For many individuals, bread is comfort food that reminds them of weekend meals with family and friends. And the smell of fresh bread can provide an overwhelming sense of warmth and familiarity.
Because of this effect, many grocery stores purposely place their in-house bakery at the front of a store for a more inviting and comforting shopping experience.
There are dozens of types of bread other than traditional white or brown varieties to choose from when creating a delicious meal or snack. Each selection has its benefits and what circumstances are best for pairing.
Some varieties are leavened while others are unleavened. The difference here is how the bread rises and the shape of the end product.
Here, we take a look at the 17 most popular types and break down why they are different and when they are best suited. If you need more options for your next meal, one of these choices could be perfect.
Sourdough is one of the most popular alternatives to traditional white or brown bread for many meals.
Sourdough is a leavened bread that rises during its creation. But it is not from standard baker’s yeast like other bread types.
Sourdough rises because of the inclusion of wild yeast that reacts to the lactic acid bacteria, creating fermentation.
This combination, along with water and flour, produces a starter that ferments sugars within the dough and causes it to rise.
This bread type carries a distinct flavor that I love to pair with cheeses like brie, Monterey Jack, and sharp white cheddar.
Baguettes are long French bread with a hard outer crust while remaining soft and chewy inside.
They can range in size but typically be 5 to 6 inches wide and measure around 65 inches long or more.
Baguettes can be an appetizer or as part of the main course.
Interestingly, this French bread cannot contain extra oil or fat. Because of this element, the French do not add butter as they consume each piece.
This bread is for sopping up sauces, eaten with cheese, or perfect for sandwich selections. I prefer using it to make homemade bruschetta.
Although brioche is another French bread alternative, it does contain a high level of eggs and butter with enriched flour.
This combination creates a soft, rich texture that is slightly sweeter than other bread choices. It is similar to a pastry.
Brioche is commonly baked into rolls or mini loaves but is available in larger sizes. I enjoy it with my lunch on the side with a soup.
This type of bread is perfect for making French toast, bread puddings, and sandwiches. It’s also great for snacks or desserts where a dense, sweeter bread alternative pairs well.
Try a brioche bun with your best-loved soup, and you will have your next favorite meal option.
Focaccia is an Italian flat oven-baked leavened bread, similar to pizza dough. But, it contains more yeast, making it rise and produce a fluffy appearance.
Typically, it will rise between one-half to one-inch thick.
One characteristic of this bread is the punctures before baking. Which helps retain moisture and gives it a perforated exterior. These indents are also ideal for holding oil when dipping.
It is typically a side dish item rather than an appetizer or as part of the main course.
Focaccia goes well with a soup or salad, hummus, or braised greens. Although I am partial to using it for hummus or other artichoke-style dips.
Ciabatta is a white bread that is Italy’s answer to France’s baguette.
Its interior sports large airy pores resembling cells and are soft and chewy. while the outer crust is crisp and firm. And it comes in a characteristic slipper shape, making it easy to handle.
Because of an increase in humidity levels while baking, ciabatta will have larger holes inside than that of a baguette.
This leavened bread also uses a stronger flour to provide a slightly delicate, sweet taste.
Use ciabatta to dip in your soup, make a flavorful sandwich, or as a side garlic bread. I consider it to be one of the more versatile types of bread.
Another popular type of bread is rye, which uses various portions of rye grain and flour.
This combination produces dense, light-to-dark brown bread. And carries a distinctly strong, earthy taste.
You can find rye bread varieties that use light, and dark flours, pure rye flour, meal mixes with sourdough starter, multigrain, and even flatbread rye bread options.
I find rye bread pairs best with strong cheeses and fish dishes. But, you can try my favorite combination.
Cream cheese with sliced salmon on a slice of rye for the best of both worlds. You may feel full longer when choosing rye bread over other types with your next meal.
Any type of bread that falls into the multigrain category uses two or more grain types to create a loaf.
These grains could be whole or parts of other grains for a mixture. Using more than one type of grain boosts the vitamins and phytonutrients that you would get from a standard one-grain loaf of bread.
Some multigrain loaves include wheat, oat, barley, flax, millet, and others. Edible seeds can also be popular additions to multigrain bread.
For example, you may find loaves that contain sunflower or pumpkin seeds, quinoa, or flaxseed. I prefer multigrain bread in the morning rather than with dinner.
A pita is a Greek round leavened flatbread that is highly versatile for various meal options.
It comes from wheat flour and does not contain as much sodium as other types of bread. This feature makes pitas a better choice for individuals on a low-sodium diet.
Although you can use pitas for virtually anything you would use traditional bread for, they are familiar staples for wraps, falafels, hummus, and baba ganoush.
So, whether you use it as a meal option, snack, or side, pitas can be perfect for virtually any menu choice.
If you select whole-grain bread at the store, your loaf will contain completely intact grain.
Along with other grains, such as barley, oats, brown rice, and others. As a result, this variety will be full of vitamins and nutrients not found in non-whole grain.
Whole grain bread is healthier than other types and is suitable for any time of the day or night. But, this type of bread is best for sandwich meals, toast, or snacks.
This variety is ideal for anyone who is eating better and avoiding processed grains.
Challah is the famous kosher Jewish braided bread that appears on Jewish holidays and celebrations.
Although it is tasty to have all year-round. Many tables will include this type of bread on the table with each Friday evening dinner, on birthdays, or at weddings.
It does have a large concentration of eggs, giving it a yellow hue, and is rich in taste. Some challah recipes include raisins, seeds, or honey for delicious alternatives.
The braided structure symbolizes the Jewish community. But, anyone can enjoy this delicious bread.
Although I am not Jewish, I look forward to visiting friends who include this bread at gatherings so I can partake in their traditions.
Naan bread is a Persian flatbread that is versatile and delicious in many ways.
Some individuals may confuse naan bread with pitas. But there are clear differences between these types of bread.
Naan bread uses milk, yogurt, butter, and eggs, while pitas do not. These ingredients make it softer and more pliable to work with before baking in an oven in round shapes.
You can use naan bread for soups, and sauces, as a wrap, or as a side to the main rice dish. I prefer to pair naan bread with a plate of Cilantro Lime Chicken.
Soda bread is an Irish variety that uses sodium bicarbonate rather than traditional yeast to help the bread rise.
Using only four ingredients, including salt, soft flour, baking soda, and milk, this type of bread is a staple in Irish traditions.
The baking soda reacts with sour milk or buttermilk to replicate leavening without yeast.
This bread carries a mild flavor and pairs well with soups, stews, or as part of a hearty sandwich. But, I prefer to use soda bread anytime I have a big bowl of Irish stew.
Sprouted bread, also known as Ezekiel bread, is a popular choice for many individuals because of its baking process.
One of the main features of sprouted types of bread is that it does not contain any sugars.
For anyone watching their sugar intake, this bread is a terrific option.
Individuals with sensitivities to gluten or wheat may find sprouted bread easier to digest. You can use sprouted bread for sandwiches, toast, or other snacks.
If you have never tried potato bread, you are missing out. I enjoy how this variety has a mild flavor that helps add to your plate.
It has a soft yet springy texture that keeps fresh longer than traditional white bread.
Potato bread is easy to make, and I am confident that it will not last long once you try it for yourself.
This type of bread with a mild potato flavor goes well with your chicken or ham sandwich. Or if you are adventurous, make potato bread rolls and include them with your roast chicken or ham at your next meal.
Pumpernickel is a German bread that relies on coarse rye flour. And it can use yeast or a sourdough starter, depending on the variety.
It has an exceptionally dark color to its dense but moist interior, and some types will include seeds.
Because pumpernickel is a variation of rye bread, it will also have an earthy flavor. But it will taste nuttier because of the concentration of coarse flour.
This bolder flavor pairs perfectly with sharp cheeses and strong-flavor meats. I prefer pumpernickel when I make a sharp cheddar and ham sandwich for my lunch.
Cornbread is a popular staple in my house and is one of my favorite types of bread.
It uses cornmeal and is the perfect addition to any comfort food. Like roast chicken, slow-cooker ham, soup, or even fish.
Corn does not include gluten, so it does not rise like other types of bread. However, you can create a fluffy, crumbly texture by using baking powder.
Cornbread has a slightly sweet taste and is dense. It does not keep well once baked, but there is no need to worry because it is delicious and will not last.
Matzo bread is common during the Passover season. It is a thin, unleavened bread, also known as matzah.
But, it resembles a giant cracker more than a flatbread. It is salty and can be exceptionally dry. It’s perfect for using flavorful toppings like jams, tuna, and cheeses.
This type of bread is also available in many varieties. As it can use different flours for alternative tastes.
Matzo is ideal for virtually anything you want to put on bread. From peanut butter and jelly to tuna salad and egg and avocado, there are so many options that it is hard for me to choose my favorite.
We covered 17 popular types of bread here. But there are so many more that are also delicious and filling. I find it hard to choose just one from the dozens of available tasty items.
Check out the best bread knives on the market to slice up your next loaf!
Is your favorite bread on this list? Is there a popular bread variety that should be on our list?
If you have yet to try some of these options, you should not wait any longer. Each type will give you a new way to experience bread and pair well with any menu item.