This fluffy focaccia recipe is by far the most popular recipe on my site, and for good reason! Through countless experiments, I’ve developed a delicious, from-scratch bread with a crisp exterior and a soft, fluffy inner crumb. An overnight rise in the refrigerator slows fermentation and builds a ton of complex flavor.
See why so many readers love this focaccia recipe!
“This recipe is a keeper! I did a 26hr fermenting period and followed the instructions as I am very much a novice at bread. All of my previous attempts at bread making have been embarrassing. But this! My focaccia using your recipe was beautiful, perfectly crispy on the outside, so fluffy on the inside. I have been craving this kind of focaccia bread, which I used to order all the time from a restaurant now thousands of miles away. You just helped me make restaurant-quality focaccia myself at home…on the cheap. Thank you for sharing this recipe!”-KF ★★★★★
What is Focaccia?
Focaccia is loosely described as a flat baked bread from Italy. It is similar to pizza dough, and can be eaten in many ways — eaten plain, dipped into olive oil, made into a sandwich, or even cut up for croutons or a panzanella salad.
I’ve made focaccia many times, but I never realized just how many different variations of this bread existed until I began researching to develop my own version. In my experiments, I learned about fermentation time, pan sizes, pan thickness, and how oven temperature could yield dramatically different results.
A Short History
Historians believe focaccia was either invented by the Etruscans in Italy or by the Ancient Greeks. That said, it’s difficult to nail down a specific time or event that led to its creation, as many cultures developed their own version of flatbread from ancient times.
Of the word focaccia, The American Mag notes it “comes from the Latin panis focacius, where ‘panis’ means bread and ‘focacius’ is the word for ‘the center of the fireplace,’ where this popular food was once baked.”
In Italy, there are many different types of flatbread, from focaccia to pizza bianca to schiacciata. Though focaccia is challenging to define, most varieties contain these similarities:
- Ingredients: Almost all focaccia varieties use flour, water, salt, oil, and yeast.
- Two rising periods: In the first period, the dough is mixed together, then set to rest and rise (also called bulk fermentation). In the latter period, the dough is deflated, then transferred to a pan for a second rise.
- Dimpling: Before baking, the dough is dimpled using your fingers. Some focaccia variations require light dimpling, while others are more aggressive.
- Baked: In my research, I found all varieties were baked in an oven.
But there are also differences in oven temperature and even toppings. Focaccia Genovese uses a salt brine and bakes at a lower temperature than pizza, while Focaccia di Recco is paper-thin dough stuffed with cheese, yielding a thin, crispy pastry. Then you have Tuscan Schiacciata which is typically topped with rosemary or grapes and Focaccia Barese (from Bari) which uses semolina and boiled potatoes.
What Makes This Recipe Special
Given the many variations, there is no way to create a “perfect” focaccia that suits everyone’s preference. That said, this recipe is my favorite way to do it! I’ve tested and adjusted this many times to achieve a crunchy exterior and moist, soft, and airy interior.
The recipe is simple, but it takes time. You can’t speed it up; and in my opinion, you wouldn’t want to. Here, the dough undergoes a slow, cold fermentation in the fridge through an overnight rise and develops a complex flavor and optimal texture.
I highly recommend trying this focaccia recipe as written, then experimenting with different variables to achieve your perfect focaccia.
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Focaccia uses very few ingredients, but each one is pivotal to the success of the recipe.
- Flour: Flour with a high protein content (at least 11%) is essential for strong gluten formation leading to that fluffy texture we know and love! I typically use bread flour or Antimo Caputo’s 00 Flour. In a pinch, you can use King Arthur’s all-purpose flour, which has a protein content of 11.7%.
- Water: This type of focaccia has a higher hydration, meaning the ratio of water to flour is quite high. The high hydration level gives the bread a moist and spongy texture.
- Instant Yeast: I’m a huge proponent of instant yeast. Unlike active dry yeast, instant yeast can be added directly to dry ingredients, while active dry yeast traditionally needs to be “activated” in water to dissolve (in the last few years, commercially available active yeast allegedly does not need activation, but I recommend doing it to confirm the yeast is actually still alive). Note: Do not purchase ‘RapidRise’ style Instant Yeast; this form of yeast does not do well for longer rises and will not fare well in the fridge.
- Kosher Salt: Salt assumes many roles in baking, from strengthening gluten to creating better elasticity and lowering stickiness. And there’s the obvious one: providing flavor! Salt also slows down fermentation, which is super important as we mentioned in helping develop flavor. In my recipe testing, I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (DCKS). You can use any kind of salt you like, but because DCKS has less “saltiness”, I’ve noted how to adjust your salt levels according to the type of salt you’re using.
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil adds so much flavor and moisture to this focaccia. That being said, you don’t need to use your fanciest olive oil here, especially for the dough! I recommend an everyday olive oil for the dough. For dimpling and drizzling, you can use a more premium variety.
How to Make Crispy and Fluffy Focaccia
Ready to get started? Let’s walk through each step below so that you can feel confident in making your best focaccia!
Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients
Step 2: Add the wet ingredients
Step 3: Mix the dough
Step 4: Complete 4 sets of stretch and fold
💡What is a stretch and fold?💡
A stretch and fold is a gluten strengthening technique in breadmaking where you pick up and stretch your dough and fold it onto the other side. It helps strengthen your dough without kneading — it’s a much more lax way to create gluten.
If you visualize your dough as a rough rectangle with four corners, one “set” of a stretch and fold means: 1) picking up the dough from one corner, stretching it upwards until it feels taut, then folding it onto the opposite corner, 2) rotating the bowl 180 degrees, then stretching and folding again, 3) rotating the bowl 90 degrees, stretching and folding, 4) turning the bowl 180 degrees, stretching, and folding again onto the other side.
In total, each “set” involves rotating, stretching, and folding 4 times, with a 30 minute break to allow the gluten to relax. Therefore, 4 sets means you’re stretching and folding sixteen times. The accompanying photo and video below demonstrate the technique.
Step 5: Chill and ferment the dough
Step 6: Bring the dough to room temperature
Step 7: Dimple and top the dough
Step 8: Bake!
Bake the focaccia in the oven until golden-brown and crispy on the top and bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before digging in!
The beauty of this recipe comes from how many variations you can try.
- Temperature: I like to start the focaccia at 500°F, but I’ve also baked it solely at 450°F or even 550°F. The higher the temperature, the sooner the outside will brown and form a crust. From my experimentation, I noticed higher temperatures with a thinner dough lead to crispier focaccia. On the other hand, lower temperatures with thicker doughs yield a softer crumb.
- Fermentation Time: This dough can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours. The longer the ferment, the more the flavor develops. Additionally, longer fermentation times yield bubblier focaccias.
- Liquids: I’ve successfully subbed apple cider and other beverages for some of the water, producing a moist interior with a slight sweetness. Play around with hard cider, beer, even orange juice — the sky’s the limit! I recommend subbing 20% – 50% of the water.
- Toppings: Thinly sliced red onion, olives, garlic, woody herbs like rosemary, grapes, chilies, cheese, and za’atar spice all make great toppings. Tomatoes are delicious as well, though raw tomatoes can make the crust a bit soggy, so pre-cook them first to remove some moisture. Note: Some ingredients (like garlic) can burn at a high baking temperature, depending on what you use. I find that a pre-cooked soft, garlic confit or roasted garlic is ideal.
- Pan Shape/Size: I typically bake this focaccia in a non-stick aluminized steel 9×13 pan for a thicker, fluffier bread. You can also bake it in an 18×12 pan for a thinner, sandwich-style one (but scale the recipe 20% if so). I’ve also used cake pans and cast iron pans. Keep in mind, baking times may vary if you use a different type of pan!
Yes, it’s expected that the dough will still rise in the fridge! The fermentation will be slower than at room temperature, but you should still see visible bubbling and rising.
I love eating this focaccia alongside my white bean soup, mushroom bourguignon, or this skillet chili.
It takes around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven and the baking pan you use!
Focaccia is best enjoyed the same day it’s made but will continue to taste fresh for 2 to 3 days at room temperature as long as it’s stored in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Leftover focaccia can be reheated, wrapped in foil in the oven, at 350°F/177°C, for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through.
Did you try this recipe? I would love to hear your feedback! Be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment below.
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Note: This post was last updated on 11/6/2022 to provide step-by-step photos and clearer instructions. I also doubled the amount of yeast in the bread for a bubblier texture. If you tried this recipe prior to these changes, and liked the result, feel free to use 1.6 grams (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast instead of 3.2 grams.
Crispy and Fluffy Focaccia (No-Knead) Recipe
- 1 9-inch by 13-inch metal cake pan
- 600 g high-protein 00 flour or bread flour, or 5 cups | For 00 flour, I recommend Antimo Caputo
- 3.2 g instant yeast, or 1 teaspoon
- 18 g diamond-crystal kosher salt, or 1 tablespoon | If using another kosher salt or table salt, use 12g
- 450 g room temperature water, or 450ml
- 30 g extra-virgin olive oil, or 33ml | plus more for dimpling the focaccia
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, instant yeast, and salt) using a wooden spoon.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl, and pour in the water and olive oil into the well. Slowly begin incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Continue mixing, using the wooden spoon or your hands, until no dry bits remain, about 3 minutes. The dough will feel very wet and sticky.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest, covered, for 20 minutes. This step helps the dough begin to hydrate and kickstart gluten development.
- Bulk Fermentation: Perform four sets of stretch and fold every 30 minutes over the course of 2 hours (see recipe post for visual demonstration). In between each set, keep the dough covered with plastic wrap, allowing it to rest in between each set. If the dough feels too sticky, moisten your hands with water for easier stretching.
- At the end of the 2 hours, the dough should have risen slightly and shown some signs of bubbling/yeast activity. If it doesn't show any signs of activity, let sit at room temperature for another hour.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then chill in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours up to 72 hours. This step encourages slow fermentation of the dough, enhancing flavor and texture development.
- After allowing the dough to ferment, remove the bowl from the fridge. Generously grease the entirety of the baking pan with at least 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Punch down and deflate the dough with your hands. Then, using a bench scraper or your hands, tilt the bowl and scrape the dough onto the oiled pan in one piece. Coat the dough with the oil from the pan on all sides. Ensure the smoother side of the dough remains face-up.
- Stretch the dough gently towards the edges of the pan. It will likely resist a lot of stretching initially, as the dough needs to relax and come to room temperature. TIP: I often place my hands on the underside of the dough to stretch, as I think it stretches more easily and evenly.
- Stretch the dough approximately every 20 minutes until it stretches all the way to the corners of the pan, about 1 hour.
- Let dough rest, uncovered, for an additional 2 to 4 hours until it reaches room temperature, doubles in size, and appears quite bubbly. About an hour before the dough has fully risen, adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F/260°C.
- Once the dough has risen, drizzle another 2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the top. Generously top with flaky sea salt (or kosher salt), and add any toppings.
- Moisten your hands with a bit of olive oil (this helps your hands from sticking to the dough). Dimple the dough by gently pressing your fingers into the dough all over the top.
- Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Rotate the pan 180°, then reduce the heat to 450°F/232°C and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the top and bottom. If you find the bottom is browning too quickly compared to the top, you can move the pan to a higher rack. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with foil. If both sides are browning too quickly, turn heat down to 425°F/218°C.
- Remove from the oven, then drizzle with a bit more olive oil.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer focaccia to a cooling rack or cutting board to cool completely. If you slice the bread while it’s still hot, some of the moisture from the focaccia will release and evaporate leading to a drier texture.
- Once cooled, slice the bread as desired and enjoy!
- For best results, use a scale.
- For a crispier bottom, bake your focaccia directly on top of a preheated baking steel.
- Equipment: If you’re using a pan that is less non-stick, make sure to put a bit more oil on the bottom and/or lay some parchment paper down. My favorite pan is this non-stick 9×13 aluminized steel pan.
- Storage: Focaccia is best enjoyed the same day it’s made but will continue to taste fresh up to 3 days after baking as long as it’s stored in an airtight container or plastic bag.
- Leftovers: Leftover focaccia can be reheated, wrapped in foil in the oven, at 350°F/177°C, for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through. You can make croutons by cutting up leftover focaccia into bite-sized cubes, tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking at 375°F for 6 to 10 minutes until crispy. I also make breadcrumbs by grinding the stale bread in a food processor.