Best Ever Sourdough Oatmeal Bread

Filed in Real Food by on May 9, 2018 72 Comments

sourdough oatmeal breadOne of the easiest, and most gratifying, urban homesteading projects is making sourdough bread. Sourdough bread has much more flavor than a regular straight bread. For some, the extra flavor, or sourness, is an acquired taste. For others, it sings on our tongue and makes straight dough breads sad in comparison.

Originally published: 2/19/13

Updated: 5/9/18

Many years ago I taught an Art and Science of Baking class. Most of my students were high school sophomores. I’ll never forget the first time we made sourdough bread from scratch. The whole school was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread, but the students wouldn’t eat a crumb of it. Nurturing the starter had been gross and they were sure the bread was disgusting. Ahh, the wisdom – or lack thereof – of youth. We teachers had a different definition of disgusting, and we were happy to be the official taste-testers. The bread disappeared in short order and I can only hope that my former students now shake their heads when considering their youthful sourdough folly.

It’s difficult to find a true sourdough oatmeal bread recipe. Most oatmeal bread recipes are for either straight dough (using dried yeast) or for recipes that use a combination of sourdough starter and yeast. So I ended up creating my own recipe. And it is a winner! Sorry – I try to be humble but this bread was so good that I ended up making two large loaves in one week. I’d like to say that the whole family was over but that would be a lie. My husband and I ate both loaves ourselves. It really is that good. So I can’t tell you how long this bread lasts before it dries out or gets moldy because it didn’t hang around that long in my house. I bet it won’t in yours either.

Just as oatmeal bread is a good way to start moving to whole grain bread, oatmeal sourdough is a good way to introduce sourdough bread. It’s a bit lighter than many sourdoughs, with a softer texture.

4.8 from 13 reviews
Best Ever Sourdough Oatmeal Bread
Just as oatmeal bread is a good way to start moving to whole grain bread, oatmeal sourdough is a good way to introduce sourdough bread. It's a bit lighter than many sourdoughs, with a softer texture.
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 1 loaf
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cups active sourdough starter
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (either old-fashioned or quick)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 - 1¼ cups lukewarm milk
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or your stand mixer bowl.
  2. Combine until a loose dough forms. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.
  3. Knead dough 5 - 10 minutes or until dough is smooth. The dough will still be quite wet. That's ok if you are using a stand mixer. If you are kneading by hand you my need to add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Just add as little as possible as we want to keep this a soft dough.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place, about 2 hours.
  5. Shape dough and place in a large greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise for an additional 1 - 1½ hours.
  6. If you are using a regular metal or glass loaf pan bake at 375 degrees for 50 - 55 minutes or until the interior reaches 200 degrees (I use my trusty digital thermometer for this). If you are using an unglazed terra cotta pan (like I do, shown above) follow the directions that come with the pan. For example, I soak the pan in water for 15 minutes and then place the bread in a cold oven, set the temperature to 475 and bake for about 50 minutes.
  7. When done, remove from pan and let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. This is important to let the crumb set so you will get nice even slices.

As I noted above, this recipe is the “best ever.” I have made hundreds of sourdough breads and this is by far my favorite. It’s a great combination of of whole grains (oatmeal) without being heavy, a nice light but well-textured bread, with the extra tangy flavor of sourdough.  What about you? What is your favorite sourdough bread?


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About the Author ()

Renee Pottle, an freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

Comments (72)

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  1. Stine says:

    Hello! Im just wondering about the prosess, all the recepies I have read, Im a newbie, has a much longer process,autolyse (dont know the word in english, im norwegian) rising in roomtemp, kneading, stretch and fold 4 times, rise again, in fridge over night and then in the oven with lid for half the cookingtime, and then without. So I really cant belive my own eyes to be so lucky to find a recepie with oat that does not take to days to make. Can you explain to me how your methode works compared to the other methode?
    #curious” 🙂

    • admin says:

      Stine, I am not familiar with the long process you are describing – unless it involves making your “starter” one loaf at a time (which is one way to do it!). This recipe, and all of my sourdough recipes, use about 2 cups of ripe starter. It reduces the long process you are describing. Here is a link to my post on how to make your own starter:

      I am happy to answer any other questions, and interested to know how your loaf turns out. Good luck!

      • Stine N says:

        Thank you so much for anser and tips! I will absolutly try 😉

        • Nina S says:

          Autolise is when you let the dough rest so the flour is broken down (I don’t know the exact science here), as if more digestible. It’s not the same as the rising time. It’s shorter.
          Not all recipes require it and I believe some of it might actually happen during the rising (but I might be completely wrong here!!!).
          I’ve baked sourdough breads with and without it and both ways were good. I wouldn’t worry much about it 😉

          • admin says:

            Thanks for the additional clarification Nina. I agree, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    • John says:

      Not all recipes require kneading, folding over,etc. I have made this bread several times with good results. The autolyse step is essentially the first step of letting the dough rest for 30 minutes. I have also made “no knead” bread and “turbo” or quick rise, bread with good results. Especially love this bread toasted!

  2. Britney says:

    Mine turned out gummy in the middle and did not rise, even though I used a very active starter.

    • admin says:

      Oh, no! Sometimes sourdough can be so finicky – like a spoiled cat! It could be: the room wasn’t warm enough for it to rise, you used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, or the milk was too cool when it was added. Did you cook it until the interior was 200 degrees? Since ovens differ (and temperatures seem to fluctuate from day to day in the same oven!), it may take longer to cook. I almost always use a thermometer to test my sourdough loaves, because I just can’t depend on time alone. And if the dough was too too wet you can always add a little more flour. This can be affected by area humidity and even the brand of flour. Using quick oats instead of old-fashioned oats seems to result in a stickier dough too. Making bread is an art and a science – but always a fun experiment! Let me know how the next loaf turns out!Good luck.

  3. Julianna says:

    Would this loaf make a good sandwich bread? Just started making it👍🏼❤️

  4. Christina Daily says:

    Also, Renne. You say that you are using an unglazed terra cotta pan, but the pan in the photo looks like it is glazed. I know that may make a difference in the baking. it would be helpful to have a photo of the pan you use for comparison to what we might have already. Thanks. This recipe smells good just resting!

    • admin says:

      Christina, the pan really is unglazed. I follow the pan directions which are: Soak for 15 minutes, then grease with butter.
      Then I put the dough in the pan and let it rise. Although, recently I made a few batches and simply divided the dough in half, made two free-form balls, scored them, and baked them on a baking tray. Still turned out great.

  5. My first loaf is resting now! The proof will be in the baking… based on lots of bread recipes I have that are measured by weight, here are my weights for this recipe:

    457g active starter
    360g all purpose flour
    134g rolled oats
    25g olive oil
    63g honey
    225g warm milk

    my dough was pretty wet!

    • admin says:

      Christina, I have made this when the dough was really wet, sort of wet, and pretty dry. Turned out perfect each time. Yours will too!

  6. Julie says:

    I have 4 mini terra cotta loaf pans. How would you adjust the baking time/temperature? When you soak the pan before baking, is that with the dough in the loaf pan? Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Julie, baking time depends on how small (and deep) the pans are. I would start checking the interior temperature as soon as the loaves start to get a little brown; probably after 20-30 minutes. It may still take 50 minutes to bake, or it may only take 30.

      As for soaking the terra cotta pans: I soak my pan before adding dough. Soaking the dough would leave you with a mess. But, if your pans are glazed, don’t bother to soak them. Soaking only works with unglazed terra cotta pans. Glazed pans should be treated like any other loaf pan – although they will add a nice crunchy crust! Good luck.

  7. Diane says:

    Hi, this looks like an amazing recipe and I’m looking forward to trying it. I was wondering if you can incorporate any seeds into it for added protein and fibre. (ie. sunflower or sesame seeds or even hemp hearts) and if there would need to be adjustments to the liquid or flour ratios? Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • admin says:

      Diane, although I haven’t added seeds or nuts to this particular recipe, it should work (and sounds delicious!). Mix the ingredients together first. Once the dough has come together, add the seeds. Sometimes seeds, nuts, or fruit additions slow down the fermentation process so you may let the dough sit for a little longer. You probably won’t have to adjust liquid content as this is a fairly wet dough anyway. Good luck!

      • Diane says:

        Thank you for your quick response. I am new to this whole sourdough, well bread in general, making. Can you make this recipe into buns(my family prefers bun sandwiches) and can they be baked on regular baking trays? I don’t have large baking stones, so was wondering if they would bake properly without the high heat of stoneware? Any suggestions? You are awesome with your encouraging responses. You make anyone feel like they are able to bake bread and that is very much appreciated. 🙂

        • admin says:

          Diane, thanks for the kind words! Yes, you can absolutely make this (or any bread recipe really) as buns. And it should work ok using regular baking trays. Baking on a stone, or in a stoneware dish, helps keep the heat even and lends a crunchy exterior. Use a convection setting if you have it, but if not, you will still get delicious results with a regular oven. This recipe does not rise very much, so be prepared for that. Good luck. I am sure that you will do a great!

  8. Jess says:

    Followed the directions exactly and the family LOVED it. Question: have you ever used the stretch and fold method for this recipe vs. kneading?

    • admin says:

      Jess, no – I usually knead the dough in my trusty KitchenAid mixer! But this recipe is so versatile I bet almost any process would work. Let me know if you try.

  9. Mm says:

    Really great recipe. The only change was I used quinoa milk. It was so good. I have been baking sourdough bread for decades this was my husband’s favorite!

    • admin says:

      So glad you liked it! The quinoa milk sub sounds interesting. I haven’t seen quinoa milk locally, but will look for it.
      Take care.

  10. Laura Eppley says:

    I am thinking of putting some grated carrots and blueberries in this and making some rolls. Will that work?

    • admin says:

      Laura, adding blueberries and making rolls should work fine. If you add grated carrots though, you may want to reduce the liquid some. It’s already a fairly wet dough, and carrots add more moisture. If you do that though, it sounds delicious!

  11. David Feuer says:

    Could you possibly give quantities by weight? Trying to measure starter, oats, and flour by volume is pretty dicy.

    • admin says:

      David, while I certainly understand the reasoning behind weighing ingredients, this isn’t a recipe that needs to be that precise. I have never weighed any ingredients for this recipe. I have made it with starters of various hydration, different brands (and thus different protein contents) of flour, etc. As you can see from the comments, others have altered the ingredients, cooking method, and amounts too. Yes, it turns out differently each time, but it always turns out great! It’s a fun (and edible!) experiment.

      On the other hand, if you choose to experiment and weigh the ingredients, feel free to share them here. I am sure you aren’t the only precise baker who would appreciate them! Thanks so much!

      • David Feuer says:

        Aside from the precision factor, I find it much faster and easier to weigh some ingredients than to fuss around trying to measure them by volume. No need to spoon and level flour, no need to clean sourdough starter out of measuring cups, etc. If I give this recipe a go, I’ll certainly try to come back and report on the weights.

  12. Judy Rogg says:

    It looks great to try though I’ve got a few questions:
    Does it really need 2 cups of active starter? Seems like alot.
    Can I grind up the quick oats or should I leave them “as is” out of the box?
    For sourdough I usually use a proofing basket and then transfer on parchment paper to a dutch oven (slashed) and cook at 450 for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook till it browns. Can I do this with this recipe?
    I really appreciate your feedback! 🙂 Judy

    • admin says:

      Judy, this makes a pretty large loaf, so 2 cups of starter is required. You could always halve the recipe – several people have with good results. But because it is a 100% sourdough (no yeast added) the 2 cups is needed for the full recipe.

      Don’t grind the oats – they are perfect right out of the box!

      Your method for baking sounds similar to the method I use with my clay baker. So go ahead and try – it should work! Let me know how it goes. Take care.

  13. Ellie Reimer says:

    Hello there. I was so excited for this recipe. Made it the same day I made you “special occasion” sourdough. I added more flour at the first mixing as it was like super runny. After rest it was still very wet so we added more as it was kneaded. It was once again too wet after the first rest and unmanageable to “shape” and had to be “scooped” with a oiled spoon into loaf pans. They are baking…. not sure how they are going to turn out. I live in Louisiana, so humidity is a bit higher today (56%). That being said, I used quite a bit of extra flour (like 2 extra cups minimum).

    Any ideas?

    • admin says:

      Ellie, although I have made this recipe when the mixture is really wet – I usually don’t have to add much extra flour (depends on how wet my starter is). Not sure what happened. Did it turn out ok? Am thinking it may have something to do with the oats. Perhaps they were a different cut than what we get here. Anxious to hear how the bread ended up. Thanks.

  14. jimena says:

    This was really great. I adapted the recipe by cutting everything by half (I didn’t have enough flour and lockdown in Peru has made finding all purpose flour a bit difficult) and substituting the milk for water and a tablespoon of melted butter. It was so good! I think next time I will reduce the honey just a little bit and also allow for an overnight rise, as the weather is getting colder here. This was really good, thank you!

    • admin says:

      Jimena, so glad it worked for you! Less honey works too. As does a longer rise time. I have let it rise overnight in the refrigerator and then baked it. Still perfect. It’s great hearing from the SeedtoPantry international community!

  15. Lyle Batema says:

    Tried this last night. First 100% sourdough for me. Previous attempts were doorstops. Starter too young, I think. Can the honey be reduced or eliminated or is it needed for the rise? First taste was a little sweet although when toasted was wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.

    • admin says:

      Lyle, I am sure you can probably leave the honey out entirely. It will be more like a peasant bread but should still be delicious.

  16. lori says:

    Hi, I’m new to using my sourdough starter. When you say active sourdough starter I believe you mean to feed it first a few hours before and wait for the sourdough starter to double before making the recipe?

    • admin says:

      Lori, yes, an active starter has been fed and is bubbly. Enjoy! I know you will have fun “playing” with sourdough. It becomes a bit addictive. 🙂

  17. John Francis says:

    Can you use skim milk in this recipe? if not, can a small amount of butter be added to make up for the no fat milk?

    • admin says:

      John, you can use any liquid – even water if you want. You can also add a tablespoon of butter if you want. The recipe really is adaptable. I usually make it with 1% milk.

  18. Jody says:

    Hi – I’m wondering if you have the weights for this recipe, especially for the amount of starter – I find it can vary so much depending on how foamy it is when measuring. It looks delicious!

    • admin says:

      Jody, I don’t have weights for this particular recipe. I have made it with various starter consistencies, everything from very liquid starter to a pretty firm starter. I usually adjust flour till I reach the texture I like. It’s a pretty adaptable recipe. Go for it – I bet you will love it! Let me know how it goes.

      • Jody says:

        Thank you for the reply – I did make the recipe, and you’re right! It’s so adaptable, and SO delicious! Thanks for sharing it. I used about 450 grams of starter, subbed molasses for the honey, and about 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat, and let it rise overnight in a cool place. It made 2 small (8×4) loaves which we made quick work of. 🙂

        • admin says:

          Jody, that sounds like a delicious variation! Almost like an Anadama bread. Glad it worked out.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for this recipe. Just baked it and wow! This is one that my family will devour quickly. It is moist and as my daughter said “with just the right amount of crunchy to the crust. Easy to make with a surprisingly complex flavor.

  20. Vicki B. says:

    This looks so delicious! I inherited my mom’s sourdough recipe–her starter recipe is fed with mashed potato flakes. I was wondering if using melted grass fed butter would work as a substitute for olive oil. Have you ever tried it? Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Vicki, I am sure melted butter would work just as well as olive oil. Let us know how it turns out!

  21. Janet Hart says:

    I love your bread! Thank you for sharing!
    My question – my sourdough starter is fed with instant mashed potatoes and sugar – I used the two cups as stated but it is very wet! I did add flour when kneading – had to. I did make two loaves as I had a lot of dough – I didn’t think it would work but it did – any suggestions on making it easier to come together. Thank you

    • admin says:

      Janet, I often use a very wet starter also. Sometimes you need to add a little extra flour, as you do sometimes with any kind of bread. So much depends on the flour brand, the daily humidity, etc. I have never used a potato starter, but adding potato flour to breads adds “softness” anyway. You could try cutting everything in half (and adding as much extra flour as needed) to make only one loaf. Or you could use some whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Let me know how it works out!

      • Janet Hart says:

        Thank you fot the help. I thought halving everything but was too afraid to try.
        My starter is from my Aunt – 10 plus years old – she is 92 and I’m keeping it going on her honor💜

  22. Catt says:

    This sounds delicious, but how do you make the sourdough starter? Thanks!

  23. Susan C. Paulin says:

    How do you get the Starter? Never made bread before😳

  24. Lynn says:

    Thank you for a great recipe. I mixed the dough, let it rest, kneaded it, and then left it overnight in the refrigerator. Twelve hours later I removed the dough and shaped it into TWO 8″ loaves whole the dough was still cold. I let the loaves rise in a cold oven with the light on for 4 hours. I baked my loaves for 45 min. At 375. I was amazed that the loaves continued to rise while baking. This was my first attempt at using my starter in a recipe without a little yeast added. It truly is THE BEST.

    • admin says:

      Lynn, thanks for showing just how versatile this recipe is! I recently made a couple of loaves too and am always pleased with how it comes out. Glad you like it.

  25. Robert G says:

    Are the rolled oats dry or already prepared?

    • admin says:

      Robert, use rolled oats (dry), not cooked oats. I usually use old-fashioned oats because it leads to a chewier texture. Good luck! I am sure you will love it!

  26. Cynthia Wright says:

    I’ve made this bread quite a few times and it is pretty much full proof (no pun intended. LOL) I use a whole wheat starter and I use one cup of white flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour in your recipe. The last loaf I made was so delicious. I got a dutch oven and have been working on shaped, slashed loaves but your recipe and another’s sunflower seed recipe baked in glass loaf pans still come out the best. I just realized you have a blog website so I will look into learning more about sourdough from your point of view. I would love some success at artisan type loaves that are not so full of white flour🤔.

    • admin says:

      Cynthia, I am so glad you like this recipe – it’s one of my favorites too! And congratulations on being creative and playing around with the flour mixture. You may like my Spiced Sourdough Rye recipe too. . I understand your hesitation with white flour, although it does have a few redeeming qualities! And keep in mind that the fermentation process lowers the glycemic index so that helps too. Have you used white whole wheat flour? I highly recommend it.

      • Cynthia Wright says:

        Well here I am over a year later, still baking this oatmeal and wholewheat local flour loaf. I switched to 100% whole wheat last year and I adore the taste and hearty texture of this bread. And yes I have had experience(good) with whole wheat white too. Thank you so much….the sourdough experience continues to evolve!

        • admin says:

          Cynthia, so glad it works as a 100% whole grain loaf! Sounds great. I really like working with white whole wheat too. Keep up the good work!

  27. Nic says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog trying to find an oat sourdough recipe
    Is there a way to make this entirely from oat with no wheat? My daughter is anaphylactic to wheat and I want to start making bread as her current bread I buy has barely any nutrition.
    With the sourdough starter- is there also a way to make this with no wheat?
    Thanks I appreciate any tips!
    Kind regards

    • admin says:

      Nic, I don’t have much experience making wheat-free bread. But…. you can make wheat-free sourdough. I would use brown rice flour or even ground oatmeal flour to make the starter. If you are just trying to be wheat free (instead of gluten free) you could try barley flour or rye flour instead of the wheat flour in this recipe. I think I would start with a smaller loaf since it will be more dense and not rise as much. I hope that helps. Let me know how it works out!

      • Hope Kelly says:

        I am new to sourdough but not bread making. Have have had tasty, yet ugly experience with sourdough. Your recipe has been a game changer for me! I roll my own oat groats so it is probably more chewy but my family and I love the texture.
        Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

        • admin says:

          Hope, I am so glad you like it. I bet it’s fantastic with homemade rolled oats! Thank you for being part of the SeedtoPantry community!

    • David Feuer says:

      If your daughter can eat rye, your best bet would be to follow a recipe for a rye-oat bread. Rye flour behaves very differently from wheat flour in bread baking, and typically requires different recipes and techniques. Notably, it requires a large enough quantity of a sufficiently acidic starter to slow down the action of certain enzymes that will otherwise cause the dough to lose its structure and collapse. You will not be able to just make a few substitutions to get the wheat out of bread! In the (unlikely, I believe) event that your daughter can safely eat spelt (ask an allergist before even thinking about trying it) then that will be a much more direct substitute. If your daughter is allergic to gluten and not just wheat, then you might want to look up a recipe for injera, a traditional sourdough flatbread made from teff.

      • admin says:

        David, thank you for this excellent information! Injera is certainly a tasty substitute, albeit not like biting into a slice of bread. Thanks for the idea.

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