White Bread

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This is our go-to, favorite classic White Bread recipe made with only six very common ingredients. Instead of making a grocery run first, you may already have everything you need!

This soft and delicious bread has a subtle sweetness and the perfect crumb — it’s hearty and sturdy, unlike most commercially sold bread.

Once you’ve mastered making this soft White Bread recipe, try our Honey Whole Wheat Bread or these addicting Dinner Rolls! Use leftover yeast in these Homemade Cinnamon Rolls or Lemon Blueberry Sweet Rolls.

a slice of White Bread cut open to show the inside

Is White Bread Bad For You?

While you can’t be certain what you’re getting when you buy a loaf of bread from the store, we’ve become hooked on making our own! The peace of mind you get from knowing exactly what is in the bread you and your family are consuming is priceless. You aren’t running the risk of added preservatives or filler ingredients.

But beyond health reasons, making your own bread is incredibly simple to do and requires very little hands-on time. Once you get the hang of making your own bread, it can become a pretty mindless task!

And truly, there is nothing that beats the taste of homemade bread. This recipe is hearty with the perfect texture and the best flavor — a subtle sweetness from the honey and richness from the butter. 

One quick warning though: Once you start making white bread at home, your family might not be too keen on going back to store-bought!

QUICK TIP

Try our favorite Breakfast Toast recipe with a slice of this homemade bread!

Process shots-- images of the warmed milk and yeast sprinkled on top

White Bread Ingredients

We think this is the best White Bread recipe ever because of a few ingredients that really make it stellar — honey, butter, and salt. We’ll discuss each ingredient in more depth below:

  • Milk has fat which creates an even softer and more-indulgent tasting white bread. You can certainly use water (or even half water, half milk), but we prefer the flavor and structure of the bread when made with milk.
  • Yeast provides the leavening for the dough. This is the process of producing gas (carbon dioxide/CO2) which (along with entrapped air and water vapor) will expand during proofing and baking to cause the dough to rise and expand.
  • Flour gives the structure and protein to bread — we’ve tested this recipe with all-purpose and bread flour (read more about the differences in the FAQs section).
  • Honey adds moisture to the dough, sweetness to the bread, and food for the yeast to grow nicely.
  • Melted butter adds a richness that can’t be beaten! The fat from the butter delivers a higher rise, a crisper crust, and a softer interior texture.
  • Salt adds flavor to this white bread recipe; without salt, the bread will taste bland and flat. Salt is also important to the bread’s structure. It tightens the gluten structure and helps control the pace of yeast fermentation.

Process shots of White Bread-- Adding honey and flour to the yeast; letting it stand for 10 minutes

Let’s Chat Yeast

Proofing the yeast shows tells us if the yeast is still alive and active (yeast is a living organism). In my recipe, this is done with warm milk and active dry or instant yeast.

We have tested and included directions for both active dry yeast and instant yeast in this basic White Bread recipe. There’s a difference in yeast, so check the package.

I find it very helpful to make sure you can see the yeast has been activated before moving on to the next steps. If the yeast doesn’t activate, the bread won’t rise.

  • When activated, active dry yeast will grow, get foamy, smooth, and silky. (Visuals for how activated yeast looks) Instant dry yeast does not foam up the same way that active dry yeast does.
    • To check if instant yeast is good, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over a small amount of warm water and let it stand for a few minutes. If the yeast is still active, it will completely dissolve in the water and you may see some clouding or bubbling in the liquid — now you know you can use that yeast in this recipe.
  • Yeast produces and feeds best at around 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit. (See “quick tip” box below.)
  • If the yeast doesn’t prove, this can be because the yeast is old, the milk was too hot, or the milk/environment is too cold. If the milk/environment is too cold, the yeast might wake up but release a substance that hinders the formation of gluten in this White Bread recipe. 

QUICK TIP

How to tell when your milk is at the right temperature? Use the wrist test! Drizzle a few drops of the warmed milk onto the inside of your wrist. If it is warm and comfy for you, it will be perfect for the yeast. If it is not warm and instead feels hot, it will be too hot for the yeast. Too cold and the yeast will simply remain dormant.

Process shots-- melt the butter and allow to cool; stir in the salt; pour this mixture into the batter.

What’s Proofing All About?

To properly proof the White Bread, we do it twice — once after kneading the dough and again after shaping the dough into a loaf.

  1. The first proof allows the yeast and gluten to develop and the second proof allows the loaf to get a beautiful rise. This will result in a light and airy bread texture.
  2. Over-proofing the dough at either time can cause the bread to develop an unpleasant flavor, a misshapen crust, holes in the bread, and a less-than-ideal texture.
  3. Underproofing the dough can result in a dense and dry loaf of bread that is shorter with less of a rise.

QUICK TIP

To make Overnight White Bread, do the second proofing in the fridge overnight — around 12 hours. More info here!

Process shots of White Bread-- add more flour; mix until dough collects around the hook; knead until the dough is tacky

What Bread Pan To Use

We’ve tested this white bread recipe in both 8.5 x 4.5-inch and 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. For more shape and height (like you’d see in a classic American white bread recipe) use the 8.5 x 4.5-inch pan. (This is the pan featured in the photos.) 

Process shots--add dough to a bowl; let rise until doubled; punch down dough; separate into two equal parts

White Bread Recipe Tips

  • Making bread takes patience! Don’t rush through the steps. And on the flip side, don’t let the bread rise too long
  • Adding flour to the dough can be tricky. Humidity, altitude, and temperature can all factor in to how much flour you’ll need. I always recommend starting with 1/2 cup shy of what a recipe calls for and adding very slowly until the dough pulls off the sides of the bowl and is not too sticky. We don’t want wet dough, but it should still have moisture in it.
    • Too much flour results in a dense and less-flavorful loaf of bread.
    • We don’t recommend flouring the surface to knead or roll out the bread dough; this unnecessarily adds extra flour to the dough. If you have a dough scraper or metal spatula, use that to scrape any stubborn, sticky areas. Use cooking spray (instead of flour) to coat your hands and the countertops when rolling and kneading.
    • When measuring flour for this bread, be sure to spoon and level the flour. If you press a measuring cup into a container and push flour into the cup, you’ll end up with way too much flour. Here’s how to spoon and level flour.
  • Regulate your kitchen’s temperature. If your kitchen is too warm or cool it might affect the yeast proofing. If it’s warm, the white bread will overproof (become dense) and if it’s too cool, the yeast might not have a chance to become active and create enough gas to lift the dough. The ideal temperature is in the 65- to 75-degree (Fahrenheit) range.
  • How do you know when the dough is done kneading? We’re looking for a soft, tacky dough that is smooth and satiny feeling

Process shots--roll the dough into a rectangle; roll into a cylinder; add to the pan; let rise until double in size

White Bread FAQs

1What flour is best for White Bread?

Either all-purpose or bread flour works in this recipe!

Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, which helps with the bread’s gluten development and yields chewier bread. That said, all-purpose works great too, the bread is simply less chewy.

The substitution is generally 1:1, but because of bread flour’s higher protein content, you may find yourself adding a touch less flour when using bread flour. We want a dough that is smooth, satiny, soft, and tacky to the touch.

2Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?

Yes, we have tested this recipe with both!

The recipe card includes instructions for using either method.

3Why is my homemade bread so heavy?

There are several reasons bread can come out heavy and dense, but most likely it is because the yeast did not proof long enough or was killed.

Here are some other possible culprits:

  • Adding too much salt or adding salt right on top of the yeast–salt kills yeast, which is why we add it very last.
  • Proofing in too cold or warm of a place can hinder yeast development.
  • Using dead yeast results in a dense loaf.
  • Adding too much flour can also make for a dense loaf.

4Why do you knead bread?

Kneading creates structure and strength in the dough. After kneading, the dough should feel soft and elastic. Kneading helps the proteins from the flour begin to line up in a way that will trap gases that help the dough rise, so don’t skip or rush the kneading!

5How do you knead bread?

The dough can be kneaded by hand or with a stand mixer. I personally prefer using the stand mixer, but have made this bread both ways. Here is a great step-by-step visual guide to kneading bread with a stand mixer or by hand.

6Can I substitute ingredients?

While I’ve worked through this recipe many times, I likely haven’t worked through your particular substitution idea. I have only tested and finalized this recipe with the measurements and ingredients listed in the recipe. For best results, I’d recommend sticking exactly to the recipe. Baking is a precise art that involves chemistry! Even tried-and-true substitutions don’t always work with baking.

7How can you tell if bread is done?

  1. Visually: The bread should have a gorgeous, evenly colored crust that is golden brown. The crust should look firm and dry.
  2. Take the internal temperature: Bread should read about 190-1950 degrees F in the center of the loaf.
  3. Tap the bottom:  Take the loaf out of the oven and turn it upside down out of the loaf pan. Give the bottom middle of the loaf a light thump with your knuckles and if it sounds hollow, the bread is most likely done. If not, try it again this trick again in 5 minutes.

When in doubt, overbake it by a few minutes instead of under-baking it. (If you are consistently having trouble with under- or overdone bread, I recommend checking the temperature of your oven. If your oven temperature is off, it could easily be the reason for your problems.)

8Why is my bread dry?

This is likely because there was too much flour. To fix this issue, invest in a kitchen scale and measure the flour by weight instead of measuring cups (there is a lot of variance in measuring with cups instead of weight!).

Add flour slowly, adding until the dough has a soft and tacky feel, not hard and dry.

9Why does my bread smell like beer?

That smell is actually the yeast!

If the dough is proofed too long, it will likely develop an unpleasant flavor/smell and density.

If you proof the dough overnight in the fridge, it won’t overproof, but it might have a subtle beer smell. Again, this is the yeast developing a more complex flavor.

10Why is my bread raw inside or burnt outside?

A few things to check:

  • Actual oven temperature. Test the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer — it may actually be hotter or cooler than it is reading.
  • Using a convection oven. If using a convection oven, you should reduce the baking temperature by about 15-25 degrees.
  • If the loaf pan is dark, it may be conducting heat too quickly and bake the outside faster than the inside.

11Why is the bottom of my bread soggy?

This is because the bread was left in the pan to cool too long. We recommend leaving the bread in the pan for only 10 minutes and then transferring it to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. The warm bread needs to be elevated so air can circulate around all sides as it cools. Otherwise, moisture (from the heat of the bread) will condense on the bottom of the bread, making it damp and slightly soggy.

12Is white bread healthy?

Making your own white bread is infinitely more nutritious than store-bought loaves since there are a lot of additives and highly processed flour in commercially produced breads.

13How many calories in a slice of White Bread?

Our calculations show that one slice of bread has 179 calories. The calories can vary, however, based on a number of factors. How thick are the slices? How much additional flour did you add? Many things can affect the actual calories in a slice.

14How many carbs are in a slice of White Bread?

Our calculations show that one slice of bread has 32.9 grams of carbohydrates. The figure can vary, however, based on a number of factors. How thick are the slices? How much additional flour did you add? Many things can affect the actual carb levels in a slice.

15What makes bread light and fluffy?

The yeast!

The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast is responsible for the bubbles and holes formed in the bread which produce a light and fluffy texture.

Gas is created as the yeast grows (and the more the yeast grows, the more gas is in the dough). This gas determines how light and airy the bread will be.

Process shots: brushing the loaf with butter; letting it cool in the pan White Bread s;oce with peanut butter and honey on top

STORAGE

Storing White Bread 

Since there aren’t preservatives in White Bread, it won’t last as long as store-bought bread, but it probably won’t be around as long, either!

Store leftover bread at room temperature in a cool dry place for up to 3-5 days, preferably in a container that allows some ventilation so the bread can “breathe.” Heat and humidity can cause bread to mold. I also don’t recommend storing it in the refrigerator, as it turns stale quickly (the dry air in the fridge will expedite staleness). To keep the bread soft, store it in an airtight plastic bag after it has completely cooled.

For White Bread that is leftover after 2-3 days, I recommend storing it in the freezer, where it will keep fresh for up to 3 months. Slice it before freezing, and then take out one or two slices at a time, as you need them. Transfer slices straight from the freezer to the toaster (best white toast ever!) or thaw at room temperature.

Overhead image of White Bread pieces with honey and peanut butter on top

Ways To Use This Homemade White Bread

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White Bread

5 from 1 vote
This is our go-to, favorite classic White Bread recipe made with only six common ingredients. Instead of making a grocery run first, you may already have everything you need!
Print Recipe

White Bread

5 from 1 vote
This is our go-to, favorite classic White Bread recipe made with only six common ingredients. Instead of making a grocery run first, you may already have everything you need!
Course Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Sandwich, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegetarian
Keyword white bread, white bread recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Proofing Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 2 loaves (24 slices)
Calories 179kcal

Equipment

  • (2) 8.5 x 4.5-inch OR (2) 9 x 5-inch loaf pans
  • Cooking spray (olive or coconut oil)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (475g) milk (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast OR instant yeast (Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6-1/2 cups white flour or bread flour (Note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt (Note 4)
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • Optional: 1 tsp white sugar, 2 tbsp butter

Instructions

  • If using INSTANT YEAST: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk (Note 5). Make sure it is not hot or it will burn the yeast. Add instant yeast and 1 teaspoon white sugar (optional) directly on top and mix. Let stand for 3 minutes. Skip to step 3.
  • If using ACTIVE DRY YEAST: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm milk (Note 5). Make sure it is not hot or it will burn the yeast. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over top the milk and the sugar (optional) right on top of that. Let stand for 5-10 minutes or until yeast is foamy. If the yeast doesn't foam up, it is dead (either bad yeast or too hot of milk) You'll want to dump everything out and start again; otherwise the bread won't develop properly.
  • FLOUR AND HONEY: Pour in the honey and 2 cups (259g) flour. Use the dough hook to stir just until the flour is moistened, about 1 minute, scraping the sides with a spatula as needed. Let mixture sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • BUTTER: Meanwhile, as the mixture sits, melt 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Let the butter cool back to room temperature (it's important it's not hot or even warm!) and then stir in the 1 tablespoon of salt. Set aside.
  • FINISHING DOUGH: Once the dough has sat for 10 minutes, add in the butter and salt mixture (use a spatula to scrape every bit of that mixture into the bowl of the dough). Add 4 more cups (495g) of flour (Note 6). Stir on low speed (speed 2) until mixture is all combined and begins to gather around the dough hook (about 2-3 minutes). Gradually add in the remaining 1/2 cup (57g) of flour as needed (if the dough is sticking to the sides). You can continue to add a little more flour, up to 1 tablespoon at a time, but avoid adding too much extra flour unless it really is too sticky.
  • KNEADING: Once the dough has gathered around the dough hook, increase the speed to medium (speed 4-6) and mix for 10 minutes. Don't walk too far away; your stand mixer might dance off the table. (If you don't have a stand mixer you can knead the dough by hand for about 10-12 minutes). We are looking for a dough that is smooth, satiny, soft, and tacky to the touch (but not sticky and not dry).
  • FIRST RISE: Once the dough has finished kneading, turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Knead with your hands for about 20 seconds to shape it into a large even ball of dough. Grease the mixing bowl generously with coconut or olive-oil-based spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn the ball to coat in the oil. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and place the bowl in a warm place (~70 degrees F) to rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  • SECOND RISE: Remove the damp cloth and punch into the dough to release the air. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts (I recommend a food scale to make sure you've got the same amount of dough in each half). Shape dough into two loaves (See Note 7) and place in greased 8.5x4.5-inch bread pans (Note 8). Cover the pans with a damp cloth and let them rise in a warm place for another hour or until about doubled in size. Do not let the bread rise longer than needed; this will cause the bread to overproof and develop a yeasty taste.
  • BAKE: Bake at 375 degrees for 32-40 minutes (Note 9). Right out of the oven, holding the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, rub over the tops of the loaves (optional). Let bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. (The bread is still cooking even out of the oven.) Slice and serve.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Milk: We use and recommend whole milk, although 1%, 2% and skim all work fine. 
Note 2: Yeast: Either instant or active dry yeast works in this recipe -- just slightly different preparation methods. Ensure yeast is alive/active before using. Yeast produces and feeds best at around 105-115 degrees F. If the yeast doesn’t prove, this can be because the yeast is old, the milk was too hot, or the milk/environment is too cold. 
Note 3: Flour: Either all-purpose or bread flour works in this recipe! Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, which helps with the bread's gluten development and yields chewier bread. Bread flour does have a slightly higher protein content, so you may find yourself adding a touch less flour than all-purpose.
Note 4: Salt: Not all salts have the same amount of sodium. We tested with fine sea salt, if using table salt, you'll want to use slightly less. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but it's important for flavor and gluten structure!
Note 5: How to tell your milk is at the right temperature: Drizzle a few drops of the warmed milk onto the inside of your wrist. If it is warm and comfy it will be perfect for the yeast. If it feels hot, it will be too hot for the yeast. Too cold and the yeast will simply remain dormant.
Note 6: Measuring flour: Adding the flour to the batter can be tricky. Humidity, altitude, and temperature can all factor in to how much flour you'll need. I always recommend starting with 1/2 cup shy of what a recipe calls for and adding very slowly until the dough pulls off the sides of the bowl and is not excessively sticky. We don't want wet dough, but it should still have moisture in it. Too much flour results in a dense and less-flavorful loaf of bread. When measuring flour for this bread, be sure to weigh flour OR spoon and level. If you press a measuring cup into a container and push flour into the cup, you'll end up with way too much flour.
Note 7: Shaping loaves: You can roll the dough out with a rolling pin into a rectangle and then roll it up tightly into a nice even cylinder, pinching the seams and tucking the sides into the dough.
Note 8: Bread pans: Either size (8.5x4.5-inch or 9x5-inch) works, but we recommend the 8.5x4.5-inch pans for a higher rise.
Note 9: How to know when bread is done: Bread should register 195 degrees F in the center. It should have an evenly covered golden brown crust that looks firm and dry. If you tap the loaf in the center with your knuckles it should sound hollow (if not, bake for 5 more minutes and try again).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.9g | Protein: 4.4g | Fat: 3.3g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 300.9mg | Fiber: 1.1g | Sugar: 6.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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