As an experienced baker, I’ve perfected many techniques for making gluten-free bread recipes with fabulous, consistent results. This easy gluten-free Italian bread recipe is no exception. Learn the secret to a soft, airy Italian loaf, but without complicated steps. It only takes few minutes of mixing, one rise, and easy, fuss-free shaping to enjoy an artisanal masterpiece of your dreams!
gluten-free recipe for Soft italian bread
It has been my mission to transform all the beloved Italian family recipes I grew up with into gluten-free versions, Gramma and mother approved! A crusty, yet soft and porous, gluten-free Italian bread was the next missing component after accomplishing favorites, such as thick, soft GF pizza dough and the best gluten-free lasagna.
Plus, I couldn’t resist creating a fresh, homemade Italian loaf after exhaustively testing the high-hydration GF bread dough used for soft, crusty gluten-free baguettes. Artisan breads generally require more moisture to create an open, airy crumb. But, it’s a delicate balance because more moisture can also lead to disappointing gumminess.
After many rounds of testing (and including the Mamagourmand community in the process!), I landed on the ideal wet to dry ratio. To transform the dough into a classic GF Italian bread only required simple adjustments in shaping and baking.
Because the loaf is shorter and plumper, it also required additional rise time. This assists the loaf to be become taller, making it ideal for sandwich slices or the other suggested Italian bread uses listed below.
I also wanted the outer crust to be not quite as crisp or deeply colored. Therefore, the baking starts at a slightly lower oven temp (400ºF versus 450ºF with French bread). Ice cubes are still used on the oven floor, though, to create a steamy environment for a chewy exterior.
Start to finish the bread is ready to enjoy in less than 90 minutes, with a small fraction of requiring hands-on time. The ingredients are mixed together, shaped into a log, and then rested for 40 minutes to rise. A slightly longer baking time, 35 minutes, allows time for the increased moisture to evaporate.
- Gluten-Free Flour – Using a good gluten free flour makes or breaks the GF bread quality. I highly recommend Cup4Cup gluten-free flour for the best texture and flavor. However, it does contain milk powder, so if you need a dairy-free recipe choose a dairy-free gluten-free flour blend containing xanthan gum.
- Potato Starch (not flour) – Secret ingredient to make GF bread soft. Instead of relying on additional flour to structure the dough, I substituted another gluten-free starch. Use for best results, but tapioca starch or additional GF flour may be substituted.
- Psyllium Husk Powder – Helps maintain moisture and prevents the baguettes from becoming dry. It also mimics gluten, allowing the dough to be shaped.
- Instant Yeast – I prefer to use instant rapid rise dry yeast because it doesn’t require proofing in water before adding to the bread dough. It is simply added with the dry ingredients. If you only have active dry yeast, pour it in the water with 1 tsp granulated sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the dry ingredients with remaining liquids.
- Eggs – Although this is a unconventional for Italian bread, it bulks the protein in the bread. The starches in gluten-free flour don’t add any protein, which prevents the crumb from opening up. An egg white is also brushed on the exterior before baking to create a shiny crust.
- Apple cider vinegar – For an open, airy crumb, the dough also needs an acidic environment. Although other vinegars could be substituted, apple cider vinegar really does work the best.
- Baking powder – I like to couple baking powder with yeast to assist the rise and make a light, airy texture, which is harder to achieve in gluten-free breads.
- Olive oil – For added flavor and incorporates a little fat to coat the gluten-free starches.
how to make gluten-free italian bread
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- First mix together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed until combined. Use the paddle attachment. GF bread doughs don’t work with a dough hook.
- Add the wet ingredients – warm water, eggs, apple cider vinegar, honey, and oil. Mix on low speed to let the dough come together, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. The batter will be thick and stiff, but still slightly sticky.
- Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and grease with olive oil. Transfer the dough onto the parchment. Use greased hands to knead and shape into a smooth ball.
- Shape into a smooth 12 X 2 ½-inch log using greased hands. Use a sharp knife to slash 5-6 diagonal slits on top, about ¼-inch deep.
- Let it rise in warm, draft free place for 40 minutes. The bread will not be fully risen, but will rise more as it bakes due to the baking powder. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400℉. Once risen, brush the loaf with a whisked egg white for a shiny crust.
- Place 5-6 ice cubes at the bottom of the oven to create a steamy environment for a crisp outer crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Loosely tent a large piece of foil over the baking sheet (to prevent the bread from over-browning) and reduce the oven temp to 350℉. Bake for 20 minutes longer.
Italian bread versus french bread
Both Italian and French bread could be considered artisanal, meaning they are shaped without a loaf pan, have crusty exteriors, and a soft, airy crumb. The difference between French and Italian breads lies in the shape and outer crust.
French bread is thinner, longer, with an extra crusty exterior and porous interior. Baguettes are quintessentially French and a culinary country staple. It’s popularity has spread internationally, though.
Classic gluten-free Italian bread has a shorter, plumper shape, often large enough to be sliced for sandwiches. It also has a chewy outer crust with a soft, airy crumb. Italian bread, though, is a generic term we use to refer to this style of bread, and not exactly synonymous with a specific bread in Italy.
Technically Italian-style bread can be the classic recipe shared here, or include ciabatta, focaccia, piadina, pane toscana, pane rustico, to many more variations. They all have unique shapes and textures.
Ways to Use Italian bread
Our favorite way to enjoy gluten free Italian bread is sliced for sandwiches, or even better, as toasty, buttery paninis. However there are many other ways to enjoy a fresh gluten-free Italian loaf!
- Bread pudding
- French toast or this make-ahead gluten-free French toast casserole
- Paninis – I’ve also used this easy gluten-free focaccia bread recipe.
- Dipping in flavored olive oil – My favorite combo – olive oil, kosher salt, ground pepper, fresh rosemary, sun dried tomatoes, balsamic, and freshly grated parmesan
- Cubed and toasted for salad or soup croutons
- The best gluten-free garlic bread
Storing and freezing tips
Gluten-free breads lose moisture quickly, so I recommend serving the day they are made. To make ahead of time, cool the bread completely then wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a ziplock freezer bag or a double wrapping of foil. Freeze up to 2 months.
When ready to enjoy again make sure the bread is at room temperature and not chilled. If the bread is cold it will not be soft and have a drier texture. For best taste and texture, warm briefly before serving.
Either wrap in paper towel and microwave for a few seconds or Italian bread can also be warmed in the oven. Wrap it completely in foil and place in a 350ºF oven for 10-15 minutes.
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Easy, Homemade Gluten-Free Italian Bread (Failproof)
- 1 ½ cup (213 g) gluten free all purpose flour I highly recommend Cup4Cup gluten-free flour blend
- 3 tablespoons (31 g) potato starch see recipe notes for substitution
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) psyllium husk powder helps with bread moisture & structure (what is psyllium husk?)
- 1 (9 g) packet (2 ¼ tsp) instant rapid rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon (6 g) salt
- ½-¾* cup (180 g) warm water (112°F) *see recipe notes for amount
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (16 g) apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (21 g) honey
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) olive oil
- egg white for brushing on before baking
- Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together gluten free flour, potato starch, yeast, psyllium husk powder, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.1 ½ cup (213 g) gluten free all purpose flour,3 tablespoons (31 g) potato starch,2 tablespoons (20 g) psyllium husk powder,1 (9 g) packet (2 ¼ tsp) instant rapid rise yeast,1 teaspoon (5 g) baking powder,1 ¼ teaspoon (6 g) salt
- Add warm water (see recipe note below), eggs, apple cider vinegar, honey, and oil. Mix on low speed to let the dough come together, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes (this helps thicken the batter), scraping down paddle and bowl halfway through. The batter will be thick and stiff, but still slightly sticky.½-¾* cup (180 g) warm water (112°F),2 large eggs,1 tablespoon (16 g) apple cider vinegar,1 tablespoon (21 g) honey,1 tablespoon (15 g) olive oil
- Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and grease lightly with olive oil. Transfer the dough onto the parchment. Use greased hands (spray nonstick cooking spray on them or rub with a little bit of olive oil) to knead and shape into a smooth ball.
- Shape the ball into a smooth 12 X 2 ½-inch log using greased hands. (See images in the recipe post.) Use a sharp knife to slash 5-6 diagonal slits on top, about ¼-inch deep.
- Place a large piece of greased plastic wrap over the shaped bread and let rise in warm, draft free place for 40 minutes. The bread will not be fully risen, but will rise more as it bakes due to the baking powder. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400℉.
- When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Brush all over the exterior of the bread.egg white
- Throw 5-6 ice cubes at the bottom of the oven (this creates a steamy environment for a crisp outer crust) and place the baking sheet on the middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes. Loosely tent a large piece of foil over the baking sheet (to prevent the bread from over-browning) and reduce the oven temp to 350℉. Bake for 20 minutes longer. The internal temperature should be 210℉.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before slicing, about 30-45 minutes.
*water AmountSome readers have written in saying their batter has been too thin. As to not risk the recipe potentially not turning out, I would recommend starting with 1/2 cup water and gradually adding more until the dough looks like the image in the recipe post. My bread always takes the full 3/4 cup. It should be stiff, yet still be able to be moved around by the paddle attachment, and a little sticky. Also make sure it mixes for a couple minutes before determining if the water needs to be adjusted. It thickens as it mixes.
Storing, Freezing, and ReheatingGluten-free breads lose moisture quickly, so I recommend serving the day they are made. To make ahead of time, cool the bread completely then wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a ziplock freezer bag or a double wrapping of foil. Freeze up to 2 months. When ready to enjoy again make sure the bread is at room temperature and not chilled. If the bread is cold it will not be soft and have a drier texture. For best taste and texture, warm briefly before serving. Either wrap in paper towel and microwave for a few seconds or Italian bread can also be warmed in the oven. Wrap it completely in foil and place in a 350ºF oven for 10-15 minutes.
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