Get to know 29 different types of bread enjoyed over the world. Learn the distinguishing characteristics of each and how different cultures enjoy their breads.
Bread is the most widely consumed food in the world and has been a staple food since the earliest years of human history. There’s evidence from 30,000 years ago in Europe that early man used starch extracts, possibly sourced from the roots of cattails and/or ferns, to make flatbread. And even now in the twenty-first century, many people know that there is nothing quite like the scent of fresh bread, especially when walking into a bakery first thing in the morning.
It was around 10,000 B.C. that Neolithic man developed agriculture and then used the grains he’d grown and cultivated for making his bread. Later in the development of civilizations and after improvements in breadmaking, the Ancient Egyptians used yeast as a leavening agent as early as 4,000 B.C. The Greeks picked up breadmaking from the Egyptians, and soon the practice spread across Europe.
Along with the wheat used to make it, bread was considered more important than meat in the diet among the ancient Romans. The color of bread consumed also indicated one’s social standing. Generally, the darker the breads eaten, the lower the social standing of those eating it was.
The Most Common Types of Breads
A baguette is a yeast bread that originated in France. This bread has a characteristic long, oblong shape with slits in it. These slits allow for the expansion of gas while the bread is baking. Also called French bread or French sticks, baguettes are typically made from flour, water, yeast, and salt, and their look is easily recognizable to bread lovers all over the world.
A French bread made with butter and eggs, brioche is extremely light in texture and has a subtle sweetness in its flavor. Brioche crust is soft, appearing to have a golden-yellow shade. This gorgeous golden color can be attributed to the egg that is brushed on top of the dough before the bread is placed in an oven to bake. Brioche bread is a perfect bread choice, especially when making delicious treats like French toast. If you’ve never tasted this type of bread before, there is no better time than right now to grab a loaf of soft, slightly sweet brioche.
“Ciabatta” is the Italian word for “slipper.” This Italian-invented bread is made from a few basic ingredients, which include water, salt, yeast, and wheat flour. Depending on where in Italy you are eating ciabatta bread, its crust and even its texture can vary. However, the main ingredients in making ciabatta bread are the exact same in every loaf. Ciabatta is perfect for use in making paninis and sandwiches, as well as many other dishes, and has a chewy crust and soft interior.
This type of bread also originated in Italy. Focaccia bread is usually placed in a baking pan so that it results in a flat loaf. Focaccia dough is quite similar to pizza dough, and is usually coated with olive oil before baking. The crust of focaccia bread comes out crunchy, yet delicate and thin. Many bakers add herbs and garlic to the recipe as desired, and sea salt is another popular addition. Focaccia bread can be eaten by itself, dipped in soup, or used to clean a plate of leftover sauce.
With its rich, hearty flavor, multigrain bread usually uses grains such as oats, barley, flax, and millet, as well as others. The use of these different ingredients makes multigrain bread an extremely healthy and delicious bread choice. Multigrain bread is perfect for use in morning toast, sandwiches, or to dip in dressings or vegetable oil that has been sprinkled with herbs.
There are a lot of things munchers can do when eating a piece of pita bread. This includes dipping the pita into sauces after it is cut it into wedges, or filling it with various types of meats for a tasty and delicious sandwich. Pita bread originated in the Middle East and is cooked at very high temperatures, which makes the liquid in the dough escape quickly. This helps to create a large air bubble in the center – the “pocket” of the bread – perfect for stuffing with meat and other foods. Pita bread is made mostly using wheat flour.
Long considered to be the bread of the lower class, rye has gained a surge in popularity, likely due to its rich flavor. Made with both rye flour and regular bread flour, rye bread has a tight crumb and a very strong flavor. Some bakers even add caraway seeds or dill seeds so that the rye bread flavor is a little more earthy. In certain sandwiches – most notably, corned-beef and pastrami sandwiches – rye bread is what gives the sandwich the signature taste that people love about them. Adding a touch of mustard on a slice of bread used in these sandwiches can help accent the flavors of the bread and meats, as well.
In a loaf of sourdough bread, a starter is used before making the dough to create the basis for the dough. The sourdough starter usually consists of a fermented combination of water and flour, which in turn can make many batches of bread. Another advantage of this type of bread is that the sourdough starter can last a long time. The length of the life of a sourdough starter means that bakers can make loaf after loaf of sourdough bread without worrying about running out of the starter.
Sourdough bread has a thick crust and a soft chewy center, and is dotted with very large air bubbles inside. It also has a distinct taste that can be almost addicting. Sourdough bread can be used to make any type of sandwich for a mild and delicious bread option.
Whole Wheat Bread
In making white bread, only parts of the wheat grain are used. However, when it comes to whole wheat bread the germ and the bran are intact. What does this mean for those eating this bread? It means whole wheat bread is more nutritious and has much more fiber than white bread does. Whole wheat bread can be used in making any type of sandwich where white bread would typically be used. It’s easy to create one’s own whole wheat bread recipes with a little creativity.
Unique Types and Specialty Breads
Mostly eaten in Colombia and Venezuela, arepa bread is made from cornmeal. This flat and round break can be baked, grilled, or fried. Bakers can even include various fillings such as ground beef and black beans when making this bread. Since arepa is not made with wheat, it is naturally gluten-free, making arepa bread an excellent choice for those with celiac disease or who are gluten-sensitive.
Bagels are usually made by boiling the dough in water for a short time then baking it afterward. They are round and come in two parts, with a hole in the center. The best thing about bagels is their numerous types and flavors. Some flavors include egg, cinnamon, and blueberry, among others. Try eating a bagel in a traditional way, adding salmon or cream cheese, or both, and immediately fall in love.
A popular Indian flatbread, chapati bread is usually grilled until it gains a freckled appearance. You can eat this type of bread with vegetables or lentils, or even make a sandwich with it. Chapati bread is usually made with whole-wheat flour and cooked with no oil. Snackers can even add a little butter to chapati bread to make it a touch more flavorful.
Originating in Australia, this type of bread consists of flour, water, salt, and sometimes milk. Damper bread is usually eaten alongside stew or meat. At one time, damper bread was cooked over an open campfire. This type of bread is tasty and versatile. Add baking soda to the dough as leavening, if you so desire.
These are small, round, flat types of bread that can be made from either white or whole wheat flour. You can eat English muffins with poached eggs, bacon, or a Hollandaise sauce. More often than not, English muffins are healthier than many other options, like muffins or bread. However, the American version of the English muffin is slightly different from the original English muffins, so a little research might be in order when baking these breakfast treats.
Somewhat similar to breadsticks, grissini is a crisp, dry bread that appears as thin sticks that resemble a pencil. Native to Italy, this type of bread can be flavored in any way that the baker wants. So, feel free to add herbs and spices of any type to liven up its flavor. Grissini bread is mostly used as a before-dinner alternative to regular or garlic bread, but it can be eaten any way you wish, as well.
This is a sourdough type of bread with a spongy texture and a slightly sour taste. Injera bread is typically made from a tiny grain called teff, which comes from Ethiopia. Injera bread is used to scoop up the meats and stews that are normally placed on top of it, and that are essential and typical parts of the Ethiopian diet.
This bread looks more like a cracker than the traditional appearance of bread, and it is made mostly of rye flour. Knackebrod contains a lot of fiber, and can be served with cheese or any other type of food you love. This type of bread is dry and stiff, and appears rectangular in shape like many crackers. The grains used to make it can vary. Knackebrod can also include various herbs and spices, and it is both delicious and nutritious.
Popular in areas such as Turkey and Iran, lavash bread is a thin flatbread that is made only using flour, salt, and water. Low in fat, this type of bread is normally cooked in an oven. Lavash bread softest when it is fresh out of the oven. Bakers can also add poppy or sesame seeds to it for a little more flavor.
Matzo (Matzoh) Bread
Matzo bread is unleavened bread shaped similarly to large crackers. Used in many traditional Jewish dishes and on certain Jewish holidays, this bread is made of the five grains mentioned in the Hebrew Bible – wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. Matzo bread can come in either soft or hard forms. It is both tasty and instrumental in Jewish traditions and the Jewish faith.
Naan is an oven-baked flatbread that uses yogurt as one of its main ingredients. It is normally brushed with butter before baking, and sometimes includes toppings such as dried fruit, minced meat, and even garlic. Naan breads are common in many parts of Asia. Naan lovers can also find this bread type in many of today’s supermarkets and even at farmers’ markets.
Obi Non Bread
Popular in Uzbek and Afghan dishes, this bread is a type of flatbread and is usually cooked in a clay oven. Obi non bread is normally made only using flour, yeast, salt, water, and milk. We love the patterns on it in the photo above!
Made from whole-wheat flour, paratha bread is a layered Indian flatbread that is usually fried or cooked in oil. Bakers can also bake them instead for a little healthier alternative. Paratha bread can be made and eaten with vegetables, potatoes, onions, eggs, and many other fillings. It is also very popular in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
This type of bread is found mostly in Russia and is a baked flatbread with some type of filling inside it. Most of the time, the filling consists of mashed potatoes, millet, and even various types of meat. The filling can be placed either inside the bread dough itself, or on one side of it with the other side covering it to keep the filling inside.
An unleavened flatbread, roti bread is similar to chapati bread. Roti bread is extremely popular in both the Caribbean and in India. Roti is usually made with whole wheat flour and water, and loaves are often coated with butter before baking to add a little flavor. In many cultures, roti bread is served with spices as a healthy snack.
With ingredients that include buttermilk, salt, baking soda, and flour, this is a traditional Irish bread. It is also known commonly as “Irish soda bread.” Soda bread is a type of quick bread that doesn’t need to be left alone for a long time in order to rise. This means it can be made quickly and easily – a quick bread to make for those who don’t have a lot of time on their hands!
Tortillas are soft, thin flatbreads used in numerous Mexican dishes, including enchiladas, burritos, wraps, and of course, tacos. Some tortillas are deep fried and some are not, but the good news is that the recipe can be altered in order to make the tortilla a tad healthier without going to too much trouble. Tortillas are an incredibly versatile bread type, as they can be used in any number of dishes.
This is a sweet bread that is usually topped with sugar and almonds and sprinkled with raisins or other dried fruits. The recipe for vanocka bread is rather complex, but fortunately, there are different ways to prepare it. Vanocka bread is a festive European bread that is so rich and sweet, it is usually best to make it only for special occasions.
In certain countries – including countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia – vanocka bread is usually served around Christmastime. There are various interesting traditions surrounding this bread type, as well. For example, one tradition involves jumping up and down while the dough is rising – as if breadmaking wasn’t labor intensive enough!
This is a paper-thin unleavened bread that is round in shape and originated in Turkey. Yufka bread is similar to lavash bread, and is usually made from ingredients such as wheat flour, salt, and water, although some add a tad of vegetable oil to the dough as well. You can include this type of bread in pastries with either sweet foods such as nuts or dried fruits, or with foods such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
Zopf bread is a unique type of bread in that it looks like a large braid once it’s finished baking. It is usually served with butter and jelly at breakfast time, and it has a rich and buttery taste. Zopf bread is mostly found in countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is made mostly using white flour, yeast, milk, butter, and eggs.
And there you have it – 29 different types of breads. We hope you enjoyed reading about the varieties of this staple in the human diet. If you’re craving some fresh bread now, you’re not alone – we are, too! Head to your local bakery for a loaf of fresh bread in the morning, and you’re sure to be happy you did.