Take your appetizer bread course or snack game to the next level with these delightful homemade ciabatta breadsticks.
With a chewy golden crust and soft, airy interior, these homemade ciabatta breadsticks are the perfect combination of textures.
This recipe will make about 10-12 ciabatta breadsticks that are about 11-13" long. They're pretty big! We are absolutely living for a chunky breadstick moment here.
About These Ciabatta Breadsticks
To make these ciabatta breadsticks I used a slightly smaller (and slightly faster) version of my classic soft-baked ciabatta bread. No fancy flours or specialty ingredients needed, and the recipe clocks in at just under 3 hours, with a lot of hands off resting time.
If you've made my full size ciabatta recipe before, this will be very familiar to you!
I've basically just reduced the amount of water to make the dough a little easier to cut and shape, and because we don't need quite so much of an open, airy crumb for breadsticks.
For an even smaller batch of breadsticks, check out my mini ciabatta recipe which uses just one cup of flour. You can use the same breadstick cutting and twisting technique with that dough to make just a few breadsticks.
The fun, twisted shape of these ciabatta breadsticks is by far my favorite thing about them. I think you're going to love it about them too!
Ciabatta dough is very bubbly and airy, and twisting them before baking compresses the gluten structure, helping control the way they bake.This ensures you don't end up with any sneaky giant pockets of air hiding inside.
It also gives them a great chewy texture, and makes them really fun to pull apart into pieces for dunking in dips or seasoned oils!
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make these ciabatta breadsticks. See recipe card (at the end of the post) for ingredient quantities.
- Flour - Regular all purpose flour! I use King Arthur Baking Company's all purpose flour which has a slightly higher protein content (closer to a bread flour, which gives you a chewier, more elastic bread) than other brands of all-purpose flour, so if you're using a different brand of flour you may have better results with their bread flour.
- Yeast - This recipe uses instant yeast (sometimes called "rapid rise" or "bread machine" yeast). If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast by 25%.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which is half as salty as other brands and has larger crystals that dissolve easily. If measuring by weight (as you should be!), you can use any brand of salt (table salt or fine sea salt will be just fine). But if you're measuring by volume (teaspoons) and using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Water - The water should be warm to the touch but not hot. If you have an instant read thermometer, you're aiming for somewhere around 85°F.
- Olive Oil - I like using a nice extra virgin olive oil here. Regular olive oil will also work. This helps make the dough super soft and stretchy, while also adding flavor!
Making this soft-baked ciabatta takes just about 3-ish hours, start to finish. It's a very hands off recipe with no fancy shaping; it's is meant to have a rustic, imperfect shape.
There's four 15 minute resting periods, one 1 hour resting period, and one 30 minute resting period, so the amount of active work time is minimal.
If you're new to bread making this is a great place to start. You can do this!
I like to use a square Cambro container for mixing and folding this ciabatta dough — it helps train the dough to hold a square shape which makes it easier to cut later on. You can absolutely use a large mixing bowl instead.
Whisk the flour, salt, and instant yeast together in a medium mixing bowl. Add the warm water and olive oil.
Use a dough whisk to mix them together until a sticky, messy dough forms.
Scrape any excess flour or dough off the sides of the bowl, and use lightly damp hands to gather the sticky dough at the bottom of the bowl.
Resting and Coil Folding (Bulk Fermentation)
After the dough has been mixed, it's time to let it rest for 1 hour and 45 minutes. During the first hour, you're going to periodically build strength and structure into the dough using a technique called folding.
Don't feel overwhelmed by this — it's basically a 1 hour and 45 minute resting period period, with folds every 15 minutes just for the first hour. That's four sets of folds total. Then 45 minutes where you don't have to do anything but remember to preheat the oven. Lucky you!
Here's what that looks like:
- Mix the dough. Rest 15 minutes.
- First set of folds. Rest 15 minutes.
- Second set of folds. Rest 15 minutes.
- Third set of folds. Rest 15 minutes.
- Fourth set of folds. Rest 45 minutes.
TIP: To keep track of which set of folds you're on, put a small bowl with four candies, crackers, or snacks in it. Eat one each time you do a set of folds. It's like a reward.
The first hour starts immediately after mixing the dough. The dough will rest for 15 minutes, and then you'll do the first set of folds. Each "set" of folds consists of four coil folds OR four stretch-and-folds.
Which set of folds you choose is really up to you — pick whichever is easiest for your hands! You can even alternate which ones you use between sets.
On the first set of folds the ciabatta dough will feel very weak and might even tear. That's okay. Just keep going. It will continue to strengthen as you keep folding.
Rotate the bowl 90 degrees (a quarter turn) after each fold, so each time you pick up the dough, you're sliding your hands under the newly tucked under edges and folding the dough in alternating directions.
Slide your fingers under opposite sides of the dough and lift straight up from the middle.
Rotate your hands back slightly so that the flap of dough on the far side of the bowl releases.
Let the far flap of dough settle on top of the other flap to form a coil shape. Release the dough.
STRETCH AND FOLDS
Rotate the bowl 90 degrees (a quarter turn) after each fold, so you work your way all the way around the dough.
Grab the top edge of dough and stretch it up and away from you.
Fold the flap of dough down over the middle and press down so it sticks.
Regardless of which type of folds you do, on the first fold, the dough will be relaxed and easier to stretch. By the final fold in each set, it won't stretch it quite as much. That means the gluten network is getting stronger.
Each time you do a set of folds the dough will feel smoother and stronger.
After the final set of folds, cover the bucket and let the dough rest for 45 minutes. At this point we want the dough to develop some nice air bubbles.
The dough may not quite double in size, but it should have increased in size and look airy at the end of this resting period.
Cutting and Twisting Ciabatta Breadsticks
Preheat the oven during the 45 minute rest. Because these ciabatta breadsticks are so small, they don't need any time to rest after you cut them, so you want to make sure the oven is ready to go when they are!
Dust the top of the breadstick dough in the bowl with flour so it doesn't stick to the bowl as you tip it out. Then turn the dough out of the bowl and onto a generously floured surface so that the sticky, un-floured side is facing up.
Dust the sticky top side of the dough lightly with flour too. Use flat hands to gently smooth the ciabatta into a large rectangle about 10x15 inches in size and 1 inch thick.
Gently lift and stretch the edges and corners if you need to (a metal bench scraper can be helpful here!), but don't try to force the dough, you don't want to deflate it too much.
Just gently smooth and stretch it into a loose rectangle.
Use a sharp knife or bench scraper in an up-and-down motion to make your cuts (don't try to slide the blade along the counter or the sticky dough will stick to it), and leave the sticky cut edges facing open. Dust lightly with flour only if needed.
Cut the ciabatta dough into 1 inch strips — the dough is very airy so cut them slightly smaller than you think!
Gently roll each end of the breadstick on a lightly floured surface in opposite directions to create the twist.
Use very little pressure when you do the twist, the dough is very soft and airy and you don't want to flatten it!
You can also use one hand to gently hold one end in place and use the other hand to lift and twist the dough.
TIP: When you lift the breadsticks onto the sheet pan, do not lift from the two ends or gravity will stretch them out. Bring the sheet pan as close as you can so you don't have to move them very far. Gently scrunch the two ends together so you're supporting most of its weight in your hands, then move your hands apart as you deposit the breadstick on the sheet pan.
Baking Ciabatta Breadsticks
Depending on how soft or crunchy you want your breadsticks to be, I've provided two different baking times:
- For softer ciabatta breadsticks, bake for 11-13 minutes.
- For crispier, crunchier ciabatta breadsticks, bake for 14-16 minutes.
When the ciabatta breadsticks are done they will be lightly golden brown in the spots peeking out between the floury stripes.
Right out of the oven, the ciabatta breadsticks will feel hard to the touch. That's normal. They will soften as they cool.
Let the ciabatta breadsticks cool for at least 10 minutes before eating them. You can let them cool on the sheet pan or transfer them to a cooling rack, either is fine.
Adding Other Flavors and Inclusions
If you want to customize the flavor of your ciabatta breadsticks, go for it! You just want to make sure they don't disrupt the structure of the dough.
The simplest way to do this is to simply sprinkle the twisted breadsticks with your favorite seeds or cheeses right before baking. This works for things like sesame seeds, poppyseeds, everything bagel seasoning, flaky salt, cheddar or parmesan cheese, etc.
The second easiest way to change the flavor of your homemade ciabatta breadsticks is to replace the olive oil with an infused olive oil or other oil with a flavor you like. Garlic oil, scallion oil, sesame oil, etc. are all good options here!
If you want to add a lightweight ingredient like herbs or spices, you can mix up to 1½ teaspoons into the olive oil and add them directly to the dough.
To incorporate heavier, denser ingredients like finely chopped olives, peppers, roasted garlic cloves or garlic confit, or coarsely grated cheese, you can add up to 55 grams (20% by baker's percentage) during during the third set of folds when the dough is strong enough to support them. To do this, sprinkle the ingredients over the surface of the dough and do 4-6 stretch-and-folds to seal them inside.
You really don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make ciabatta breadsticks, but here's a few that might make the process easier for you!
- Kitchen Scale - The most accurate way to measure ingredients for baking! For best results with this recipe, you'll need to use a kitchen scale.
- Dough Whisk - The sturdy, open wire coil of a dough whisk is designed to make mixing sticky wet doughs easy. The coil cuts through the dough easily, breaking up any sneaky lumps of flour hiding inside.
- Bench Scraper - A flat metal bench scraper with a thin edge is great for cutting your breadsticks AND for sliding under the dough to stretch it out before cutting it if you need to. Again, you don't need to use one, but it can be helpful!
- Flour Duster - Ciabatta is a very floury bread, but too much flour can be unpleasant! A flour duster helps you get a nice, even dusting of flour on your mini ciabatta without overdoing it.
Substituting Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast
Active Dry and Instant yeast are technically the same thing — meaning, they are both saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-celled living organism used for leavening bread and doughs.
The only difference between the two types of yeast is that Active Dry yeast granules have a little coating around them which needs to dissolve to reveal the yeast inside.
Because of this extra little shell around the Active Dry yeast granules, you'll need to use slightly more Active Dry yeast to get the same effect as using Instant.
To calculate how much Active Dry yeast to use, increase the amount of Instant yeast by 25%. So for this recipe, rounding down, you'd be using 7 grams (1 packet) of active dry yeast.
Instead of adding the active dry yeast to the dry ingredients, sprinkle it over the water and give it a quick stir before adding the oil and mixing the dough.
Storage & Freezing
Ciabatta breadsticks are best within 24-48 hours of baking. Store them in an airtight container or plastic bag at room temperature with a paper towel in it to absorb moisture. As always, do not refrigerate bread.
They will begin to lose their airy texture after about 2 days, but can be easily revived by toasting them lightly or popping it in a 350°F oven for a few minutes.
These ciabatta breadsticks freeze beautifully. I usually just toss them in a plastic bag and freeze them, but if you want to do it "right" and avoid freezer burn, bundle them in plastic wrap before putting them in a bag in the freezer.
To reheat ciabatta breadsticks from frozen, place them on a sheet pan in a 350°F oven for about 5-7 minutes. No need to defrost them first.
Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- An overnight rise: If you want to bake these ciabatta breadsticks the next day, you can pop the dough in the fridge immediately after finishing the coil folds. Shape and bake them the next day.
- Ambient temperature and dough rising: Room temperature is generally considered to be around 70°-75°F. If your dough is rising slowly and your kitchen is cold, find somewhere warmer to put your dough during the resting period. If your kitchen is very warm, your dough might be ready to cut into breadsticks after 30 minutes instead of 45 minutes! Pay attention to the dough and adjust as needed.
- A note on oven temperature: Most ovens do not run true to temperature! In my past three apartments my ovens were off from anywhere to 50° to 20° and all of them would tell me they were at the right temperature 15 minutes before they actually were. Baking at the right temperature is crucial. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is accurate!
- Baking at high altitude: You will likely need to increase the water, depending on how high above sea level you are. You may also find that a higher protein true bread flour works better for you!
Recipe FAQ - Overnight rise, troubleshooting folding, sourdough, etc?
In order to make this recipe successfully, you need to measure your ingredients by weight.
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 bread dough behaves the way you want it to. Depending on how much you pack the flour in and what brand of measuring cups you’re using, you may be off by 30-50 grams of flour per cup which can make a huge difference in how your ciabatta breadsticks turn out.
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 since there's no set standard for what "1 cup" of flour weighs, different online converters use different amounts, which means converting the recipe to cups would be very inaccurate.
Basically, if you convert this recipe to cup measurements, do so at your own risk. It will have a higher rate of failure. I don’t recommend it!
I usually stretch a plastic bowl cover over the top of the bowl or use the lid if I'm mixing in a container with a lid. You can also lay a clean dish towel over the mouth of the bowl. Avoid having anything in direct contact with the dough. Once you get to the final 30-minute bench rest, the clean dish towel can go directly on top of the floury dough.
If the dough seems too wet, my first piece of advice is to just keep going with the recipe. This is a wet dough and many of my recipe testers told me they thought their dough was too wet when it was actually just right.
If your dough is SO wet that on the second set of folds it doesn't feel any stronger and is tearing in half every time you try to lift it, then you can dust in a tiny amount of flour. But really try to avoid adding in more flour during the folding stage unless you absolutely need to.
You can, but you'll still need to use commercial yeast to help with the speed of the recipe. Use 50 grams 100% hydration sourdough discard or fed starter, reduce the amount of water to 195 grams, and reduce the amount of flour to 250 grams. Everything else remains the same!
Nope! You don't need to. You'll end up with airier, thicker ciabatta breadsticks.
You could even bake tear-apart ciabatta breadsticks by cutting the dough directly on the parchment lined baking sheet you'll bake them on. Don't separate the breadsticks before you bake them. You may need to add 2-3 minutes to the bake time if you go this route.
TL;DR — Recipe Summary
- Stir dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and mix to form a sticky dough.
- Cover and rest for 1 hour with coil folds every 15 minutes.
- Cover and rest for 45 minutes undisturbed.
- Turn the dough out, dust the top with flour, stretch and cut into ½-inch strips. Twist them and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 11-13 minutes at 450°F until light golden brown. Bake for 14-16 minutes for crispier breadsticks.
Twisted Ciabatta Breadsticks
- 275 grams all purpose flour (plus more for dusting during shaping)
- 8 grams diamond crystal kosher salt
- 3 grams instant yeast (1 teaspoon)
- 220 grams warm water (80°F)
- 16 grams extra virgin olive oil
- Mix. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and instant yeast. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients; pour the warm water and olive oil into it. Mix the dough until it comes together in a messy ball with no dry patches of flour hiding inside. Scrape down the walls of the bowl, gathering the dough together.
- Bulk Fermentation. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 1 hour, with folds every 15 minutes. Then let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
- Towards the end of the 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Stretch. Dust your counter well with flour, then dust the top of the dough with flour too. Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the counter. Dust the top side of the dough with flour and use flat fingers with gentle pressure to stretch and smooth the dough into a rectangle approximately 10" tall and 15" wide. Use a bench scraper to get more flour underneath and lift the dough to stretch it if it's sticking.
- Cut. Dust the sticky top side of the dough lightly with flour again. Cut the dough into one inch strips (you should get about 10 of them!). Cut in in an up and down motion so the dough doesn't stick to your blade. Dust in more flour or wipe the blade as needed to prevent sticking.
- Twist. Twist each dough strip on the counter by rolling each end in opposite directions. Use gentle pressure to avoid flattening them. Transfer the breadsticks to the parchment lined sheet pan. TIP: Support each breadstick from the middle when you lift or move them so they don't stretch out!
- Bake for 11-13 minutes for soft breadsticks or 14-16 minutes for crispy breadsticks. They will be lightly golden brown in the spaces between the floury stripes. Even soft-baked ciabatta breadsticks will seem very hard and crusty when they first come out of the oven, but they will soften as they cool
- Resist adding flour to the dough during the folding stages. If your dough is still tearing in half on the second set of folds, you can dust in a little as needed. This is a wet, sticky dough by design — use damp or lightly oiled hands to keep it from sticking to you instead.
- Measure by weight for best results.
- If using active dry yeast, increase to 4 grams. Mix the yeast into the warm water before adding it to the dough.