Traditional Focaccia Bread

A traditional focaccia bread recipe that bakes up crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. With endless topping options you can easily make this focaccia recipe your own by simply changing out how you dress it up! Perfect for serving with soups and stews, or even for making into sandwiches.

A baking sheet with fresh baked focaccia and a small bowl of herb oil at the top with a bread knife on the right.

I don’t think there is much that can beat a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Whether it’s a slice of warm homemade sandwich bread or a cheesy slice of garlic bread you truly can’t go wrong. One of the bread recipes I thoroughly enjoy making, especially during the winter months, is traditional focaccia.

Focaccia has always been one of my favorite bakery splurges, with the crusty exterior and soft interior, plus tons of flavor from the herbs and garlic are just heavenly. The traditional Italian bread can also double as a flatbread or pizza dough but is most commonly served as an appetizer bread or side to soup or salad.

What is Focaccia?

This flat, oven-baked Italian bread is often referred to as Italian flatbread or pizza Bianca. It’s a dimpled dough loaded with olive oil and various seasonings and toppings.

Focaccia is most commonly compared to pizza dough. They are both flat, oven-baked bread that often includes different toppings. One of the main differences between the two breads is rise time. Focaccia gets an extra rise after being flattened out while pizza dough bakes immediately after flattening.

How to Make Focaccia

I’ve tried many, many recipes and always come back to this classic from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It bakes up perfectly every single time and is packed full of flavor. The olive oil creates a crisp exterior while the interior remains soft and fluffy.

When you look at this recipe, it will seem very time-intensive, but nearly all of the time is rest time with very little hands-on work. Let’s talk through the recipe…

Ingredients

  • Herb Oil – Made with olive oil, fresh or dry herbs, kosher salt, black pepper, and minced garlic.
  • Bread Flour – Using bread flour gives the focaccia a chewy texture; you can substitute all-purpose flour without ruining the recipe, but your bread will be significantly lighter and missing that characteristic texture.
  • Salt – Gives flavor to the dough.
  • Instant Yeast – Feeds on the sugars activated in the flour and helps the focaccia rise.
  • Olive Oil – Used both in and on the dough helps tenderize the dough and gives the toppings something to stick to on the bread.
  • Water – Activates the yeast and turns your ingredients into a dough.

Labeled ingredients for focaccia on a white counter.

Make the Herb Oil

This is what infuses the bread with tons of flavor and gives it that characteristic texture. There are lots of flavor modifications and additions you can make to suit your tastes, so be sure to check the recipe notes below. To make herb oil:

  • Heat Olive Oil: Warm 2 cups of olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat to 100°F (this only takes a few minutes).
  • Season Olive Oil: Add the herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic; stir together.
  • Steep Herb Oil: Remove from heat and allow to steep while you prepare the dough.

Herb oil for focaccia in a sauce pan on a white counter.

Herb Oil Notes:

  • Herbs – If using fresh herbs, use any combination of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and sage. If using dried herbs, you can use a combination of any of the previous herbs, or use a blend such as herbes de Provence. You can substitute 1 tablespoon granulated garlic for the fresh garlic.
  • Herb Oil Extras – You can also add 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon onion powder, or 1 tablespoon dried, minced onions.
  • Herb Oil Storage – Keep any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (it makes a wonderful dipping oil!).

Make the Focaccia Dough

  • Mix the dough: Stir together flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the olive oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until it forms a wet, sticky ball.

Two side by side photos of mixing the focaccia dough with a paddle attachment.

  • Knead the dough: Switch to a dough hook and mix on medium for 5-7 minutes to form a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. Add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl.

Three side by side photos of mixing the focaccia dough with a dough hook.

  • Transfer and stretch the dough: Sprinkle workspace with a 6-inch square bed of flour. Transfer dough to the flour bed and dust liberally with flour. Pat dough into a rectangle and allow to rest 5 minutes. Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size.

Three side by side photos of how to stretch out focaccia dough.

  • Shape the dough:  Fold it, letter style, over itself to return to a rectangular shape. Mist with olive oil or non-stick spray, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rest for 30 minutes.

Side by side picture of how to fold the focaccia dough.

  • Stretch and Fold: Again, stretch the dough to twice its size and fold over, letter style, to return to a rectangular shape. Repeat the mist, flour, and cover, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Three side by side photos of hands folding dough into a tri-fold.

  • The final stretch: Once more, stretch and fold the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to ferment on the work surface for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.

Dough wrapped in plastic wrap on the left and dough double in size on the right.

  • Prepare the baking sheet: Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the paper, and spread it with your hands or a brush to cover the surface. Lightly oil your hands and using a plastic dough spatula, transfer the dough to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible. Spoon half the herb oil over the dough.
  • Dimple the dough: Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fit the pan. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are not able to completely fill the pan, especially the corners. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure the entire surface is coated.

Side by side photos of hands putting dimples into a lined baking sheet.

  • Refrigerate overnight: Cover the pan with plastic wrap lightly and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

How to Bake the Focaccia

  • Remove from the refrigerator: Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking.
  • Proof the dough: Drizzle with additional herb oil and dimple it in. Optional- add any pre-proof toppings (see below). Cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 3 hours. The dough should double in size and be about 1 inch thick.
  • Preheat the oven: Set the oven to 500°F and top the focaccia with any optional pre-bake toppings (see below)
  • Bake the focaccia: Place the pan in the oven and lower the temperature to 45o°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180° and bake 5-10 more minutes, or until golden brown. If you are using any optional during-bake toppings, sprinkle them on at this point and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove the focaccia: Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the focaccia out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. Allow the focaccia to cool for 20 minutes before slicing or serving.

A top down photo of a small plate with a brown rim filled with a pile of sliced focaccia and a small herb oil bowl to the right.

Focaccia Bread Success Tips

  • Make the Dough By Hand – The dough can be prepared without a stand mixer by mixing the dough with a large metal spoon in lieu of the kneading step. You will need to mix vigorously for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Gentle Dimpling – When dimpling the dough, be sure to use ONLY your fingertips and not the flat of your hands to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. This helps reduce the air in the dough and prevents the bread from rising too quickly.
  • Picking Olive Oil – Pick an extra virgin olive oil that works well in cooking and baking. You do not want to use a finishing oil in the dough or during the baking process.

A small plate with sliced pieces of garlic herb focaccia.

Topping Ideas for Focaccia

There are various points in the recipe when you can add toppings to your focaccia. Here are just a few suggestions for topping focaccia bread pre-proof, pre-bake, and during baking.

  • Pre-Proof Topping Ideas: 
      • Sun-dried tomatoes
      • Olives
      • Roasted garlic
      • Fresh herbs
      • Walnuts, pine nuts, or other nuts
      • Sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, or onions
  • Pre-Bake Topping Ideas:
      • Soft cheeses – Blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, and feta
      • Cooked ground meat
      • Strips of deli meat
      • Coarse salt
      • Coarse sugar
  • During-Bake Topping Ideas:
      • Dry or semihard cheeses – Parmesan, Romano, regular mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Swiss

Serving Ideas

No matter how you choose to serve it, I can promise you with 100% certainty that making it at home is a thousand times better than buying it somewhere. You can easily make this bread with any soup or chili recipe. I also love serving my focaccia with:

A small plate with sliced focaccia and a small bowl of herb oil.

Freezing, Storing and Reheating Tips

  • Freeze Before Baking – If you wish to prepare the dough in advance, complete steps #1 through 7. After the 1 hour rise, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • Freeze After Baking – Wrap individual slices of focaccia in plastic wrap, then in foil, and place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and, if desired, reheat in a 325-degree oven for 5 minutes, or until warmed through and crispy.
  • Storage – The focaccia is best the day it is made, but it can be stored, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Reheating – While I think this focaccia is best right after baking, you can easily bring it back to life by baking in the oven at 350°F for about 8-10 minutes.

Other Bread to Bake Next:

A stack of sliced focaccia layered like bricks on a white counter.

Focaccia

Golden and dimpled on the outside with a soft tender interior, this focaccia makes the perfect side to your soups, stews, or hearty pasta. Slice it up and serve it with olive oil or herb oil, you truly can’t go wrong!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Focaccia Bread

Servings 24 servings
Prep 40 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Resting time 12 hours
Total 13 hours
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Michelle

A traditional focaccia bread recipe with tons of topping ideas that bakes up crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. Perfect for serving with soups and stews, or even for making sandwiches.

Ingredients:

For the Herb Oil:

  • 2
    cups
    olive oil
  • 1
    cup
    chopped fresh herbs
    (OR 1/3 cup dried herbs)
  • 1
    tablespoon
    kosher salt
  • 1
    teaspoon
    ground black pepper
  • 6
    cloves
    garlic
    (minced)

For the Dough:

  • 5
    cups
    high-gluten or bread flour
  • 2
    teaspoons
    salt
  • 2
    teaspoons
    instant yeast
  • 6
    tablespoons
    olive oil
  • 2
    cups
    water
    (at room temperature)

For Preparation

  • ¼
    cup
    olive oil
  • Pre-proof toppings
    (optional)
  • Pre-bake toppings
    (optional)
  • During-bake toppings
    (optional)

Directions:

  1. Make the Herb Oil: Warm 2 cups olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat to 100 degrees F (this only takes a few minutes). Add the herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic; stir together, remove from the heat and allow to steep while you prepare the dough.

  2. Make the Dough: Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all of the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball.

  3. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky.

  4. Sprinkle enough flour on a clean work surface to make a bed about 6 inches square. Using a dough spatula or bench scraper dipped in water, transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.

  5. Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil or nonstick cooking spray, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

  6. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with oil, dust with flour, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

  7. Once more, stretch and fold the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to ferment on the work surface for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.

  8. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Drizzle ¼ cup olive oil over the paper, and spread it with your hands or a brush to cover the surface. Lightly oil your hands and, using a plastic dough spatula or bench scraper, lift the dough from the work surface and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible. Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough.

  9. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to fill the pan. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to completely fill the pan, especially the corners. User more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated with oil.

  10. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days).

  11. Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking.

  12. Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in (you can use all of the herb oil if you want; the dough will absorb it even though it looks like a lot). The pan should be filled completely with the dough and the dough should have a thickness of about ½-inch. Add any other pre-proof toppings (see notes below). Cover the pan with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough double in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1 inch.

  13. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Gently place any pre-bake toppings on the dough (see notes below).

  14. Place the pan in the oven. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. If you are using any during-bake toppings (see notes below), sprinkle them on at this point and continue baking an additional 5 minutes or so. The internal temperature of the dough should register at least 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

  15. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack. Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing or serving.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes:

  • Herb Oil - If using fresh herbs, use any combination of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and sage. If using dried herbs, you can use a combination of any of the previous herbs, or use a blend such as herbes de Provence. You can substitute 1 tablespoon granulated garlic for the fresh garlic.
  • Herb Oil Extras - You can also add 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon onion powder, or 1 tablespoon dried, minced onions.
  • Herb Oil Storage - Keep any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (it makes a wonderful dipping oil!).
  • Make the Dough By Hand - The dough can be prepared without a stand mixer by mixing the dough with a large metal spoon in lieu of the kneading step. You will need to mix vigorously for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Gentle Dimpling - When dimpling the dough, be sure to use ONLY your fingertips and not the flat of your hands to avoid tearing or ripping the dough.
  • Pre-Proof Topping Ideas: 
      • Sun-dried tomatoes
      • Olives
      • Roasted garlic
      • Fresh herbs
      • Walnuts, pine nuts, or other nuts
      • Sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, or onions
  • Pre-Bake Topping Ideas:
      • Soft cheeses - Blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, and feta
      • Cooked ground meat
      • Strips of deli meat
      • Coarse salt
      • Coarse sugar
  • During-Bake Topping Ideas:
      • Dry or semihard cheeses - Parmesan, Romano, regular mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, and Swiss
  • Freeze Before Baking - If you wish to prepare the dough in advance, complete steps #1 through 7. After the 1 hour rise, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • Freeze After Baking - Wrap individual slices of focaccia in plastic wrap, then in foil, and place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and, if desired, reheat in a 325-degree oven for 5 minutes, or until warmed through and crispy.
  • Storage - The focaccia is best the day it is made, but it can be stored, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.
  • Recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Nutrition:

Calories: 147kcal
Fat: 6g
Sodium: 487mg
Potassium: 42mg
Carbohydrates: 19g
Fiber: 1g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 60%
Vitamin C: 0.2%
Calcium: 10%
Iron: 0.6%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances