Can You Make Bread Without Sugar?

It should come as no surprise that too much sugar is bad for you. While there are many negative effects to the ingredient, it can still be found in a range of foods, including most recipes for bread. 

The bread you purchase from the store typically contains added sugar. However, the whole wheat bread you buy fresh from the bakery shouldn’t contain any sugar. 

While bread isn’t considered the healthiest of foods, some fresh bread, including sourdough and sugar free bread, is much better for you than factory-made bread since it contains a higher nutritional value and is easier to digest.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine which is the best way to make bread since there are so many bread recipes out there – most bread recipes contain sugar, too. 

So, can you make bread without sugar? While this may seem like a somewhat common question, not many people know the answer to it. Well, you’re in the right place to find out. 

Yes, bread can be made without adding sugar. To produce gas, yeast doesn’t require sugar since there are enough starches and naturally occurring sugar in the flour – allowing the bread dough to rise effectively. 

With this in mind, this article will explore everything you need to know about whether or not you can make bread without sugar. 

Why Is Sugar Added To Bread Dough?

When it comes to baking, sugar is one of the most important ingredients.

Whether you’re making brownies, cinnamon rolls, cake, muffins, or sweet bread, sugar is required to make your treats tender and moist. It also provides texture and, of course, sweetness, too. 

There is only one basic bread recipe you need, this has four basic ingredients, which include water, salt, flour, and yeast. Here, the most important aspects are flour and water – without these, you won’t have bread! 

Here, the yeast is used as a leavening agent that allows the bread to rise. Likewise, the low salt is added for taste, as well as to control the dough’s structure, too. 

While sugar is an optional ingredient, below, you will find out a few reasons why it is included in recipes, and this is for good reason, too. 

There are various traits sugar can provide to your dough mixture, this includes:

Crust Color

Another reason why some people add sugar to their bread is that it provides a lovely crisp, golden color to the crust. 

When you put the bread in the oven, the sugars begin to crystalize – providing the crust with that delicious golden brown color. 

Food For Yeast

Sugar can be included to help activate the yeast faster – making the dough rise faster and achieving a good rise.

That said, even without added sugar, the yeast feeds on the naturally occurring sugars in the flour and rises this way. 

However, if you choose to add sugar, the yeast will feed on it. This extra boost of sugar can make the dough rise faster – ideal for reducing the time required for your dough to prove. 

Although make sure you don’t ‘overdose’ the yeast by adding too much sugar – you’ll receive the opposite effect, whereby the dough doesn’t rise fast at all.


While added sugar isn’t as essential to the taste of your bread as salt is, it does help to enhance the bread’s flavor without being overpowering. 

As such, sugar doesn’t have the ability to significantly alter the taste of your bread dough, and the decision of whether to include it or not is completely up to you. 

The only recipe that requires sugar is enriched dough, where you’ll see the noticeable sweetness. 

With regular loaves, the quantity of dough to sugar is so minimal that you won’t even be able to see any noticeable differences. 

For bread dough that doesn’t contain any sugar, you may notice a slight dryness, whereas those that do contain sugar have slightly more moisture. But again, these differences are so small that the regular person may not notice. 

One tip if you’re trying to avoid adding sugar to your dough is to substitute this with honey – a natural sweetener that improves the flavor. 

Can You Make Bread Without Sugar?


Likewise, sugar is also beneficial when it comes to adding moisture to your loaf. Here, the sugar attracts and holds moisture during the baking process. 

If you don’t include sugar, you run the risk of producing a dense and dry loaf as a result of all the moisture evaporating in the oven. 

The sugars help to trap moisture in the loaf – providing you with a light textured and soft bread. 

Moreover, moisture also helps the bread to stay fresh and soft for longer. 

Is Sugar Needed To Achieve Good Bread Dough?

Yeast requires sugar to be able to produce gas which raises the bread dough. That said, adding sugar doesn’t stop the yeast from extracting sugar found in the flour. 

Here, yeast is a professional at breaking down the molecules in flour to extract the sugar, therefore, any additional sugar isn’t entirely necessary for the yeast. 

Baking bread doesn’t require any additional sugar as there are already naturally occurring sugars in the flour. 

As such, many traditional bread recipes don’t call for more sugar since it is not completely necessary to make bread. In fact, you may even receive better results by cutting out the sugar completely and ensuring a longer rising duration. 

If you’re looking to speed up the rising process, then more sugar can be useful. That said, bread that is made faster loses out on some complex flavor that is achieved with a longer rise. 

Final Thoughts

Making bread is a long process, however, at the end of it, you’ll be rewarded with a deliciously golden, brown loaf – you don’t even need a bread machine.

Not only will it taste amazing but will leave your whole house smelling divine.

When it comes to baking bread, there is a range of other recipes out there, some of which include sugar, and some that don’t. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but you can make bread without sugar and see no noticeable difference in terms of flavor. 

Hopefully, this guide has informed you on whether or not you can make bread without sugar. 

Picture of Kathryn Sewell

Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

About the Author