This timeless Italian yeast bread is a golden-brown, generously seasoned favorite! Garlic and Herb Focaccia is simple to make, and a delight to eat. Try this one – you’ll love it!
Easy Homemade Focaccia from Scratch
Have you ever tried focaccia? It’s an Italian yeast bread, and while it’s a timeless recipe, it really had a moment in the 90’s and early 2000’s, popping up on restaurant menus and in cookbooks everywhere. And no wonder – this wholesome, light-but-rich, herbed yeast bread is the kind of dish that you just crave. Plus, it works beautifully with just about everything, from a side dish for your pasta dinner, to a base for a cafe-style sandwich.
Another great thing about focaccia is that it is super easy to make at home. For one thing, there is basically no shaping necessary: the dough is pressed into a large pan and baked. No folding, no rolling, no laminating. Easy!
Is Focaccia a Healthy Bread?
Compared to many commercial breads, homemade focaccia is an excellent choice for a healthy lifestyle! It’s made with simple, wholesome ingredients, including plenty of heart-healthy olive oil, and contains no processed ingredients or preservatives.
Making sure to use high-quality flour, preferably organic, makes it even better. However, this bread, like other breads, is definitely not low-carb, so you may want to keep that in mind if you follow a low-carb or keto diet.
What You’ll Need
This basic focaccia recipe is spiked with fresh garlic and herbs, which amp up the flavor and make it an unforgettable bread. You can serve this plain, with a little oil for dipping if you like, or use it as part of a larger menu.
- Yeast: I use ordinary active dry yeast. You can find this in packets in just about any grocery store.
- Water: The water should be at body temperature or just a little warmer, but not hot (or it may kill the yeast). Avoid cold water, too, because cold water won’t activate the yeast.
- Sugar: A small amount of sugar adds sweetness, and helps the yeast bubble up.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is fine, or you can substitute bread flour.
- Salt: You’ll need a little salt for the dough, and a little more for sprinkling.
- Olive Oil: Since this is a main ingredient, I like to use extra-virgin olive oil, which has the boldest flavor. However, you can substitute any olive oil you like.
- Garlic: Finely mince the garlic cloves.
- Fresh Rosemary and Thyme: Strip the leaves off of the stems, discard the stems, and chop the leaves.
Let’s Make Focaccia!
This process will probably be familiar to you, if you have ever baked yeast bread before. The dough is first mixed, then kneaded, and then allowed to rise twice before baking to a golden-brown. Here’s how it’s done:
- Bloom the Yeast. First, you’ll want to activate the yeast. Whisk together the yeast, water, and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, so the yeast forms a frothy layer on top of the liquid.
- Mix the Dough. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and add the flour, salt, and olive oil to the mixer. Mix the dough together on low speed for several minutes, until the dough is fully combined. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If not, add a bit more flour and mix again.
- Knead the Dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead by hand for about 5 minutes. You can add extra flour a spoonful or two at a time, if the dough is stubbornly sticky. The dough is ready when you can poke it with your finger, and the indentation slightly bounces back. If the dough is still too sticky, or doesn’t bounce back, add more flour and knead a few minutes longer.
- Let the Dough Rise (First Rise). When the dough is fairly smooth and elastic, grease a large bow with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl. Turn it over a couple of times to coat it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and place it in a warm area to rise for 1 – 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Shape the Dough. To shape the dough, you just need to press it into your baking pan. Choose a 9×13 pan with sides at least 2 inches tall. Generously grease the pan, and then punch the dough down to remove excess air. Press the dough into the pan.
- Let the Dough Rise Again (Second Rise). Cover the baking pan with a damp towel, and let the dough rise for another 30 – 45 minutes.
- Bake. When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 400°F. Use your fingers to poke deep holes all over the focaccia, poke all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the focaccia with salt, garlic, and herbs – then drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden-brown but not dark.
- Enjoy! Let the focaccia cool slightly, and then cut and serve warm. Serve additional olive oil for dipping, if desired.
Tips and Variations
This recipe is a great basic recipe for focaccia, and you can definitely play with it to make it your own. I recommend leaving the amounts of the dough ingredients as they are, and adding/omitting toppings to create variety. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
- Olive Focaccia: You can fold sliced black or green olives right into the focaccia before shaping it, or sprinkle them on top.
- Onion Focaccia: While the dough is rising for the second time, cook some sliced onions in a skillet, over low heat, with a little butter. Let them slowly cook until they are golden-brown and caramelized, and then sprinkle them over the dough along with the garlic and herbs.
- Cheese Focaccia: When your focaccia is almost fully baked, take it out of the oven and sprinkle with your favorite cheese before finishing the bake time.
What Is Focaccia Traditionally Eaten With?
As you can imagine, this bread goes really well with other Italian dishes, but it’s also great with your favorite soups, salads, or just as an artisan-style sandwich bread. Check out these easy recipes for some serving inspiration!
- Manicotti: Who wouldn’t love this indulgent, cheesy, saucy, Italian classic? This recipe for The Best Cheese Manicotti is all of that, and more. Perfect for a special occasion!
- Creamy Soup: I love, love, love a bowl of creamy soup with homemade bread, don’t you? Try this Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup, or classic Roasted Tomato Basil Soup.
- Steak Salad: Robust and crisply crunchy salad is topped with sliced steak, grape tomatoes, feta, and more. It’s the perfect partner for warm, golden focaccia. Delicious!
If you’d like to make this recipe ahead, you can easily make the dough and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. Just cover it with plastic wrap and chill. The next day, take the bowl of dough out and let it sit at room temperature for half an hour or so before punching it down, shaping it to your pan, and letting it rise again.
How to Store Leftover Focaccia
- To store, wrap your leftover focaccia tightly in plastic wrap, or place it into zip-top bags and press out as much air as you can before sealing.
- Store on the counter for 1 – 2 days, or in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days.
- You can serve leftover focaccia at room temperature, or reheat it in the oven or toaster oven at 350°F.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
- Yes, you can! Leftover focaccia freezes well. Just wrap it tightly or store in freezer bags, mark with the date, and freeze for up to one month.
- Thaw at room temperature before serving or reheating.
Garlic Herb Focaccia
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, (1 packet)
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- ¾ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed and leaves chopped
- Whisk together the yeast, water, and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Allow this mixture to sit for 5 minutes, to “bloom” the yeast.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until combined. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour if the mixture is sticking to the mixing bowl.
- Remove the dough from the mixer, and knead by hand on a floured surface for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, adding more flour IF needed to prevent sticking. The dough is ready when you can poke it with your finger, and the indentation slightly bounces back. If the dough is still sticky, or doesn’t bounce back, add more flour and knead for another few minutes.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl, rolling it around to coat it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and allow it to rise in a warm environment for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with tall sides (at least 2 inches). Gently punch the dough to release air, place it on the baking pan, and, using your fingers, flatten it out to fit the shape of the pan.
- Cover the dough with a damp towel, and let it rest for another 30 to 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Using your fingers, poke deep holes into the dough, all the way to the baking sheet.
- Sprinkle salt, garlic, rosemary, and thyme over the top of the bread. Then drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of the bread is lightly golden-brown.
- Remove from oven and immediately take the bread out of the pan and transfer it to a wire rack; let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.
- Serve warm with additional olive oil for dipping, if desired.