Finally a gluten-free bread that is egg-free, dairy-free, vegan, easy to make, soft, bready and utterly delicious! This bread is more nutrient-dense than the store-bought gluten-free breads which often contain lots of additives and fillers. It's also easy to make, needing very little hands on time. Just mix it up in a food processor, leave it to rise for a couple of hours and bake in a dutch oven with a little boiling water for a lovely thin crust. Soft and squidgy when fresh but it also makes the best gluten-free toast! After a day or two, keep this bread sliced in a bag in the freezer and then toast it straight from frozen and slather it with nut butter for a healthy vegan gluten free breakfast whenever you fancy it!
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This bread recipe is really my baby. I have developed this recipe over the last decade through trial and error and a massive excel spreadsheet!
When I first went gluten-free, I used to buy all the shop versions of gluten-free bread but I found them really unsatisfying. They all seemed like they were made of air and I would find myself hungry again very soon after eating it. So, I started baking my own bread following recipes I found online and in my many gluten-free cookbooks.
Once I became more comfortable baking gluten-free bread, I started experimenting and adjusting the various different elements of it. I compared lots of different recipes and researched the various ingredients to find out what function each had in the recipe. Then I started an excel spreadsheet so that I could test each element of my recipe and record the results each time, checking the crumb, bounce, gumminess and taste of each loaf. It’s so funny looking back at this spreadsheet that was started back in 2014 and has notes on over 50 different iterations.
I love this recipe because the bread is flavourful with a fantastic bready texture. For me, gluten-free bread should be doughy and chewy, and should feel like you are really eating something not just an airy light piece of bread that dissolves in your mouth. I want it to be soft but firm enough to hold its own, cold with some vegan cream cheese or hummus but also hold up well to toasting and eating with vegan butter and marmite or nut butter slathered on top.
Making Gluten-Free Bread without Eggs
Going vegan meant that I had to adjust my gluten-free bread recipe quite significantly. I had to remove the eggs, milk and butter. Milk and butter are pretty easy to swap to vegan alternatives but the egg swap was more problematic!
Most gluten-free bread recipes rely heavily on egg for the bouncy texture and also for the rise. You see, gluten-free flours are heavier and more dense than wheat flour so you usually need the eggs to provide more lift. Eggs are a leavening agent and also help to provide the structure for holding the air bubbles released by the yeast when it’s feeding on the sugars in the dough (the proteins in the egg help somewhat in replicating the structure that gluten would usually provide – although the structure from egg is not stretchy like gluten).
Now you probably already know that usually we can replicate the function of eggs in vegan recipes with various ingredients like aquafaba (chickpea or bean cooking water), apple sauce, flax seeds mixed with water, etc. I already had flax seeds in my original recipe (to add that stretchiness to replicate the gluten in wheat bread) so, at first, I tried just increasing the flax seed quantity. Unfortunately, it just made the bread really heavy and not as bouncy as I wanted it. After yet more research, I discovered that psyllium husk was the way forward and, after yet more recipe testing and more columns in the spreadsheet, I found the perfect ratios of flax, psyllium and water to get just the right kind of doughiness in the bread.
I think this works really well because the psyllium is excellent at absorbing water (you’ll see when you whisk it together that it goes to a gel-consistency very quickly!) so it makes a really moist dough. This means that there is a lot of steam inside the bread when it is baking which means lots of little air pockets and less dense bread. So, finally I have ended up with a gluten-free bread recipe that is also vegan! And I can tell you, there aren’t many of those around!!
Notes about Gluten-Free Flours
As with all gluten-free bread recipes, you will need a variety of different flours for this recipe (although if you have a good food processor, you can just whizz up the wholegrains to make it into flour - 1 min/sp.10 for Thermomix users). This is because no gluten-free flour works in the same way as wheat so you need to combine various flours to get a similar effect. Each flour uniquely affects the bread's taste and texture. This combination of flours is the one that I like the best (with some scope for switching them up, as you’ll see if the next section).
Wholegrains are healthiest as they contain the outer part of the grains that have all the fibre and nutrients in them. However, starches are also needed to provide lightness of texture so that you don’t get a loaf that’s as heavy as a rock! Commercial gluten-free breads include a lot of starch because it makes a very light, soft loaf. But the refined starches have all the nutrients stripped out so that the bread is full of empty calories, which is why you often get hungry again very soon after eating them.
So, you need to balance the desire for a light texture with the desire to make a healthy and satisfying loaf of bread. I find that a wholegrain to starch ratio of 3:2 gets that balance about right for my liking.
- Wholegrain flours – the flours and quantities I have given are somewhat changeable. As long as the total of the wholegrain flours used is 300g there is some leeway in choosing the exact combination. As long as the majority of this is a combination of brown rice and sorghum, then the quantities of the rest of the flours (oat, millet and corn) can be adjusted to what you have to hand and like the flavour of. You could also switch the corn and millet for buckwheat and teff (for a brown bread), or include a little quinoa flour (but be careful with this as it is quite sweet. I don’t like more than 10g of quinoa flour for that reason). Play around with the flours within the general quantities I have given to see how the flavour profile changes. I find buckwheat a little too bitter for my liking but you might prefer that.
- Starches – the starches are needed to give lightness to the bread. You can switch up the starches for whatever you like. I usually use arrowroot and potato flour in equal amounts but you could swap these for tapioca flour or cornstarch too.
- Ground Flax Seeds (linseeds) – as well as replicating the function of eggs in the recipe, these little seeds are also an excellent source of fibre and important fats that are sometimes lacking in a vegan diet. Make sure you choose crushed flax seeds that come in opaque packets so that they have not been damaged by light. Keep them in the fridge once you open the packet to keep them at their best.
- Psyllium Husk – another fantastic source of fibre in this bread recipe. Pysllium husk comes in various forms. I use psyllium powder but if you are using psyllium flakes, you will need more than 2 tbsp. That’s why I have also given the weight because although you will need a greater volume of flakes (they take up more space in a spoon because of the air gap between the flakes), the quantity by weight will be the same for both. So, if you are using flakes, go for 18g rather than 2 tbsp.
- Water – this dough is much, much wetter than normal bread dough. In fact, the dough bears no relation to any other dough you may have made so please don’t worry that it’s gone wrong! I find this very wet recipe, helps the dough to rise more easily and create a lighter texture. Since gluten-free flours are so heavy, I guess they need a lot of water to loosen the dough enough to enable the air bubbles to lift the dough mixture. The wetter the dough, the lighter the texture.
- Salt – the salt quantity may seem quite high but remember that it is spread between a lot of slices of bread! It also depends on the saltiness of your salt. I use a Himalayan pink salt that doesn’t have a strong salty taste. If your salt is more salty then you may need to add less.
- Sugar – the sugar is to add a touch of sweetness to balance the flavours and also to help feed the yeast to release carbon dioxide and give those lovely air bubbles.
- Yeast – make sure to use instant yeast that is labelled as gluten-free because sometimes manufacturers add gluten to yeast (for some crazy reason!).
This is a much simplified gluten-free bread recipe. I have a busy lifestyle and I just don’t have time to make my bread unless it’s super easy to fit into my life! So, whilst it may not be the absolute perfect way to make bread, it’s pretty good and super simple! Over the years, I have significantly reduced the hands-on work for making this bread to keep each step to something I can do quickly while I’m popping to the kitchen to make a coffee! So, the basic steps for making this bread are: (see full instructions in the recipe card)
- Mix the ingredients together in a food processor to form a wet, sticky dough.
- Leave in a covered bowl to rise for 2-3 hours (mixing again half way through).
- Put dough in the bread tin and leave to rise again for 20-30 minutes while you heat the oven (and put the dutch oven inside).
- Place the bread tin inside the dutch oven with a layer of boiling water in the bottom of the dutch oven. Put in the oven with the lid on.
- Bake for 1 hour. (15 minutes at 220°C, 45 minutes at 200°C with the lid taken off the dutch oven for the final 15 minutes).
- Cool on a wire rack.
You may notice that this doesn’t follow the normal double rise method that you would use for wheat bread (knead, first rise, punch down, prove, then bake). That’s because all those processes are meant to aid the development of gluten. When you are using only gluten-free ingredients, there is no need for any of that! This makes gluten-free bread much quicker and easier to make! (If you have a bread machine, you will see that the gluten-free option is always much shorter than the others for this reason). So, we can dispense with all the kneading, long rises and just mix, rise and then bake!
- I don’t like a thick crust on my gluten-free bread so I add steam to the cooking process to soften the crust and make it really thin.
- Use wet hands to handle the dough so that you don’t get a sticky mess on your hands!
- I like to use a silicon bread tin because it doesn’t need any preparation, never sticks and doesn’t scratch the bottom of my dutch oven. If you use a bread tin made from any other material, you should grease it first and line it with baking paper, to make sure the bread does not stick to the tin.
- If you have a Thermomix and don’t want to keep lots of different flours, you can literally add the wholegrains into the Thermomix and mill them for 1 minute at speed 10.
- The most important thing to remember is that even though it looks so good, do not be tempted to slice into it while it is still warm! Gluten-free bread (annoyingly) needs the cooling time to set the structure so if you cut into it before it’s cooled down, it will fall slightly and be more dense with a less open crumb. So, you need to be patient…!
I’m sure you know what to do with gluten-free bread but if you need any more ideas, I love my bread toasted and spread with any of the following:
- Vegan cream cheese
- Vegan butter and marmite, nut or seed butters, jams, or marmalades
- Avocado, lime juice and some everything but the bagel seasoning
It is also fantastic served with scrambled tofu for an indulgent weekend breakfast! Baked beans on toast is always a favourite for a quick nutritious supper in our household too!
This bread keeps at room temperature for 2 days but is best kept frozen after that. Homemade bread (with or without gluten) goes stale and develops mould more quickly than commercial breads (because it doesn’t have any artificial preservatives in it). I usually leave it in a bag on the counter for a day but after that I slice it completely and put it in a plastic bag to store in the freezer. (I re-use the same plastic bag for each new loaf). Then you can just toast the bread slices directly from the freezer. They do take a little longer to toast this way so you may need to give it two goes in the toaster!
One tip for bread that has gone a little stale… make croutons and keep them in the freezer! When I have a little bit of bread that has gone a bit too hard to want to eat as toast, I just cut it up into small cubes and stick it in a bag in the freezer. Then next time I have soup, I can take these cubes out, mix them with a tiny bit of oil and a sprinkling of salt and garlic powder, and throw it in the air fryer (still frozen) for 5 minutes. It makes the best croutons!
Other fantastic resources for gluten-free bread-making
I have learnt so much from the amazing Naomi Devlin. What she doesn’t know about gluten-free baking really isn’t worth knowing! Whilst her recipes are amazing, unfortunately I just don’t have the time to do really perfect bread-making each week, so my version is probably not as perfect but a simplified method which balances the need for correct processes with my need for efficiency!
Originally, back in the day, I started my gluten-free journey following the gluten-free on a shoestring blog (many many years ago when blogging was just starting to take off!). She was the person who introduced me to the flax seed slurry and I still think of her instructions even now every time I use it!
Recipe Card 📖
The Best Vegan Gluten-Free Bread Recipe
- Food Processor (or strong arms for mixing by hand!)
- 500g / 1lb Bread Tin
- Dutch Oven / Casserole Dish with Lid
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 2 tbsp psyllium husk powder (or 18g psyllium husk flakes)
- 500 g water
Wholegrain Flours (300g)
- 120 g brown rice flour
- 90 g sorghum flour
- 30 g oat flour
- 30 g masa harina corn flour (or buckwheat flour)
- 30 g millet flour (or teff flour)
- 75 g arrowroot powder
- 75 g potato starch (or tapioca starch)
- 1½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tsp dark muscovado sugar
- 1½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Whisk together the flax slurry ingredients in a jug or bowl and set aside while you weigh out the other ingredients.2 tbsp ground flax seeds, 2 tbsp psyllium husk powder, 500 g water
- Whizz the wholegrain flours, starches, salt, sugar and yeast in a food processor for a few seconds. (Thermomix: 15 secs / sp. 5)120 g brown rice flour, 90 g sorghum flour, 30 g oat flour, 30 g masa harina corn flour, 30 g millet flour, 75 g arrowroot powder, 75 g potato starch, 1½ tsp Himalayan pink salt, 1 tsp dark muscovado sugar, 1½ tsp instant yeast
- The add the flax slurry (which should have gone gloopy) and olive oil. Whizz again to make a wet, sticky dough. Don't worry, it won’t look much like a bread dough! (Thermomix: 20 secs / sp. 6)1 tbsp olive oil
- Pour into a bowl that has been lightly greased and leave (covered) somewhere warm for a 2-3 hours. If you don’t have a warm kitchen, leave the dough in the oven that is switched off but with the light on. Just don't forget and inadvertently switch the oven on!
- After 1 hour, give the dough a good mix with your hands. Keep your hands wet so that they don’t stick too much to the dough and you can knead it and mix it really well. Then put the cover back on and leave it for the rest of the rising time.
- Once the dough has expanded over the 2-3 hours of rising, pour it into a silicon bread tin (greased and lined with baking paper if it’s not silicon) and smooth over the top with wet hands. Loosely cover it with the now empty mixing bowl and leave on top of the counter for a short second rise while you heat the oven (about 20-30 minutes).
- Put a dutch oven (I use a Le Creuset lidded casserole dish) in the oven and set it to heat to 220°C. Boil the kettle.
- Once the oven has come to temperature, carefully remove the dutch oven, take the lid off and pour about 1-2cm of boiling water into the bottom. Carefully put the bread tin into the water (the water should come up just a little way up the side of the tin – definitely nowhere near the top of it!). Put the lid back on and put the dutch oven in the oven.Bake for 1 hour as follows:- 15 minutes at 220°C (lid on dutch oven), then- 30 minutes at 200°C (lid on dutch oven), then- 15 minutes at 200°C (lid off).
- After an hour of cooking it should be browned on the top and cooked through. Remove the bread from the tin, turn it upside down and knock on the bottom with your knuckle. If it doesn’t sound hollow (it won’t sound as hollow as wheat bread), pop it back in the oven for 5 more minutes on its own (straight onto the oven rack - not in the tin) to make sure it is thoroughly cooked through.
- Take the bread out of the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool. Leave to cool completely before cutting into it.
- as tempting as it may be, resist the urge to cut into the bread until it has cooled fully! Gluten-free bread needs this cooling time to set the structure otherwise it will fall a little and will be more dense.
- Use wet hands for handling this dough, to avoid it sticking to your fingers. The wetter the dough, the better it will rise and the lighter the texture will be.
- If you do not have a dutch oven, you can make this bread without but it will just be a thicker, crunchier crust and a slightly more dense texture.
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ star rating too! Thank you!