This easy-to-make cheddar-jalapeno no-knead bread relies on time to develop gluten, strength, and flavor. It bakes up with a crunchy, floury crust that cracks open unpredictably inside of a Dutch oven.
When I have minimal time to invest in hands-on baking but want a delicious loaf of airy, moist bread with a nice crunchy crust, I turn to my favorite no-knead recipes. Yes, that’s right: NO-KNEAD.
No-knead bread is exactly what it sounds like. Bread dough that requires no kneading to develop gluten and flavor. No folding, no punching down, nothing. Just stir the ingredients together to form a shaggy dough and let it sit at room temp for 18 hours.
Once it rises, you dump it out onto a lightly floured surface, shape it into a rough oval as best you can, and bake it in a Dutch oven.
This recipe, which I developed using Girl Versus Dough’s No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread recipe as a base, came about because I was desperate to find new ways to use up some of the four-dozen-plus jalapeños we grew last year.
I also took inspiration from a cheesy (asiago, I think?), peppery bread I had at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, which was amaaaaazing slathered in butter.
I don’t usually like hot peppers (as you know from the hot sauce post), but removing the seeds and ribs and baking them in the bread dough mellows the heat dramatically, leaving behind just the rich jalapeño flavor.
The Girl Versus Dough recipe is already a high-hydration dough (you’ll remember I talked about hydration in the bagel post) with a hydration level of 98%.
Because the cheese and the peppers add liquid to the dough, I increased the amount of flour just a touch to make it a 90% hydration dough, so it’s not completely impossible to work with. (You’re welcome).
That said, this will likely still be a bit of a challenge the first few times you try it. BUT!!! This is not meant to be a tightly controlled dough, so that looseness and stickiness is actually just fine.
A little bit of variety is what will make your cheddar-jalapeno no-knead bread crack open — like a dragon egg — in so many delightful and unpredictable ways while it bakes.
how to make cheddar-jalapeno no-knead bread
Mix all your ingredients together in a bowl. That’s it. You’re basically done.
Of course, there are a few things you can do to make it just a little easier on yourself. Mix your dry ingredients together first: Flour, salt, and yeast. Then, add your cheese, pepper, and rosemary and toss them in the dry ingredients before you add the water.
(I don’t know if it actually makes a difference, but I know when you make cakes you can toss berries in flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom, so I like to do this here too, just in case.)
Your last step is to add the water. Use a silicone spatula, dough whisk, or a plastic bowl scraper to mix the dough together until all the flour and water are incorporated.
Remember, this is a 90% hydration dough. It’s supposed to be a shaggy, messy dough. It should be sticky to the touch and impossible to knead (because it doesn’t need kneading).
Cover the bowl and let it rise at room temperature for 18 hours.
does it really need to rise for 18 hours?
Yes — and no. Most no-knead recipes say you can shape and bake the dough anywhere from 12 to 18 hours after you mix it. (Some recipes you can leave the dough in the fridge for up to 7 days!)
In my experience, at 12 hours, the gluten hasn’t developed enough strength for you to effectively shape the dough. It’ll be a loose, wet, sticky pile that’s nearly impossible to handle.
If you wait the full 18 hours it will still feel like a loose wet pile, but it’ll be so much easier to work with. Note that I did not say easy to work with. Just easier. But again, the dough isn’t meant to be easy to handle — that looseness and stickiness is part of what makes it crack open beautifully in the oven.
a few quick no-knead notes
- Use wet hands and wet your bowl scraper to gently transfer the risen dough to a floured sheet of parchment paper before shaping it. If you use flour on your hands the dough will stick to the flour.
- If you have an oval dutch oven: arrange the parchment paper so its in a diamond shape, with a corner of the paper towards your body. The oval shape of the dough should end up with the long side facing you, parallel to the edge of the counter. If you have a round dutch oven, just try to get your dough in the middle of the parchment paper.
- To shape the dough you can use floured hands OR slightly wet hands. Both will help keep the dough from sticking to you. Feel out the dough and try one method. If it doesn’t work, try the other. Figure out what approach works best for you. Too much flour will prevent the dough from sticking to itself as you fold, which will make it harder to shape. So don’t go overboard with the flour here. That said, you may need to use the bowl scraper to push flour under the edges of the dough to make it easier to lift off the paper.
- The cheddar and jalapeno pieces will try to push themselves out of the dough as you fold it. Just push them back in. If they fall out completely, you can put them in the center of the dough and fold more dough over them. But it’s okay if some pieces are hanging out of the dough. Don’t sweat it.
do you need to use cheddar and jalapeño?
Okay, you caught me. You can use any pepper or cheese combination you want. Green pepper, red pepper, purple pepper, yellow pepper, hot pepper, mild pepper. Any pepper will work.
I almost always have some sort of hot pepper in the kitchen so I usually just grab whatever I have. When it comes to cheese, I’ve done this with thin-sliced muenster cheese from the deli, rough-torn chunks of fresh mozzarella, finely grated asiago, shredded parmesan, cubed cotswold, and more.
Try to stick to hard cheeses (cheddar, parmesan, asiago, swiss, etc.) rather than soft cheeses (brie, goat cheese, etc.) so that the cheese doesn’t add too much liquid to the dough when it melts during baking.
As for cheddar, I recommend sticking to sweet, mild, or medium sharpness. If you go sharp or extra sharp, the cheddar flavor will overpower every bite.
other recipes you might like
- southwestern egg rolls
- homemade hot sauce
- corn fritter avocado “toast”
- sheet pan chicken tacos with corn salsa
cheddar-jalapeno no-knead bread (“dragon egg bread”)
- 390 grams all-purpose flour (3¼ cups)
- 2 tsp salt (fine sea salt preferred)
- 1 tsp yeast
- 340 grams lukewarm water (1½ cups)
- 1 jalapeño (seeds and ribs removed)
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese
- 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
- Mix your dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast) in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Dice cheddar cheese into 1/4" cubes or smaller, or grate with a cheese grater on the side with the larger holes. Add to dry ingredients.
- Remove seeds and ribs from jalapeño, then chop into pieces as big or small as you want. You can even do half the jalapeño in a fine dice and half in thin slices or a larger dice if you want some variety. Add to dry ingredients.
- Mince rosemary (if using) and add to the dry ingredients. Toss and stir everything together to combine.
- Add lukewarm water and stir until combined. If the dough seems really dry, add a tablespoon of water and keep stirring. When you have a shaggy, sticky dough, cover the bowl and set it aside at room temp to rest for 12-18 hours (I recommend going the full 18 hours if you can).
- At the end of the 18 hours the dough should have doubled or tripled in size and have a flat, bubbly top.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a Dutch oven inside, covered, and let preheat for 30 minutes at 450°F.
- While Dutch oven preheats, generously flour a piece of parchment paper on your counter and use a plastic bowl scraper to release the dough from the sides of the bowl and onto the center of the paper.
- Use floured or slightly wet hands to fold the edges of across the center of the dough to gently pull it into an oval or circle shape. This stage is messy and imprecise, that's okay. Sometimes you can fold the whole side of the dough in one move. Other times you end up zig-zagging smaller sections across the center.If any pepper or cheese pieces try to escape the dough, just push them back. It's okay if some stick out.
- Dust the surface of the dough with flour and let it sit until the Dutch oven finishes preheating.
- Slide the oven rack with the Dutch oven half-way out of the oven. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven. Gather the corners of the parchment paper together to pick the dough up and transfer it into the Dutch oven. Put the lid back on and slide the oven rack back in.
- Bake with the lid on for 45 minutes (don't peek!), then remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes until deeply golden brown on top.
- Transfer the fully baked loaf to a cooling rack and let cool for at least an hour before slicing.
- The cheese and pepper pieces will try to push themselves out of the dough as you shape it. Just push them back in. If they fall out completely, you can put them in the center of the dough and fold more dough over them. But it’s okay if some pieces are hanging out of the dough.
- Use a wet paper towel or sponge to lightly dampen your counter before you put the parchment paper down. This will help keep it in place if it’s curling up or if your dough is so sticky that it tries to pull the paper up with it as you fold.
- Keep a small measuring cup of flour on your counter as you work so you can easily grab pinches of it to dust your counter/the dough as you work.
- For more heat in your bread leave some or all of the ribs and seeds of the jalapeño intact.