Bread has been the perfect complement to any meal for more than 30,000 years. While the techniques and types may vary, there's nothing quite like the scent or taste of fresh bread. Let's look at 29 different types of bread that you should know.
Europe has a lot to offer the cooking world, including many different types of bread. Let's explore some of the best from around the European continent.
Baguettes require only four ingredients to make – water, yeast, flour, and salt – but don't let that fool you. Making the perfect baguette is an art form that the French have perfected. The long, oblong shape makes it ideal for snacking on the go, dipping in olive oil, or making a sandwich.
Another French bread, Brioche, is a soft, light, and sweet bread. It's made with butter and eggs, which helps give it its distinctive golden color. Brioche is best with sweet dishes, like French toast, to help complement its taste and texture.
Another bread primarily made of wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt is Ciabatta bread. This bread is very popular in Italy, with a savory taste that goes great with meals. Its crust and texture may vary based on where you get the bread. Thanks to its chewy crust and soft interior, it's best for sandwiches, paninis, and dipping.
Focaccia is a flatbread that's similar to pizza dough. This Italian bread manages to be crunchy, delicate, and thin all at the same time. In addition to the traditional ingredients, many bakers add herbs, garlic, salt, and other seasonings to put their own twist on this classic bread. It's a multifunctional bread that can be eaten on its own or as a side for any dish.
Zopf bread looks almost like a pretzel loaf thanks to its braided shape. However, it has a rich, buttery taste that's often enhanced with jelly and eaten at breakfast. Make it using eggs, butter, milk, white flour, and yeast. Zopf bread is most commonly found in Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
Grissini bread is a long, thin, and dry type of bread that comes in sticks. It is popular in Italy and often used as an alternative to garlic bread, eaten before dinner as an appetizer. Add additional spices and herbs to make Grissini bread your own. It makes an excellent side for Italian dishes.
Knackebrod bread is a Swedish bread that looks like a cracker. It's made using rye flour and can be dry and stiff to the touch. Don't let that fool you; this tasty bread is best with cheese, though it pairs well with most food. There's a lot of fiber-packed in knackebrod bread, and you can use different grains to change the flavor and texture and add herbs and spices.
Soda bread is a fun dessert bread with a lot of history. Also called Irish Soda Bread, this dish uses buttermilk, flour, baking soda, and salt to get its distinct flavor. It doesn't take long to rise, so it's easy to make for both the novice and seasoned bread maker alike. Add raisins for a pop of flavor.
The Eastern European Vanocka bread is a sweet dessert bread often topped with sugar, almonds, dried fruits, and other treats. It's rich in flavor and complex to make, so it's usually only made for special occasions, including Christmas. As with many things in Eastern Europe, there are even superstitions surrounding the bread, so get ready to jump up and down while the dough rises lest you want it to fall!
African and Middle Eastern Bread
African and Middle Eastern breads are traditionally a mix of regular, leavened bread and flatbread.
Pita bread is cooked at high temperatures, making the dough in the center escape, leaving a pocket. This pocket is great for stuffing with meats, vegetables, rice, and other foods to make a well-rounded meal. It originated in the Middle East and has become very popular in Greek food. It's often made with wheat flour, giving it an earthy taste.
Yufka bread looks like other types of flatbreads, but it's unique to Turkey. It's similar to Lavash bread and is made using wheat flour, water, salt, and vegetable oils. It's paper-thin and unleavened, often used to make pastries or other desserts. It pairs well with dried fruits and nuts and more savory foods like vegetables, cheeses, and meats.
Injera bread is a type of sourdough bread that has a spongy texture. This little-known bread is very popular in Ethiopia, made from a small grain called teff. With its slightly sour taste, Injera bread is used chiefly to scoop up food that it's served with, including meats, stews, and other meals.
Lavash bread is popular in the middle east, particularly in Turkey and Iran. Low in fat, Lavash bread typically is made using flour, water, and salt and cooked in an oven. It's soft when it comes out of the oven but hardens as it cools. Add additional ingredients to enhance its natural flavor, including sesame and poppy seeds.
Matzo or Matzoh bread is an unleavened bread made of spelt, wheat, rye, oats, and barley. It's part of many traditional Jewish dishes, including those usually served on Jewish holidays, because it only uses ingredients listed in the Hebrew bible. This bread can be either soft or hard, almost like a cracker, but it's tasty no matter how you eat it!
Obi non bread is a Middle Eastern bread often cooked in a clay oven. This bread usually has patterns stamped on it, making it tasty and decorative for any table. The main ingredients are flour, milk, yeast, water, and salt. It has a very earthy taste thanks to its roasted grains and a crisp, chewy, and airy texture that perfectly fits any diet.
Asian, Indian and Russian Bread
The continent of Asia is diverse, and so are the breads! They vary significantly from country to country in taste, style, and preparation.
Chapati is an Indian flatbread that is often grilled. It's made with whole-wheat flour, but it's cooked with no oil, helping reduce the calories. Eat chapati bread as a wrap, with vegetables or lentils, adding a little bit of butter to enhance its natural, mildly-sour flavor.
Another flatbread, Naan bread, is an Asian type of bread made using yogurt. Many bakers brush it with butter before putting it in the oven to give it a golden-brown look. They also flavor it with garlic, minced meats, and even dried fruit – helping make what could be a basic, pita-like bread to the next level.
Paratha is a flaky, round bread that's fried or cooked in oil. It's a layered flatbread popular in India, Malaysia, and Singapore, though you can cut the calories by baking them instead. Paratha goes well with many different foods, including eggs, onions, potatoes, and other vegetables. It uses whole-wheat flour to capture its unique texture and taste.
Qistibi is a Russian flatbread that looks similar to a crepe. Instead of sweet, fruity fillings, Qistibi is packed with meat, potatoes, and millet. You can wrap the bread around the fillings, place it on the top, or use it to dip. It is roasted to retain its smoky flavor but unleavened to make it flat and easy to use in any recipe.
Roti is a flat, unleavened bread that's a lot like chapati bread. Its main ingredients are whole wheat flour and water, though bakers often add a little butter to help it brown and add more flavor. It's most commonly served in India and the Caribbean, though it's gaining popularity. Roti is considered a healthy snack in many cultures, so load it up with spices and get ready to graze responsibly!
North and South American Bread
While many of the breads have been imported throughout the world, some breads are native to North and South America.
Arepa is a flat, round bread that is very popular in Columbia and Venezuela. It doesn't use wheat and instead utilizes cornmeal, which means that it is gluten-free. It's an excellent bread for people with food sensitivities, though you'll want to check the fillings before picking it up. Bakers pack this bread full of fillings like ground beef and beans to make it more robust.
This Mexican favorite is versatile, adding value to any meal you use them in. Tortillas are soft and thin. They can be deep-fried, but you can make them with less oil if you're looking to cut the calories. There are different types of tortillas, including corn and flour, among others. Toss them with meat, cheese, your favorite veggies, and sauces, and make endless meals with this flatbread.
No global bread tour would be complete without a native Australian type of bread!
This Australian bread is made using water, flour, salt, and milk. Thanks to its hearty, natural taste, it's a great addition to any stew or meaty dish. Damper bread was cooked over campfires for thousands of years and included many seeds, nuts, and roots for added nutrition. It's not a famous bread, but it's very versatile and worth a taste.
Standard Bread Options
Not all bread has to be fancy; there are also standard options that you can choose.
Wheat bread uses germ and bran from wheat to make the bread, making it more nutritious than other types of breads that only use grains. It has a rich, earthy taste, and the outside crunchy coating can take getting used to. Once you do, you'll be ready to swap out your white bread for this fiber-rich substitute.
Multigrain bread has many health benefits thanks to its ingredients. It has a rich, hearty flavor because of the oats, barley, flax, and millet used to make it, in addition to yeast and other traditional ingredients. It's a great bread for any meal. From morning toast to lunch-time sandwiches to anytime snacks, reach for multigrain bread for a filling and healthy addition to your diet.
Rye bread has a rich, earthy flavor, thanks to the mix of flour that's used to make the bread. It was long thought to be the bread of the lower class, but now it's become the main ingredient to many sandwich favorites, including corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. You can also add dill and caraway seeds to the recipe to add more complex flavors to your rye bread.
Sourdough bread doesn't have the same strong yeast taste as other breads. Instead, it tastes almost tangy and sour. It has a thick crust surrounding a soft center, and it's excellent for any dish. Making sourdough bread is a multi-step process, creating a starter before you make your bread. As long as you have your starter – fermented water and flour – you can make multiple loaves.
There are many types of bagels to choose from, but they are all traditionally made the same way. Once you put your ingredients together, you boil the dough then bake it in a round shape. Bagels can be sweet, savory, and meaty in flavor. In addition to butter and cream cheese, you can also add salmon to make a bagel a balanced meal.
Like bagels, English muffins are a healthier alternative to many other types of bread, especially as a breakfast option. They are small, round, and flat and made from either whole wheat or white flour. The recipe varies from the American English muffin and the traditional English muffin, so take care which you're making.
Whether you're looking to stop by a bakery or try your hand at making a new type of bread, hopefully, you're inspired by the many options out there. Each country has its own twist on this ancient dish, which is why bread has sustained the test of time.