Soft and fluffy Italian bread is made in the bread machine with simple ingredients- olive oil, water, milk, bread flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Let the bread maker do all the work for you! This bread maker recipe makes a delicious classic Italian bread loaf and can be used for many different purposes, from sandwiches to croutons to dinner rolls!
Bread Machine Italian Bread is an easy and delicious bread maker recipe that can be used for a variety of purposes. From serving with your favorite pasta dinner to using as a sandwich roll with your favorite deli meat sub, Italian bread is a versatile classic that will always have a place in a bread maker's home.
This recipe uses good quality olive oil (a must for true Italian bread), warm milk and brown sugar to produce a soft, fluffy, and mild flavored bread. The taste of Italian bread is dependent upon olive oil, so it will only be as good as the one you use.
This recipe is also easier than most. Many bread machine Italian bread recipes call for you to let the dough rise on one surface for a second time, and then carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. My recipe eliminates that step by completing the second rise on the parchment lined baking sheet.
It's such an easy solution that prevents one of the biggest complaints about making Italian bread- that it was too difficult to transfer the dough to a baking sheet without ruining the shape or deflating it!
Below I give you more tips for bread making success, whether for this recipe or another. Plus, instructions for baking in the oven, air fryer, and bread maker and shaping the dough for different uses.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Bread flour: substitute with all-purpose flour only if absolutely necessary (see why under the "Recipe Tips and FAQs" section below). For 4 cups bread flour, substitute with 4 cups all-purpose flour.
- Milk: ideally, use a higher fat milk like whole or 2% milk to yield the softest bread. 1%, skim, or even lactose-free milk can be used if you'd prefer.
- Olive oil: a high quality olive oil is necessary for the flavor that Italian bread is known to have, so make sure you're using a great tasting oil! My favorites are Monini Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Colavita Italian Blend.
- Brown sugar: light brown sugar is preferred, but white sugar can also be used.
- Yeast: active dry, instant, or bread machine yeast are all fine to use in the bread maker (see "Recipe Tips and FAQs" below for more information about bread machines and yeast).
- Egg white and water: brushing the dough before baking with an egg wash results in a golden brown, slightly crisp yet soft crust.
To make bread machine Italian bread you need these items:
- Bread maker: I have this Cuisinart bread machine and I love it!
- Bread slicer or bread knife: this Calphalon bread knife is one of the best I've used.
- Bread box: to keep the bread stored in optimal conditions. Laura's Green Kitchen boxes are my favorite!
- Bread bag: I love the look of gifting bread in a linen bag or storing at home in plastic reusable bags.
- Baking sheet: not needed if you'd like to bake it in the bread machine.
- Freezer storage bags, if freezing.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- The best type of flour to use in this recipe is bread flour. The difference between bread flour and all purpose flour is the protein content. Bread flour has a higher protein content and breads make with it will rise slightly more and absorb a little more water than all-purpose flour. Using bread flour will give you a little more rise, fluffiness, and softness. Stick with bread flour for any yeast bread whenever possible.
- Always test your yeast. It's important to make sure that your yeast is still active. If the yeast is dead, the bread won't rise and you'll have to start over. To test your yeast, add 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 ¼ teaspoon of yeast to ¼ cup of warm water. Wait 5 minutes. If it foams, then it's good to use. If not, you need new yeast.
- Use a digital thermometer to make sure your water is not too hot nor too cold. Water that is too cold will not activate the yeast and water that is too hot will kill your yeast. Both will cause your bread not to rise.
Instant yeast, active dry yeast, and bread machine yeast are all okay to use in the bread machine. Instant yeast rises and creates flavor with 1 rise, while active dry yeast takes 2 rises. Because we allow Italian bread to rise twice, you can use either instant or active dry yeast.
Bread machine yeast is a specially formulated instant yeast that's made to rise twice as fast as active dry yeast. If you choose bread machine yeast, your dough will rise quicker. This may be good during the second rise, if you don't want to wait too long or if you're in a time crunch to bake it.
However, when using the different yeasts, you'll see insignificant if any, differences in the texture or shape of this Italian bread recipe.
Shaping and Baking Options
This recipe makes one 2 lb loaf or two 1 lb loaves. You can also shape it into 6 hoagie rolls or 8 hamburger style buns/dinner rolls. Italian bread can be oven-baked, air fried, or baked in the bread machine.
Oven baking: perfect for making into 2 small loaves, hoagie rolls or dinner rolls. It takes about 30 minutes and you have control over the shape of the bread.
Air frying: air frying bread is slightly quicker than baking it in a standard oven, at about 20 minutes. As with oven baking, you can make 2 small loaves, sandwich or dinner rolls. Use the bake setting at 350 degrees F and low convection for the best outcome.
Baking in the bread machine: this is the easiest method and eliminates steps 3-7. However, you lose control over shaping the bread and will have 1 large loaf the shape of your bread pan. To bake in the bread machine, use the "Italian Bread" setting on your bread maker. If your brand does not have this setting, use the "Basic/White Bread" setting.
Step 1: Add the warm water, warm milk, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast to the bread pan in this order. *The ingredients are listed in the order that Cuisinart machines require them to go. For other brands, check your manual for the correct order to add ingredients.
Step 2: Select the dough setting. Choose the 2 lb loaf size and press start.
Step 3: While the dough kneads, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle generously with cornmeal.
Step 4: When the cycle has finished, remove the dough and separate into 2 dough balls. Roll each into a rounded log about 10 inches long, being careful that the loaves are far enough apart that they will not touch while rising. Cover with a damp heavy towel and put in a warm place. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
Step 5: Remove the towel and carefully slice a line down the center of each loaf without deflating the dough. In a small bowl, mix the egg white and 1 tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture onto the top and sides of the dough.
Step 6: Bake at 350° F for 25-30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.
To get the most out of your homemade bread, it must be stored properly. Italian bread should be stored in an airtight bread bag or bread box. It will keep for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days in the fridge and around 6 months in the freezer.
For freezer storage, wrap tightly in plastic and then put into a freezer safe baggie. Freeze the loaf unsliced, or in slices for quick defrosting of individual servings.
How To Use Italian Bread
- Serve with your favorite pasta dinner, like spaghetti and meat sauce, fettuccine alfredo, and tortellini with tomato spinach cream sauce.
- Toast and spread with roasted tomatoes.
- Make garlic bread by spreading on roasted garlic cloves.
- Dip into creamy winter soups, like broccoli cheddar soup, loaded baked potato soup, and chicken parmesan soup.
- Italian deli meat sandwiches.
- Slice and turn into a grilled cheese sandwich.
- Make homemade croutons.
Bread Machine Italian Bread
- ⅔ cup warm water (approximately 110°F)
- ⅔ cup warm milk (approximately 110°F)
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 ¼ tsp yeast
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- Add the warm water, warm milk, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast to the bread pan in that order. *The ingredients are listed in the order that Cuisinart machines require them to go. For other brands, check your manual for the correct order to add ingredients.
- Select the dough setting. Choose the 2 lb loaf size and press start.
- While the dough kneads, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle generously with cornmeal.
- When the cycle has finished, remove the dough and separate into 2 dough balls. Roll each into a rounded log about 10 inches long, being careful that the loaves are far enough apart that they will not touch while rising. Cover with a damp heavy towel and put in a warm place. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
- Remove the towel and carefully slice a line down the center of each loaf without deflating the dough.
- In a small bowl, mix the egg white and 1 tablespoon of water. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture onto the top and sides of the dough.
- Bake at 350° F for 25-30 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.