You Can Bake Bread in Your Air Fryer—And This Sourdough Recipe Is Stacked with Gut-Health Benefits

Photo: Stocksy/ Suzi Marshall
It’s hard not to fall passionately in love with every loaf of bread we come across. Seriously, what’s not to adore about a baguette, boule, or freshly-baked slice of sprouted grain? However, there's just something about homemade sourdough bread that will always have a special place in our hearts. It’s fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and has a deliciously tangy flavor that compliments a schmear of rich, creamy butter like none other—and it's pretty much the perfect vehicle for making a mean avocado toast. Plus, sourdough is RD-approved and loaded with tons of longevity-boosting health and gut-heath benefits, not to mention key vitamins and minerals to help keep bones strong as you age. Need I say more?

That being said, many of us figured we'd never have time to try baking sourdough bread from scratch, until, well, we were bored out of our minds during quarantine. After the pandemic forced us all to spend a ton of quality time in our kitchens, however, it's safe to say we all emerged better cooks, bakers, or (at the very least) bread connoisseurs—banana bread included.

So, now that we’re much more comfortable with dabbling in the DIY bread department, it might be time to give sourdough-making a real shot. And to make the seemingly daunting task as approachable as possible, how about we do it all in our handy-dandy, clean air fryer? Yes, that’s right, our beloved kitchen appliance that does it all can do this one, too. (Way to overachieve, air fryer.)

Read on to learn how to make sourdough in your air fryer in just a few simple steps so you can *finally* enjoy bakery-worthy bread at a moment's notice.

How to make sourdough bread in an air fryer

While making sourdough isn’t exactly difficult, it does require a little bit of patience and the right ingredients. So, let’s break it down.

1. Prepare the dough. Of course, the foundation of any good sourdough bread is a quality starter, aka the natural leaving agent created by process of fermentation (this is what gives the loaf its distinct tangy flavor and bubbly texture, not to mention its impressive sourdough benefits). One of the easiest ways to make a starter is by using active dry yeast that you can pick up at the store. But if you can’t get your hands on some, don’t worry. Here’s exactly how to make a sourdough starter from scratch without any yeast.

Once your starter is all set (make sure to plan several days in advance), combine all the ingredients for your favorite sourdough bread recipe. This can include the sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, oil, and warm water (if needed). Gently combine the ingredients to form a shaggy textured dough. Of course, you can use a bread machine for this step, but frankly, who has the counter space for one more bulky appliance?

2. Perform the bulk fermentation using the air fryer. For this step, you’ll want to enlist the help of your air fryer to create the perfect environment for the dough to ferment and begin rising to its full potential. For the portion, you’ll allow the dough to rise in a warm area (aka your air fryer) at 30 minute increments (about one hour total), where you create a series of folds in between. This process, otherwise known as bulk fermentation, helps the gluten to start forming. After the initial hour, you’ll want to continue proofing the dough for another two hours. (Although, there are ways to make gluten-free sourdough, too.)

Can an air fryer proof bread?

Nowadays, most air fryers also come equipped with a “proof” setting, which you’ll want to use to create the ideal, low-heat home for your dough to rise. The temperature should be around 80°F, which will help move the fermentation process along.

3. Shape the dough. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, where you’ll shape it by carefully pulling the outer edges toward the center and repeating the process until a plump, round, boule-like shape is formed, with the seams pressed together at the top (like a soup dumpling). Next, you’ll want to relocate the dough to a floured bread basket (seam side up), cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise again (this time at room temperature) for another 90 minutes.

4. Use the air fryer for baking the bread. Test the dough to ensure it’s ready to go by lightly poking it. If the surface barely holds a dimple from the pressure applied, then it’s ready.

Now, the fun part: Air frying the dough. Typically, at this point in a sourdough-making bread recipe, you’d preheat a Dutch oven to cook the bread in a good ol’ oven. But why make it the old-school way when you can use an air fryer instead?

Start by preheating the air fryer to 390°F for about three minutes. Then, flip the dough, score the surface with a bread lame to help it rise, and place it (seam side down) onto the grill insert in the air fryer. Ensure that the dough fits comfortably inside and the air fryer is large enough for the bread to have enough room to expand on all sides.

How do I know when my bread is done baking?

Air fryer the dough for about 20 minutes and gently shake it halfway through the cooking time. The surface should be golden brown, and the internal temperature between 190°F to 200°F. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

A few considerations when baking sourdough bread in an air fryer:

In this sourdough bread recipe by JL Goes Vegan, JL Fields shares her easy method for air frying bread, but says there are a few simple modifications to make it successful. To use a regular sourdough recipe in an air fryer, Fields recommends reducing the cooking temperature by about 30°F and cutting the baking time in half. Much like a convection oven, an air fryer circulates hot air with a fan, giving foods a more even, crispier finish. However, due to its small size (in comparison to an oven), an air fryer heats up much more intensely. Thus, the need to reduce cooking time and temperature accordingly to prevent your delicate bread baby from being toast... literally.

how to make bread in an air fryer
Photo: JL Goes Vegan

Air fryer bread recipe

Yields 8 servings

1 cup sourdough starter (I used 1/2 cup traditional starter and 1/2 cup whole wheat starter)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup 100 percent whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Combine ingredients in the order listed in a bread machine. Choose the dough-only setting (typically one hour and 28 minutes) to mix, knead and rise (be sure that the "heat" function is off—you do not want to bake in the machine!). If you're not using a bread machine, use whatever method you prefer for the mixing and kneading process.

2. Once the dough function is complete, remove the paddles from the bread machine and allow the dough to rise/ferment for four hours.

3. After four hours, transfer the dough to a floured proofing basket to rise for three more hours.

4. Just before you're ready to air fry, preheat the air fryer for three minutes at 390°F. Gently flip the dough over, out of the proofing basket, onto the grill insert in the air fryer (you want the bottom of the dough, with the proofing basket rings, on top.

5. Air fry for 20 minutes at 390°F, gently shaking at 10 minutes. Before removing it from the air fryer, check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer to ensure the bread is between 190°F to 200°F.

6. Transfer the boule to a baking rack. Allow the loaf to cool for two to three hours before slicing. Pro tip: To keep bread fresh for as long as possible, store it in a paper, plastic, or reusable bread bag at room temperature.

Note: Fields recommends adding water depending on the hydration of your starter. You may need to add water until the dough should feel sticky and slightly stretchy once mixed together.

Long live the banana bread:

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