Whole wheat no-knead bread: flavorful, fiber-rich, and ready when you are

OK, so you’ve made no-knead bread. Maybe you’ve taken that no-knead dough and shaped it into pizza crust; or frozen it for future use. What’s your next delicious experiment? Whole wheat no-knead bread — naturally!

Thankfully, we can go into this experiment well-armed with a thoroughly researched method and painstakingly tested recipe, thanks to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, who literally wrote the book — make that “books” — on no-knead bread.

Hertzberg and François have penned a series of no-knead bread books, starting with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and including Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, from which we drew inspiration for the recipe in this blog post. Experts in the genre, the authors are the go-to source for many seeking to emulate baker Jim Lahey, who premiered the concept, and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, who gave it wings by publishing his seminal no-knead recipe 10 years ago.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

This particular bread is made with three parts whole wheat flour to one part all-purpose, plus vital wheat gluten for extra strength and better “rise-ability.” The result? Whole wheat no-knead bread with plenty of lift and a nice wheaty flavor. Not only that, you’ll feel virtuous while eating it — win-win!

Just how simple is it to make crusty/chewy, flavor-packed whole wheat bread? Very. Click To Tweet

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Let’s start with some key ingredients: flour and yeast.

Our white whole wheat flour is lighter in color and milder in flavor than traditional red whole wheat flour — but make no mistake, it’s 100% whole wheat, with all of its vitamins, minerals and fiber intact.

We use Red Star Platinum or SAF instant yeast in our King Arthur test kitchen; both are reliable, strong yeasts with good staying power, perfect for no-knead bread.

Let’s go ahead and stir up this easy dough.

Mix the following together:

5 1/2 cups (22 ounces) whole wheat flour, preferably King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons, two 1/4-ounce packets) yeast, instant yeast preferred
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups (26 to 28 ounces) lukewarm water*

*If you measure flour by sprinkling it into a cup and sweeping off the excess, use 3 1/4 cups water. If you measure by dipping your measuring cup into the flour canister, tapping it to settle the flour, then leveling it off, use 3 1/2 cups water.

Timeout for baking science: dough hydration

Note: Read the following if you’re a bread science fan; it’s interesting, though not critical. The balance of water and flour is the only tricky part of this recipe; it’s important to get it just right. Nail it, and your bread will rise nicely, and have a chewy crust and moist interior. Too much water, it’ll have a very open (holey) texture and not rise well; too little water, and the bread will be dry.

The hydration (weight of water compared to flour) is 75% in this recipe for No-Knead Crusty White Bread. But since whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than all-purpose flour, we’re going to increase the hydration in this recipe to 85% to 90% or so.

Why the two options for amount of water? Use the lesser amount of water in a humid environment, or during the summer; the greater amount when it’s dry, or during the winter.

What’s the difference? Flour is like a sponge; it absorbs moisture from the air. When it’s humid out, your flour is moist; when it’s dry, so is your flour. Slight adjustments in liquid amounts in your yeast bread recipes, according to season/climate, can yield the consistent results you’re seeking.

Back to the recipe

Mix everything together until well combined. The dough will be quite sticky; it’s good we’re not going to have to knead it.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Transfer the dough to a big container

Put the sticky dough into a large bowl or dough bucket, greased or not; it’s not critical to grease the container.

Cover lightly; don’t snap the lid on the bucket.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Let the dough rise

Two hours at room temperature should do it; it’ll about double in size.

Stash the dough in the fridge

Cover the bowl or bucket so it’s airtight, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 7 days or so. The longer the dough chills, the more sourdough-like tang you’ll taste in your bread.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

When you’re ready to bake, remove the bucket from the fridge. You’ll notice the dough has collapsed a bit; this is perfectly normal.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Grab a softball-sized piece of dough

It should weigh about a pound. As you do this, you’ll see long strands of stretchy dough clinging to the sides of the container. This is evidence the dough has developed its gluten completely without kneading, simply by resting in the refrigerator. Cool, huh? (Pun intended.)

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Gently round the dough into a ball

Place it on a piece of parchment (I’m using a 9″ round here) that you’ve sprinkled with semolina, cornmeal, or flour. These will help keep the dough from sticking to the parchment.

And why place it on parchment, anyway? If you’re going to bake the bread on a pizza stone, parchment makes moving the loaf around fail-safe.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Let the loaf rise

Cover the loaf, and let it warm up and rise for 2 hours at warmish room temperature (about 75°F to 80°F is good). If your house is cold, try putting the bread in your turned-off oven with the oven light on. The light bulb will produce just enough heat to keep the loaf comfortable.

After 2 hours, your loaf should have expanded noticeably. It’ll spread more than rise upward, but that’s OK.

While the bread is rising, preheat your oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone, put it on a lower rack and let it heat up as the oven warms.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Spray, sprinkle, and slash

Just before baking, brush or spray the loaf with lukewarm water, and sprinkle it with seeds, if desired. I’m using our Artisan Bread Topping mix here.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Use a sharp knife or lame to give the bread three quick slashes, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ deep.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Bake until golden

Transfer the bread to the pizza stone; a giant spatula works well here.

If you’re not using a pizza stone, place the bread on a baking sheet, and put it into the oven.

Bake the bread for about 20 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads at least 190°F.

Whole wheat no-knead bread via @kingarthurflour

Slice and enjoy

Remove the bread from the oven, and inhale its rich scent. Wait until the bread is completely cool before slicing; cutting into a loaf of hot bread can make it irreparably gummy.

Store completely cooled bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.

But wait, there’s more! More dough in your fridge. This recipe makes about three medium loaves plus one smaller loaf. Try baking dough that’s been refrigerated for one day, then bake some after three days, then five days — see and taste the difference. You’ll soon discover your own sweet spot for length of chill.

Again, my thanks to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François for their relentless championing of this user-friendly bread-baking technique. And for their master recipe for whole wheat no-knead bread, which inspired this blog post. You can find our take on their recipe here, including a printable version.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Andrea

    Can I incorporate my sourdough starter? If so, how much and should I then reduce the flour? I have had your original starter for many years and it gets better and better over time. I’d like to add it to no knead artisan bread. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Andrea, we’d recommend starting by adding 1 cup of unfed sourdough starter to the dough. Reduce the water by 4 ounces (1/2 cup) and the flour by 4 ounces (a scant 1 cup). For additional details, check out our full blog post the describes how to add sourdough starter to a recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Linda, we tend to use Morton’s salt in the test kitchen, but you can use any brand of table salt (regular grain) and expect the same results. Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Shana, a pizza steel works similar to a pizza stone or a bread baking stone, which is what is shown in this post. Let the steel pre-heat with the oven and then slide the dough and parchment paper onto the hot steel to bake. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for asking, Mary Ann. We do have a Gluten-Free Whole-Grain Bread recipe that you might like to try. Gluten-free bread doesn’t quire kneading but rather vigorous mixing using an electric mixer. We recommend following the instructions that accompany this recipe for best results. Kye@KAF

  2. Constance

    I have questions as I have never tried a whole wheat recipe before.
    Using vital wheat gluten do I need to add extra water or does the recipe account for this?
    Can I use a dutch oven to bake? And how much of the dough would I use for a 4 quart Straub oven?
    Is the bake time really 20 minutes? Do I adjust time for the dutch oven?

    Thanks so much. I use your no-knead bread recipe all the time and love it about 3 days in fridge.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Constance, we’re glad to hear you’re eager to give this recipe a try. The recipe accounts for the addition of vital wheat gluten — simply use the amount of water given in the recipe.

      You can use a Dutch oven to bake your bread if you like. Simply let the shaped loaf rise right in the Dutch oven. If your Dutch oven can go into a hot oven, you’re welcome to pop it right in when the oven is hot and add about 10 minutes to the baking time. Or you can put it in a cold oven, turn the oven on when the dough has almost risen fully, and then bake for about 20 minutes. We hope you love this version of the recipe just as much as our classic No-Knead Crusty White Bread! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sure will, Toni. Go ahead and use our white whole wheat flour to make this tasty no-knead bread. No other changes need to be made to the recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Leisa

    Do I need to do anything different if I use my Dutch oven? I would love to use the one my children just gifted me. Appreciate any advise you could give me.
    Thank you,
    Leisa

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      A Dutch oven is the perfect vessel to bake this bread in, Leisa. Portion off an amount of dough that will fit into your Dutch oven, and then let the shaped loaf rise right in the pot. You can use either a hot oven or a cold oven approach, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. If your Dutch oven can go into a hot oven, you’re welcome to pop it right in when the oven is hot and add about 10 minutes to the baking time. Or you can put it in a cold oven, turn the oven on when the dough has almost risen fully, and then bake for about 20 minutes or until the center reaches 190°F. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Kathryn Watson

    I noticed there is no mention of the hot water added to a pan in the oven like in the original 5 min/day recipe. Is this not necessary for this version?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re welcome to experiment with adding steam to the baking process if you’re looking for a super crusty loaf, Kathryn. We liked the texture of the crust that came from baking on a pizza stone alone — give it a try and see what you think. If you want more chew and more crunch, add some steam the next time you bake. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure thing, Wanda! Portion our about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of dough, shape it into a loaf, and put it in a standard loaf pan to rise. You’ll want to bake at a slightly lower temperature — try 375°F for about 35-40 minutes. The center should be at least 190°F to ensure it has baked all the way through. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  5. Beth B

    I have been baking bread for years, and learned so much reading this blog! I now understand the “why” of certain aspects of bread baking and am excited to apply it. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  6. Kent

    I see you also included weight measurements instead of volume. If using weight measurements for the flour (22 for whole wheat and 8 1/2 oz for AP), how much water should be used?

    thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kent, if measuring by weight, you will want to use 26 to 28 ounces of water. Start by adding 26 ounces and add more, a few tablespoons at a time, only if the dough feels dry. It should be slightly tacky to the touch when it’s properly hydrated. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Tracy, if you omit the vital wheat gluten the dough won’t rise quite as much. The resulting bread will be slightly more heavy and dense than it otherwise would be. You may consider increasing the amount of all-purpose flour and reducing the amount of whole wheat, or you could also try using bread flour to ensure a strong rise. Good luck! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Patricia, you sure can use a Dutch oven to bake this bread. If you choose to use this kind of pot to bake your bread, skip the pizza stone. Let the shaped loaf rise right in the Dutch oven. If your Dutch oven can go into a hot oven, you’re welcome to pop it right in when the oven is hot and add about 10 minutes to the baking time. Or you can put it in a cold oven, turn the oven on when the dough has almost risen fully, and then bake for about 20 minutes. You’ll still achieve a wonderfully crusty loaf with a tender interior crumb. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  7. Danny Pritchard

    If I do not have vital gluten on hand can I substitute white bread flour for some of the all purpose flour and will it work

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Danny, substituting bread flour for all-purpose flour is a great idea if you don’t have any vital wheat gluten. The rise won’t be quite as strong, but it will work in a pinch. You might find that you need to add a few tablespoons of additional liquid to account for bread flour’s extra absorption. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The answer depends on which Dutch oven bread recipe you’re comparing it to, Mimi. It’s worth noting that you certainly can bake this loaf in a Dutch oven if you have one. Simply let the shaped loaf rise right in the Dutch oven. You can bake it in a hot oven and add 5-10 minutes to the baking time, or you can let the pot and dough pre-heat along with the oven for a cold oven start. Either way, the result will be a crusty, delicious loaf. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

  8. Jean

    I noticed that in the No Knead Crusty White Bread recipe, after the 2 hour room temp rising, you say that after being in the fridge for an additional 2 hours a round of bread may be made. In the No Knead White Whole Wheat recipe you suggest an overnight in the fridge before making a round. I understand that the flavors become more sour dough-ish as you approach the 7 day mark, but CAN you make a white whole wheat round after a 2 hour stint in the fridge? Outside of less sour dough taste, what would be sacrificed?
    Thanks for an informative site!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for your close attention to detail, Jean! It’s definitely a help when it comes to bread baking. If you’re pressed for time, you should feel free to bake a loaf of this after just 2 hrs in the fridge, but as with the all-purpose flour version, we’d expect slightly less complex flavor. Still enjoyable, just not quite the peak of what this dough can offer. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  9. Sarah

    How many loaves of bread would this recipe make? Also- what size dough bucket is needed for this recipe? Thanks for sharing- I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  10. Raul Coronado

    I have read all comments and still do not know when to take the lid off the Dutch oven to make crust better.
    Raul

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Raul, when baking this dough in a 3-4 quart Dutch oven I would recommend using 2-2 1/2 pounds of dough, rather than a one pound hunk. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 10-20 minutes. Barb@KAF

  11. Adam

    How did you guys arrive at the amount of yeast used in the recipe? Most recipes I have used in the past, like Ken Forkish breads from his book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, use far less yeast. Is there a such thing as an upper limit to the amount of yeast used in a bread? Also, is it possible to overproof in the fridge if the yeast is higher? I notice on other bread forums they tend to shy away from higher yeast percentage breads, whereas I don`t mind as it does save a ton of time, although I am not sure if it hinders flavor development (or improves it for that matter). Your thoughts guys? What would be an upper limit?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Adam, this recipe for no-knead bread is based on the master formula developed by experts Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. We’ve found that in baking this recipe, the yeast is just the right about to ensure a pleasant rise, even if the dough has been resting in the fridge for a few days. (It’s hard to overproof this dough in the fridge, but if you do leave it longer than 7 days, it may not rise properly during baking.) The amount of yeast may seem like a lot, but keep in mind this recipe makes about three loaves, which equates to about 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast per loaf, which is quite standard.

      Some artisan breads are made with far less yeast, and this is often because the baker wants to allow for a longer, slower fermentation, which enhances flavor. Depending on the recipe and rising time, you may use as little as 1 teaspoon of yeast, or up to 2 1/4 teaspoons (sometimes more) of instant yeast per pound (about 4 cups) of flour. Use tried and tested recipes from reliable sources, and the amount of yeast should be appropriate for the technique called for. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  12. Charla

    Can I use this as pizza dough as well? If so, what is the process after I remove the amount I want to use out of the fridge. Should I let it rise first and then form the pizza? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Charla! We actually have a full blog post that tells you how to turn your no-knead bread dough into pizza crust. You can use our regular No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe to make the dough, or you can use this whole wheat version to add more whole grains to your crust. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  13. Bonnie Lee Parker

    I was excited to see this recipe until I realized it was a multiple loaf quantity of dough. But then I thought, why not? I’ll just bake and freeze the additional loaves. It’s hard for one person to eat three loaves of bread in a week without ending up looking like a round loaf : )

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s true, Bonnie, this recipe makes three beautiful loaves. You can either reduce the recipe by diving all the ingredients in half, or you could bake all three loaves and share them with lucky neighbors or friends and family. We also have a full blog post written about freezing no-knead dough, which might be helpful to have even more options. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. Barbara Alpern

      Ti, if you’d like to leave out the vital wheat gluten in this recipe, I would recommend substituting your high gluten flour for both cups of unbleached all-purpose flour called for. Barb@KAF

  14. Rn

    Hello,
    Thanks for putting this recipe online. I am trying this recipe for the first time. I did not have all purpose flour so I used bread flour. I need a bit more water to make a stick dough. But after overnight refrigeration my dough is not forming the long strands as you have shown in your pictures. I will keep it a bit longer at room temperature to see if the dough rises more before I bake. Any suggestions?
    Thanks
    Ribhu

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You might want to try stirring the dough slightly and then putting it back in the fridge for another 24 hours, as time helps develop the gluten. You may not see the gluten strands until you reach into the bucket and pull out a hunk of dough — then you’ll see it stretch. Shape your loaf into a tight ball and then let it rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours until still puffy (it’s OK if it doesn’t rise much). If you give this a try and still aren’t successful, consider giving our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253). Kye@KAF

  15. Winifred

    Hello! Made this bread and it was strangely flavorless. I made a loaf the first day and then after 4 days in the fridge, with no noticeable change in flavor. Just tastes like nothing. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Winifred, try bumping up the amount of salt in this bread next time. It’s a key ingredient for bringing out all the naturally-delicious flavors of the whole wheat flour. You can also add some mix-ins to the dough like nuts, dried fruit, or anything else that you think might complement the flavors of whole wheat bread. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You sure can, Trex, and we have several recipes for just this, including one for No-Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread. Bread like this made with 100% whole wheat can tend towards the denser and drier side and so often benefits from the addition of enriching ingredients like milk, butter, oil, sugar, etc. We suspect that if you converted this straight dough (using only flour, water, salt, and yeast) to be 100% whole wheat, you’d be a little less pleased with the texture and rise. Mollie@KAF

  16. Winifred

    I am wondering about making a lower-sodium version of this (my recipe calculator came up with a surprisingly high sodium level per slice, and I make it in a loaf pan and do slice it pretty thinly). I know bread dough needs salt to do its thing properly, but I need to reduce sodium in all areas of my diet. Could I reduce the salt in the recipe and add something else to help flavor it — dried herbs, etc.? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Once you’re familiar with a recipe, we encourage you to get experimental, Winifred. You’re right that salt does more than just flavor your dough, it also helps tighten the gluten structure and retard fermentation, among other things. If you’re curious, you can read more about the role of salt in our reference section for professional bakers. Keeping those different elements in mind, feel free to experiment with reducing the salt in this, or any yeast bread recipe. Often you can get away with using just 1-2 tsp for a loaf this size, as long as you’re mindful of the potential effects. Dried herbs are a great idea for additional flavor. Minced garlic could be another one? Hope this helps and happy baking. Mollie@KAF

  17. melissa

    Hello,

    I prepared the dough in the largest bowl I have (which also happens to have a sealable top, btw) but the dough is rising well above the top of the bowl. Is it okay to punch it down to cover it for its stay in the fridge? (sorry if this is a dumb question–newbie bread baker here). Or should I separate the dough into two bowls? (Next time, I guess. It’s half way through rising so a little late now!). Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Melissa,
      Yes, it’s fine to use the same bowl. The dough rises much slower in the fridge, so it shouldn’t jump up and spill over the bowl too quickly. MJR@KAF

  18. Andrew

    I just made this and it doubled in a half hour, not 2 hours. does that sound right? Either way, it smells great and I cant wait to cook it!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Andrew,
      It could be that your room temperature is warmer, causing the dough to rise more quickly. You might want to use slightly cooler water to slow the rise down just a bit to have more time for flavor development. ~MJ

  19. Denine

    Just made my first loaf of CrustyNo Knead white bread and am excited to try the whole wheat version but I can’t seem to find nutrition info on the whole wheat version of crusty bread. Am I missing it?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Denine, while we have included a nutritional breakdown for many of our recipes (which you can view by clicking on the “Nutrition Information” link at the bottom of the “At a Glance” box on a recipe page), we haven’t yet calculated it for this one. For recipes like this, we suggest using one of several websites that offer free nutritional analysis of recipes. We especially like SparkPeople and VeryWell. Hope this helps! Mollie@KAF

  20. Rose

    I think I used too little water. Can I add it to the rest of the dough, still in the fridge 36 hours in?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This is a unique kind of dough that’s quite flexible and resilient to all sorts of things. Go ahead and add a few tablespoons of extra water if you think the dough feels dry, and mix it in as best you can. Let the dough rest for at least another 6-12 hours before shaping the dough to ensure it has a chance to absorb the liquid. Good luck and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  21. Costas

    I noticed several people asked about using a Dutch oven. In other recipes such as Leahy from Sullivan bakery in New York, he lets the Dutch oven get super hot (500) before he drops risen dough into it. After 1/2 hour the lid is removed for 10-15 minutes to allow the crust to darken.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for sharing, Costas. This is indeed one of the ways in which a Dutch oven can be used, and we have another recent blog article all about this technique! We do urge some caution when pre-heating an empty Dutch oven, as not all pots stand up well to this kind of extreme heat. To be on the safe side, we suggest checking the manufacturer’s directions to see what they recommend before getting started. Mollie@KAF

  22. John M.

    The dough did not turn out “sticky.” Was quite dry. I am trying it anyway, but I do not expect any rise. 3 and half cups of water to 7 and a half cups of flour? seems wrong, but I will let you know.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      John, if the dough felt heavy or dry, then unfortunately you’re probably right not to expect a full rise. The exact ratio of water:flour needed depends on a number of factors, including the humidity in your kitchen, as well as how you measure your flour. How much flour gets into one cup can vary drastically based on your technique, which is what led us to include this note: “if you measure flour by sprinkling it into a cup and sweeping off the excess, use 3 1/4 cups water. If you measure by dipping your measuring cup into the flour canister, tapping it to settle the flour, then leveling it off, use 3 1/2 cups water.” Because there are so many factors at play, in the future we’d suggest adjusting the water:flour ratio as needed to achieve the desired dough consistency (in this case “sticky”), rather than sticking strictly to the volume measurements. We’ve had much better success using this as a guidepost and suspect you will too. Mollie@KAF

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