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Mom's Italian Bread Recipe

Mom's Italian Bread Recipe

I think Mom used to bake at least four of these tender loaves at once, and they never lasted long. She served the bread with every Italian meal. I love it toasted, too. —Linda Harrington, Windham, New Hampshire
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + rising Bake: 20 min. + cooling YIELD:24 servings


  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • 1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  • 2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into a loaf. Place each loaf seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • 4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across top of each loaf. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

Recipe Note

Test Kitchen Tip; To ensure a light texture be sure to take the time to knead well. After kneading the first few minutes, press your thumb into the dough. If the indent stays, you're done. If not, knead a few more minutes.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 106 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 197mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch.

Reviews for Mom's Italian Bread

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14Geraldine User ID: 8944812 269597
Reviewed Jul. 17, 2017

"I gave it 5* because it is quick and easy to make. I have one negative that I noticed when I switched to regular salt instead of the real salt I had been using, (only because I ran out). The bread tasted extremely salty. Has anyone else noticed this? It makes great toast and my friends love when I bake it for them. I just cannot get over that salty taste. If I drop the amount of salt in the recipe, will that make a difference?"

14Geraldine User ID: 8944812 269596
Reviewed Jul. 17, 2017
Gail User ID: 9111525 263552
Reviewed Mar. 16, 2017

"I made this bread exactly as listed. Oh my. Perfection isn't even a big enough word for how excited my family was over this loaf! And the toast! THE TOAST! It was crispy and perfect! Made this dough two more times in succession and will be making it again later tonight due to family demand!"

Kay User ID: 8988659 261165
Reviewed Feb. 12, 2017

"I wrote a review earlier today. I baked it for the designated amount and decided it is nothing like the picture. It's very heavy, dense and bland, I won't be making it again."

Kay User ID: 8988659 261159
Reviewed Feb. 11, 2017 Edited Feb. 12, 2017

"First time making it, I tend to take bread out too early. I should have let it bake another 5 minutes. Thought that orange butter would be great on it. It was easy enough but still bland."

lvarner User ID: 35803 255151
Reviewed Oct. 8, 2016

"I made this recipe for the first time today. I halved the recipe to make one loaf. It was delicious! My husband could not stop eating it. This bread was relatively simple to make, and it turned out great. It had a nice crrust, and a soft interior. This is a reipce that I will definitively make again!"

2sushi User ID: 8612515 245435
Reviewed Mar. 14, 2016

"I've made this recipe dozens of times!! Sometimes I put 2 cups of whole wheat flour in just to mix it up a bit. I've never had a fail and my family always asks for this bread if I ask them for requests. I do find that I add different amounts of flour depending on the weather so I'm careful when adding in the last 2.5 cups of flour. Normally I can stop at 2 cups and the dough is beautiful. Thanks for this great recipe."

rahcarpenter User ID: 8763741 243417
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2016

"I have to agree with the other reviews. This was a very dense and heavy bread that never browned. I think that there is too much flour. It dried out quickly."

teryn69 User ID: 6818421 241551
Reviewed Jan. 11, 2016

"I made my spaghetti sauce today for spaghetti, and thought this bread would be perfect to sop up the leftover sauce in our bowls. It surely didn't disappoint! I always use quick rise yeast and beat all the ingredients in my Kitchenaid mixer, then knead it on medium for 5 minutes. I let it rest for 10 min. in the bowl, then continued with the recipe, except I only needed to let it rise for 30 min. I brushed the tops before baking with melted butter...delicious! This is in my recipe box now! Thank you Linda for an outstanding recipe!"

Sara89 User ID: 8643257 238507
Reviewed Nov. 30, 2015

"This has become my go-to bread recipe. I've made the dough the traditional way and with my bread machine on dough setting. It comes out perfect every time! I always get compliments when I make it with dinner and I've shared the recipe with a few friends. Absolutely the BEST!"

sierraj10 User ID: 8480730 231064
Reviewed Aug. 11, 2015

"I found this a wonderfully easy recipe. My family loves the crusty exterior!"

shannondobos User ID: 5115022 228442
Reviewed Jun. 23, 2015

"I had a soup going in the slow cooker today, and was craving some fresh bread. This recipe looked easy, and it really delivered! I made it exactly as written. It was the perfect density, with a nice chewy crust....perfect for dipping! This would make a great garlic toast base as well. I'll definitely make these loaves again."

LeslieH User ID: 191346 210384
Reviewed Sep. 14, 2014

"Loved how the loaves had a crispy crust, but soft on the inside."

catlovesbooks User ID: 4808399 97186
Reviewed May. 24, 2013

"This is a fantastic recipe. I don't like to knead dough, so I use a breadmaker to make dough and then resume the directions when I form the loaves. It turns out great, except I do have to paint the loaves so that they brown in the oven."

Fantastical Sharing User ID: 6832830 163386
Reviewed Dec. 3, 2012

"I have had such trouble with bread recipes and finding one that was just right. I am done searching. This is the best bread I've ever made and it was so simple. My husband agreed that it was the best I've made to date. It wasn't too dense or too airy. It stayed soft. It had a nice crust. It tasted absolutely incredible and my house smelled amazing!"

ferndale52 User ID: 4154455 103693
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2011

"easy to make, texture is substantial, but flavor is lacking"

gozsgirl User ID: 4716050 177209
Reviewed Feb. 21, 2011

"worked out great (adding the sugar to the yeast & water first)...great with garlic butter!"

gozsgirl User ID: 4716050 163385
Reviewed Feb. 21, 2011

"I haven't tried the recipe yet, but I do know that yeast requires sugar, so I will try it today by putting the sugar in the water with the yeast...we'll see what happens"

welchjc43 User ID: 5491663 177325
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2011

"great results and loved the bread! I used instant yeast that does not require proofing, just mix with dry ingredients. Other than that, followed the recipe exactly as given. I have made it 3 times; perfect every time."

dmoehring User ID: 5734543 109772
Reviewed Feb. 5, 2011

"This is a really good basic bread recipe. I don't use all 5 1/2 cups of flour since it's so dry here. The more flour used, the more dense and heavy the bread comes out. I usually start with adding the sugar and salt with the yeast, then let it sit for about 5 min until it foams, making sure the temp of the mixture doesn't fall below 110 degrees. Then I put in 3 cups flour with the yeast mixture until its worked in. Add more flour until it forms a sticky dough ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Its usually a little less than 4 cups for me. If your dough ball get too flaky add more water. Hope this helps those who are struggling with this recipe."

qwm User ID: 1379428 178407
Reviewed Jan. 18, 2011

"Wow! Such mixed results. I am wondering if ALL of the instructions are being followed, i.e. kind of yeast, water temp, amounts of ingredients, etc. Remember the old saying, "If it ain't broke . . .""

dandiwolff User ID: 4532580 177324
Reviewed Jan. 16, 2011

"I wanted to make the dough in a bread machine so I took the advice of "lyonflying" and adjusted the amount of the ingredients to those suggested. DO NOT DO THIS! Too much water for the amount of flour. I ended up with a big soupy mess and had to throw it away. I will try this recipe as it is written and then decide."

tinaguerr User ID: 2541137 103692
Reviewed Jan. 16, 2011

"I tried this recipe twice. Both times it was a disaster. The dough doesn't rise very well, it is as heavy as a bowling ball, it didn't brown in the oven without an egg wash, and the inside is doughy. I carefully did each step of the recipe.. either something is missing or something is wrong with it all together. I've made italian bread before, made braided bread, made easter bread and never once had this problem and it isn't the yeast I went out and bought brand new today.. will never make it again."

wingsnutoo User ID: 2053266 181875
Reviewed Jan. 16, 2011

"This was an easy, able to make after work, treat for supper. I followed the recipe and wonderful results. Tastes great, slices well, and family loves it, they ate both loaves within 15 minutes. I have to make 2 batches now."

lyonflying User ID: 811568 163384
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"For those having problems with this recipe, try: 1½ cups water, 2 tsp. sugar, 1½ tsp. salt, 3 cups flour and 2 tsp. yeast in your bread machine on the dough cycle. This is very close in texture and taste to Italian bread."

BLOG User ID: 4475381 142846
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"mine turned out like the other person's did, it never browned and it did not really rise well either, It was awful, i have a bread and roll recipe and it always turns out great.

put an egg in 1 1/2 cups of warm water,add to the bread machine , then put 1/4 c. oil, 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 t, salt, 4 1/4 cups of bread flour and 2 packages of yeast, set it on the dough cycle, after it stops ,form small rolls and let them rise until doubled in size or 1 hour. preheat oven to 400 degrees, bake for 10 min. delicious,"

Callianne User ID: 5090136 109770
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"Does anyone know if this can be modified for a bread-maker using the dough setting? I like to use quick-Rise yeast, as I generally get better results with it. Any advice, please?"

meaghs User ID: 5708382 160198
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"This recipe was excellent. I did use an egg wash and it turned out a beautiful golden brown. This recipe is very forgiving - I accidently doubled the yeast and accidently forgot to add any salt at all and it was still fine!!! Big hit - thanks :))"

GraminMaine User ID: 2091461 165321
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"I would like to make this but my husband is on a 2000mg sodium diet, which is less than 1 tsp a DAY. How little salt can I use and still come out OK."

mdmunster User ID: 1595842 118144
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"This bread is awesome. My grandmother always made this bread and now that she is gone, the grandkids (me and my brother) make it. I love it toasted too!"

R Franklin User ID: 4611760 163383
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011

"Excellent and easy. One small suggstion-instead of adding the sugar with the flour, add it to the yeast and water. This is probably the reason why crankysad's didn't work as the yeast in water that warm needs a bit of 'food', which is what the sugar is to the yeast. This recipe can also be made by mixing all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (should double the sugar to 2tsp) and pouring the warm liquid into the center and mixing with a paddle until a ball forms, and then use a dough hook and/or knead. Very tasty and simple so it goes very well with the olive oil dip."

maryjjones User ID: 1518146 109769
Reviewed Jan. 14, 2011


dianegaj User ID: 5622639 210383
Reviewed Dec. 11, 2010

"it was okay"

crankysad User ID: 5474311 177322
Reviewed Oct. 28, 2010

"From reading the reviews I must have done something wrong. I made half a batch using my breadmakers dough setting and my french bread curved rack/pan. I cooked it 5-10 minutes longer than it suggested and it never got golden, it stayed pale and white and the inside was gray and doughy. I have successfully made some nice bread in the past and was disappointed with this receipe but seeing the review maybe I did something wrong. I might try again, I just hate using so much flour on a receipe I might not like."

Laura.Farnell User ID: 3364390 163374
Reviewed Sep. 18, 2010

"I love how this recipe has so few ingredients and yet tastes so great! I brushed the outside with butter just after baking and added 1 T. of butter to the ingredients to help prevent it from drying out as quickly and it did not affect the texture."

Sprowl User ID: 29186 177205
Reviewed May. 4, 2010

"I've been baking bread for at least 35 years.

This is one of my favorites. It makes the best toast ever. I have no desire to put anything on it except butter. If you are a beginner, start with this one--it's easy."

aug2295 User ID: 4631582 97185
Reviewed Apr. 20, 2010

"This bread comes out perfect. This recipe makes a lot! Prepare for a crowd with this."

debmansur User ID: 1542916 110274
Reviewed Feb. 24, 2010

"This bread is wonderful! I bake at least 2 times a week because my husband can't get enough of it.

Debbie Mansur"

Dave_A User ID: 1210710 160194
Reviewed Feb. 23, 2010

"I've made these several times! I did add egg wash to the top and sides! Beautiful and Tasty"

traceyh User ID: 3947674 176650
Reviewed Feb. 20, 2010

"This bread is SO good. It's super easy to make and a hit with the whole family. My husband says it is by far one of his favorites!"

[email protected] User ID: 1918254 163373
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2010

"Was looking for a new bread recipe to go with dinner. It is delicious, would make again and again and again."

debmansur User ID: 1542916 110273
Reviewed Jan. 8, 2010

"Thought I would try this - my husband loves it and now I make 4 loaves a week also! Made it for Christmas dinner and had to send a loaf home with my stepdaughter who couldn't get enough of it! Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!

Debbie Mansur, Mpls."

GwenAnderson User ID: 1444820 94307
Reviewed Dec. 30, 2009

"Already made this twice in two weeks. Will be making it again tomorrow. Makes great toast in the morning too! Also easy to prepare."

KScales User ID: 3262967 160185
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2009

"The recipe comments were incorrectly printed here. They should read, “I think Mom used to bake at least four of these tender loaves at once, and they never lasted long. She served the bread with every Italian meal. I love it toasted, too.” We apologize for the error and it will be corrected soon.

Taste of Home Test Kitchen"

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