9 Ways To AMAZING Sourdough Without Dutch Oven

September 5, 2022 (Last Updated: March 8, 2023)
sourdough without dutch oven

Wanna learn how to make sourdough without dutch oven? I’ve got 9 ways to help you bake artisanal sourdough without dutch oven. You need a dutch oven to make amazing sourdough bread at home, right? NOPE!

You can make artisanal sourdough bread without dutch oven as long as your bread has these 3 things:

  1. A steamy environment (the more moisture and steam the better)
  2. Consistent heat
  3. High temperatures

You can get all three of these components without fancy equipment, a dutch oven or a professional steam injector oven. Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

Interested in learning how to bake sourdough without dutch oven? Stick around to find out 8 different ways you can make sourdough without a dutch oven at home. Skip to the next part if you have no idea what a dutch oven is!

What Is A Dutch Oven?

This is a special TINY dutch oven that I was gifted to fit in my tiny oven.

A dutch oven is a heavy pot and lid made from metal. It’s extremely thick and retains heat very well. Dutch ovens also insulate heat very well and create a consistent cooking environment. They’re a bit pricey but the cost makes up for the fact that they’re durable and can be passed down from generation to generation.

I got (took -sorry Mom) a dutch oven from my mother-in-law 7 years ago and she’s had it for 20 or so years earlier and it’s still in perfect shape. Talk about a product that pays for itself after a few years.

Here are a few more benefits of a dutch oven:

Benefits Of A Dutch Oven

sourdough without dutch oven

What’s the big deal about a Dutch oven? An affordable dutch oven is hard to come by and convincing yourself to break the bank for one can be hard. But you can do more than baking bread in dutch oven. You can bake artisan bread in a dutch oven or cook with it! There are plenty of benefits of baking with a dutch oven:

  • Retains heat: The thick metal walls of a dutch oven means that this pot retains heat very well and cooks at high temperatures.
  • Consistent heat distribution: Consistent heat distribution is important for an even bake and rise. 
  • Creates a moist and steamy environment: This steamy environment is perfect for sourdough bread because the steam allows bread to rise. It also creates that crisp crust that artisanal bread is known for. 
  • The lid stops steam from escaping: The lid plays an important part because it retains the heat and steam in the dutch oven.

All of those traits actually make cooking with a Dutch oven even better. The thick bottomed pot prevents food sticking to the bottom because of the heat retention and even distribution. And the lid retains moisture which is perfect for slow cooking meats because it prevents them from drying out.

I’m a very strong advocate for dutch oven baking and cooking but not owning one doesn’t mean you can’t make sourdough bread at home. So if you don’t have a dutch oven, don’t worry about it.

No Dutch Oven? No Problem

sourdough without dutch oven

A dutch oven is the easiest way to recreate a baking environment similar to a professional grade bakers oven but it’s not the only way to do that. Dutch ovens are great but they have their own drawbacks too:

  • They are expensive (with le creuset dutch ovens ranging from $260-$750)
  • Dutch ovens are often large and don’t always fit in small ovens
  • They’re very very hot and can easily give you burns if you’re not careful
  • They’re pretty heavy
  • Only able to bake one loaf at a time if your oven isn’t big enough for more than one dutch oven

So if you don’t want to break the bank or you’re not ready to invest in a dutch oven, here are some tips to help you get amazing sourdough bread at home without a dutch oven.

5 Tips For Amazing Sourdough Without Dutch Oven

sourdough without dutch oven

Baking sourdough without dutch oven means 2 things: 

  1. Consistent oven heat
  2. Creating a steamy environment

Most conventional ovens at home can produce artisanal sourdough without a lot or any fancy equipment but you gotta do it right and give those home appliances a bit of help. That means boosting those 2 important factors.

Consistent Oven Heat

Home ovens aren’t 100% effective for bread baking because they don’t retain heat well. One way to ensure your oven is hot enough is to preheat the oven for about an hour. This may seem extreme but having a properly preheated oven will give you better bread results. 

This spelt sourdough bread was baked in an oven that was preheated for 30 minutes and the regular whole wheat sourdough bread baked in an oven that had been preheating for 1 hour.

Another important factor to baking with a dutch oven is creating steam. Conventional ovens don’t have steam injectors and steam is essential to getting a tall rise in sourdough bread. Here’s how you can create a steamy environment for your sourdough.

Creating A Steamy Environment

Keeping the heat in the oven is one thing but creating and retaining steam in another. Everytime the oven door is opened, heat and steam escapes. So our goal is to keep the heat in the oven and create more steam than escapes.

Your bread needs steam for a good rise. The issue with this is that steam is HOT. It carries a lot of heat and can cause severe burns so we also need to do this in a safe way. You can add steam to your oven by:

  • Using hot water (I don’t like using cold water with various crockeries because temperature changes can cause glass, ceramic, or clay dishes to break and shatter.)
  • Adding ice cubes
  • Misting bread 
  • Adding a cotton towel submerged in water (the towel must be 100% cotton) 

Personally, I DO NOT recommend the towel method because I’m klutz and paranoid it’s a fire hazard but there are plenty of home bakers that stand by that method. Now that we’ve covered the 2 essentials for baking sourdough, let’s look at 9 different ways you can bake sourdough without dutch oven.

9 Dutch Oven Substitutes

sourdough without dutch oven

“What can I use instead of a dutch oven for bread?” Is a question I get asked a lot by my fellow bakers that want to make crusty bread without dutch oven. That got me interested in all the ways you can make sourdough without dutch oven with things you have around the house.

These are 9 dutch oven alternatives to bake sourdough at home without a dutch oven. They range from normal equipment like casserole dishes which you can find at the dollar store or grocery store, to more high end items like baking stones or cast iron skillets:

  • A sheet pan, baking rack + cake pan
  • Cast iron skillet (or 2)
  • oven safe pot + sheet pan
  • 2 casserole dishes
  • Loaf pans
  • Enamel roaster
  • Baking stone
  • 2 Baking stones + oven safe pot
  • Lava rocks

A Sheet Pan, Baking Rack + Cake Tin

This is the method I used to bake my sourdough and it worked perfectly for me. Check out the rise in the whole wheat sourdough. My spelt sourdough didn’t do as well because I only pre-heated the oven for 30 minutes but you live and you learn.

Covering the sheet pan with foil is optional. Simply add the sheet pan and cake tin to the oven while it preheats. When the oven is ready, use oven mitts and remove the cake tin and baking rack from the oven. Place the sourdough on parchment paper and transfer that to the preheated cake tin. 

sourdough without dutch oven
sourdough without dutch oven

Add 8-10 ice cubes to the sheet pan and place the baking rack with the cake tin into the oven. The ice cubes will create bursts of steam as they melt. Bake the sourdough bread in the oven for 25-30 minutes with the baking sheet inside. Remove the baking sheet and set it aside. 

Let the sourdough continue to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes and voila!

sourdough without dutch oven

Cast Iron Skillet (or 2)

Bake sourdough without dutch oven using a cast iron skillet or two! $23.99 for a cast iron skillet is better than dropping hundreds on a dutch oven. They even have cast iron bread pans! Use the cast iron skillet with a baking sheet to hold the ice if you only have one.

As usual, preheat the oven with the cast iron skillets in there for about an hour. Use one cast iron skillet and place 8-10 ice cubes in there. Place the sourdough bread on the other skillet and bake it in the oven. After 20-25 minutes the ice cubes will have mostly evaporated. You can remove the skillet with oven mitts and let the bread finish baking in a steam-free oven.

Oven Safe Pot + Sheet Pan

No cake tin? Use an oven safe pot as a makeshift lid instead. It’s even better if your metal oven safe pot comes with an oven safe lid. Make sure there aren’t any holes in them though! Most lids often come with drainage holes to keep from steam being trapped inside the pot.

Place the baking sheet and pot in the oven while it preheats. Spritz the sourdough bread with water just before baking. Place the sourdough bread on the sheet pan and cover with the pot. Bake the sourdough covered for 25 minutes. Use oven mitts to remove the pot and allow to bake until golden brown.

I don’t have many oven safe pots but I’ve got plenty of casserole dishes lying around. If you do too, then the next method may be just what you need for sourdough without dutch oven.

2 Casserole Dishes

NOTE: The casserole dish needs to be oven safe and DO NOT use ice cubes when you choose glass or ceramic baking dishes. Opt for adding hot water instead. Changes in temperature can shatter and break these dishes. 

Place a large baking sheet and baking rack in the oven with both casserole dishes as it preheats. Add hot water into the first casserole dish. Put this at the bottom of the oven. Place the sourdough bread in the second casserole dish and let it bake in the middle of the oven. 

Bake the sourdough bread in the oven for 25-30 minutes with the water filled casserole dish. Remove the baking sheet and casserole dish after 25-30 minutes. Carefully set the casserole dish onto a stove top to cool. DO NOT place directly on a cool surface. This can cause the bakeware to break.

If you’re worried about bakeware shattering and you’ve got some cast iron skillets lying around, try those out instead. 

Loaf Pans

Another way to bake artisanal sourdough without dutch oven is using 2 loaf pans. They’re super cost effective and insulate heat really well. You can get 1 for $8 or 2 for $14

 Place the sourdough in one pan, add the other one on top to create a makeshift lid. Use an oven safe clip and secure them together if you have it or place something heavy like a pot on the loaf pans to prevent the steam from escaping.

Did you know that dutch ovens are made from a mix of metals ranging from cast iron to enamel and loads more? You’re in luck if you have an enamel roaster.

Sourdough In Enamel Roaster

Enamel roasters are a cheap way (under $23) to bake sourdough bread without a dutch oven. You don’t have to preheat the enamel roasting tin because it’s so thin but helping it reach pique temperature before adding the sourdough is always better. Preheat (or not) the enamel roaster in the oven. 

Place the sourdough bread into the enamel roaster and bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Baking Stone

Using a baking stone will actually make your oven hotter. Also known as a baking stone/steel or a pizza stone, this piece of equipment is heavy and retains a lot of heat. So even when you open the oven door and heat escapes, the oven stone will be nice and hot. They’re pretty inexpensive and you can get 1 for under $30

Place the baking stone in the oven to preheat and add a separate tray at the bottom to add ice cubes. Try the next step if you have more than one baking stone and don’t want to mess around with hot water or ice cubes:

2 Baking Stones + Oven Safe Pot

The perfect sourdough bread recipe no dutch oven needs three things: A foolproof sourdough bread recipe, and 2 baking stones!

Place one baking sheet at the lowest shelf of the oven and the other one at the highest shelf. You’ll be baking your bread on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven with the baking stones, place the sourdough bread on the lowest shelf and cover with a large oven safe pot. Bake the bread covered for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Finally, a method with no pots but plenty of steam.

Lava Rocks

Bake sourdough without a dutch oven and no pot but plenty of steam. All you need is lava rocks to create a moist and steamy environment. You can use lava rocks in combination with a baking stone for more than ideal results.

The bread will bake open without anything to cover it. Preheat the baking sheet with the lava rocks, pour a 1/4 cup of hot water to the lava rocks and close the oven door. Leave it for a minute to create steam. 

Open the door from the side and stand back (please avoid getting steam in your face). Place the sourdough bread in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lava rocks and let the bread bake for another 10-15 minutes or until it develops a deep brown crust. 

Final Notes

sourdough without dutch oven

Baking sourdough breads without a dutch oven is possible. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the oven is hot enough (otherwise you’ll end up with flatter bread like my brown spelt bread)
  • If baking sourdough in the open: Create enough steam using water, ice cubes, lava rocks, or spritzing the sourdough bread
  • If using a makeshift lid: Make sure the oven is hot enough with everything preheated properly for long enough.

So if you have a lid, you don’t need to add more steam to the oven but if you’re baking bread in the open, add extra steam.

There you have it, folks! 9 different ways you can bake sourdough without dutch oven. It just goes to show that you don’t need fancy equipment to make amazing artisanal bread at home. Bread baking has been around for thousands of years and they didn’t have all this stuff. 

So don’t let not having the “right” equipment stop you from making delicious sourdough bread at home. Have a look at our other sourdough bread recipes if you want to explore how to make no knead sourdough bread dutch oven.

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