This overnight focaccia has a super crisp bottom and pillowy, airy top. It's so easy and hands off to make and can be used for dipping in oil or sliced for sandwiches!
With an 8 to 12 hour rise time, you can start this focaccia recipe at night and bake it in the morning, or start it in the morning and bake it at night.
Top it with fresh herbs, cheese, or veggies — you can really get creative! I even used a riff on this dough to make a thick and fluffy focaccia pizza!
This overnight focaccia is actually a scaled up version of my small batch mini loaf pan focaccia, which uses just one cup of flour.
If you're looking for a fast focaccia, check out my No-Fuss Ligurian Focaccia, a speedy twist on Ligurian focaccia which is topped with a saltwater brine. For another classic overnight bread, check out my no-knead dutch oven bread!
And if you find yourself with any leftover focaccia, it's perfect for making these crunchy homemade focaccia croutons!
🍞 Why Make Overnight Focaccia
While there is certainly no shortage of focaccia recipes in the world, my goal in developing this overnight focaccia recipe was to keep everything as simple as possible.
That meant using simple, accessible, easy to find ingredients. No using fancy flours or flour blends here.
That also meant minimizing the amount of work required to build strength in the dough before letting it rise. So this is a no-knead overnight focaccia; You don't need a mixer to make it, either. (You will, however, need a kitchen scale.)
A lot of other focaccia recipes I looked at required several series of folds over a long (or long-ish) period of time, or required a mixer to get going.
This overnight focaccia needs just two sets of folds in a 20 minute period. Then it goes right into the pan it bakes in and you're done handling it until it's time to bake.
Other focaccia recipes I looked at (including Samin Nosrat's amazing Ligurian Focaccia) had little work up front, but needed lots of careful stretching once you put the dough in the pan. This one does not. This overnight focaccia will relax and stretch itself out into the pan as it rises.
So if you're looking for a basic, beginner-friendly, minimalist focaccia recipe, this simple overnight focaccia is exactly what you're looking for.
Focaccia is one of my favorite breads in the world to make because there are so many ways to customize it.
From here you can take it and add any toppings you like. You can even turn it into a base for focaccia pizza! I can't wait to see what you do with it!
🧂 Ingredient Notes
Here's what you'll need to make this easy overnight focaccia. See recipe card for quantities.
- All-purpose flour - A lot of focaccia recipes use bread flour with its higher protein content for more chewiness, but I wanted to keep this focaccia as simple and basic as possible. So we're using good ol' all purpose here. Nothing fancy!
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in all of my recipes. If you're measuring by weight, it doesn't matter what brand of salt you're using.
- Sugar - Plain white granulated sugar. I tested a batch of this without any sugar, and the focaccia just would not brown on top and the bottom was soggy instead of crisp — so don't skip the sugar! You do need it.
- Yeast - I use instant yeast which can be mixed right into the dry ingredients. Just make sure not to sprinkle it directly on top of the salt, as salt kills yeast.
- Warm water - Around 100F. It should be warm to the touch but not hot. Anything over 110-120 will kill the yeast.
- Olive Oil - Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil here. I like California Olive Ranch's global blend, but any olive oil with a robust flavor is ideal. Focaccia is an oil heavy bread, so you'll definitely be able to taste it!
- Toppings - Fresh herbs, garlic cloves, veggies, flaky salt, black pepper, etc. (See "Focaccia toppings" section below.)
Bonus: If you have leftover whey from making homemade goat cheese you can sub it in to this bread recipe (and most bread recipes) in place of water without making any adjustments. It gives the bread a tangy, almost sourdough like flavor — basically a more intense bread flavor and is so good!
Start by weighing your flour, salt, and sugar in to a medium sized mixing bowl. Give them a good stir to disperse the salt and sugar. Then sprinkle the yeast on top. This lets the flour act as a buffer between the yeast and salt.
Pour the warm water directly into the center of the bowl, followed by the extra virgin olive oil.
I like to use a dough whisk to combine everything because it's super efficient at mixing and knocking out any sneaky flour clumps.
You can also use your hands or a spatula if that's easier.
The dough will look super messy and sticky, that's okay. Dip your hand in a bit of water and gently fold the edges of the dough into the center.
The gluten hasn't had time to build any strength yet, you're just gathering it into a loose ball in the center of the bowl.
Cover the bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes.
After five minutes, you're going to perform a series of folds on the dough. This is super easy and helps build strength and structure so that the dough rises just the way we want it to.
Wet your hands and gently grab the top edge of the dough. Stretch it out and away from the dough, then fold it forward over the dough. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until you've gone all the way around.
Cover the bowl and let it rest 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, you're going to repeat the same set of folds. Wet your hands as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
This time you'll notice the dough is much stronger, smoother and stretchier. It just needed a bit of time to rest. (Resting builds strength — remember that!)
After the final fold, gently flip the focaccia dough over so the seam is underneath.
Spray your 9x13" baking pan with non-stick spray. Make sure to get the sides, too. Then drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the center of the pan.
Tilt the pan so the oil coats the bottom. (This is a tip I picked up from King Arthur Baking — the non-stick spray prevents sticking, but the oil is what will give you that crispy bottom!)
Gently slide the focaccia out of the bowl and into the pan. The seam side should still be down. If it untucks, just gently tuck the edges back under.
Cover the whole pan and let it rest overnight. ("Overnight" is baker for 8-12 hours).
After an overnight rest at room temperature, the focaccia dough will have spread out into the corners of the pan. It will look airy and bubbly and should jiggle slightly when you shake the pan.
If it hasn't fully settled into the corners, oil your hands and gently stretch the focaccia dough to reach.
It will continue rising while the oven pre-heats, so don't worry if it springs back a little.
About an hour before you plan to bake it, preheat the oven to 400F. Place the covered focaccia on top of your stove so the warmth gives the yeast one last boost of activity.
Thirty minutes before you plan to bake, drizzle the top with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Use your fingers to gently rub the oil around on the surface of the dough.
Then, use your oiled fingers to dimple the dough from top to bottom, pressing straight down until your fingers touch the bottom of the pan.
Top the focaccia with any fresh herbs you like — I went with fresh rosemary here — and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Then cover the focaccia and let it rest on the stovetop for the remaining 30 minutes, or until time to bake.
The dimples should fill back in slightly but not completely.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400F. The focaccia should be golden brown on top and have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan.
If you slide a spatula under it (gently!) it should lift in one piece and the bottom should look dark golden brown and crispy.
Immediately run a knife around the edges of the pan, just in case any small bits got stuck. Then drizzle another 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top to finish.
TIP: Let the focaccia cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove it to a cooling rack to cool completely. You can transfer it back to the pan after both have cooled, but if you leave it in the pan to cool, the bottom tends to get soggy.
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- The temperature of your kitchen can have a dramatic effect on how quickly or slowly your overnight focaccia rises. An "ideal" room temperature is around 70-72F. If your kitchen runs cool, your focaccia will likely take closer to 12 hours to rise. If your kitchen is warm, it will be ready closer to 8 hours after you put it in the pan.
- For a spicy finish, use chili oil instead of olive oil when topping the focaccia. Just be careful to wash your hands right after if you use it to dimple — you don't want the capsaicin to get stuck under your fingernails.
- Adding the toppings halfway through the final one hour rise gives them time to settle into the dough. The dough will rise again after you dimple it, and you want it to surround your toppings so they stay on after it bakes.
- Don't over-dimple! I know, it's super fun and is tempting to really go HAM on this thing. But you don't want to knock all the air out of it, either.
- Focaccia is best served immediately, or within 12 hours of baking. After 12 hours the salt will start to dissolve and absorb into the dough, and the bread will start to dry out and become oily. You can still eat it, it's not harmful, but it won't look as good as it did on that first day.
🥣 Equipment Notes
You don't need a lot of fancy tools to make this focaccia. Here's what I recommend:
- Kitchen scale - I developed and tested this recipe using weight measurements. You will need a kitchen scale to make this recipe. Baking without a kitchen scale is very imprecise and can dramatically change the outcome of your recipe. Using a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients ensures you get the best, most accurate results. They are inexpensive (less than $20!) and will make you a much better baker. I promise, a kitchen scale is worth it.
- Dough whisk - I use a dough whisk to mix my focaccia dough. A dough whisk is a sturdy, immovable metal coil that is super efficient at cutting through doughs to mix them evenly. It's great for breaking up any hidden lumps of flour in wet doughs like focaccia. If you don't have a dough whisk, use a spatula or your hands to mix the dough.
- 9x13" baking pan - I prefer using a metal or cast iron pan (like USA Pan's 9x13" cake pan, pictured here, or the shallow bottom of my Challenger Bread Pan) for focaccia — you'll get a crispier bottom that way. But a ceramic or glass rectangular baking dish, like a casserole dish would also work. You could even divide the dough in half and bake it in two square or round cake pans! For a thinner, crispier focaccia, use a half sheet pan and use oiled fingers to gently stretch the dough to fill the pan as needed during the final hour rise before baking.
🍽 How to serve focaccia
One of my favorite things about focaccia is how versatile it is. You can slice it into 6 or 8 squares to use as sandwich bread — I love it for deli-style tuna salad sandwiches.
You can also top it with lots of cracked black pepper to make Panera's famous black pepper focaccia sandwich bread!
Or, slice your overnight focaccia into thin strips and serve it up as an appetizer with some briny Greek olives or capers, a seasoned olive oil dip, or even smear it with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese.
⏲️ Storing focaccia
Focaccia is best served same day, but if you do need to save it for later you can always freeze it.
To freeze: Cool completely, then wrap well and freeze. You can freeze it as one big piece, but I recommend freezing it in thinner slices or squares (wrapped individually, then stored in a large freezer bag).
Defrost on your counter, then reheat in a 375F oven until warmed through.
Focaccia topping food safety: If your focaccia is loaded up with lots of veggie toppings you'll definitely want to wrap and freeze it, or wrap and refrigerate it rather than leaving it to sit out, especially if you're planning to eat it over several days.
The fridge isn't the ideal place for bread (cold temperatures speed up staling), but roasted veggies, garlic, onions, and cheese shouldn't sit out at room temperature for long periods of time.
💭 Top tip
Relax and enjoy the process! Focaccia is a low-key bread that is very hard to mess up. Time will do most of the work for you. Don't agonize over it too much.
If your focaccia looks ready to bake, get dimpling! If it looks like it needs more time, give it more time to rise. You got this!
💭 Focaccia FAQ - scaling, yeast types, cold proofing!
Yep! You can use it exactly the same way as instant yeast. If you want to be precise about it, use 3 grams of active dry yeast instead 2 grams instant yeast. (But if you use 2 grams active dry yeast, I promise it will still be fine. It might just take closer to 12 hours to rise.)
Indeed it will! The long pre-heat time on the oven for this recipe actually makes it perfect for use with a baking steel, which needs to preheat for about an hour before use anyway. Slide the baking pan directly onto the baking steel and bake as per the recipe instructions.
As soon as you realize you won't be ready to bake within the 8-12 hour window, pop the focaccia into the fridge. The cooler temperature will slow the yeast activity. Depending on how much it has risen by the time it goes into the fridge, you can buy yourself up to 12 extra hours before it needs to be baked. The final rise (steps 5 and 6 in the recipe) may take more like 2-3 hours, as the focaccia has to come to room temperature before the yeast start working again.
Focaccia is an airy dough with just enough gluten structure to trap those beautiful air bubbles inside. If it overproofs, that means the yeast has run out of sugar to eat and the dough structure has begun to collapse. You can pop the focaccia into the fridge before it overproofs (see above) to prevent this. But another option is to dimple the focaccia early. The dimpling process will move things around in the dough and reactivate the yeast slightly by giving it new food to produce more air bubbles. Let the focaccia continue rising for another hour away from the stove — you don't want the yeast to burn through the new sugar too quickly! Avoid dimpling again before baking — an overproofed dough will lose air quickly, and you want to preserve as much of it as you can.
If your focaccia dough starts to look flat and kind of sunken in on top it is probably overproofed. You can also poke down into it with one oiled finger — if it completely collapses around your finger, I'm sorry. It has overproofed.
The nice thing about a fridge rise is that it happens so slowly you have a nice long window of time in which it will be ready to bake. The longest I'd say you can leave it in the fridge is about 48 hours. It's hard to put a specific time to how long it will need to proof at room temperature once you take it out of the fridge though, so you'll just have to use your eyes. When it fills the pan and looks quite bubbly and airy, you're ready to start dimpling and topping.
I used Florida Crystals Organic Raw Cane Sugar for this recipe because that's what I had in my pantry. It has a very light brown color to it, but is not brown sugar. Brown sugar is sugar that has been mixed with molasses. That is not what we're using here.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of water, yeast, salt, and flour so that your focaccia dough behaves the way you want it to during the folding and rising periods. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to cups, I would be using Google — just like you would. And I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same delicious results!
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over top, then pour warm water and olive oil directly into the center of the dry ingredients. Mix with your hands or a sturdy wire dough hook until completely combined. The dough will be sticky and very messy. With a damp hand grab a corner of the dough and stretch it over itself. Rotate the bowl and repeat to gather the dough in a loose ball in the center. Cover and rest 5 minutes.
- Dampen your hands and repeat the folding process, grabbing a corner of the dough, stretching it away and then down over the center of the dough. Rotate the bowl and repeat with each side of the dough.Cover and rest 15 minutes.
- While the dough rests, spray a 9x13" high-sided baking pan with non-stick spray, making sure to get the sides too. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil in the center, and tilt the pan to spread the oil out.
- Repeat the folding process one more time. The dough should be much smoother, stronger, and stretchier this time. On the final fold, flip the dough over so the seam side is down. Then slide the folded dough out of the bowl and into the oiled baking pan.Cover and rest 8-12 hours at room temperature.
- An hour before you plan to bake the focaccia, preheat the oven to 400°F. The focaccia should have relaxed and filled out the pan and look bubbly and jiggle slightly if you shake the pan. If it hasn't filled out the pan, use oiled fingers to gently lift and stretch the dough into the corners. Cover and place the pan on top of the stove while the oven preheats. The ambient warmth will give the yeast one last boost before baking.
- 30 minutes before baking, top and dimple the focaccia. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the surface of the focaccia. Use your fingers to gently rub it around, then poke your fingers straight down until they hit the bottom of the pan. Repeat this all over the dough. Don't overdo it — you don't want to knock all the air out! Finish with fresh rosemary, herbs, freshly cracked black pepper, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Cover and let rise until ready to bake.
- Bake. Bake the focaccia for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. If it browns unevenly, rotate the pan after 20 minutes and bake a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Cool completely (or almost completely) before serving.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove