Grissini: breadsticks for grownups.

Snap, crackle, pop! Captain Crunch. Extra crispy Kentucky fried chicken… Seems like food companies are always playing on our addiction to snap-crackle-pop-crunch-crisp in our foods. Think potato chips. Crackers. Oreos. And the whole range of “munchies” (popcorn, pretzels, granola bars, peanuts) that’ve become a serious part of our on-the-go culinary culture. When it comes to most of us, any time is crunch time.

Sure, there are advocates of smooth as well. Who doesn’t love a silky crème brulée? Or the sinuous curve of thick hot fudge oozing over a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Creamy mashed potatoes, anyone? Still, there’s something about the sound a potato chip makes when you bite into it that gets your munchie mojo flowing… bet you can’t eat just one!

Italian-, Chinese-, and Mexican-American food are probably America’s three most popular ethnic cuisines. But when it comes to baking, Italians have added more dishes to our popular culture than the other two combined. Pizza and Italian bread (and its sibling, garlic bread) are as ubiquitous as McDonald’s. Biscotti, mostly due to their exposure in Starbucks, are getting there. If you live in an urban area, you’ve no doubt enjoyed cannoli, focaccia, and panini. And, if you’re a certain age, your very first exposure to Italian food may well have been Stella D’oro breadsticks.

Talk about crisp: you look up crisp in the dictionary, you’re going to see a picture of these light-as-air breadsticks. Perfectly straight, perfectly smooth, they’re the Wonder Bread of breadsticks. Still, there are those of us who loved them… till we learned to make our own.

Grissini, breadsticks native to Turin in the foothills of the Italian Alps, are similar to that long-loved supermarket version—but with a literal twist. Grissini dough is often twisted as it’s shaped, and sprinkled with seeds for color and flavor. They’re a more flavorful, more interesting breadstick; a breadstick for grownup tastes, especially if you add assertive seeds like anise or fennel. And, they’re surprisingly easy to make.

Never mind rolling out log after log of dough; honestly, I’m too lazy for that. Instead, I shape the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with seeds, cut it in strips, and give each strip a twist before laying it on the baking sheet. A short rise, a short bake, and there you have it: crunchy, crackly, snapping-crisp Thin ‘n’ Crunchy Italian Breadsticks, a.k.a. grissini. Here’s how:

Put the following ingredients in a mixing bowl:

2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Pizza Dough Flavor (optional,  but tasty)
1 tablespoon King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough  Improver OR Baker’s Special Dry Milk OR nonfat dry milk
3 cups (11 ounces) King Arthur Italian-Style Flour*
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

*Substitute King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour for half of the Italian flour, if desired. Or substitute King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour for the Italian-Style Flour, adding 2 tablespoons additional water.

Mix the dough…

Then knead till it’s smooth. As you can see, it’ll be quite sticky.

Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl or measuring cup. If you use a measuring cup, you can easily determine how much the dough has risen.

See? The dough’s just about doubled in size.

You can also make this dough in a bread machine set on the dough cycle, if that’s your preference.

Lightly grease a work surface (I’m using a silicone rolling mat here). Divide the dough in half.

Working with one half at a time, pat/roll the dough into a 9” x 13” rectangle. Brush it with egg white beaten with cold water; this’ll make the seeds stick.
Sprinkle the dough with seeds, as many or few as you like. If you don’t like seeds, leave ’em off. I happen to like seeds – particularly our Artisan Bread Topping, a crunchy, tasty blend of flax, toasted sesame, black caraway, midget sunflower, poppy, and anise seeds.

I’m using a pizza wheel to cut 3/8”-wide crosswise strips. Notice the acrylic blade on the pizza wheel; it’s safe for non-stick surfaces. At last, a pizza wheel that’s sharp enough to cut, but not sharp enough to harm your pan (or you!) Those metal pizza wheels always made me nervous, with their exposed blade. This one, you can run back and forth across the palm of your hand with impunity – yet it cuts pizza and dough just fine.

Once you’ve cut a strip, grab it, and twist, as though you were wringing a washcloth. Repeat with all the dough strips…

…and space them on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them rise for 30 to 60 minutes…

…until they’re nice and puffy. Bake the breadsticks in a 425°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes.

Voilà! Grissini.

Look at these pretty sesame ones; nice, huh?

And here’s a whole bunch of ’em, with different assortments of seeds. I like to serve these with drinks before dinner. Add some olive oil for dipping, if you like.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Thin ‘n’ Crunchy Italian Breadsticks.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

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!


  1. Jerry Griffo

    My nephew and his wife distill whiskey and their blend is 55%corn, 30%barley, and 15% rye. i would like to create something with that blend of flours for them to serve at their tasting room. I was thinking of grissini or something similar. I assume these flours would not replicate the properties of 00 flour, so do you think this blend would work and if so what alterations to the recipe might I anticipate. Your thoughts and suggestions would be most appreciated.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Jerry,
      You’re looking at a very low level of gluten, coming from only the rye flour. You might want to consider a baking powder leavened digestive-style biscuit instead? Easy to make in large batches, easy to store, easy to serve. Best of luck! MJR@KAF

  2. Sarah G

    To what degree could I prep these in advance? Could I go all the way up to shaping and then park them, covered, in the fridge til it’s close to baking time?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sarah, you could shape the Grissini and stick the sheet tray (well-covered) directly into the refrigerator. They should last a few hours, but I wouldn’t let them go longer than that. Barb@KAF

  3. Margo

    I’m not sure where to post this. In the past few days going through your recipes I’ve seen time and again a request for the nutritional value of a recipe. Since it’s something I want to have also, here are the following sites I’ve found that all of us can choose from for our recipes. The first one is at I know it’s lengthy but just copy & paste and they also have a free newsletter from their nutritionist you can sign up to receive. The site seems to cover everything and it’s free.

    There’s another at but here too you must sign up and register, however, it too is free.

    The other one is at…here too you must sign up & register but it too is free but you must save & share your recipe with other.


    There are other sites that just do the calorie count of your recipe but these sites do both it seems, just check them out for yourselves…..happy hunting!

  4. jerry from Rochester

    Well i made them again so delicious. The guys came over to watch a little football, we broke out the tub of fresh butter and the b..sticks. What a party !!!!!!

  5. Jerry from Rochester

    Try this to have really cool looking bread sticks: Cut the strips 1/2 as wide as usual and then take 2 of the strips and braid them together making a licorice like twist. I just tried it and they look really great. Took a little practice

    Nice – sounds very festive, Jerry. How about rolling one of the sticks in seeds, for a bi-color effect? Thanks for sharing – PJH

  6. Jerry From Rochester

    suggest starting the yeast with the sugar and water and after it starts to work adding it to the dry ingredients. Also, add more liquid that in the recipe. I substituted half the water with a dark belgian beer and man oh man were those breadsticks delicious!

    Jerry, the beer addition sounds outrageous! Thanks for the suggestion… PJH

  7. Amy2Marie

    I made these Friday night and they were just FABULOUS! My husband and I probably ate 3 a piece right out of the oven. I had made them for a lunchon on Sunday, so we cooled them and stuck the rest in a ziplock bag and hid them so we wouldn’t eat them all.

    But Sunday when we pulled them out they were no longer crispy. Not soft enough to be breadsticks, but no longer crunchy. They were still good, but not half as good. Any ideas on storage? We are a family of three and don’t eat everything on day one.
    Hi there,
    Try storing in a paper bag rather than plastic. That should help maintain the crunch better. ~ MaryJane

  8. Alan

    For those of us luddites without a standing mixer, can this be made by kneading instead? How would we adjust the recipe and/or procedure. Thanks!

    Sure, Alan, knead away. No adjustments necessary, simply knead until the dough consistency matches that in the photos. Enjoy! PJH


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