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If you live outside New Orleans, it can be tricky to source authentic muffaletta bread. Here’s how to make your own.

a classic muffaletta sandwich on homemade muffaletta bread
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Why we love this recipe

Every year on Mardi Gras, I suddenly feel like I can’t live without a muffuletta. When I make our vegetarian version, I like to use a good sourdough boule. But for the original, meaty version, nothing beats an authentic muffuletta loaf. The thing is, short of ordering one online straight from New Orleans with overnight shipping, it’s nearly impossible to get one where I live.

The good news is, making your own muffaletta bread is easy and not particularly time-consuming. This recipe, adapted from Terry Thompson-Anderson’s Cajun-Creole Cooking, has it all. It:

  • Comes together easily with just a handful of common ingredients
  • Kneads right in the stand mixer if you have one, or by hand if not
  • Bakes up into the classic wide, round, relatively flat loaf without too much dome
  • Has a beautiful golden-brown exterior that holds its own
  • And a tender, just-right crumb that accommodates the sandwich’s signature olive salad without losing its structure

Plus, it’s ready in just a few hours, virtually all of which is hands-off — not bad for a yeasted bread.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • A combination of all-purpose flour and bread flour gives this bread just the right texture. That said, if you don’t have bread flour and are really craving a muffuletta, it’s okay to use all-purpose for the whole quantity.
  • Active dry yeast begins working when combined with liquid (and a bit of sugar to feed on). If you’re buying it in packets, you’ll use more than one but less than two. You can substitute instant yeast in this recipe without making any further changes.
  • Make sure your water is warm enough to activate the yeast but not so hot as to ruin it. Aim for 105°F-110°F.
  • Terry Thompson-Anderson’s recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but I don’t keep that in my kitchen. You need two tablespoons of a good-tasting fat that will coat the flour molecules. Since muffuletta is Sicilian-American, I like to use olive oil. You can use butter, bacon fat, or even lard if you prefer.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a fabulous loaf of muffaletta bread. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Stir together the water, yeast, and sugar and set aside until the yeast is foamy. Little by little, stir in the flour and then the salt and olive oil.
  2. Knead until smooth and elastic. You can do this by hand or with the dough hook in a stand mixer.
  3. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, then turn it out onto a baking sheet and shape it. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and let it rise again.
  4. Brush with egg wash and bake. Let cool completely before using.

Expert tips and FAQs

What is muffuletta/muffaletta?

Muffaletta (also spelled muffuletta) is the name for both a style of Sicilian bread and a sandwich made from that bread, invented by Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans a century ago.

The bread is a large, round, flat loaf, usually with sesame seeds, that’s crisp outside and soft inside. The sandwich is layered with olive salad, cheese, and deli meats — usually salami, mortadella, and capicola — and sliced into wedges.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Muffaletta bread is at its best for about 24 hours after baking. You can bake it the night before or on the day you plan to assemble the sandwich.

If you really need to get ahead of the game, you can freeze the unbaked dough after the first rise. Shape the loaf and add the sesame seeds. Wrap it in plastic wrap, followed by foil, followed by a zip-top freezer bag. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then let the defrosted dough perform its second rise at room temperature before baking.

More muffaletta resources

a classic muffaletta sandwich on homemade muffaletta bread

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a classic muffaletta sandwich on homemade muffaletta bread
4.42 from 36 votes

Muffaletta Bread

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
If you live outside New Orleans, it can be tricky to source authentic muffaletta bread. Here's how to make your own. Adapted from Terry Thompson-Anderson's Cajun-Creole Cooking.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients 

For the dough

  • 1 cup (235 ml) warm water (105°-110°F)
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water

Instructions 

  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the water, sugar, and yeast.
  • Set aside at warm room temperature for about 15 minutes, until very foamy.
  • A little at a time, stir in the all-purpose flour and the bread flour.
  • Stir in the salt and the two tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Using the dough hook on speed 2 or by hand, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. In the stand mixer, this takes eight minutes. By hand it may take a bit longer.
  • Clean the bowl and pour in about a teaspoon of additional olive oil. Shape the dough into a rough ball, place in the bowl, and turn to coat with the oil.
  • Place a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap over the bowl and set aside at warm room temperature until the dough doubles in size — about 90 minutes.
  • Turn the risen dough out onto a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Punch it down to remove air and then shape into an 8-inch disc.
  • Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and pat gently to help them adhere.
  • Cover with the towel or plastic wrap and let rise for another hour, until about doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center.
  • In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the tablespoon of water with a fork.
  • Brush the egg wash lightly over the surface of the loaf.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F. Then turn down the oven to 350°F and bake for about 20 minutes more, until crust is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when you hold it up and rap on it with your knuckles.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before using.

Notes

  1. A combination of all-purpose flour and bread flour gives this bread just the right texture. That said, if you don't have bread flour and are really craving a muffuletta, it's okay to use all-purpose for the whole quantity.
  2. Active dry yeast begins working when combined with liquid (and a bit of sugar to feed on). If you're buying it in packets, you'll use more than one but less than two. You can substitute instant yeast in this recipe without making any further changes.
  3. Make sure your water is warm enough to activate the yeast but not so hot as to ruin it. Aim for 105°F-110°F.
  4. Terry Thompson-Anderson's recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but I don't keep that in my kitchen. You need two tablespoons of a good-tasting fat that will coat the flour molecules. Since muffuletta is Sicilian-American, I like to use olive oil. You can use butter, bacon fat, or even lard if you prefer.
  5. Muffaletta bread is at its best for about 24 hours after baking. You can bake it the night before or on the day you plan to assemble the sandwich.
  6. If you really need to get ahead of the game, you can freeze the unbaked dough after the first rise. Shape the loaf and add the sesame seeds. Wrap it in plastic wrap, followed by foil, followed by a zip-top freezer bag. Defrost overnight in the fridge and then let the defrosted dough perform its second rise at room temperature before baking.

Nutrition

Calories: 238kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 7.1g, Fat: 5.9g, Cholesterol: 23.3mg, Sodium: 302mg, Fiber: 1.9g, Sugar: 1.7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sandwiches
Cuisine: American
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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.42 from 36 votes (36 ratings without comment)

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1 Comment

  1. I made this bread for the first time today. It worked out great! Better than any Muffaletta bread I’ve had in NOLA. Definitely making again