What Is Ciabatta Bread? It’s More Modern Than You’d Think!

Any Italian restaurant in America better be serving me some pre-meal bread. And the ultimate free bread basket is a warm, sliced loaf of ciabatta accompanied by an herbaceous olive oil pool for dipping. Ciabatta and Italian food go hand in hand, but it wasn’t always the case. Here’s a nice slice of history for this iconic loaf.

What is ciabatta bread?

Ciabatta is a white bread loaf, notable for its hard crust and soft, porous interior that resembles a slice of Swiss cheese (here’s why Swiss cheese has holes, BTW, if you were wondering). The name comes from the Italian word for slipper, a nod to the overall look and shape of the loaf. I’ve tried wearing ciabatta bread as slippers before, highly recommended.

You’d think ciabatta bread has been around for centuries, millenia even. Nope; it was created in 1982 by an Italian baker named Arnaldo Cavallari. Arnie was sick and tired of the French baguette coming into his town of Rovigo in the Italian region of Veneto, and taking over as the dominant sandwich bread. Full of Italian pride, he toiled away in his bread laboratory until he produced ciabatta bread and, thus, a legend was born.

The loaf’s popularity soon spread through Italy and the world, resulting in several regional variations but all staying true to the hard crust original.

What to do with ciabatta bread?

Besides wearing it on your feet? You should try eating it. Because ciabatta bread doesn’t produce a lot of crumbs, it’s a great option for ripping apart and dipping into the aforementioned olive oil. No fuss, no muss.

Ciabatta is also the de facto champion for making panini. The bread is tough enough to stand up to the high pressure from a panini press. A mozzarella and prosciutto panini with roasted red peppers and pesto? Mama mia, sign me up.

Here’s another option: bruschetta. Get the Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Rolls—the everything version is one of the best Trader Joe’s Breads according to Sporked—slice them in half, toast, and top them with your preferred toppings. Ciabatta’s hearty structure also makes it an excellent option for soup dippies.

Does ciabatta bread have dairy?

Nope! The ingredients in ciabatta are about as straightforward as they come: flour, water, yeast, salt. Sometimes there’s a bit of olive oil added for flavor, but that’s about it. You can eat it to your dairy-free heart’s content.

Is ciabatta bread vegan? 

Yep, ciabatta bread is vegan. (See ingredient list, above). 

How to pronounce ciabatta correctly?

Italians pronounce their Cs as “CH” when they are followed by an I or an E. So the appropriate pronunciation is “chu-BAA-tuh.” But in my home I just call it my “slippies.”

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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