Serve your soup in style with these quick homemade bread bowls! An easy bread recipe with whole wheat flour. Perfect for soups, chili, dips, and more!
Bread bowls: greatest invention of all time? We say yes. They're the perfect vehicle for all things soup-y and sauce-y.
These simple bread bowls use whole wheat flour for a hearty, earthy texture and rich flavor. They're easy to make from scratch, and ready in just a few hours!
Our basic order of operations
- Mix the dough - 10 minutes. Proof the yeast in warm water with some honey until the mixture foams, then stir in the flour and knead the dough a few times until it's relatively smooth.
- Let it rise - 60 minutes. Cover your dough and let it rise until doubled in size. You may need to let it rise a little longer if your kitchen is cold!
- Shape your bread bowls - 10 minutes. Cut the dough into 4-6 pieces and form each piece into a round ball.
- Let them rise again - 30 minutes. Set the rounds on a baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel, and let rise again until they're not quite doubled.
- Brush with an egg wash and score - 5 minutes. An egg wash keeps the bread bowls soft and adds color. A plus-shaped cut across the top lets steam escape while the bread bakes, which helps control its shape (and looks nifty!)
- Bake, cool, cut, and enjoy - 20-30 minutes in the oven, 30 minutes to cool. Bake your bread bowls until they're a deep golden brown, then let them cool for at least 30 minutes before you cut them.
How to make a bread bowl
To shape your bread bowls, divide the dough into equal-sized pieces. (This recipe makes enough dough for four large bread bowls or six small bread bowls!)
Pull the outer edges of the dough in towards the center, pinching edges together to form a seam. Continue pulling the edges towards the center until you have a round ball. Roll the dough between your hands or along the cutting board if needed to round it out. (You can use the same pinch-and-drag technique we use for our artisan crusty bread!)
Note: Honestly, the shaping technique doesn't matter all that much here, so don't stress about it! Just do your best to mold each piece of dough into a ball and you'll be good to go. Worst-case scenario, you end up with a few "rustic" (but still tasty!) bread bowls.
Place each round seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat or a piece of parchment paper. Then, drape a tea towel over the pan, let the dough rise again, and get ready to bake!
When your bread bowls have risen to not quite twice their original size, brush each loaf with a bit of egg wash and use a sharp knife to cut an "x" across the top.
Bake bread bowls at 425° Fahrenheit until they're a deep golden brown. If you're making four large bowls, you'll need 25-30 minutes in the oven. Small bowls will be done in about 20 minutes.
Be sure to let your bread bowls cool for at least 30 minutes before you slice into them. If you cut into bread when it's too hot, the knife can drag through the loaf (rather than slicing) and give it a bit of a gummy texture.
Tips to make the best bread possible
- Use a kitchen scale if you have one! Measuring flour by weight (with grams) is MUCH more reliable than measuring by volume (with cups). If you have a kitchen scale, please use it here! If you don't have a scale, be sure to measure your flour with the scoop-and-level method for best results.
- Knead the bread dough before its first rise. We recommend kneading this dough for a few minutes until it's smooth and elastic. This bit of kneading helps develop the gluten and strengthen our dough, which makes the dough easier to work with and gives us a smooth, even shape.
- If your kitchen is cold, allow extra time for the dough to rise. If your kitchen is at least 73° Fahrenheit, your dough should rise just fine within an hour. If your kitchen is on the chilly side, you may need to give your dough a bit of extra time to rise (up to 90 minutes total, depending on the temperature of your kitchen).
- These pointers (and this recipe!) are just the tip of the iceberg - to understand the why and how of great homemade bread, make sure you check out our Everyday Artisan Bread course!
How to cut a bread bowl
When your bread bowls are cool enough to handle, use a small serrated knife to cut the top off of each loaf and create a well for your soup or dip.
Insert the knife into the top of a loaf at a slight angle. Slice around the loaf in a circle, keeping the knife at a downward angle, to create a cone-shaped cutout (be sure to keep your fingers out of the knife's way!)
Use your hands to pull another few scoops of bread out of the center of each bowl, making plenty of space to hold your filling. Serve bread scraps as extra pieces to dip into your soup, or use them for homemade bread crumbs or croutons!
What to put in bread bowls
- Hearty, creamy soups. We love using Homemade Clam Chowder, Roasted Tomato Soup, Chili, or Creamy Broccoli Soup!
- Your favorite dips! Artichoke and spinach dip, cheese dip (we love this Creamy Whipped Goat Cheese or this Roasted Beet Dip!) or buffalo chicken dip are great here.
- Pasta! Mac and Cheese is especially delicious stuffed into a bread bowl. Choose a pasta with short noodles, and add extra sauce since some will soak into the bread!
Bread Bowl FAQ
Yes! Freeze bread bowls in an airtight container for 2-3 months (we like using our Stasher Bags for this; you can also wrap tightly with plastic wrap or use a large food storage container). When you're ready to use them, defrost bread bowls on the counter for a few hours, then crisp in the oven at 300° F for 5-10 minutes and they'll be good as new!
No! You can brush olive oil or avocado oil over the bread instead of egg wash if you prefer; it will look and taste almost exactly the same.
Yes! Make these bread bowls up to 2 days ahead of time and store them in an airtight container on the counter until you're ready to use them. Pop the bread bowls in a 300° F oven for 5-10 minutes to warm them back up before serving.
Yes! To achieve a thin, crispy, crackly crust, you need to introduce steam to the baking environment. If you have two large Dutch ovens, you can bake the bread bowls in them just like you would our Crusty Artisan Bread. Bake just 2-3 small bread bowls at a time in a Dutch oven so they don't overcrowd and still have room to rise properly. You can introduce steam several other ways as well - read through our post on baking crispy bread without a dutch oven for our best tips!
Yes! You can use bread flour in place of some or all of the all purpose flour if you like, and you can reduce the amount of whole wheat flour if you don't want as strong of a wheat flavor. You can also replace up to 100 grams of whole wheat flour with rye flour or buckwheat without much of a change. Just make sure that the TOTAL amount of flour you use still equals 600 grams!
No! We do prefer a stand mixer for this recipe if possible, because it makes kneading much easier, but it's not necessary. To make this bread by hand, mix as instructed, then knead dough by hand on a large cutting board for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
These easy whole wheat bread bowls are perfect for soup, chili, or dip!
For the bread bowls:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (9 grams)
3 Tablespoons honey (55 grams)
390 grams water (about 1 ¾ cups)
300 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting (about 2 ½ cups)
300 grams whole wheat flour (about 2 ¼ cups)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (6 grams)
For the egg wash:
1 Tablespoon water
Note: If you double or triple the recipe, you do not need to double the egg wash (still use just 1 egg - it should be plenty!)
Mix the dough and first rise (10 minutes to mix, 60 minutes to rise)
Add yeast, honey, and warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
Add all-purpose flour, wheat flour, and salt. Mix on low speed until all flour is incorporated and dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead for 4-5 minutes on medium-low speed, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover bowl with a clean tea towel. Let rise in a warm spot on the counter until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Shape the dough and second rise (40 minutes)
Tip dough out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough is sticking to the bowl, dip your hand in cold water and gently run it around the sides of the bowl to pull the dough out.)
Divide the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round by gently pulling the edges in towards the center and pinching to form a ball.
Place the bread loaves on a sheet pan lined with a nonstick baking mat, keeping them several inches apart to allow room for expansion. Cover the baking sheet with a clean tea towel and let bread rise another 30 minutes while you heat the oven.
Heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
Egg wash, score, and bake (30 minutes)
Crack the egg into a small bowl. Add water and whisk to combine.
Use a pastry brush to brush a light layer of egg wash over each loaf (you likely won’t need all of the egg wash!)
Use a very sharp paring knife to make two slashes, about ¼-inch deep, in an X shape on top of each loaf.
Transfer bread bowls to the centermost rack in your hot oven. Bake at 425° Fahrenheit for 15-30 minutes.
Remove bread to a wire rack to let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
When you’re ready to serve, use a small serrated knife or a sharp paring knife to cut the top off each loaf. Scoop out the bulk of the bread to form a hollow bowl, then fill each bread bowl with soup, pasta, or dip. Serve immediately.
How warm should my water be? Use water that is warm to the touch, about 100° Fahrenheit - you should be able to comfortably hold your hand under the water while it runs. If your water is too hot, it can kill your yeast and your dough won’t rise.
How to measure flour. Please use a kitchen scale if you have one! Measuring by weight (in grams) is much more accurate than measuring by volume (with cups) and will make your bread much more consistent. If you don’t have a kitchen scale and need to measure with cups, use a large spoon to first stir and loosen the flour, then gently spoon the loose flour into your measuring cup and level it off with a flat edge.
What size should I make my bread bowls? This recipe makes four large bread bowls (about 262 grams each if you’re using a scale to portion your dough) or six small bread bowls (about 175 grams each). The large bread bowls are about the size of a standard soup bowl and hold about 2 cups of soup when hollowed out; the small bread bowls hold about 1 cup of soup. I personally prefer the smaller bread bowl size, though I do find that we usually have to re-fill the bowls or serve a second cup of soup on the side. Small bread bowls will bake in 15-20 minutes; large bread bowls will take 20-25 minutes to bake.
Do I need a stand mixer? Not at all! We do prefer using our stand mixer and dough hook attachment here because it makes the kneading process much easier, but you can absolutely make this bread with a mixing bowl and some elbow grease! Mix the dough as directed in a large mixing bowl (use a stiff, sturdy spatula or clean hands to bring the dough together), then knead the dough on a large cutting board for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return the kneaded dough to the mixing bowl to let it rise.
Flour brands and substitutions. We recommend using high-quality flour with a high protein content for all of our bread recipes: look for King Arthur Flour or Bob’s Red Mill products if you can. You can use less wheat flour here if you like, and/or you can use bread flour in place of some or all of the flours in this recipe. You can use up to 100 grams of rye flour or buckwheat flour in place of some of the wheat flour. Whatever flours you choose, just make sure that you use 600 grams of flour TOTAL in this recipe for best results. We don’t recommend using more than 300 grams of whole wheat flour here, as whole wheat flour absorbs quite a bit more water and takes some extra work to be quite as smooth and pliable (if you’re interested in whole-wheat baking and custom flour mixes, make sure you join Everyday Artisan Bread! We walk you through all of it, step-by-step!)
To make this recipe vegan, use agave syrup or maple syrup in place of the honey, and brush each bread bowl with olive oil or avocado oil in place of the egg wash.
What should I do with the extra bread? You’ll have extra bread pieces from hollowing out your bread bowls - serve these pieces along with the soup as extra dippers, or save them for homemade bread crumbs or croutons!
What to serve in a bread bowl: Use these bread bowls for your favorite soups (we love broccoli cheddar soup, clam chowder, and roasted tomato soup!), pastas (mac and cheese in a bread bowl = YES), and dips.
If your oven tends to run hot, you may want to reduce the baking temperature here to 400° Fahrenheit to avoid burning.
Be sure to read the full article above for how-to photos and additional bread bowl tips! If you enjoy bread-baking and want to learn more (including how to bake without a recipe!) we’d love to see you inside our Everyday Artisan Bread course!
Keywords: soup, winter, dip