No-Knead Bread Rolls – No Dutch Oven Necessary

No-knead bread

Success at last! No-knead bread.

The no-knead bread phenomenon has been sweeping the Interwebs for several years now thanks to Mark Bittman, but I haven’t waded into the fun until now. For whatever reason, working with dough intimidates me, so I tend to stay away from it, but all the rave reviews of this no-knead bread had me curious. So I had to try it, which I did in September.

Um, yeah, that didn’t help my Dough Confidence Quotient whatsoever. It was an absolute and utter disaster.

They say this dough should be really sticky; mine was nearly runny after the first rise. There could have been yeast/rising issues, but I think the biggest problem was lack of flour. But everyone says, “Don’t touch the flour! You’ll ruin the delicate balance of ingredients! The measurements must be *exact*!” So I ditched the batch, hung my head in shame, and wallowed in self-pane pity.

Then in November, I visited Diana in Piemonte, and she made an absolutely perfect no-knead loaf . . . and my Bread Envy was off the charts.

So about a month ago, I picked up the flour again, probably feeling confident after making a mean batch of cinnamon rolls around Christmas time (recipe coming). I figured hey, if the dough doesn’t feel right to me (with all my Faux-Dough Authority), I’m adding flour. I don’t care what they say. Who are “they” anyway?

So extremely happy I did. I LOVE this bread, and you will too if you haven’t made it yet, I promise.

It forms a wonderful crisp crust on the outside but is chewy and light on the inside. Simple and perfect — and the best part is, it’s easy as all get out (once you figure out whether you need to make adjustments for your humidity/altitude).

No-knead bread rolls

No-knead bread rolls

I do believe the ridiculously high winter humidity here simply requires the use of a bit more flour in this recipe. I’ll probably be OK with the given proportions come summer when the air is dry, but hey, we’ll cross that wheat field when we come to it.

The reason I’m posting this recipe even though you can find it absolutely everywhere, though, is because of some inspiration from the Panini Girl, who as you might have guessed from her name, decided to make little two-bite sized rolls out of this dough. I decided to give it a go by making six full-sized rolls, and they came out wonderfully — even P grabbed one while it was still warm, and he is very picky about the pane he consumes (paesano only!).

The best part about making the rolls? You don’t need a dutch oven or similar vessel for baking — just grease up a cookie sheet. Thanks so much Panini Girl for showing me the way to these no-knead bread rolls!

No-Knead Bread Rolls

(Adapted slightly from the famed recipe published in The New York Times by Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)

No-knead bread rolls

No-knead bread rolls

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (note you can play with the types of flour but make sure you know the proper substitution ratios)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1. Stir together flour, salt, and yeast in a medium mixing bowl, then add water. Mix together until you have a “shaggy and sticky” dough. I use a silicon spatula for this part after trying both a wooden spoon and hands. The spatula works wonderfully because you can also use it to scrape down bits that have climbed the sides of the bowl.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours; 18 hours is the recommended time. Seeing that it’s winter, I put mine in the unheated oven as it’s warmer in there and the most safe from drafts — we don’t have heat in the kitchen, so it’s nowhere near the ideal 78°F (25°C) for dough-rising. Generally people seem to agree that it’s great to whip this dough up in the afternoon or evening, let it sit overnight, and then bake the bread the next morning. Works for me, too.

3. The dough is ready “when its surface is dotted with bubbles.” Dust a wooden board or other work surface with flour, and put dough on it. I do recommend watching the video below so you can see what’s a normal dough consistency at this stage. Add a little more flour and fold the dough over on itself once or twice so that you’ve created a “seam” on top.

4. Put a large cotton towel nearby and dust it with flour (or cornmeal, wheat bran). Put dough on the floured spot in the towel, seam-side down. Dust again with flour before folding up the sides of the towel to cover it. The dough should now sit for another two hours or so before it’ll be ready to go in the oven.

5. Half an hour before you’ll be baking, preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and grease a cookie sheet with olive oil.

6. The dough is ready when it has doubled in size and no longer springs back from your touch. Divide the dough into six pieces, roughly shaped into balls and arrange them on the cookie sheet leaving at least an inch between them. They may bake together a bit, but they’re easily separated anyway so long as they’re not touching too much.

7. Place sheet in the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, until rolls are golden brown.

Buon appetito!

I’m also sharing this video for you visual folks; this helped me greatly in understanding the steps:

Have you made no-knead bread? What did you think?

36 Beans of Wisdom to “No-Knead Bread Rolls – No Dutch Oven Necessary”
  1. I am happy with my bread machine (gasp, scandal, blasphemy, blah blah blah – whatever I like it ;P ) but these just look so good and frankly you can never, never have too many bread recipes! I think I’ll try these this weekend, I have a potluck lunch to go to on Sunday and these might be just the ticket (don’t worry I’ll have a stand by in case I have any mishaps!)

    I hope you enjoy it, Joanne! It’s really easy once you get in the groove 🙂

  2. 02.09.2011

    My bread machine has been in the mothballs since I started with no-knead bread. It is really fabulous and you can do *anything* with it, from shredded carrots to different flours to seeds, nuts, olives, herbs and dried fruits. So happy for your success, Michelle!

    Glad I didn’t buy a bread machine then! I didn’t think P would ever eat the bread from one, so it was way down on my list…guess “toaster” has just moved up yet another notch 😉

  3. 02.09.2011

    I am totally converted to this and as you I had the same problem with the dough being too watery. I think that Italian flour simply absorbs a different amount of water than whatever flour Lahey and Bittman use.

    I actually have been experimenting with all my bread like doughs. I just make them more wet by adding 10-15 % more water and I reduce the amount of yeast to about 1 gr / 400 gr flour. Then I let the dough raise overnight. Everything works beautiful, pizza, brioche, torta al testo. It’s wonderful!

    Thanks for the tips; glad to hear I’m not the only one who had flour issues!

  4. 02.09.2011

    Well done for keeping to try! And what a result you did have. I played around with this bread quite a bit, like everybody else, and for a while I baked it every week (in Germany, like in Calabria, you can buy very nice ready made bread so I don’t do that anymore). When I baked a whole form, I made it on a cookie sheet as well because I don’t own a dutch oven , and it worked. On the other hand you need a lot of gluten to take all that water, so yes, I think that with Italian flours, you either cut down the water, or add more flour.

    Thanks! I’m actually not a huge fan of Calabrian bread (shhh) so this is *mine all mine* 😉

  5. What a wonderful idea – no knead rolls! I must try this soon.
    About flour/humidity – it’s true, depending on the humidity your dough will need slightly different amounts of flour.

    Enjoy Cristina, and thanks for coming by!

  6. 02.09.2011

    I love this idea…..I don’t want to throw my dough into a “blazing hot dutch oven”….I am chicken…so I will try your version….thank you!

  7. 02.09.2011

    So help me with the point in 4 where you flip the bread if you’re simply going to divide it into 6 pieces in step 6. Why put the crease on bottom if dividing?

    Gary, I just kept the directions the way they were to the point I diverged, but also, my grandmother always put seam-side down for dough rising, so I do too; it seems like it could be helpful in the rising process to do so, but I’m no bread-making expert so I really don’t know for sure. Feel free to experiment, and thanks for coming by! 🙂

  8. 02.09.2011

    Brava Michelle! I too am addicted to this bread and was also inspired by Diana’s great bread every morning. I’ve been making it constantly-I like adding a little wheat flour to the basic recipe. I’ve also made it with toasted walnuts and another time with gruyere cheese. Have fun!

    I have to look around a bit for different types of flour…not too easy to find here, I’m afraid, but I look forward to playing as well!

  9. saretta

    Looks yummy, I’ll have to look online for a gluten-free variety…

    Saretta, someone had asked on FB, so I have this link handy:


  10. 02.10.2011

    I did join the no-knead revolution with success. But you know – I have been making the same-old and you have encouraged me to jazz it up a bit and at least try a roll. And your bread looks so welcoming. It is minus 10 degrees F right now so you can imagine that this is indeed “bread baking season.” And now I want what you’re having.

    Definitely something cozy about freshly baked bread 🙂

  11. Jil Mohr

    thanks for this …can not wait to try it….I too am a Bitttman fan….Jil

    Hope you enjoy it, Jil!

  12. Gil

    My wife made some last week and it was delicious!

    Thanks for sharing, Gil!

  13. 02.10.2011

    It’s not you! I have lived in four different countries and every one of them needed flour (and sometimes, sugar) adjustments for both the type of flour and humidity. It looks delicious and I am betting I will need to make similar adjustments here. One question– since there is no fat in the bread does it dry out quickly? It looks so good in your photos!

    Jill, I really don’t know; we had eaten it all by the next day (it was still good the day after) 🙂

  14. 02.10.2011

    These look fantastic. I’m definitely going to have to try making some. Not that we don’t have wonderful fresh bread here, but it still can’t compare to bread that’s fresh from the oven.

    Mary, I’m a big “fresh from the oven” gal; not actually much of a bread-eater thereafter…and these are *definitely* great fresh out of the oven 🙂

  15. Caterina B

    Ohhhh yummy! I love homemade bread. I will try this recipe this weekend. I especially like to have a nice fresh roll for a sandwich. It makes an ordinary sandwich taste so much better. Thanks, Michelle!

    *So* true about a sandwich…I’m getting spoiled now, *needing* a roll to really enjoy one 😉

  16. This is similar to the recipe Valentino and I use – but we have one small tip – we put a small pan of water in the oven on the shelf rack below the bread. The steam helps to make a nice “Italian bread” crust, thicker with a nice sheen.

    Thanks for the tip, Bonnie; I’m afraid my tiny oven wouldn’t have room for such a pan, but perhaps someday 🙂

  17. 02.11.2011

    Them’s right purty, Michelle. I did it the ole fashioned way in my iron dutch oven and that were purty too. It’s the steam oven effect, a winning move for me!
    I just had my first romance with a bread machine at my sister’s home. Woowoo! Easier than an Easy Bake Oven. I made whole wheat and honey grain. After the initial cut even the wierd shape didn’t bother me.
    When I make Italian bread I use 2/3 00 and 1/3 grano duro to get the right stretchiness without mortgaging the farmette. A 1 kilo loaf costs about 88 centesimi to make. The smell in the kitchen? you know… priceless.

    SO true about the smell in the kitchen…that alone is worth the effort! Thanks for the info on the flour as well 🙂

  18. This sounds great! I’ve made no-knead bread more than a few times, but using my dutch oven. It’s a little bit of a hassle, since it’s an outdoor oven, with the little feet on the bottom, which tend to catch on the oven grates. Nice photos, by the way.

    Oh dear, that hassle would probably stop me from making it at all, I’m afraid…I’m rubbish when it comes to expending that little bit more of energy! Ha! Thanks for coming by and for the nice words 🙂

    DaveG Reply:

    Try setting your outdoor dutch-oven with feet on a baking sheet for stability and put the whole thing in.

  19. 02.14.2011

    that’s so interesting. i was just reading about this no-knead bread from the NYT about 8 days ago. what a great way to enjoy bread with all that work, right! your’s came out lovely!

    Thanks Bren! I’ve been making it quite often now that I’ve gotten the hang of it 🙂

  20. I have to try this! I too love the smell of baking bread.

    There really is nothing that compares to that smell, I agree 🙂

  21. 02.14.2011

    well done Michelle, the bread looks great! I’ve started working through the Bittman “top 25” list he posted and have done the watermelon salad and pork shoulder. I’ve never made bread before but you’ve inspired me to make this one next!

    I haven’t paid much attention to the Top 25, but perhaps I shall; thanks for the idea, Madeline 🙂

  22. 02.14.2011

    Beautiful. I am so glad you have had such a success. Bread is definitely one of my passions and happy that you persevered! Brava they look delish!

    I wish bread was one of my passions…maybe it will become one 🙂 Thanks Marla!

  23. 02.15.2011

    Oh my. You know, now that you mention it I haven’t tried that Bittman recipe yet either. Yours look irresistible. I may have to take the plunge.

    Please let me know how it turns out for you if you do! Great to “see” you again btw 😀

  24. 02.18.2011

    Those breaad rolls look good enough to eat :/

    Mangia, Polly!

  25. 02.23.2011

    Just took the rolls out a few moments ago. Could not keep the dough from being really runny…I’ve never had that problem w/other bread baking. Decided to leave it & add sesame seeds I had. They are way crispy but very nice & airy inside. A foccacia-like interior. Very pleased. Thanks, Michelle.

    michelle Reply:

    Glad you liked them, Susan! I’m still playing with this recipe over a year later!

  26. Denise

    I don’t have any instant yeast…just bread machine or ‘regular’ yeast. How much do I use of this type of yeast. More, I presume?

    michelle Reply:

    Denise, I know this is really belated (sorry, I missed your comment!), but my yeast isn’t labeled instant either…just regular in a packet. I still use the same amount as in the recipe.

  27. 11.12.2012

    My hubby and I were just talking about trying to make bread, this looks so easy. Thanks for sharing this on FB, I’ll be making this tomorrow.

    michelle Reply:

    Hope you like it, Jennifer! As I said, I had to play around with it a bit, but watching the video definitely helps 🙂

  28. Lisa

    Do you think you could make these in muffin tins to keep the shape – and maybe be a little smaller?? I was trying to figure out how to make rolls since every recipe I’ve seen makes it sound like you NEED a cover. So, it’s interesting that it works to bake it w/o covering it!

    michelle Reply:

    Lisa, I would give it a try though remember this puffs up quite a bit, so you may not want to put *too* much dough in each compartment…let me know how it comes out if you try it!

  29. Ali R

    Just tried doing rolls. I did the overnight rise then divided the loaf into 8 oblong rolls and let rise on the baking sheet for 1 1/2 hours. Baked at 425*F for 30 minutes and they came out nicely.

    I was looking for a roll to use for french dip sandwiches and this created a nice, sturdy, crusty roll that will work well for that. Didn’t get the pretty cracked tops like your picture though.

    Still baked a whole loaf in the dutch oven along with the rolls. I need to break from that dependence, the pot is too dang heavy for me with my RA. I am just nervous that I am going to end up with a pancake shaped loaf! Thanks for the site, it encouraged me to give it a go. This recipe is perfect for those of us that fail miserably at yeast breads.

    Next time I am going to try round rolls for crusty dinner rolls but I am thinking more along the lines of 10 or 12 per batch. I can’t imagine only dividing this recipe into 6, that would be more like a personal loaf, much too much for myself or the kidlets.

    I understand living in foreign countries and getting a hankering for the taste of home. I taught myself to make breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean style) and Chinese food living in Mexico. Making pasta there was an experience, the humidity was so high I didn’t use water for my dough! A huge change from super dry single digit humidity here in Alaska.

    michelle Reply:

    Humidity certainly does affect anything having to do with flour, doesn’t it? Yes, I would agree that this recipe could make about ten small dinner rolls…the six that I made are really almost meals in themselves 😉 Regarding the crust, check out this discussion: Hopefully some advice there can help!

    michelle Reply:

    And this!



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake