Focaccia bread is so easy! All you need is flour, water, salt, and yeast for the dough, and rosemary and olive oil as toppings. You can make it on the day or get ahead and let it proof slowly in the fridge.
Our focaccia bread is golden and crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. And with our no-knead recipe, you won't even make your hands dirty.
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What to expect
Focaccia, pronounced FOKACCHA, is a flat, oven-baked Italian bread that looks and tastes like something in between pizza and bread.
In some regions of Italy, it's made quite flat, and it's called "pizza bianca", which literally translates as "white pizza".
In others, it's thicker, more similar to bread, cut in half, and filled with grilled vegetables, cheese, and cold cuts, just like bread.
The good news is, with the same dough you can make both flat and thick focaccia.
In this article, we show you how to make the best and easiest focaccia bread without kneading, without any fancy equipment, with just a bowl and a spoon.
When it comes to toppings, focaccia is usually topped with olive oil and rosemary. But there are many variations of it, and just like with pizza, you can really put anything you like on it.
Thick vs thin focaccia
With the same dough, you can make thick, bready focaccia or a flatter, crispier one based on your taste.
The procedure is exactly the same, but for the thick one, you just need a smaller baking pan. Thick focaccia is more like bread. You can cut it in half and stuff it with grilled vegetables to make focaccia sandwiches, dip it in soup, or eat with salad on the side.
To make thinner focaccia you'll need a bigger baking sheet. It's generally eaten on its own, like a slice of pizza, often as a mid-morning snack, quick lunch, or mid-afternoon snack.
Even better, is perfect as a convivial dinner with friends and family, with lots of trays of freshly baked focaccias with several focaccia toppings.
These, of course, are just suggestions. Just imagine that some people in Liguria (a beautiful north-western Italian region) dip focaccia in their cappuccino for breakfast!
So you can definitely eat your focaccia however and whenever you want to.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Flour: with our focaccia bread recipe you can use either all-purpose flour on its own, or combine half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour to make the focaccia tastier and a little healthier. You can also use bread flour if you like.
- Water: lukewarm water is best. It helps activate the yeast.
It also helps us to hydrate the flour faster, and this is important in this preparation as we are not going to knead the dough much. Do not use hot water or you'll kill the yeast and your dough won't proof.
- Yeast: I use instant dry yeast, but you can also use fresh yeast, or active dry yeast. In all cases I recommend adding the yeast to lukewarm water and sugar first. If you use fresh yeast, you need to triple the instant dry yeast amount.
- Salt and sugar: the salt is for flavour, the sugar is to help the yeast do its job, and to help the dough brown in the oven.
- Extra virgin olive oil, coarse or flakey salt and rosemary: that's the classic topping for focaccia. You can use fresh or dry rosemary.
Olive oil is best if extra virgin. You can use sea salt, coarse salt, or flakey salt to sprinkle on top. Check out the variation chapter to see out rustic focaccia topping variation with cherry tomatoes and onions.
Make the dough
To a small container add the lukewarm water, instant dry yeast, and sugar. Stir and let the yeast activate (bloom) for 2 minutes. In the meantime prep the flour for the dough.
To a large mixing bowl add the flour and the salt. You can use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, or just all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour makes the focaccia light and airy, the whole wheat flour makes it soft, tasty, and healthier.
Stir the flours together with a wooden spoon then add the yeast mixture.
Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or with a silicone spatula until you have a wet and sticky dough.
Roughly shape the dough into a ball and lightly drizzle with olive oil before putting it to proof.
Proofing the dough
There are two ways of proofing the dough: quick proofing, in about 2 hours in a slightly warm oven, and slow proofing for about 8 to 24 hours, in the fridge.
Quick proofing allows you to make the focaccia on the spot, in a few hours.
Slow proofing allows you to make focaccia that is more digestible and with a more complex flavor as the yeast has more time to work the flour in the dough.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, leaving enough space between the dough and the cloth.
Proof in a slightly warm oven for one and a half to two hours. The dough should double in volume.
To warm up the oven, turn it on for 1 minute, then turn it off. That should be enough heat for the dough to prove well.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or with plastic wrap and let the dough rise and mature slowly in the fridge for 8 to 36 hours.
You can for example do the dough in the morning and let it proof in the fridge throughout the day, then when you come home after work you can make the focaccia.
Fold the dough
After proofing, fold the dough over on itself from the outside to the inside, still in the bowl and with a spatula (or with a spoon).
There's no need to touch it with your hands. Fold it 20 times. This will take about 30 seconds. Folding gives structure to the dough.
Shape and second proofing
To make thick, bready focaccia, use an 11 inch (28 cm) round baking pan or a 10 x 10 inch (25 x 25 cm) squared one.
To make a thin, crisp, pizza-like focaccia use a 15 x 10 inch (38 x 25 cm) or larger baking pan.
Grease your baking pan with a generous tablespoon of olive oil. Try to use a baking pan with a nonstick coating. Focaccia tends to stick to the pan.
If you want to reduce the amount of oil you can line your baking pan with parchment paper.
Transfer the dough to the center of the baking pan, then with the back of two spoons (or two spatulas) spread the dough out until almost the whole tray is evenly covered. The dough is elastic at this stage and will pull back so don't worry if it doesn't cover the tray completely.
To prevent the spoons from sticking to the dough, wet the spoons with water. If the focaccia gets a little wet it's even better.
Put back in the slightly warm oven to proof for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, this time without covering it. We let the dough rise a second time to improve texture, make it lighter, and airy.
After this second proofing, take it out of the oven and preheat the oven to 450F or 230C.
Add the toppings
To a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of water, and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir well.
After the second proofing, lightly oil your fingers on both hands and sink the fingers in the focaccia making dimples across the dough.
Don't push down vertically with your fingertips, but rather at a 45 degrees angle, with the soft part of your fingertip, like if you were registering your fingerprint on your smartphone. You want to make dimples in the dough, not holes.
With a spoon, drizzle the oil, water, and salt mixture all over the focaccia, allowing the liquid to go into all the crevices.
Add rosemary on top, fresh or dry is up to you, and sprinkle with either flaky salt (like Malden salt) or coarse salt. Regular salt works too if you don't have those fancier salts.
Bake the focaccia
When the oven has reached the temperature of 450F or 230C, place the focaccia in the medium-low rack of the oven and bake it for about 18 to 25 minutes.
Cooking times vary, if your focaccia is thick it's closer to 20 minutes. If it's thin, then cooking time is closer to 15 minutes.
Check it at around 15 minutes. The focaccia is cooked when it's golden brown and crispy on top, well-cooked on the bottom, but still soft inside.
Let it cool down for at least 5 minutes before removing it from the pan, cutting it, and serving it.
You can serve focaccia just like you serve bread, here are some of our favorite combinations:
- As a starter, try it with our tomato confit, caramelized onions, guacamole, or even dip it in tzatziki sauce. It's of course great on its own, cut in small squares, but also with some tofu cream cheese, with white bean dip, or sun-dried tomato pesto, spread on top or inside as a filling. Top it with caponata, vegan ricotta, or roasted bell peppers for an original appetizer.
- For lunch, make the thick bread one in this case, then cut it open and fill it with hummus, guacamole, vegan tuna, vegan mayo, and roasted vegetables. It's a healthy homemade lunch you can make in advance and it's lunch-box friendly.
- For dinner, simply prep different toppings or serve the focaccia alongside other dishes (I'd recommend the thick and bready one in this case). Try it with Tofu meatballs, chickpea salad, tofu cacciatore, roasted butternut squash soup, or pan-fried tofu with mushrooms.
We always make two trays of focaccia. Classic rosemary focaccia and one we call rustic focaccia.
To make our rustic focaccia top it with cherry tomatoes cut in half (push them well into the dough), chopped sage, rosemary, finely chopped onion, a generous sprinkling of salt, and a few grains of coarse salt or flaky salt (you can add olives too if you like). You can even add some garlic if you like.
Italian focaccia traditions
Focaccia (sometimes interchangeably called pizza bianca, and pizza al taglio) is one of the most popular Italian street foods, and in Italy, its birthplace, it is most often eaten on its own, as a late breakfast, mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, or even as a low-key dinner with friends.
The thing is, there are so many different types and variations of focaccia there that you never get tired of it. Each region has its own slight variations, all delicious.
Focaccia Genovese, Focaccia di Recco, Focaccia Barese, Pizza Bianca Romana, Focaccia alla Messinese, Schiacciata Toscana, Strazzata Lucana, Vastedda, Sfincione Palermitano, Sceblasti, Tiròt di Felonica, Chisola coi grasei, Pitta Calabrese, and many more.
Imagine that in Italy focaccia places (sometimes known as "pizza al taglio") are as frequent as McDonald's and Starbucks combined in the US. They are everywhere! And they are all privately owned, meaning that every single one of them makes slightly different focaccia according to their family history and traditions. Which is awesome.
Rosemary focaccia is the most popular focaccia and you will always find it, but it's not the only focaccia out there. There are countless variations.
Our rustic focaccia with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs is the result of several experiments made after learning from the many regional Italian traditions of focaccia-making.
For example, pushing down the cherry tomatoes deep in the dough is typical of the focaccia eaten in Bari, Apulia.
Cherry tomatoes, releasing their liquid during cooking, create that "gooey" texture which, combined with the crunchy crust, is just perfect.
The seasoning with sage, onion, and rosemary, on the other hand, is typical of central Italy, especially Umbria, where sage and rosemary grow everywhere.
Together, these flavors give a rustic, countryside spin to the focaccia.
Or the grains of coarse salt tossed on top of the dough before baking it, typical of the Genoese tradition, where the slice of focaccia is eaten turned upside down to stimulate the taste buds on the tongue with salt.
Tips to make the best focaccia
Yeast and proofing time
Proofing the dough for many hours, up to 36, in the refrigerator makes the focaccia lighter, tastier, and more digestible.
As you become more proficient in making focaccia you can experiment with reducing the amount of yeast even further. Focaccia (and bread) with less yeast and more proofing time is a better, higher-quality, more digestible product.
Hydration in this case means the amount of water compared to the amount of flour. In this focaccia, the hydration is 75%, so quite high.
High hydration allows us to get soft focaccia, full of air bubbles and crispy on the outside.
All this without having to knead it, without having to use sourdough, and without having to do very long proofing and maturing of the dough.
Fold the dough on itself several times
This technique, carried out with a spoon or a kitchen spatula, is sufficient to create a strong enough gluten network.
The gluten network is capable of retaining the air released by the yeast during the second rising and during baking.
This is a key and essential step in obtaining airy, bubbly, and soft focaccia.
I made this focaccia many times, and I can tell you with confidence that folding the dough on itself 20 times is sufficient to develop a good texture.
Second proofing in the baking tray
The second proofing in the pan allows the focaccia to grow and become lighter.
It also allows air bubbles to form, which, thanks to the gluten network explained above, makes the focaccia tall, soft and airy.
Poke with your fingertips
Focaccia to be good must have holes made with the fingertip where the olive oil collects and where the dough is slightly less cooked than the top part of the focaccia.
The combination of the gooey undercooked dough with the crunchy part makes the focaccia truly irresistible when you bite into it.
Moreover, making holes with the tip of fingers allows the air released by yeasts to remain in the dough.
A mistake would be to push the focaccia with the whole palm of the hand.
If you do that, you would push the air out of the dough, making a too-flat and too-compact focaccia.
Add oil and water on top
In many Italian regions, people like to season focaccia with a brine of water, extra virgin olive oil, and salt before baking it.
This emulsion goes into the little holes that you made with your fingers and causes the focaccia to be more flavourful and slightly moist in these holes.
For our focaccia with cherry tomatoes, you don't need this step.
But if you make focaccia with rosemary then I recommend adding the brine made with 15 grams (1tbsp) of olive oil, 45 grams (3tbsp) of water, and two pinches of salt.
Halved cherry tomatoes pushed in
If you decide to make focaccia with cherry tomatoes then make sure to push them well into the dough so they don't come out while cooking.
Also, in this way, the dough underneath the cherry tomatoes will remain slightly less cooked, making the focaccia irresistible.
"Tossing" a little coarse salt (or salt flakes) over the focaccia before baking it will make this simple snack even more delicious.
In Genova, they make focaccia like this. And in my opinion coarse salt, is the "cherry on top" of good focaccia.
How can I make focaccia healthier?
There are 4 ways you can make focaccia healthier: reduce salt, reduce oil, use whole wheat flour, add veggies on top.
Olive oil and salt are essential ingredients in focaccia, however, we understand that due to dietary choices or health requirements you might want or need to reduce the amount of oil and salt.
In this recipe, we don't add any oil to the dough. We tested the dough also without salt. It's not as tasty of course, but if you top it with plenty of veggies and spices it's going to be still really good.
To reduce oil further, use parchment paper to line the baking pan. Don't add pure oil on top of the focaccia but rather dilute it with water. Also, remember that extra virgin olive oil is healthier than regular olive oil.
You can substitute all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour up to 75% of whole wheat without changing the recipe. That adds fiber to the focaccia and makes it healthier and more fulfilling.
Finally, top or serve the focaccia with your favorite veggies: cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini and aubergines, artichokes, olives, and more.
Focaccia is best eaten within a few minutes, straight out of the baking tray, and still warm.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in a plastic food bag or in an airtight container for a couple of days. At room temperature, not in the fridge.
Then when you feel like eating it, reheat it in a preheated oven at 360F, 180C until it's warm, soft, and crispy.
Focaccia is best eaten within a few minutes, straight out of the baking tray, and still warm.
You can also freeze the focaccia once it's baked and cooled completely.
To thaw it you can use the microwave with defrost function, or leave it out of the freezer for 2 hours and then warm it well in a preheated oven at 360F, 180C for 10 minutes.
For many more bread ideas, make sure to check out our bread category page.
- The baking trays listed below are to give you an idea of what I used. But you can pick any baking tray, keeping in mind that a larger tray will produce a thinner, crispier focaccia.
- Round baking pan 11 inch (28 cm) for thick focaccia
- Square baking pan 10 x 10 inch (25 x 25 cm) for thick focaccia
- Rectangular baking pan 15 x 10 inch (38 x 25 cm) for thinner focaccia
- Rectangular baking pan 16 x 12 inches ( 40 x 30 cm) for even thinner focaccia
For the dough
- 3½ cups flour all-purpose flour or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon yeast instant dry yeast or active dry yeast. 10 grams if you use fresh yeast.
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon for the baking tray - 1 to 2 tablespoon on top
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt or flaky salt
- 5 sprigs rosemary
MAKE THE DOUGH
- To a small container add the lukewarm water, instant dry yeast, and sugar. Stir and let the yeast activate (bloom) for 2 minutes.
- To a large mixing bowl add the flour and the salt. Stir the flours together with a wooden spoon then add the yeast mixture.
- Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon or with a silicone spatula until you have a wet and sticky dough. Roughly shape the dough into a ball and lightly drizzle with olive oil before putting it to proof.mi
PROOFING THE DOUGH
- Quick proofing: cover the bowl with a damp cloth, leaving enough space between the dough and the cloth. Proof in a slightly warm oven for one and a half to two hours. The dough should double in volume.
- Slow proofing: Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or with plastic wrap and let the dough rise and mature slowly in the fridge for 8 to 36 hours.
FOLD THE DOUGH
- After proofing, fold the dough over on itself from the outside to the inside, still in the bowl and with a spatula (or with a spoon).There's no need to touch it with your hands. Fold it 20 times. This will take about 30 seconds. Folding gives structure to the dough.
SHAPE AND SECOND PROOFING
- To make thick, bready focaccia, use an 11 inch (28 cm) round baking pan or a 10 x 10 inch (25 x 25 cm) squared one.To make a thin, crisp, pizza-like focaccia use a 15 x 10 inch (38 x 25 cm) or larger baking pan.Grease your baking tray with a generous tablespoon of olive oil. Try to use a baking tray with a nonstick coating. Focaccia tends to stick to the tray. If you want to reduce the amount of oil you can line your baking tray with parchment paper.
- Transfer the dough to the center of the baking tray, then with the back of two spoons (or two spatulas) spread the dough out until almost the whole tray is evenly covered. The dough is elastic at this stage and will pull back so don't worry if it doesn't cover the tray completely.To prevent the spoons from sticking to the dough, wet the spoons with water. If the focaccia gets a little wet it's even better.
- Put back in the slightly warm oven to proof for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, this time without covering it. We let the dough rise a second time to improve texture, make it lighter, and airy.After this second proofing, take it out of the oven and preheat the oven to 450F or 230C.
- In a small bowl mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of water, and ½ a teaspoon of salt. Stir well and set aside.After the second proofing, lightly oil your fingers on both hands and sink the fingers in the focaccia making dimples across the dough.
- With a spoon, drizzle the oil, water, and salt mixture all over the focaccia, allowing the liquid to go into all the crevices. Add rosemary on top, fresh or dry is up to you, and sprinkle with either flaky salt (like Malden salt) or coarse salt. Regular salt works too if you don't have those fancier salts.
- When the oven has reached temperature, place the focaccia in the medium-low rack of the oven and bake it for about 18 to 25 minutes.The focaccia is cooked when it's golden brown and crispy on top, well-cooked on the bottom, but still soft inside.Let it cool down for 5 to 10 minutes before removing it from the pan, cutting it, and serving it.