Soft and pillowy three cheese focaccia is easy to make and bursting with flavor! This savory bread recipe features a crispy exterior, soft and chewy interior, and a trio of rich cheeses and herbs that will leave your taste buds begging for more.
Whether you are a novice or beginner baker, making this three cheese focaccia is easy and foolproof as long as you follow the simple steps to make it! It’s perfect to serve with a comforting bowl of soup, as part of a charcuterie board or even use it for a sandwich.
While I love making my traditional focaccia bread, refrigerator dough focaccia and sourdough focaccia, this cheesy focaccia with three different cheeses has the ultimate flavor! It will have you going back for seconds before you have even finished the first piece.
Italian focaccia can add a special touch to dinner and once you make it, I know you will be hooked. Simple, versatile, fluffy and savory, this homemade bread is really the best!
Table of Contents
What is Focaccia?
Focaccia is fluffy Italian flatbread that is oven-baked and known for its distinctive texture and flavor. It is made with a simple yeast dough which is then flattened out into a flat, rectangular shape and baked until it is crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It slightly resembles simple pizza dough.
Focaccia is often seasoned with fresh or dried herbs, and can also be topped with a variety of ingredients like cheese, olives, or vegetables. It’s a versatile bread that can be served as a snack, used for a sandwich or it makes a delicious side dish to any meal.
- All purpose flour: Provides structure to the focaccia.
- Salt: Kosher salt adds flavor to the dough.
- Sugar: Sugar is needed to feed the yeast.
- Instant yeast: This helps the bread rise. I used Instant yeast to speed up the process.
- Cheese: Gouda, Gruyere and Swiss cheese is the mix of cheeses I used for three cheese focaccia. Freshly grated cheese will taste best.
- Water: Lukewarm water moistens the dough.
- Dried herbs: Oregano, basil, thyme are my preferred herbs but rosemary can be added, too.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds a dominant flavor to the focaccia when brushed on top.
How to Make Three Cheese Focaccia
Make dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and three cheeses. Add warm water and mix by hand until combined.
First rise: Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 10-12 hours in a warm place until the dough doubles in size and is covered with air bubbles.
Second rise: Place the dough on a floured flat surface and using floured hands, gently fold the dough from the edges to the center to make a loose ball. Place the dough back in the bowl, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Bake: Dust a baking sheet with flour and place the focaccia dough in the middle. Make small dimples in the dough with your fingers in an outward motion so as to stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. Drizzle the focaccia with olive oil, top with the dried herbs and sprinkle some more sea salt. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes, cut, serve and enjoy!
- Three cheese stuffed focaccia: Instead of adding cheese into the dough you can make a stuffed focaccia bread by dividing the dough into two balls and layering the cheese mixture between the dough.
- Focaccia cheesy garlic bread: Before baking brush the dough with a minced garlic and butter mixture then top it with additional cheeses like shredded mozzarella cheese or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Seasoning blend: Instead of using separate herbs try using an Italian seasoning blend.
- Fresh herbs: Skip the dried herbs and add some fresh herbs on top like chopped rosemary.
- Use a stand mixer: This dough is a wet dough and using a mixer helps prevent adding too much flour which can lead to a dense cheese focaccia recipe.
- Temperature of your kitchen: Ideally your kitchen should be around 70-72 degrees F for proper rise. If your kitchen runs cool, plan appropriately for your focaccia recipe to take longer to rise.
- Don’t overdimple your focaccia: It’s fun to dimple focaccia but if you dimple too much you will risk knocking all the air out of the bread which may lead to dense results.
- Make ahead: After making your dough and before the first rise, store the dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. The next day or when ready to use, let it come to room temperature, proceed with the 2nd rise and then bake as instructed.
Focaccia Serving Suggestions
There are so many ways you can serve this three cheese focaccia! Serve it as an appetizer with some briny olives or capers or serve it with any Italian classic dish like lasagna, Alfredo or rigatoni.
Use it as sandwich bread and even make the best grilled cheese with it! Cut it into cubes for salad or use it to mop up your soup. There are so many tasty ways to use this bread!
How to Store, Reheat and Freeze Cheesy Focaccia
While this bread is best served fresh it can be stored up to 2 days in an airtight container or frozen for later. I don’t recommend refrigerating leftover bread as the fridge will speed up the staling process.
To freeze, cut your cheese focaccia into individual slices. Then wrap it in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Store up to one month in a freezer safe container.
Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Can I cold proof my focaccia dough in the fridge?
Yes. If you don’t plan on baking your focaccia within the rise time, you can cold proof it and extend the proofing time by placing it in the fridge. Depending on how much it has risen before you place it in the refrigerator, you may be able to extend the proofing time by another 12 hours. Keep in mind that the 2nd rise time may be longer as the dough will need to come to room temperature.
Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?
That should work but your rise time may be longer.
What cheese is best with focaccia?
Savory and tangy cheese works best with focaccia. For this three cheese focaccia bread I used Gouda, Gruyere and Swiss cheese. Other options you could use include mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, Parmesan or asiago.
Why do you dimple focaccia before baking?
Dimpling focaccia serves a few important purposes in the baking process. It helps the dough rise evenly by creating pockets for air to escape and prevents it from rising too quickly. Also the dimples create the perfect place to add toppings like herbs, cheese, or olives, which can sink into the dough as it bakes and infuse the bread with even more flavor.
More Bread Recipes
Three Cheese Focaccia
- 2 ½ cups All purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon Instant yeast
- ¼ cup Gouda cheese – grated
- ¼ cup Gruyere cheese – grated
- ¼ cup Swiss cheese – grated
- 1 ½ cups Water – lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon Dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons Olive oil
- In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and three cheeses. Add the water and mix by hand until combined.
- Lightly oil a large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 10-12 hours or until it has more than doubled in size and covered with bubbles.
- Flour a flat surface, place the dough on the flour and using floured hands, gently fold the dough from the edges to the centre to make a loose ball. Place the dough back in the bowl, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450F (230C). Dust a baking sheet with flour and place the focaccia dough in the middle. Make dimples in the dough with your fingers in an outward motion so to stretch the dough a bit. Drizzle the focaccia with olive oil, top with the dried herbs and sprinkle some more sea salt.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the crust becomes golden brown. Transfer the focaccia to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. Serve and enjoy!