharp knife just before putting them in the oven.
Throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven with the bread and shut the door to create a steamy environment for the bread. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
If you want a softer, buttery crush, brush a tablespoon or two of melted salted butter over each loaf while it is still hot out of the oven.
Yep! If you have instant yeast, you can skip the steps of proofing the yeast in warm water with sugar, and instead just add everything together with 3 cups of flour and start mixing.
Yes, if you only want 1 loaf of bread, you can definitely halve the ingredients. But keep in mind that French bread freezes well, so as long as you are going to the effort you might as well get a second loaf for sharing or storing for another day.
This bread is best when enjoyed fresh, but it will keep well for 2-3 days on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in a Ziploc bag or up to 1 week in the fridge.
You can freeze loaves of baked French bread wrapped tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and stored in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before slicing and enjoying.
More Homemade Bread Recipes
- Beginner: If you are new to working with yeast, I recommend starting with this easy rosemary foccacia bread (takes less than an hour from start to finish!) or this no-knead artisan bread. Neither recipe requires difficult shaping, and there is little to no effort at kneading the dough.
- Intermediate: If you have worked with yeast before but still aren't super confident in your abilities, this French bread recipe is a great one to try, as is this Amish white bread. Even homemade naan is a great option for a soft, chewy flatbread.
- Advanced: For those who feel confident in their bread-making abilities, challenge yourself with a dough that requires shaping like this braided homemade challah bread, knotted orange sweet rolls, or cheesy garlic mozzarella swirl rolls
- Consider getting a perforated French bread pan. If you find you love making this simple bread recipe, you might want to purchase a French bread pan for even better results.
- Let the dough rest during the mixing process for a minute or two. This allows the gluten to relax before you finish kneading.
- Rise in a warm spot. Yeast breads rise best in warm rooms, which can be tricky if the weather is cold. My favorite spots for letting my bread rise are on top of my stove or by a window if there is sunshine. You can also heat your oven for 10 minutes to 200°F, then turn it off and stick your bread in there to rise with the door cracked, if needed.
- Toss ice cubes into a hot oven to create instant steam. This trick is what helps create that beautiful crust. As soon as you slide your loaves into the hot oven, just throw in a few ice cubes and shut the oven door immediately.
- Use a really sharp knife or bread lame tool to slash gashes in the top of the loaves. This helps the bread cook evenly, releases air bubbles, and makes your bread look pretty. You want your knife or lame tool to be very sharp so it doesn't deflate the beautifully risen loaves.
- Use an egg wash. If you like French bread with a crispy crust, brush the outside of each loaf with an egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water before baking.
More Bread Recipes
- Sweet Molasses Brown Bread
- Soft Garlic Parmesan Homemade Breadsticks
- Easy Homemade Rye Bread
- Homemade Bread Bowls
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Homemade French Bread
- 2 ¼ cups warm water around 110 degrees F
- 1 ½ Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil or canola oil also work)
- 5 ½-6 cups all-purpose or bread flour, scooped & leveled (776 to 846g)
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water
- Melted salted butter for brushing on top of the baked loaves (optional)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast and let the yeast proof for 5 minutes until foamy (unless using instant yeast, in which case just skip this step and add it with everything in the next step).
- Add the salt, oil, and 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. Mix for 1-2 minutes, just until it starts to combine. Add in the remaining flour about half a cup at a time while the mixer is running on low speed, just until the dough forms into a ball that starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and is tacky to the touch. Continue to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth, adding a little more flour if the dough starts to stick to the sides of the bowl again. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for another 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean counter that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and divide the dough into two equal sections. Working with one half of the dough at a time, pat it into a large rectangle, roughly 9x13-inches.
- Roll the dough up starting from the long edges into a tight cylinder, turning the ends under and pinching the edges together to seal. Place seam side down on a perforated French bread pan or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough to form the second loaf.
- Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray and let them rise for another 30 minutes, until nearly doubled again in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F while the loaves are rising. Just before putting the loaves in the oven, brush with egg wash, if using, and cut several gashes on an angle about 2-inches apart along the top of each loaf using a very sharp knife or baker's lame.
- Transfer the loaves to the oven and toss 3-4 ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven floor and immediately close the oven door.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Brush loaves with melted butter after removing from the oven for a softer crust, if desired.
- Storage: This bread is best when enjoyed fresh, but it will keep well for 2-3 days on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in a Ziploc bag or up to 1 week in the fridge.
- Freezing: You can freeze loaves of baked French bread wrapped tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and stored in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before slicing and enjoying.
- Salt: You could replace the table salt with 1 Tablespoon of coarse kosher salt.
- Flour: The type of flour used will give slightly different results. All-purpose flour will result in a lighter bread, but bread flour will give a chewier texture. Both are excellent and you can always use half-and-half if you like.
- Rising: Yeast breads rise best in warm rooms, which can be tricky if the weather is cold. My favorite spots for letting my bread rise are on top of my stove or by a window if there is sunshine. You can also heat your oven for 10 minutes to 200°F, then turn it off and stick your bread in there to rise with the door cracked, if needed.
This post was originally published in March, 2018. The photos and content were updated in February, 2022.
Reader questions and reviews
I LOVE making bread. There is just something SOOOO rewarding. My baba made bread ALL the time, and it was easy and part of every day food. I feel like I really accomplish something when I bake bread LOL. I can just image the aroma of this recipe as it bakes. Hot out of the oven covered in butter....now you have my mouth watering.
I consider myself a novice/intermediate bread maker. I've had some successes and I've had colossal failures... So maybe I'm more on the beginning side of intermediate. That said, your tips for bread making are ones that I'm going to print and display with a magnet on my refrigerator -- so I have less fails and more success. I'm from French heritage, but I've never tried making French baguettes before -- this looks like a perfect stepping stone to the big one: croissants. Definitely want to try this.
I love fresh bread, I mean who doesn't? I'm going to give your a try, it looks so easy. The ice cube trick is very clever, I bet that makes a big difference with the crust. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Yeast breads always intimidate me, but you make it sound so easy to make! I grew up with my mom making homemade bread all the time, and I really should start doing it too. The ice cube trick sounds so intriguing, I can't wait to try this out!
Homemade bread is *everything*. I used to make it all the time when my husband used to pack a lunch for work, but since switching jobs, he always goes out to eat with co-workers. I miss it! Now I keep it for special occasions, like to pair with a good Sunday sauce. I've never made it in baguette style though — this is gorgeous! I should get on that, I am French after all. Haha.
I love to bake bread! You're making me hungry with this delicious bread recipe! Looks so good!
The best thing about this recipe when I made it? The wonderful warm smell that permeated our whole house .... I cant believe how easy it was to make it and it had the most lovely crust!
What a great tutorial post! A friend and I were just talking about tackling baguettes the other day, and I'll have to share your post with her. The crumb on this bread looks absolutely perfect. Love the instructions for the crispy crust, and that soft, pillowy interior is just begging to be spread with some butter and devoured! 🙂
Oh my gosh- fresh French bread is my absolute FAVORITE! I'm a completely unconfident baker though, so I might start with the focaccia bread on a day when I'm feeling brave lol. I think I need to do mini loaves- we don't go through bread very quickly at my house and I always feel like I've wasted all my effort. But I'm pretty sure we could wipe out this French loaf- YUM!
Your French bread looks amazing! I love baking bread, but haven't tried my hand at French bread yet. So I will be trying your recipe very soon and also want to try your focaccia bread recipe as well because it sounds so delicious! I can smell it now. MMMMM!
French Bread is definitely one of the easier breads to make. I love it way more that store bought!
I have made bread in the past, this recipe was so easy. The bread is in the oven baking right now! Cannot wait to taste it.
I've made your recipe it is amazing! I do have a question I would like to make it again today but I only need one loaf can you cut this recipe in half n will it work the same?
Perfect recipe! Followed it mainly as written, but used bread flour and needed about 1/2 cup more than listed. It was amazing. I will definitely make it again!
New. To making bread….
This turned out great!! Mixed by hand, ( no stand mixer) and added granulated garlic and Italian seasoning to flour..
family is asking for more!
Easy directions ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The loaf came out gorgeous and tasted delicious- the best french bread I’ve ever had by far!
Best french bread I've ever tasted.
This is my go to bread recipe now. It is the best of all that l have tried. I was raised in Europe with good breads and now I’m a bread snob. This hits the spot.
I’ve made this bread several times and it is beautiful and delicious! I just took two gorgeous loaves out of the oven that will go with homemade soup for dinner. However, there will only be one
loaf remaining by then as my family will devour one beforehand. We love this French bread!
There is nothing better than homemade soup and fresh homemade bread. Now I need some! Bread goes quick at out house too!
Easy french bread recipe that doesn't disappoint. Makes great garlic toast or just tear for soup. I cut ant leftovers and make french toast. Very versatile.
Can’t wait to give it a try, thanks.
Add flavor; plain is ok if flavored butter!! I do need more practice, I didn’t have a stand mixer so my right arm looks like a body builders XD
Ha ha! Way to go mixing by hand! Some people actually prefer mixing by hand! You will for sure have strong arms!
This has become my go-to recipe. I love the French bread so much, but I also use the dough to make anything from hamburger buns to cinnamon rolls. It's so easy and turns out great every time!
What a great idea to use it for buns and cinnamon rolls. Yum! I'm glad you like it! Thanks for the review!
This French bread recipe is so delicious!! I've made it 3 weeks in a row! Today I'm going to make a loaf and try cinnamon buns like another review said.
Thanks so much for this recipe!
I love this French bread recipe. I originally made this with all purpose flour and it was a little dense but still delicious. I recently tried it with bread flour and it was perfect light fluffy 😋😋. Perfect home made French bread. Thanks for sharing your recipe.