As my go-to bread recipe, the loaves and dinner rolls I make with this are always a hit. It’s easy to memorize, flexible, and creates light and fluffy baked goods.
I started making it 2015 when I first had the goal of making my own bread. My mother-in-law shared a decades-old photocopy of her go-to “white bread” recipe, but with two young kids under the age of five, I needed to streamline it.
After some really bad failures (most memorably, the time I forgot to include the salt and had to throw it all away), I increased the salt amount since I was using Kosher salt, stopped heating up my water on the stove (my tap water was hot enough), and cut out any manual kneading since I used my stand mixer. I’ve got it now where I can “throw” the ingredients in a mixer and have it reliably come out great every time!
The five (well, six if you count water!) ingredients you’ll need
- Active dry yeast: Available at your local grocery store, it’s one of the easy-to-use types of yeast available. It’s a dried, granulated form of baker’s yeast and isn’t activated until it’s put in warm water.
- Warm water: Anywhere from 120 to 130 degrees is ideal. I’ve found that my hot water heater gets my tap water hot enough to successfully activate my yeast, but you can heat yours up on a stove if you need to get it warmer. But be careful, if the water is too hot, it can kill off the yeast.
- Sugar: We’ll use regular granulated white sugar, but you can substitute it with honey.
- Salt: If you have coarse mineral or Kosher salt, use the recipe as-is. If you use table salt, go down to 2 teaspoons.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best fats you can use in cooking. But I use it in this recipe because I always have it unhand and I don’t have to remember to set out butter ahead of time!
- Flour: I typically use 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 whole grain, which I mill from hard red wheat, but this works great if you use 100% all-purpose flour. If whole grains are new to your family, start with all-purpose flour and slowly increase the amount of whole grains you substitute with.
Why I love this easy recipe
Perfect for the beginner home baker
When I first set the goal of learning to make bread at home, I found most recipes so overwhelming. This instant yeast bread is a great place to start as you can cut out all the unhealthy preservatives of store-bought bread while making something that even the pickiest eaters will like. When friends and family ask how they can start, I always bring them to this recipe and no one has ever failed on their first try.
Olive oil requires no prep
So many bread recipes use room-temperature butter or scalded milk. I needed a recipe that I can use with NO planning, as most weeknights I don’t have time set out butter ahead of time, and scalding milk is just one extra step. Olive oil offers many health benefits AND it’s shelf-stable, so I just grab it out of my pantry and use it as-is.
I love how easy this recipe is to memorize. With only 5 ingredients (plus warm water), I know to grab a teaspoon, tablespoon, 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup from my kitchen drawer and I have what I need to get going.
It’s flexible to use different flours and to make different baked goods
Not only do I use this recipe for so many variations of baked goods, it also works for different dietary or nutritional needs. You can easily swap the flour to make it gluten-free, whole grain (I usually do 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 hard red whole wheat), or use an ancient grain such as Einkorn.
The Easiest 5-Ingredient Bread Recipe
- 1 Stand mixer (optional) with paddle and dough hook attachments You can also do this by hand!
- 2 Standard loaf pan(s) OR (1) One cookie sheet
- 4.5 tsp instant yeast (or two packets)
- 3 cup warm water (ideally 120-130 degrees in temperature)
- 1.5 cup olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is preferred)
- 3 tbsp sugar (white granulated sugar)
- 3 tsp salt (either kosher or mineral salt, but table salt works too, just use 2 tsp instead)
- 5-6 cup flour (any combination of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or even alternative flours like Einkorn work)
Mix the ingredients
- Using your mixing bowl, combine instant yeast and warm water. Wait a few minutes until your yeast starts to become active, which can look like bubbles or when the yeast begins to float on the water.
- Add sugar, salt, olive oil, and 2 cups of flour.
- Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (use a dough whisk or spatula if you are mixing by hand), mix for 2-3 minutes until the mix is well combined.
Make the dough
- Switch the attachment to your dough hook and add 3 more cups of flour. I usually do this in 1/2 cup increments waiting 15 seconds (or so) between each one.
- As you get closer to 5-6 cups, add the 1/2 increments slower so you don't add too much flour as the dough will be too dry.
- When the dough is no longer sticking to the bottom of the bowl, but it is still slightly sticky to the touch, stop adding flour.
Let the dough rise
- With wet hands, pick up the dough, scraping the sides of the bowl as-needed. Holding the dough in one hand, generously sprinkle the bowl flour. Using both hands, pull the ends of the dough together to make a dough ball and place it back in the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel (or don't–I usually don't bother) and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. Leave it next to the stove if you are cooking, stick it in your oven on "proof," or just leave it on the counter. There is really no wrong way to do this.
Shape the dough
- This recipe will make (2) two loaves, 16 dinner rolls, (2) two pans of cinnamon rolls, or (6) hamburger buns. You can also do (1) one loaf and 8 dinner rolls depending on your needs.
- Use cooking spray, olive oil, or butter to grease your pan(s).
- Shape your dough and place in the pan(s). Let it rise for another 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Cook the bread
- Loaves will take 30-35 minutes to cook. You will want it golden brown on top. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then take the loaf out of the pan.
- Dinner rolls and hamburger buns will take only 15-20 minutes. You will want them golden brown on top.