Are you someone who’s never baked yeast bread (but always wanted to try)? Or you tried and weren’t happy with the results, so never went back?

Listen: If you want to bake bread (or rolls, or pizza), you can; yeast’s not out of anyone’s league. And I’m going to share some really friendly ways to get started: recipes that’ll take you by the hand, no matter how lost you feel, and turn your confusion into confidence.

Will following these recipes make you a seasoned bread baker overnight? Not quite; “practice makes perfect” is the mantra of yeast bakers. So the more loaves you make, the more comfortable you’ll feel about the process, and the better your bread will become. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself branching off on many different paths, from babka and baguettes to sourdough and sandwich rye. Once you become a yeast baker, you’ll never be bored!

Let’s take those first tentative steps together, shall we? The following five recipes allow you to dip your toe into the (lukewarm) water and discover just how relaxing making a loaf of yeast bread can be. I’ve listed the recipes in order of simplicity. But if you want to start from the end and work back, no worries; all the recipes are within reach, no matter your skill level.

Bag of SAF instant yeast, bag of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, canister of Superior Crystal salt. PJ Hamel
Yeast, flour, and salt: the building blocks of bread. Add liquid and watch the magic happen!

Check your pantry

All of these breads use instant yeast, table salt (not kosher salt), and water. Four of the five use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and the fifth calls for King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. Beyond that, depending on the recipe you’ll need one or more of the following: sugar, nonfat dry milk, dried herbs, olive oil, milk, or butter. Substitute plant-based milk or butter if you choose.

Wait — since we're making bread, why not use bread flour? You certainly can, when a recipe calls for it. But our all-purpose flour makes superb yeast bread (as well as cookies, cake, pie crust, pancakes, biscuits ... that's why it's called all-purpose!).

A word on yeast: Many beginners fear their yeast won’t work. Here’s a tip for making sure your yeast is in good shape: How to test yeast, baking powder, and baking soda for freshness.

bowl, mixing spoon, scale with butter, and measuring spoons on a wooden table top. PJ Hamel
Chances are you already have most of the bread-making tools you'll need. But if you don't yet have a digital kitchen scale, I highly recommend you acquire one; it'll make your baking easier and your bread more consistently successful.  

Gather your gear

Tool and equipment-wise, you’ll need measuring spoons; and either measuring cups or (best choice) a digital kitchen scaleNo scale? See the best way to measure flour without a scale: How to measure flour.

You’ll also need a medium-to-large mixing bowl and something to stir with: I love my spoon/spatula clone, but your mom’s old wooden spoon or any sturdy stirring implement will be fine.

If you have an electric or stand mixer: score! You can absolutely make yeast bread 100% by hand, but a mixer saves both time and energy. 

Pan-wise, plan on a baking sheet (cookie sheet); loaf pan; or 9” x 13” pan, depending on the recipe.

Now, as they say on the Great British Baking Show: On your mark, get set, bake!

No-Knead Crusty White Bread sliced on a cutting board, with olive oil and herbs on the side. Kristin Teig
The versatile dough for No-Knead Crusty White Bread can be shaped into freeform rounds, sandwich loaves, rolls — even pizza crust

A crusty-chewy freeform loaf: no experience (or special tools) needed  

With over 1,200 5-star reviews, No-Knead Crusty White Bread is the most popular recipe on our site, and for good reason: You’ll produce crusty, chewy artisan-style bread with nothing more than a bowl, spoon, your hands, and four simple ingredients.  

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, water, instant yeast, salt

Time commitment: About 5 minutes hands-on time; 6 hours start to finish

Process: Stir everything together with a big spoon, let it rise for a couple of hours, then refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.

Special feature: You’ll make a large amount of dough that’ll live in your refrigerator for up to a week as you gradually portion off pieces for a loaf, rolls, or pizza.

Lesson learned: Gluten, the protein-based substance that enables bread to rise, develops its strength in two ways: by kneading, or over time. If you give yeast dough a long rest (as in this recipe) its gluten will strengthen all on its own, no kneading required.

Fat focaccia cut in squares on a bread board. Kristin Teig
Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia is sea-salty and herby and soft and chewy and a superb sauce sopper-upper!

Thick, chewy, Italian-style flatbread in just over 90 minutes

Susan Reid, my longtime King Arthur test kitchen partner in crime, says Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia is “… the ideal recipe for the yeast-phobic. Stir, plop, wait, bake. Fresh warm bread for beginners.” Coarse-grained and moist, this bread is perfect for tearing into chunks to soak up marinara or swipe leftover pesto out of your pasta bowl.

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, water, olive oil, instant yeast, salt, fresh or dried herbs

Time commitment: About 7 minutes hands-on time; 92 minutes start to finish

Process: Beat everything together (an electric or stand mixer helps), pour the batter/dough into a 9” x 13” pan, let rise, and bake.

Special feature: Speed from bowl to table; honestly, who thought you could make a crusty-chewy slab of delicious focaccia in just over 90 minutes?

Lesson learned: Very soft yeast dough rises much more quickly than stiffer dough. Its relatively large amount of yeast, paired with the high amount of water, make this dough a quick riser — and the bread a great choice when you’re short on time.

Slice of English Muffin Toasting Bread, toasted and buttered with raspberry jam. Kristin Teig
Simple, easy English Muffin Toasting Bread is a recipe that's been delighting beginning bakers for well over 40 years.

A yeasty loaf for toast: no kneading required

English Muffin Toasting Bread is the first loaf of bread I ever made and, decades later, I still make it regularly. Thanks to a generous amount of yeast, it rises quickly and yields a loaf with old-fashioned “yeasty” aroma and flavor, wonderful for both toast and sandwiches.

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, water, instant yeast, salt, sugar, baking soda, milk, vegetable oil; cornmeal for sprinkling in the pan

Time commitment: About 8 minutes hands-on time; 75 minutes start to finish

Process: Beat everything together (an electric or stand mixer helps), pour the batter/dough into an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan, let rise, and bake.

Special feature: When toasted, the bread’s coarse grain mimics the butter-absorbing capability of a good, craggy English muffin (hence its name). Untoasted, its soft-yet-sturdy texture lends itself to sandwiches of all kinds.

Lesson learned: There’s actually a significant difference in volume between 9” x 5” and 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pans! Measure the inside top dimension of your pan; if it’s 9” x 5” (rather than 8 1/2” x 4 1/2”), expect a shorter loaf.

Cross section of stacked sandwich halves: cold cuts, tomato, cheese, and lettuce on white sandwich bread. Kristin Teig
Classic Sandwich Bread offers all the best attributes of your favorite store-bought white sandwich loaf — without the added chemicals and preservatives.  

Our simplest high-rising white sandwich bread  

Classic Sandwich Bread is a definite throwback, process-wise; you mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and then let it rise twice (once in the bowl, once in the pan). Yes, it takes longer; but that second rise is what gives the bread its impressive height and lovely fine-grained texture. Want to make high-rising sandwich bread like legions of bakers did before the no-knead trend took over? This one’s for you.

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, water, instant yeast, salt, sugar, milk, vegetable oil or butter

Time commitment: About 12 minutes hands-on time; 2 3/4 hours start to finish

Process: Mix everything together, knead until smooth, let rise, shape into a loaf, place in an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” pan, let rise, and bake.

Special feature: I hesitate to say “just like Grandma used to make” because I’d bet many of you had grandmas who opted for store-bought bread. But this “retro” recipe makes bread that’s tender as cake and tasty as anything you can buy from the trendiest bakery.

Lesson learned: Letting your yeast dough rise twice rather than just once yields both extra flavor and a finer, more even crumb. Deflating the dough and shaping it into a loaf after its first rise redistributes the yeast throughout the dough. As a result, the rising dough creates a matrix of small air bubbles (read: fine texture) rather than larger, more unevenly distributed ones.  

Need to learn about kneading? Watch How to knead bread dough, and How to tell if bread dough is fully kneaded.

Slice of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread, toasted and buttered, on a plate. Kristin Teig
I dare you to find a better whole-grain sandwich bread anywhere: Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread, take a bow!

Tender, light, fine-textured — and 100% whole grain

If you make a beeline to the whole wheat bread offerings at your local supermarket — or trek to the bakery for your favorite whole-grain boule — then you’ll want to try this approachable recipe. Despite using no white flour at all, Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread rises tall and is delightfully moist; it also offers the rich flavor of wheat.

Ingredients: White whole wheat flour, water, instant yeast, salt, nonfat dry milk, honey, vegetable oil

Time commitment: About 12 minutes hands-on time; 3 1/4 hours start to finish

Process: Mix everything together, knead until smooth, let rise, shape into a loaf, place in an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” pan, let rise, and bake.

Special feature: Many of the whole wheat loaves you purchase at the store aren’t 100% whole grain; this one is. But don’t assume that means it’s dry or heavy; you’ll find this bread is just as moist and tender as many a white loaf.

Lesson learned: Whole-grain flour absorbs liquid more slowly than all-purpose flour. Letting the dough rest awhile (and absorb its liquid) before kneading means it'll be less sticky and easier to knead.

Want to ensure your loaf looks as great as it tastes? Watch How to shape a sandwich loaf.

Classic Sandwich Bread being made into cold cut, lettuce, cheese, and tomato sandwiches on a wooden table top. Kristin Teig
Next time you're grocery shopping, go ahead and buy the sandwich fixings — but you won't need to visit the bread aisle since your Classic Sandwich Bread awaits you at home.

We’re here for you

We realize baking with yeast for the first time can be a bit scary. But with the recipes above — plus real-time help from the experienced folks on our Baker’s Hotline, if needed — you’ll be pulling a hot, aromatic loaf out of the oven before you know it. Happy bread baking!

Want some background information on ingredients and techniques before plunging headlong into your first yeast recipe? See our user-friendly guide, Yeast Baking 101.

Cover photo (No-Knead Crusty White Bread) by Kristin Teig.

Jump to Comments
PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, three dogs, and really good food!

View all posts by PJ Hamel