Artisan vs Sourdough Bread: The Difference


When it comes to bread varieties, every bread loaf has its unique features making it special, but in the vast spectrum of bread types, artisan bread and sourdough bread stand out. We shall closely examine them and compare one with the other.

The difference between artisan and sourdough bread lies in the ingredients and fermentation process. Artisan bread typically refers to any type of bread that is crafted by hand using traditional methods and ingredients, which may or may not include sourdough. On the other hand, sourdough bread is specifically made from a naturally fermented dough called a “starter” that contains wild yeast and lactobacilli, giving it its distinctive tangy flavor. Therefore, while all sourdough breads can be considered artisan, not all artisan breads are sourdough.

Artisan and sourdough bread on a wooden board

What is Artisan Bread?

Artisan bread is the product of traditional methods, high quality ingredients, and a lot of patience. No mass-production techniques are involved. This is what gives this bread type its distinctive flavor and texture. The ingredients for artisan bread are incredibly straightforward: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The fermentation process and exceptional handling methods transform these basic ingredients into a loaf that is unique.

The surface of this bread is characterized by a hard and crispy crust, while the inside is light and airy.

What is Sourdough Bread?

Sourdough bread is a type of fermented bread that has been in existence even before the use of commercial yeast. It is characterized by its tangy or sour taste, which is a result of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli. The natural yeasts and lactic acid bacteria present in the flour are cultivated and fed through a long fermentation process.

See Also: Why Sourdough Won’t Hold Its Shape?

Artisan Sourdough vs Regular Sourdough

Although artisan bread and sourdough may seem similar, there are significant distinguishing factors.

The primary difference between an artisan sourdough and a regular sourdough is the leavening agent. Regular sourdough uses a starter usually composed of flour and water that’s been fermented over time. This ‘sourdough starter’ provides the necessary yeast and bacteria for the sourdough to rise and imparts the bread’s distinct tangy flavor.

On the other hand, artisan sourdough might also use a sourdough starter, but there are no hard and fast rules as the term “artisan” refers more to the method and attention to detail during the bread-making process rather than the ingredients used.

FeaturesArtisan BreadSourdough Bread
IngredientsTypically, traditional ingredients like flour, water, yeast, and salt.Flour, water, and salt. But instead of commercial yeast, it uses a sourdough starter, which is naturally fermented mixture of flour and water.
TasteDepends on the ingredients used but generally has a more neutral or slightly yeasty flavor.Unique tangy taste because of the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process with the sourdough starter.
TextureCrisp crust and a soft, airy interior. The texture can be adjusted based on the preparation process.Dense, chewy texture and a thick, crunchy crust. The long fermentation process of sourdough can also lead to small holes throughout the bread.
Preparation timeIt takes a few hours from mixing the ingredients to baking the bread.It takes longer to prepare, often over 24 hours, because the sourdough starter takes time to ferment.
Health benefitsCommonly low in fat and sugar. Health benefits can vary based on the other ingredients used.Often easier to digest because the lactobacilli and yeasts in the sourdough starter break down some of the gluten as they ferment. Rich in prebiotic-like properties, which are good for gut health. Also, the acidic nature of sourdough can help reduce the speed at which glucose is released into the blood stream.
Shelf lifeArtisan bread tends to stale quite quickly and is best eaten within a day or two of baking.Longer shelf-life due to the acidity in sourdough which inhibits the growth of mould.

Is Artisan Bread Healthier than Sourdough Bread?

Comparatively, both sourdough and artisan bread share similar health benefits and nutritional values. They both contain basic nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, some minerals, and vitamins. Nevertheless, any slight edge in health value can depend on the type and quality of ingredients used.

Sourdough bread is commonly known for its lower glycemic index compared to ordinary bread, thanks to the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process.

On the other hand, artisan bread can be made with a variety of nutritious whole grains, which can provide additional fiber and other nutrients.

Essentially, the healthy choice between artisan and sourdough bread may come down to individual ingredients and personal dietary requirements.

See Also: Is sourdough gluten-free

Which is better artisan bread or sourdough bread?

When considering whether artisan bread or sourdough bread is superior, it’s important to note that they aren’t mutually exclusive categories. “Artisan” means that the bread is crafted in a traditional manner with high-quality ingredients and skilled bakers. “Sourdough” refers to a specific fermentation process that creates a tangy flavor and potentially added health benefits such as improved digestion. Therefore, a sourdough bread can be considered an artisan bread if it’s traditionally made with high standards. The choice between the two usually comes down to individual preference for flavor profiles and perceived health benefits.

See Also: 9 Reasons Your Sourdough Bread Is Not Rising


Given their shared attributes and few differences, you may find it hard to choose between artisan and sourdough bread. Regardless of your choice, one thing is for sure: each offers a unique, fresh, and tasty flavor that will enhance any meal and satisfy bread lovers everywhere. Understanding their differences can help you decide which one suits your personal preference and nutritional needs best.

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