This delicious braided pesto bread is an easy homemade bread recipe that is perfect for any occasion. Light and fluffy homemade Italian bread is braided with bright green basil pesto for not only a beautiful presentation but also a delicious flavor.
I realize that homemade bread can seem intimidating, especially one that is braided. This pesto bread recipe is not only easy to follow, but I have also included step-by-step instructions with photos. You will soon be wondering why you haven't been making homemade Italian bread more often! I have included instructions to make this both by hand or with a stand mixer. It's perfect alongside pasta, a meat main dish, or even a hearty bowl of soup.
🥖 Ingredient notes
- Dough - This pesto bread recipe is adapted from my favorite homemade french bread recipes by Six Sisters. If you haven't tried it yet, it's so easy and delicious!
- Pesto - I used my favorite store bought pesto for this recipe, but you can also make it homemade. You need about ½ cup or a 6 oz jar should do.
🥣 Step by step instructions
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add warm water, yeast, and sugar. The water should not be too hot or too cold, but more like warm bathwater. Let this sit a bit to let the yeast activate and foam. Add in the olive oil, flour, and salt and stir with a spoon or mix on medium speed until the dough forms a ball. Next, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. If you are using a stand mixer, continue to mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. You want the dough to bounce back when you press your finger into it.
Pour some olive oil into a clean bowl and roll the dough around to cover it in oil. Place a clean towel or plastic wrap over the bowl and place it in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise till it's doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has double in size, punch down the dough and then turn it out onto a flour surface for rolling and shaping.
Roll the dough out gently into a large rectangle that is about one inch in thickness. Spread the pesto over the entire rectangle, leaving about one half inch around the edges.
Next, starting on the longest side of the rectangle tightly roll up the dough. Pull the dough up and in as you roll to create as tight of a roll as possible.
Then, take a sharp knife or bench scraper and cut the dough down the middle. This will expose the pesto layers and you will now have two long ropes.
Pinch the top of the two pieces together to help keep them together. Then, starting at the top, twist the two pieces together all the way to the bottom.
Pinch the pieces together again at the bottom to keep them together and then bring ends of the pieces up together to form a u-shape.
Twist both of these two sides together to form a large twist. Tuck the end pieces under slightly to secure them and you should have a nice braided loaf with the pesto swirling throughout.
Next, place the braided loaf on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for a second time till doubled in size. This should take about 30-45 minutes.
Once the loaf has gone through it's second rise, bake it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until golden browned on top and cooked through.
⭐ Top tip
To help your dough rise quickly, make sure that it's placed in a warm spot that is free from drafts. Sometimes that's outside, by the fireplace or under a vent for me!
Italian Pesto Bread
- 1 ¼ cup warm water approximately 105-110˚
- 2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast or 1 packet
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoons olive oil plus extra for greasing the bowl
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour plus extra for kneading and rolling the dough
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup basil pesto homemade or store bought
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar and allow to sit for the yeast to activate, about 5 minutes.
- Add in olive oil, flour, and salt and mix with a spoon or on medium speed until the dough starts to form a ball.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until a smooth ball is formed. If using a stand mixer, continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should spring back when you press your finger into it.
- Drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil into a clean bowl and add your dough. Roll the dough around in the bowl so it's covered completely by the olive oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
- Remove cover from the bowl and punch down the dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle that is approximately one inch thick.
- Spread pesto thinly over the entire rectangle, leaving about one half inch around the edges.
- Starting on the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up tightly into a large roll. Pull the dough up and in as you are rolling to create as tight of a roll as possible.
- Once the dough is completely rolled up, using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the roll in half down the middle to expose the layers of pesto.
- Starting at the top, pinch the two pieces together to help secure them. Twist the two pieces of dough around each other until you get to the end and then pinch the ends together to secure.
- Take the bottom of the twist and bring it up to the top to form a U shape. Twist the two sides together as well to form a larger braid and then tuck the ends under to secure and form the loaf.
- Once the bread has risen for the second time, remove the towel and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Tomato - Chop up ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes and add it to the pesto for some extra flavor and color!
- Cheesy - After spreading the pesto over the top of the dough, sprinkle the dough with ½ cup of mozzarella cheese to make this cheesy pesto bread!
🍝 More Italian recipes
If you loved this recipe for my homemade italian pesto bread with pesto, check out these other Italian inspired dishes that you are sure to love!
Don't forget! If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and give it a rating. I love to hear from each and every one of you! Tag me on Facebook and Instagram as well! It makes my day to see all of your photos of the food you have made.