Making focaccia is so easy, and with our no-knead recipe, you won’t even make your hands dirty. Our focaccia recipe is golden and crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
All you need is flour, warm 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.
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Focaccia, pronounced FOKACCHA, is a flat, oven-baked Italian bread that looks and tastes like something between pizza and bread.
In some regions of Italy, it is thin and crunchy, and it’s called “pizza bianca,” which 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.
This article shows you how to make the best and easiest focaccia bread without kneading, without any fancy equipment, with just a bowl and a spoon, and in most baking pans.
Regarding toppings, focaccia is usually topped with olive oil, coarse salt, and fresh rosemary.
But there are many variations, and just like with pizza, you can top it with anything you like.
Thick vs. thin focaccia
With the same dough, you can make a thick, bready focaccia or a thin and crispier one based on your taste.
Here we use a standard-size rectangular 9×13-Inch baking pan, which makes medium thickness focaccia.
Keep in mind that a smaller baking pan produces thicker and fluffier focaccia, and a larger pan makes thinner and crispier focaccia.
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 it with salad.
Thin focaccia is more like pizza, made with several toppings, and it’s generally eaten on its own, often as a mid-morning snack, quick lunch, mid-afternoon snack, or for a convivial dinner with friends and family.
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!
You can use all-purpose flour for this focaccia bread recipe.
Alternatively, you can combine half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour to make more wholesome focaccia. In this case, add two extra tablespoons of water. Bread flour works too.
Use lukewarm water to activate the yeast and speed-up proofing. Do not use hot water; you’ll kill the yeast, and the dough won’t proof.
We recommend instant dry yeast, but if you know what you are doing, you can also use fresh yeast or active dry yeast.
In all cases, add the yeast to lukewarm water and sugar first to activate it.
You must triple the instant dry yeast amount if you use fresh yeast.
Salt and sugar
The salt is for flavor; the sugar is to help the yeast do its job and to help the focaccia turn golden in the oven.
Sugar is optional, and the recipe works well without it. However, it does help speed up the proofing of the dough, especially if your yeast isn’t the freshest.
You can substitute maple syrup or honey for the sugar.
Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil is optional in the dough, and if you want to make lighter focaccia bread with fewer calories, you can keep it out. Our recipe works perfectly with and without oil in the dough.
Classic focaccia bread is topped with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, water, and salt and sprinkled with fresh rosemary and coarse or flakey sea salt.
Check out the variation chapter to see other toppings ideas.
Note: authentic Italian focaccia bread contains quite a bit of olive oil and salt. If you are on a low-sodium diet, you can reduce the amount of salt.
If you want to reduce calories, you can omit the oil in the dough, use parchment paper to line the baking tray instead of the oil, and reduce the oil on top.
9×13-Inch rectangular baking pan: we use this one in this blog post. It makes a medium to thick focaccia, excellent for rosemary focaccia bread and for cutting it in half and filling it with veggies and cheese. It has a crunchy exterior and a soft and fluffy crumb.
13×18-Inch half-sheet pan: use this to make thinner and crispier focaccia. This is our favorite when we want to make focaccia with different toppings and have it for dinner, like pizza.
8×8-Inch square baking pan: for thick, bready focaccia. Excellent for cutting in half and filling with grilled veggies, cheese, and more or to use as a bread replacement.
9×9-Inch square baking pan: slightly thinner than the 8×8-Inch, but still relatively thick focaccia.
10 or 11-inch round cake pan: if you don’t have square pans, you can make round focaccia in a round cake pan or tart pan.
Tip: focaccia tends to stick to the baking pan. To prevent it from sticking, you should grease your pan with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or, if you want to avoid fat, line the pan with parchment paper (less tasty and fewer calories).
Make the dough
Add the lukewarm water, instant dry yeast, and sugar to a small container.
Stir and let the yeast activate for 1 minute.
To a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt and stir to combine.
Add the yeast mixture and olive oil, and mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula until you have a wet and sticky dough (about 2 minutes).
Tip: you can make the dough with a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
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 in a few hours.
Slow proofing allows you to prepare the dough ahead of time, and make focaccia 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 1.5 to 2 hours or until double in volume.
Tip: 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 plastic wrap and let the dough rise and mature slowly in the fridge for 8 to 36 hours.
You can, for example, make 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 40 times (it takes 1 minute) from the outside to the inside, still in the bowl and with a spatula (or with a spoon). See the video for the technique.
There’s no need to touch the focaccia with your hands; folding gives structure to the dough.
Grease your baking pan with a generous amount of olive oil and transfer the dough into the pan.
Tip: Focaccia tends to stick to the pan, so you need to use quite a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking. If you want to reduce the amount of fat, you can line your baking pan with parchment paper.
Spread the dough with the back of two spoons until almost the whole tray is covered.
To prevent the spoons from sticking to the dough, wet the spoons with water. If the focaccia gets a little wet on top is ok.
Tip: The dough is elastic at this stage and will pull back, so don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the tray completely.
Proof a second time in a slightly warm oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour without covering it.
After the second proofing, take the focaccia out of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F or 230°C and make the topping.
Add extra virgin olive oil, water, and salt to a small bowl. Stir well.
Dip your fingers in the oil-water mixture, then sink the tip of your fingers in the dough making dimples across the focaccia.
With a spoon, drizzle the remaining oil-water mixture all over the focaccia, allowing the liquid to go into all crevices.
Tip: Don’t push down vertically with your fingertips, but rather at a 45 degrees angle, with the soft part of your fingertip, as if you were registering your fingerprint on your smartphone. You want to make dimples in the dough, not holes.
Top with fresh rosemary and sprinkle with either flaky salt (like Malden salt) or coarse sea salt. Of course, regular salt works, too, if you don’t have those fancier salts.
Bake the focaccia
When the oven has reached the temperature of 450°F or 230°C, place the focaccia on the medium-low rack and bake it for about 18 to 25 minutes.
Baking times vary; if your focaccia is thick, it’s closer to 20 minutes. If it’s thin, the 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, and 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 instead of 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, 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 one, 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, prepare 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.
Rustic tomato focaccia
To make our rustic focaccia, top the dough 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) and garlic if you want.
Focaccia with grated zucchini on top is a colorful, tasty, and crunchy focaccia recipe that is very easy to make.
Check out our zucchini focaccia recipe.
Whole-wheat focaccia is a tasty and wholesome alternative to focaccia made with all-purpose flour.
To make it substitute half whole-wheat flour for all-purpose flour and add 2 extra tablespoons of water to the dough.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: Focaccia is best eaten within a few minutes, straight out of the baking tray, and still warm and crunchy. However, you can make the dough ahead of time and let it in the fridge for several hours. We explain this in detail in our “slow proofing” chapter above.
Room temperature: if you have leftovers, you can store them in a plastic food bag or an airtight container for a couple of days at room temperature, not in the fridge.
Freezer: let the focaccia cool down completely, put it in a freezer-friendly bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: defrost frozen focaccia in the microwave with a thawing function or leave it at room temperature for 2 hours before reheating it.
Reheat: reheat focaccia in a preheated oven at 360°F or 180°C for 10 minutes or in an air-fryer for 5 minutes.
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 further experiment with reducing the amount of yeast. 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 relatively 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 can retain the air released by the yeast during the second rising and baking.
This is essential in obtaining airy, bubbly, and soft focaccia.
I made this focaccia many times, and I can confidently tell you that folding the dough on itself 40 times is sufficient to develop a good texture. It only takes a minute!
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 genuinely 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.
If you do that, you will 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 crevices 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, the oil and water mixture is a must.
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, and add veggies on top.
Olive oil and salt are essential ingredients in focaccia. However, we understand that you might want or need to reduce the amount of oil and salt due to dietary choices or health requirements.
You can make this recipe without any oil in the dough. We tested the dough also without salt. It’s not as tasty; it will still be excellent, but if you top it with plenty of veggies and salt.
To reduce oil further, use parchment paper to line the baking pan. Don’t add pure oil on top of the focaccia; 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.
Italian focaccia traditions
Focaccia (sometimes interchangeably called pizza bianca and pizza al taglio) is one of the most popular Italian street foods. 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.
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.
In Italy, focaccia places are as frequent as McDonald’s and Starbucks combined in the US. They are everywhere! And they are all (or almost all) family-owned, meaning that everyone makes slightly different focaccia according to their family history and traditions, which is fantastic.
Not only rosemary
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 results from 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 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.
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.
More baking recipes
If you’re curious to try other baking recipes, take a peek at these easy and simple homemade bread and pastries:
- 9×13-Inch (23×33 cm) rectangular baking pan: see notes below for more pan options.
- 1¾ cups lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast sub active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil optional, + 1½ tbsp to grease baking pan
- 1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt or flaky salt
- 5 sprigs rosemary
MAKE THE DOUGH
- To a small container, add lukewarm water, instant dry yeast, and sugar. Stir and set aside for one minute.
- To a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt. Stir to combine.Add the yeast-water mixture, olive oil, and mix with a wooden spoon till you have a wet and sticky dough (about 2 minutes).
PROOFING (pick one method)
- QUICK PROOFING: cover bowl with damp cloth, leaving enough space between the dough and the cloth.Proof in a slightly warm oven for 1½ to 2 hours, or until double in volume.SLOW PROOFING: cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge between 8 to 36 hours, then take out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
FOLDING AND SECOND PROOFING
- After proofing, fold the dough on itself 40 times from the outside to the inside, in the bowl, with a spoon or spatula (it takes 1 minute). See video for technique.
- Grease baking pan with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil or line it with parchment paper if you want to avoid oil. Transfer the dough in the pan.
- Spread dough on the tray with the back of two spoons dipped in water. The dough is elastic and will pull back, so don't worry if you can't cover the whole tray.
- Proof a second time in a slightly warm oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour without covering it.Take the focaccia out of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F or 230°C.
- While the oven warms up, mix extra virgin olive oil, water, and salt in a small bowl.Dip your fingers in the oil-water mixture, then sink them in the dough making dimples across the focaccia.Pour the remaining oil-water mixture all over the focaccia, allowing the liquid to go into the crevices.
- Top with fresh rosemary and sprinkle with coarse sea salt or flaky sea salt. Regular salt works, too, if you don't have those fancier salts.
BAKE THE FOCACCIA
- When the oven is hot, bake the focaccia on the medium-low rack for 18 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top and on the bottom.
- Let cool down 5 minutes before removing it from the pan and cutting it into squares with a bread knife.
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