This easy ciabatta bread recipe will be your new go-to. Just 4 ingredients & it bakes up so light, airy, & chewy, with a thin, crisp crust!

Close up image of the cut end of a loaf of ciabatta, showcasing the light, airy interior.

Today I’m bringing you another fabulous bread recipe to add to your files! Ciabatta!

I see how much you love my crusty French baguette recipe, soft whole wheat bread, and easy homemade croissants, and I’m happy to give you more to enjoy.

Like those other beloved bread recipes, my focus here was to simplify the recipe as much as possible. There are plenty of other ciabatta bread recipes out there, but I truly think this one is the best because it’s so easy.

It all happens in just one bowl, with only 4 simple ingredients. The active time is minimal; it’s mostly just letting the dough rest and do its own thing. And I’ve even included instructions for an overnight option, which breaks things up over 2 days and probably even improves the bread’s flavor!

The final result is so airy and light, with tons of air pockets running throughout and a thin, crisp crust. The bread is soft and moist inside, with a chewy edge that’s so satisfying! I think you’re really going to love it.

Ciabatta bread on a wooden serving board with a striped napkin and a text overlay that reads "Ciabatta Bread."

WHAT IS CIABATTA BREAD?

Ciabatta is pronounced like this: cha-BAh-tuh. It’s an Italian word that means “slipper.” It’s named this way because the shape of the loaf is like a slipper: sort of a rounded-off, flat-ish rectangle.

It’s made with a very wet dough, and it’s pretty much a no-knead recipe. This results in an extremely airy interior, and a crisp, brown, chewy crust. As you can see from the photos here, there are tons of air bubbles running all throughout this bread, and they’re all different sizes. This is exactly what you want!

I love this bread just dipped in a little olive oil and maybe a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It’s simple and pure and rustic as can be.

But it’s also great sliced, buttered, and sprinkled with garlic, then toasted in the oven. So yummy with your pasta dinner!

Or it can be split horizontally and used to make panini. It’s the perfect shape and texture for that.

However you decide to portion it out, it makes a perfect starter or side to a hearty one-pot meal. Think mushroom risotto, corn chowder, or chili. Or even a salad! Like this classic Cobb salad.

HOW TO MAKE CIABATTA

To make things a little easier, let’s divide this method down into 5 simple steps:

  1. Making the Dough
  2. Allowing it to Rest
  3. Shaping the Loaf
  4. Letting it Rise
  5. Baking the Bread

MAKING THE DOUGH

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt together. All-purpose flour is fine for this ciabatta recipe. No specialty flours needed here!

Then, proof your yeast in a little bit of warm water. The water should be warm, not hot. Aim for the temperature of a baby’s bath, around 105 to 110 degrees F.

Once the yeast mixture is starting to look foamy, stir it into the flour and salt. It will be extremely dry at this point.

Flour, salt, yeast, and warm water in a large glass mixing bowl.

Then, add in cool water, just a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition.

It will seem very wet and loose, and you might think you put in too much water. Don’t worry! This is right! It’s just how ciabatta bread dough is meant to be.

Freshly made ciabatta dough in a large mixing bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

ALLOWING IT TO REST

After that initial 30 minutes, this dough will have a total of 2 more hours of resting time. During this time, it will be folded twice.

I like to use a plastic dough scraper for this. If you don’t have one, here’s a link: Plastic Dough Scraper. Or you can just use your fingertips, but you’ll probably want to flour them first since the dough is so sticky.

Folding ciabatta dough over onto itself.

This is how the fold should go:

  1. Top to bottom
  2. Bottom to Top
  3. Left to Right
  4. Right to Left

Just grab it from the edge and fold it over itself. That’s all the kneading it will get and this will happen twice: once after the initial 30-minute rest, and then again after an hour.

You can get a better idea of how this folding process works by viewing the video in the recipe card below.

After the second fold, rest it one more hour, and then it’s time to shape the loaf.

SHAPING THE LOAF

There’s not a whole lot to shaping this loaf, since the dough is so loose it kinda just falls into a flat-ish lump.

Shaping ciabatta loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

I have instructions for making ciabatta rolls below, but if you want a larger loaf, just scrape the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, flour your hands, and gently pat/encourage it into a rectangular form.

LETTING IT RISE

Then, loosely cover it with oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes.

Make sure your plastic wrap is very well-oiled. If it’s not, it will stick to the dough and when you go to pull it off it will tear the unbaked bread and you will lose volume.

At this point, you want to handle it so, so gently so the air doesn’t get knocked out of it!

I just spray my wrap generously with non-stick spray.

BAKING THE BREAD

While the loaf is rising, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. <-- Not a mistake! This bread bakes in a very hot oven and that's how you get that shatteringly crisp crust. When you preheat the oven, place a large, empty dish on the bottom rack. I just use a square cake pan, but anything that's oven-proof will work. Once the oven is fully up to temperature and the ciabatta has risen to roughly 1.5x its original size, gently & carefully peel the oiled plastic wrap off and spray the unbaked bread with water. Here's a link to the spray bottle I use: Rayson Spray Bottle. This is also to help form the crusty-crust.

Place the bread on the center rack in the oven and immediately pour about 2 cups of water into the empty dish on the bottom shelf. Working quickly so as not to allow any heat or steam to escape, shut the oven door and let the ciabatta bake until it’s very brown and crusty on the outside. It should make a hollow sound when tapped. The internal temperature should register about 190 degrees F.

In my oven, this takes around 35 to 45 minutes, but every oven is different so you’ll want to use your judgment.

Overhead image of a ciabatta roll cut into slices, with olive oil & balsamic nearby for dipping.

OVERNIGHT OPTION

If you split the steps up over a 2-day period, it makes things a little easier, as well as improving the flavor of the bread. This is because of fermentation! A slow-ferment brings out all the yeasty, tangy flavors.

You can learn more about slow fermentation here: New York Bagel Recipe.

Follow all the recipe instructions up to “Letting it Rise.” At this point, cover it with oiled plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. It can hang out there for up to 2 days. Or you can freeze it for up to 2 weeks (more on that below).

When you’re ready to bake it, take it out and uncover it while the oven preheats. Then just bake it off according to the instructions.

CIABATTA ROLLS

If you prefer your ciabatta in roll form (great for sandwiches!), just divide it into 6 equal portions at the shaping stage.

Sprinkle the parchment-lined baking sheet generously with flour, scrape the dough onto it, and use a bench knife to cut it into little squares or rectangles.

Then space them apart and follow the recipe instructions from there.

The bake time will probably need to be reduced due to the smaller size, but you’ll want to look for the same hallmarks: brown and crusty, hollow-sounding, and around 190 degrees internal temperature.

FREEZING THE DOUGH

If you’d like to freeze the unbaked loaf or rolls, place them in the freezer on the sheet pan until frozen solid.

At that point, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and slipped into freezer bags.

They’ll keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks and can be popped out as needed, placed on a tray while the oven preheats, and baked off for fresh-baked bread whenever the craving strikes.

HOW TO STORE

Once baked, this bread will keep for a couple of days, tightly wrapped at room temperature. If you want to extend the shelf life to a week or two, place it in the fridge.

I often freeze baked bread as well, either whole or pre-sliced. If you pre-slice it, it thaws very quickly at room temperature or in a 170 degree F oven. Just pop it into a zip-top bag and it will last for a few months in the freezer.

Ciabatta bread recipe, prepared and presented on a wooden board with greenery.

As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Easy Ciabatta Bread
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Resting Time:
3 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 5 mins
 

This easy ciabatta bread recipe will be your new go-to. Just 4 ingredients & it bakes up so light, airy, & chewy, with a thin, crisp crust!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: ciabatta, ciabatta bread, ciabatta bread recipe, ciabatta recipe, ciabatta roll
Servings: 10 slices
Calories: 95 kcal
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.

  2. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir to combine.

  3. When the yeast mixture looks foamy (after about 5 minutes) stir it into the flour mixture (it will be very dry).

  4. Add the cool water, a little at a time, stirring after each addition. (Once all the water has gone in, the dough will be very wet and sticky.)

  5. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  6. Fold the dough over on itself: top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right, then right to left.

  7. Cover and rest for 1 hour, then repeat the folding process one more time.

  8. Cover and rest for 1 more hour.

  9. Scrape the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and pat it into a rectangular shape (for a loaf), or divide it into 6 equal portions and shape each into a small square or rectangle (for rolls).

  10. Cover lightly with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes, or in the refrigerator overnight.

  11. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and place an empty oven-safe dish on the bottom rack.

  12. Mist the unbaked bread with water and place it in the center rack of the oven.

  13. Pour about 2 cups of water into the empty dish and bake until the bread is brown & crusty, makes a hollow sound when tapped, and registers an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*This recipe doubles easily for 2 loaves or 12 rolls.

Adapted from Sarah Black's "One Dough Ten Breads."

Nutrition Facts
Easy Ciabatta Bread
Amount Per Serving (1 slice)
Calories 95 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 235mg10%
Potassium 38mg1%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 5mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.