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What are the Different Ways to Use Ciabatta Bread?

Allison Boelcke
Updated May 16, 2024
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Ciabatta bread is a type of Italian white bread with a tangy, yet sweet taste. The bread’s name means “slipper” in Italian, because its slightly rounded rectangular shape appears similar to a soft slipper. It is a versatile type of bread with a firm texture that can withstand both heavy ingredients and high cooking temperatures.

One of the most common uses for ciabatta is for a grilled Italian sandwich known as a panini. A panini is made up of stacked meats, cheese, and vegetables that are placed on bread and heated in a panini grill, a hinged device that presses the sandwich between two ridged grill plates. This type of bread works particularly well for these sandwiches because its texture can hold multiple ingredients and it can be pressed without becoming soggy or falling apart.

Antipasto is an Italian term that refers to a group of small appetizers that are served before meals. A dish often included in a traditional Italian antipasto platter is ciabatta bread served with olive oil. The bread is dipped into plain olive oil or olive oil that is mixed with chopped herbs. This type of bread is popular for dipping in oil because it will absorb the oil without becoming overly soft or breaking.

Another traditional Italian dish that often incorporates this bread is pappa al pomodoro. It is a thick tomato-based soup that is mixed with stale bread cubes that absorb the tomato juices, as well as add substance to the soup and make it more filling. Pappa al pomodoro was historically a peasant’s food because it required few ingredients and prevented wasting stale bread.

Ciabatta can also be used to make croutons to serve on top of salads to provide different texture and flavor. The bread is chopped up into bite-sized pieces and tossed in olive oil and garlic or other seasonings. The pieces are then baked or fried until they become crispy. Ciabatta-based croutons can also be served with soups or cooked with vegetables and other flavors and made into a dressing or stuffing.

Although ciabatta bread is generally used for savory purposes, it can also be incorporated into sweeter dishes. Bread pudding, a combination of cubed or sliced bread that is mixed with custard, often requires a sturdy, textured bread like ciabatta because it will soak up the custard without breaking. It can also coated with beaten eggs and lightly cooked to make French toast.

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Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By Perdido — On Aug 24, 2012

I like to eat philly steak on ciabatta bread. My husband buys this thinly sliced beef and cooks it with garlic, bell pepper, and onions, and it tastes awesome with this kind of bread.

We butter the bread and put it in the oven to toast for about five minutes on broil. Once it has turned golden brown and crispy on top, we take it out.

Then, we can spread the meat and veggies onto it. The bread is thick, and it has a nice crunch that makes the sandwich a delight to eat.

By Kristee — On Aug 23, 2012

@seag47 – I agree with you! My mother makes this excellent chicken creole, and she always toasts plenty of ciabatta bread to serve with it, because there is a lot of liquid to soak up.

I know that I end up eating more of the soaked bread than the actual solid portion of the meal. It is just so good, and it takes on the flavor of whatever you dip it in so well. I think that ciabatta bread enhances the taste of any meal.

I've even eaten it as French toast before. It was soaked in milk, an egg, and vanilla, and it just fell apart in my mouth.

By seag47 — On Aug 22, 2012

@wavy58 – I guess that store-bought ciabatta bread reacts differently than the kind made at home. My sister bakes ciabatta bread, and when we tried to freeze some of it and reheat it, the bread tasted really dry.

So, she just started halving the recipe. She makes ciabatta bread whenever she will be serving spaghetti. We both love to dip the bread in the sauce and let it soak a minute or two.

This has got to be the best dipping bread I've ever eaten. Now that I have been spoiled by it, I cannot eat spaghetti without it!

By wavy58 — On Aug 22, 2012

I never knew where to buy ciabatta bread, but I had looked for it at several locations. I had tried it once with a sandwich at a deli, and I absolutely loved how it tasted.

I finally found it at a supermarket that had a really large selection. This supermarket is about 45 minutes away from my house, so I only go there occasionally. However, if I am craving this bread, I will make the trip, and I will pick up the rest of my groceries there, as well.

I live alone, so I can never eat an entire loaf before it grows mold. So, I freeze half of it, and it tastes just as good when I heat it up again in the oven.

By burcinc — On Aug 21, 2012

@turquoise-- That easy pizza does sound really good!

I haven't made anything like that but I did make garlic bread with ciabatta one time. That was good, it was soft inside and crispy on the outside.

I've also used ciabatta as a hamburger bun. It wasn't bad, just different. I actually had no other bread at home and was too lazy to go get some hamburger buns. To me, bread is bread. You can use any kind for anything as long as you like the flavor.

By turquoise — On Aug 21, 2012

@turkay1-- Yea same here. I think ciabatta is most popular with sandwiches. I'm a vegetarian, so I usually make a veggie sandwich with it with greens and avocados.

I also like making melts with it. Have you ever tried putting shredded cheese on sliced ciabatta and melting that in the oven? If you haven't, you should, it's really good.

I even made an easy pizza with it one time. I sliced the ciabatta in half and topped it with tomato sauce, onions, olives, mushrooms and cheese. I let this cook in the oven for a few minutes. It turned out delicious!

By candyquilt — On Aug 20, 2012

I usually use ciabatta bread for sandwiches and paninis. The one I buy is made with olive oil, so it's really soft and the olive oil flavor comes through. So I think it goes really well with mozzarella and tomato paninis with basil. Sometimes I also have it cold with sliced meats and cheese.

I think Italian ciabatta bread is the best bread for sandwiches because it's firm and rich so it doesn't fall apart when you're slicing it. And it tastes good even when you keep it out for a day or two.

By Mykol — On Aug 19, 2012

@golf07-- I have made my own wheat ciabatta wheat bread and love how it tastes. Cibatta bread is one of those breads that is very versatile.

My favorite way of eating it is warm from the oven and dipped in olive oil. I can almost make a meal out of this. I have also used it to make my own croutons.

Once you make your own croutons, nothing else tastes nearly as good. Sure it takes a little bit of effort, but you also get spoiled with the fresh taste.

By golf07 — On Aug 19, 2012

I know traditional ciabatta bread is made with white flour, but I was wondering if you can make whole wheat ciabatta bread?

I have been trying to cut out as much white flour as possible in my diet. If you made this with wheat instead of white flour would it still taste as good?

By SarahSon — On Aug 18, 2012

I am allergic to gluten so have to be careful about eating any kind of bread. I found an online recipe for gluten free ciabatta bread using a special kind of flour and was excited to try it.

Many times gluten free food just doesn't have the same taste or texture as what you are used to. This bread recipe turned out fantastic though. The only trouble I had was it took a little bit longer to rise than bread I have made before.

Once I realized this, I have been making my own gluten free ciabatta bread and enjoying every bite of it.

By myharley — On Aug 17, 2012

The easiest way I have found to make ciabatta bread is with my bread machine. I use the dough cycle on my machine, add the ingredients, and let the machine do the work.

It is a simple recipe that includes water, salt, sugar, oil, flour and yeast. If you like bread with a crispy crust, you can spritz it will some water when it is about halfway through the bake cycle.

There is nothing better than fresh, warm bread that you make at home. I like eating this bread with just about anything.

By calabama71 — On Sep 02, 2010

@grumpyguppy: I had a ciabatta bread recipe that looked fairly simple. However, once I got everything out in my kitchen and attempted it, it was more than I bargained for!

I now go to a local bakery and just buy it!

By GrumpyGuppy — On Sep 01, 2010

Is ciabatta bread easy to make?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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