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Low sodium no-knead crusty boule bread

This salt free version of Jim Lahey's popular no-knead bread is chewy and crusty. Start with the basic dough recipe and add your favorite flavor variation, like caramelized shallots and thyme, or black pepper and Swiss cheese. The possibilities are endless!

Servings: Makes 1 round boule bread

Sodium: Less than 5 mg for the entire loaf, see below for sodium content for flavor variations

Time: 30 minutes active, 15-21 hours inactive

Ingredients for the basic dough:

400 g (3 1/3 cups) bread flour

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon olive oil*

1 tablespoon honey*

280 g (1 1/4 cups) water

*I used to say that the olive oil and honey were optional but I'm changing that because you really, really should add them. However, if you don't want to, the recipe will work without them just fine. They give the bread a lot more flavor. The oil also keeps the bread from drying out as much if you're eating it over several days.

Add these flavor variations to the basic dough recipe:

Black pepper and Swiss cheese bread

Sodium: 121 mg sodium per loaf, so about 15 mg per slice for 8 large slices

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces low sodium Swiss cheese, torn or cut into small 1/4 inch pieces

Shallot and thyme bread

Sodium: less than 3 mg of sodium for the entire loaf

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let rest at room temperature, covered, for 12-18 hours, until doubled. The dough is shaggy and sticky. Here's a black pepper and Swiss cheese dough right after mixing, and after 15 hours.

2) Turn the dough out on a generously floured work surface, flour the top, and gently fold it over 8 times. To do this, take the top of the dough and fold it into the middle. Then do the same with the sides and bottom. Repeat that for 8 folds total and gently shape into a ball.

3) Take a 10-inch skillet and put a piece of lightly oiled parchment paper on top. Place the dough seam side down in the parchment lined skillet. The skillet helps the dough hold its shape so any similar sized bowl will do. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Make sure the plastic wrap is evenly oiled so it doesn’t stick to the dough when you remove it.

4) About 45 minutes before the second rise is complete, preheat your oven to 450°F. Place a 5-6 quart covered pot in the oven as it's heating up. I use a 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven. Make sure your pot is safe up to at least 450°F.

5) When the dough is done with its second rise, lightly dust with flour and use a very sharp knife to cut a slit on the top of the dough. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place the dough (with the parchment paper) into the hot pot. Do this by lifting the dough using the parchment paper. Cover the pot and return to the oven to bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove the lid and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the crust is a deep brown. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and let the bread cool on a wire rack for about 3 hours before cutting it.

Here's the black pepper and Swiss cheese loaf right before and after baking, and then after the bread has cooled.

And here's the shallot thyme loaf.


-Use a scale to measure the ingredients whenever possible, especially flour. If you don't have a scale, King Arthur Baking has this great video on how to measure flour accurately.

-For the black pepper cheese loaf, if you can handle more sodium add another ounce or two of Swiss cheese.

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Jun 28, 2022

Can I use my sourdough starter in this recipe - and if so, how?

Feb 17, 2023
Replying to

Since you have no reply showing, I would try taking some of your sour dough starter at feeding time and mix the portion you have removed. Let it ferment (grow) in a separate container and see how it works. Please let us all see the results, good or bad. One never knows until we try. 🤔


Robert Grove
Robert Grove
Jan 23, 2022

Made this today with thyme and shallot. The Food Critic in my household is happy.

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