5 Best Sourdough Bread Recipes for 2021 (Simple and Easy to Follow)

by Heather

Finding a sourdough recipe that you love can be a challenge. I know this to be true, because I used to struggle with it, too. As a busy mama, I can remember struggling to find a really great recipe.

That’s why I wrote my own!

I believe anyone can write their own recipe (more on this later) but we all have to start somewhere. If you’re a busy mama and just don’t have time to scour the Internet, this list is for you. I’ve taken the time to compile this helpful list of the 5 Best Sourdough Recipes I could find, so you wouldn’t have to. There were two requirements for a recipe to make this post:

  1. The sourdough recipe must only use flour, water and salt; that is, it must be authentic sourdough.
  2. The recipe must be easy to follow and understand, from a beginner’s standpoint.

5 Best Sourdough Bread Recipes for 2020 (Simple and Easy to Follow)

If you’re a beginner looking for the best recipe out there, this is a great place to start. Remember, Leavenly was born to help busy mamas like you bake sourdough at home for their families. It’s simpler than you think, and it’s easy to get started.

I recommend starting with mine! Kidding…

I recommend starting by reading through each recipe and seeing which one strikes a chord with you. It might be the technique, it might be the equipment, it might even be the font used on the website, but if something about a recipe piques your interest, go with that. Follow your gut.

And here’s my most important piece of advice: TAKE NOTES.

It’s so important to keep track of what you’re doing, for your own personal knowledge and growth as a baker. If you have a loaf that comes out terribly, you’re not going to want to repeat that, so you can look over your notes and figure out what went wrong and where. But if you have a loaf that comes out absolutely mindblowingly amazing, you’re going to want to replicate it! And the only way to do that is to write everything down.

You might think you’ll be able to remember what you did at each step, but trust me: you won’t. There are many little steps, and many of those little steps are the exact same, so you will get mixed up and forget. Just take notes.

To make it easy on you, I made this helpful Sourdough Notes Template as a free PDF that you can download and use to improve your sourdough.

Click here to get your FREE Sourdough Notes PDF template.

Then, once you have several sheets of notes from several bakes, you can look back and say “I didn’t like this part of this recipe” or “I loved what happened when I did this”. And then slowly, gradually, you’ll adjust your method to suit your needs. You’ll have a technique on paper and in your mind that you know works for you.

Guess what? You just wrote your own sourdough bread recipe. See how important it is to take notes?!

Join our Busy Mama community over on Facebook! We talk sourdough, troubleshooting, starter, and everything in between over on the Leavenly Community.

Click here to check it out!

And if you’re new to Leavenly, head on over to the Start Here page to help get your bearings.

Also, if the topic of hydration has you stumped, be sure to check out The Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough Hydration. It’s super helpful, descriptive, and even has an easy-to-use hydration calculator!

So without further ado (and without further lecturing on taking notes), please enjoy this list of recipes – and let me know what you think by sending an email to heather@leavenly.com!

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

5 Best Sourdough Recipes for 2021 (Simple and Easy to Follow)

1. Simple Sourdough Recipe – Leavenly

I’ve been adjusting and altering this recipe since I started baking sourdough three years ago, and I’ve finally got it perfected. 

My recipe makes three loaves of bread. I figure that if I’m going to the trouble of making bread, I might as well make a bunch! I either freeze my extra loaves, or give them away to friends and neighbors. I also trade services for bread! My neighbor sharpens my knives in exchange for a loaf of bread.

I use all-purpose or bread flour (I haven’t found much of a difference between the two), whole wheat flour, salt, and tap water.

In researching this post I came across recipes that required filtered or bottled water (to avoid chlorine), stone-milled flour (for flavor), and non-iodized salt (to avoid an iodine taste). Personally, I keep it simple. I believe bread is only as pretentious as you are, and if you use store-bought flours, table salt and tap water, your bread will be just as delicious and impressive. Don’t get too carried away.

I used to use a cast-iron Lodge Combo Cooker for my sourdough until I got my hands on a Challenger Bread Pan. Obviously, for beginner bakers, the combo cooker is great because it’s inexpensive and multi-purpose but, as you advance from beginner to intermediate and beyond, you will outgrow the combo cooker. The Challenger Bread Pan was designed specifically for bread baking, and it produces phenomenal loaves of bread.

My recipe uses a three-day method, effectively eliminating the stress of a rushed day or late night. On day one, you make your leaven which takes 5 minutes. On day two, you mix and proof your dough, a process that takes 5 hours but requires no more than 5 minutes at a time. On day three, you pull the dough from the fridge and bake it! (Spoiler alert: that’s the best day.)

It’s basically the simplest and least-stress recipe out there, and many beginner bakers have used it with great success!

Click here to read Leavenly’s Simple Sourdough Recipe: The Best Method for Busy Mamas!

2. Beginner’s Sourdough Bread – The Perfect Loaf

This recipe looks like a winner simply based on the ingredients and technique. Maurizio has a knack for explaining things very clearly, making very complicated matters seem simple. For example, he has a formula for determining what your starting water temperature should be, given the ambient temperature, to achieve a final dough temperature of a perfect 78°F. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is!

Plus, he uses basic ingredients that, to me, make authentic sourdough bread: flour, water, and salt. Sticking to these three ingredients ensures that your skill as a sourdough baker will grow without relying on unnecessary crutches like commercial yeast.

Maurizio autolyses his flour before he adds the leaven, and while each baker may have their reasons for choosing one way or the other, ultimately it is a matter of preference. Some bakers even add the salt before the autolyse! Try all three, and see which works for you. Take notes, of course, so you can keep track of your results!

Click here for my FREE Sourdough Notes PDF template.

Inspired by this autolyse approach, I decided to try it in my last bake. Long story short, I had to leave the house for three hours while it was autolysing, and my bread still came out terrific! I can’t say I’m an official convert yet, but I can see the advantages of this approach.

Check out Maurizio’s recipe, Beginner’s Sourdough Bread, here!

5 Best Sourdough Bread Recipes for 2020 (Simple and Easy to Follow)

3. Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe – A Beautiful Plate

Laura lays out the steps of sourdough baking in such a thorough manner, you won’t have any questions left after you’re done. She covers everything from starter to recommended tools to advice on avoiding common mistakes. 

She also has a beautiful how-to video on her YouTube channel which is super helpful.

Like all the recipes here, this one includes only flour, water and salt. No other ingredients are necessary nor called for, keeping it authentic and simple, especially for beginners.

Laura does do one thing differently: she doesn’t use a leaven. She simply feeds her starter in higher quantities, and removes enough to mix her dough, leaving a smaller amount which is now her starter. 

I admire this approach because it eliminates the use of an extra jar, but I personally would be terrified that I would absentmindedly discard the remainder, and then I’d be without a starter! That’s just me, though – if you got into the routine like Laura is, I’m sure you’d never throw away your starter. I just know that with two young kids running around, I can’t afford to change my routine!

Overall, her recipe is easy to follow and a great place to start for a beginner.

Check out Laura’s recipe, Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe, here!

4. High-Altitude Sourdough Bread – Leavenly

I live at altitude (5,700ft/1700m) and learning to bake sourdough here was NOT easy. There are so many differences in baking at altitude versus at sea level, as anyone living at altitude would attest.

Over the years I’ve fine-tuned and perfected my sourdough recipe, using adjustments that account for the variables that altitude affects.

I’ve had so many comments and positive results from this recipe; it’s the one I’m most proud of because I lived through the struggles and I’m able to save other home bakers living at altitude the stress and frustration that I dealt with!

Check out my recipe, High Altitude Sourdough Bread, here!

5. Favorite Easy Sourdough Bread – Alexandra Cooks

Alexandra’s recipe is slightly different from the rest because hers uses only bread flour, with no whole-wheat flour added. I’ve read that this might be the best way for beginners to start because the dough is easier to handle, so if you’re struggling with that, you may want to try this recipe.

Like the rest, hers uses basic flour, water and salt to keep the sourdough authentic. Her techniques are very simple too, and she uses bowls and kitchen towels for proofing (as opposed to bannetons and proofing baskets) which is ideal for a beginner just starting out.

She’s also got helpful videos for practically every step along the way, so if you’re a visual learner, this recipe is for you!

Check out Alexandra’s recipe, Favorite Easy Sourdough Bread, here!

Did I miss an amazing recipe you love?

Reach out to me at heather@leavenly.com – I would love to hear your feedback on these and other recipes!

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Shirley February 21, 2021 - 11:02 am

Do you have a recipe for whole wheat sourdough bread? Does whole wheat flour hydrate differently?

Heather February 21, 2021 - 9:08 pm

Unfortunately I don’t (yet). It does indeed hydrate differently – it tends to absorb more water than white flours, so making a 100% whole wheat sourdough will take some experimenting 🙂


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