Here’s an easy recipe for crunchy breadsticks, also known in Italian as grissini.
Grissini, which means “little sticks” are not soft, but hard breadsticks that are long and thin. They are not doughy and big like the kind we see at places like Olive Garden. So, for those who love crunchy snacks, this Italian breadstick recipe is for you!
Crunchy Breadsticks You’ll Love
These elegantly shaped breadsticks originated in northern Italy, specifically, in Turin. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to Italy or visit an Italian bakery to make your own grissini breadsticks.
This authentic grissini recipe is from an old Italian cookbook I have on my shelf, which I’ve modified slightly to simplify the process. To create these crunchy breadsticks all you need are a few ingredients: flour, active dry yeast, water, sugar and salt.
Grissini can be made as plain breadsticks, or they can be rolled in seeds such as poppy or sesame.
How to Make Crunchy Breadsticks
When you make homemade Italian bread, you have full control over the quality of ingredients. No preservatives or chemicals and best of all, it’s fresh. The same holds true when making these exciting skinny breadsticks.
Authentic grissini recipe in summary
Simply dissolve the yeast in water, add the sugar, wait till it foams, then add the salt and flour.
Knead the dough until it is well mixed and forms a nice ball. Then you roll and shape it to make the breadsticks and bake them at 400F for 10-15 minutes.
Turn them over and bake 5 more minutes.
That’s the basic gist of it. Now I’ll break it out in a little more detail.
Begin by activating the yeast
You start out with getting the yeast to work its magic. If you use the instant yeast that says on the packaging to just add with the flour then go ahead and follow those instructions.
I’ve done mine both ways and it came out fine.
Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water, about 100F or so and add in some sugar. After about 5 or 10 minutes it should start to form some air bubbles and get foamy.
Create the dough
Once that happens, go ahead and add the salt and the flour and start kneading. I mix the salt and flour together first so I know it’s evenly dispersed.
The kneading process by hand can take about 8 minutes or less.
You’ll know when the dough is ready when it is very smooth, not sticky, and forms a beautiful ball of dough.
Form the dough into thin breadsticks
Now that you have the grissini dough ready, you need to form them so they are long and thin.
What I recommend is the following:
- Divide the dough in half
- Then divide each of those pieces in half
- Divide again in half and continue until the dough is divided into pieces about an inch and a half long and a 1/2 inch wide
Here’s a picture of some of mine:
You should end up with about 35 or 40 walnut sized balls of dough. Keep a damp cloth or paper towels over them so they do not dry out. I learned this from experience.
Next, roll each ball into long lengths, like a rope, by rolling them back and forth on a non-floured counter with the underside of your hand. As you roll the dough (it takes time to get into a good rhythm), spread your fingers apart to force the dough to stretch out longer.
TIP: I have found you do not want to do this on a floured surface because the balls will not roll on the counter; they will slide. Since you want them to roll, they need to slightly grab the surface of the counter and the flour prevents this from happening.
When you reach the desired length, place on a lightly greased baking pan. Repeat this until all are completed.
How Long Should the Grissini Breadsticks Rise?
By the time you are finished, most of the early grissini sticks you formed have already risen a bit. Let them all sit a few minutes longer. They will not rise substantially. You’ll see them rise when you bake them.
Allow yourself a total of 15 minutes to roll out the breadsticks and a few more minutes for the last few.
How Long to Bake Grissini so they are Crunchy?
It only takes 10 to 15 minutes at 400F to bake these Italian skinny breadsticks. Allow an additional 5 minutes if you want to turn them over for even baking.
They will have a nice golden brown color when they are ready. They will harden further as they cool, however if you want really crunchy breadsticks, then I would bake them 10 minutes longer.
Just don’t let them burn.
How to Season Crunchy Breadsticks?
While testing this particular grissini recipe, I experimented with different toppings to use. I tried adding garlic powder which I did not like at all. You can roll them in sesame seeds, or you can leave them plain, which is what I enjoy most.
To coat the breadsticks with seeds, spread the seeds on a flat surface or plate and roll the uncooked breadsticks on top. The seeds will stick and you can then place them on the baking pan.
This method worked best for me, but make this recipe your own and experiment!
The reason I used a plate instead of just the counter is because I would have had seeds all over the place without a lip to keep them from making their way to the floor or other parts of the kitchen. 🙂
How do you Serve Crunchy Breadsticks?
Well, if you’re new to making homemade thin breadsticks like I was, it’s easy to think you’d treat these the same as any other breadstick.
But unlike our soft and doughy alternatives, you don’t cut these with a fork or knife, and you don’t spread butter or olive oil on them. You just eat them – like you would a pretzel. It makes for good finger food, unlike my garlic roasted pecans which are buttery to the touch.
Hard breadsticks and marinara sauce
When I tried dipping my crispy Italian breadsticks in a marinara sauce, it didn’t work out like I thought it would. I mean, breadsticks and marinara go together, right?
Wrong. That’s because the crispy outside won’t absorb and hold the marinara dipping sauce like a softer and wider breadstick would.
How to Store Homemade Crunchy Breadsticks
Since these aren’t loaded with chemicals and unnatural preservatives, my recommendation is to store them in airtight containers.
If you don’t have airtight containers that fit the length, then I recommend simply placing them in a zipper plastic bag and store them in the fridge.
If they lose their crunchiness, simply warm them up in the oven or a toaster oven.
Here’s my full recipe – enjoy!
If you like this for crunch breadsticks recipe, I think you’ll really like my Italian bread recipe too and how to make quick homemade Italian breadcrumbs! And for side dishes that have crunch, try my fried zucchini recipe too.
Crunchy Breadsticks (Grissini)
- 3/4 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 – 2 cups flour
- Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with the sugar and wait till it foams, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the salt and flour.
- Knead until it forms a smooth ball of dough and everything is well mixed. This can take about 8 minutes or even less sometimes.
- Divide the dough into small pieces about 1-2" long and 1/2" wide. Use your hands or a dough divider.
- Keep the dough from drying out by laying a damp cloth or paper towels over it as you divide it up.
- Roll each piece out on the non-floured counter with your hands until they are the length you want. They should be thin, not thick. The thicker they are the longer they will need to bake.
- Let rise for about 8 minutes.
- Place on a slightly greased (with oil) pan and bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 400F.
- Turn them over and bake for 5 minutes more to make them evenly baked. They should not burn or become dark brown.
- Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!
- You can make variations of grissini, such as rolling them in sesame seeds or poppy seeds. You can also roll them in some garlic powder too. The best method I found is to do this on a plate and not the counter where it’s too easy for the seeds to slide or roll off.
- To make your breadsticks crispier, simply bake a little longer so they are nice and crunchy.
- Grissini are a great appetizer and are served nicely before eating an Italian dinner such as a pasta dish or other recipe.
I truly hope you try this recipe and that you enjoyed them as much as we do here!
If you like this recipe, I think you’ll really like my Italian garlic bread recipe too and how to make quick homemade Italian breadcrumbs!
I have 2 questions. I will definitely make these my grandchildren love them
1. Can you knead them with a stand mixer? If yes how long?
2. You mentioned a “ roller” were you referring to a rolling pin or a pasta machine roller?
Thanks for the questions and I’m so glad your grandkids love grissini! As for kneading them with a mixer, I haven’t done this but it would be the same as a bread or pizza dough recipe so I’d expect about 4 minutes – but really when it forms a nice smooth ball.
For the rolling out, what I’ve seen others do is roll out the dough with a rolling pin so it is flat and thin (like a rolled out thin pizza dough), and then they slice it into strip which is presumably a better method if you want to twist each strand.
Thanks for the questions and I’ve updated my post to make it more clear!
How about sprinkling (or rolling in) some kosher or sea salt?
Give it a try! I havent done that but it would taste good I would think. 🙂