Skip to Content

Soft Sourdough Focaccia

I may receive commission if you purchase through links in this post.

This recipe for soft, chewy, sourdough focaccia is sure to inspire many delicious creations. 

Long Pinterest collage image showing stacks of sliced sourdough focaccia with text overlay.

The recipe has been adapted from a traditional focaccia recipe I used back in my culinary school days. It is a large recipe, making an 18 by 13-inch half sheet pan or two 8 by 10-inch skillets of thick, pillowy focaccia bread. 

The recipe is very versatile. It can be cut in half if needed, topped with pretty much anything, and even adapted to include flavorings into the dough itself. 

Close-up of the focaccia in the pan with crispy edge.

Once cooked, the focaccia can be served with high-quality olive oil and balsamic for dipping, used to make panini-style sandwiches, used for open-faced hot or cold sandwiches, topped with pizza toppings for a quick fast dinner, or pretty much anything else you could imagine!

Soft Sourdough Focaccia dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

An Italian Flatbread

According to Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking, The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen, focaccia falls into the category of a traditional Italian leavened flatbread of moderate thickness. 

A stack of cut focaccia showing the open crumb structure.

There is really nothing that different about focaccia dough compared to other bread doughs, except that way it is shaped and dimpled. The dimpling with oiled fingers just before baking acts as a sort of large-scale docking to prevent giant bubbles from puffing up and out of control during baking. 

At 84%, my focaccia dough is a relatively high hydration. This allows for an even open crumb structure, perfect for soaking up olive oil! And like all my sourdough recipes, the dough ferments overnight at room temperature, increasing flavor, digestibility, and nutrition.

Close-up of the open crumb on the focaccia dough.

A stack of cut Focaccia show the open crumb structure.

Soft Sourdough Focaccia

Yield: 24 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 16 hours
Total Time: 17 hours

This traditionally leavened sourdough focaccia is super soft and pillowy, perfect for dipping in oil and vinegar, making sandwiches, or baking with toppings or add-ins!


  • 685 grams (3 cups) water
  • 250 grams (1 cup after stirring down) active sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • 18 grams (3 teaspoons) salt
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 50 grams (2 tablespoons) honey
  • 840 grams (6 cups) organic bread flour

Oil and Toppings

  • 50 grams (1/4 cup ) olive oil
  • 4 to 8 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) dried rosemary, to taste
  • Sprinkling of grated Parmesan, optional
  • Sprinkling of chili flakes, optional
  • 5 to 10 grams (1 to 2 teaspoons) flaky salt, optional


The Night Before

  1. In a large bowl with a dough whisk (a wooden spoon will work also) or stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix the water, starter, salt, olive oil, and honey.
  2. Add the flour to the mixture and stir slowly until incorporated.
  3. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir the dough again. If you are stirring by hand, use a dough whisk or spoon to do a modified stretch and fold technique by lifting the dough from one side and folding the dough over itself before rotating the bowl. Stretch and fold the dough until it feels tight and needs to rest. In a stand mixer, mix gently for 1 minute.
  5. Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes.
  6. Do one final round of stretch and fold with a spoon or whisk, or run the stand mixer for 1 more minute.
  7. Cover the dough and allow it to ferment at room temperature overnight.

The Next Morning

  1. Prepare your 18 by 13-inch half sheet pan or two 8 by 10-inch oven-safe skillets by adding the additional olive oil and coating all surfaces well. When I use an aluminum sheet pan I use a sheet of parchment paper as a base layer. The parchment is not necessary if using cast iron.
  2. Oil your hands lightly and gently lift the risen dough out of the bowl, sliding it into the half sheet pan. Turn the dough over so the top is now oiled and push, flatten, and pull the dough gently to form an even layer to the edges of the pan. If you are using skillets, divide the oil and dough in half between both pans before shaping to the edges.
  3. Let the dough rise for 1 to 3 hours until doubled.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425℉.
  5. Sprinkle the dough with any seasoning you like and drizzle with a little additional oil if needed. Use an oiled finger to poke straight down to the bottom of the pan, making deep dimples in the dough.
  6. Bake the focaccia for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and poofed!
  7. Let the focaccia cool before slicing.


Can I use different flour?

Yes! You can substitute any heirloom or whole-grain flour up to 50%.

Can I incorporate ingredients into the dough?

Yes! You can add additional ingredients like cheese chunks or olives into the dough during the last mixing before fermentation.

Can I add additional toppings?

Yes! You can add any toppings you like, just note that the focaccia might require 5 to 10 minutes of extra baking time if the toppings are thick or heavy.

Pinterest Image with title text showing stacked cut focaccia.

Judy Miracle

Wednesday 15th of November 2023

I have a guest who is vegan. Could I substitute maple syrup for the honey? I am just now learning what I can use or not use with a vegan diet. Thanks!

Butter For All

Tuesday 12th of December 2023

Hi Judy! Sorry for the slow reply, it's absolutely fine a substitute another sweetener, even coconut sugar would be a good substitute. I make my focaccia for market with no added sugar so you can actually just leave it out as well. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and happy baking!


Sunday 14th of March 2021

How can I modify this if I don't have a stand mixer? Thanks!

Butter For All

Monday 15th of March 2021

Hi Laura,

I give the directions for both hand mixing and stand mixer in the instructions. Hope you'll give it a shot!

Sharon Branch

Sunday 14th of March 2021

Is the starter "refreshed" or just out of the refrigerator?

Butter For All

Sunday 14th of March 2021

Hi Sharon!

It really depends o the age and activity of your starter. If it comes out of the fridge and starts activating and gets bubbly then I would say go ahead and use it. If it's sluggish and slow to revive then I would definitely feed it and let it double or even peak before using some. I usually specify "active" for a bubbly starter or "discard" when it doesn't really matter. I appreciate your comment because it notified me that I hadn't specified in this recipe. I've gone in and updated it now!

Thanks so much! I hope you love the recipes.



Monday 28th of December 2020

Wonderful recipe! I have made it several times and it is now a family favourite. I dust it with fennel, caraway, garlic powder, and crushed homegrown coriander seeds. Thanks!!

Butter For All

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

I'm so happy to hear it, Richard!

Thank you for the feedback!


Mollie Flack

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Hi Courtney: I am mixing the sourdough focaccia tonight and finding that the "dough" is really thin...not kneadable. I followed the amounts and instructions for putting it together, and am using organic unifine bread flour. Should I add more flour? The 6 cups is in, and it is pretty loose, unable to be stretched and folded. It is in a stand mixer. Friday night 9 pm California.....

Butter For All

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Hi Mollie!

I'm so sorry I didn't see this sooner. This dough is a high hydration dough, It is too sticky to stretch and fold with your hands, that's why I suggest a dough whisk or wooden spoon to do a modified S&F. The stand mixer should work well. The dough kind of half pours, half plops, out into the pan in the morning then you use oiled hands to press it to the corners. Please let me know how it comes out! I hope it works for you! If you have a scale, you might want to weigh out one cup of flour to see if you are getting close to the weighted equivalent!

Happy Baking!


Skip to Recipe