Light in texture, with a coating of butter, salt, and garlic, these are the soft breadsticks you remember from the first time you went to an Olive Garden (or perhaps even the last time you went). These famous breadsticks have a white, fluffy center and a tender, delicate crust. Soft and kid-friendly, these are sure to be gobbled up as soon as they get their slathering of butter and herb goodness when they come out of the oven. Here's what makes them so delicious and how to achieve it at home.
What Makes an Olive Garden Breadstick So Good?
Butter, unsurprisingly, is the key to this recipe. Its sweet and milky taste, both in the dough and melted on the breadsticks, take an average breadstick from good to great.
Granulated garlic is also responsible for making this recipe taste like it's fresh from the restaurant. Garlic powder is different than granulated garlic and can't be substituted in this recipe. The superfine powder gets too quickly absorbed and turns a little bitter. Granulated garlic, however, sticks to the melted butter and those tiny pearls of garlic goodness burst with flavor when you take a bite. Fresh garlic, by the way, doesn't work either. Raw garlic is extremely strong and will knock the tastebuds off your tongue. This recipe is about balancing sweet and delicate flavors like butter with the itty-bitty bops and beats from the garlic.
These are best served immediately. You'll want to devour the breadsticks while they are still crisp on the outside, before any butter soaks in.
Enriched Dough Makes Light, Fluffy Breadsticks
While baguettes and pizza dough rely on lean doughs of nothing more than flour, water, yeast, and salt, tender breadsticks require an enriched dough. Enrichment can come from eggs or sugar, but here we rely on milk and butter to do most of the work. Both these ingredients inhibit gluten development, making a more tender crust and less chewy breadstick.
Need to Knead
This breadstick dough is a bit more needy (pun intended) in the mixing department. Because of the additions of butter and milk, the dough should be kneaded in a stand mixture for seven minutes, until it becomes supple and smooth. This will ensure the breadsticks rise well and live up to their lofty breadstick goals. Mixing by hand or with a hand mixer is not recommended for this recipe.
How To Make Olive Garden-Style Garlic Breadsticks
What You Need
For the dough:
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons (26 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups (325 grams) milk, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups (510 grams) bread flour, divided, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons (43 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to about 90°F
1 teaspoon (6 grams) fine salt
For the topping:
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons dried granulated garlic
2 teaspoons (8 grams) kosher salt
Measuring cups and spoons
Stand mixer with dough hook, or large mixing bowl
2 baking sheets
- Proof the yeast: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and milk and mix at low speed just until the yeast is dissolved, 10 seconds. Let stand in the mixer until the mixture is foamy, frothy, and smells distinctly like yeast, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Knead the dough: With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 cup of the flour, butter, and salt and mix to combine. Add the remaining 2 3/4 cups flour and mix at medium-low speed until combined. The dough will be a bit sticky at first, but as it is kneaded, it will work its way to a tacky dough and then a soft one, like a white flour dinner-roll dough. Increase the speed to medium and knead until smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Let the dough rise: Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Prepare to bake: When the dough has risen, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- Start to shape the dough: Lightly flour a work surface. Place half the dough on it and roll it out to a 7- by 15-inch rectangle that is 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Form the breadsticks: Cut 1 rectangle of dough into 12 (7-inch long by 1 1/4-inch wide) breadsticks and place them on one of the prepared baking sheets, 1 to 1 1/4 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Prepare the remaining half of the dough the same way. Let the breadsticks rise for 20 minutes (30 if you want the breadsticks a little puffier).
- Bake the breadsticks: Remove the plastic wrap and bake both sheets for 5 to 6 minutes. Swap the sheets between oven racks and rotate each from front to back to ensure even baking. Continue to bake until light golden-brown, 5 to 6 minutes more. Transfer the breadsticks onto a wire cooling rack.
- Add the toppings: While still warm, brush the breadsticks with the butter. Sprinkle the salt and garlic over the breadsticks and serve.
- Storage: Leftover breadsticks can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.