Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks
Do you love those endless breadsticks at Olive Garden? Then make a batch of these Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks at home! (And good luck eating just one…)
Ah, Olive Garden. Yes, it’s a mass chain restaurant. But I’ll tell you what – they have some delicious menu items there! Truth be told, Laura and I will occasionally order Olive Garden to go, and then we sit in our basement watching Netflix while eating childhood favorites. I typically go for lasagna. Laura goes for spaghetti & meatballs. But, aye, here’s the rub – ordering Olive Garden to go doesn’t allow you unlimited salad and breadsticks. It’s a travesty!
In case you’re not familiar with Olive Garden, they are a huge chain restaurant with nearly 900 locations. They are known for their casual, family-friendly atmosphere…and they’re also known for their unlimited salad and breadsticks. I’m not gonna lie – whenever we go to Olive Garden, I eat way more breadsticks than anyone should eat in a single sitting. But then again, we don’t go very often, so I just see it as making up for lost time. Plus, there are warm, garlicky, buttery breadsticks. How can you say no to that!?
Here’s the thing about Olive Garden’s breadsticks. Yes, they’re delicious. No, they’re not Italian at all. They’re more American-Italian than authentic Italian. True Italian breadsticks are often thin and crunchy – like these Kalamata Olive and Sea Salt Grissini. Both styles are quite tasty. In truth, most of Olive Garden’s recipes fall on the American-Italian end of the spectrum. This reminds me of the time I showed my Spaghetti & Meatballs recipe to a glass-blowing artist in Murano, Italy. He just laughed and said, “Oh, that’s not Italian food. It’s New York Italian.” Same thing with these Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks. They’re not Italian. They’re New York Italian.
Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks
The other day, I was craving breadsticks (the New York Italian style) like you wouldn’t believe. I found this Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks recipe years ago in a Food Network Magazine. In fact, I think this recipe was only the second time I’d ever baked with yeast. (The first time was making Schnecken.) I remember being nervous since yeast was still a bit of a mystery to me. However, the recipe worked perfectly…and it didn’t take all that long to make. Since then, I’ve become a huge fan of yeast. I always say that yeast is your friend when baking – it does all of the work for you!
Like many bread recipes, this Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks involves only a few simple ingredients: flour, yeast, water, salt and sugar. The salt and sugar both play very key roles in this recipe – more than just flavor! Salt is hard and helps “cut” the strands of gluten as they develop in the dough. This yields a breadstick that is chewy, but still soft. (Think about how chewy a bagel is compared to a breadstick.)
The sugar isn’t there to sweeten these breadsticks. Instead, the sugar is food for the yeast. Yeast need food to grow – and yeast love sugar. So while this dough is rising, the yeast are in a virtual playground. The yeast die off at 140°F, but that doesn’t happen until the breadsticks are baking in the oven. Prior to that, the yeast are doing their thing – which results in a delicious breadstick!
Of course, the crowning glory of these Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks is the garlic butter that is brushed on top as soon as they come out of the oven. Olive Garden doesn’t include dried oregano in their garlic butter, but I added just a pinch. The oregano brings an extra layer of flavor, and I highly recommend it.
If you’re in the mood for some delicious breadsticks, then I highly recommend this recipe. I’ve made this one a dozen or more times over the years, and it’s never failed to please. Cheers! (And good luck eating just one of these warm breadsticks – it’s darn near impossible to do!)
Did you make these Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
Copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks
For the Breadsticks
- 2¼ tsp instant dry yeast i.e. 1 ¼-oz. packet
- 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1¼ cups + 2 Tbsp water
For the Garlic Topping
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- Using the bowl of a countertop mixer, add all of the breadstick ingredients (yeast, flour, softened butter, sugar and salt); stir until well combined.
- Add water; mix on low speed until dough comes together.
- Increase speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface. Divide dough into 16 equally sized pieces. (Tip: A kitchen scale is the easiest way to divide the dough, but you can also roll the dough into a 24” log and then cut into (16) 1½” pieces.)
- Roll each piece of dough into a 7” long breadstick. Place breadsticks 2” apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Cover dough lightly with plastic wrap or cloth. Place pans in a warm place and let rise for 45 minutes. (Tip: I like to let my dough rise in the oven. Just turn on the oven light but not the actual oven. It’ll be a nice warm spot for the dough to rise.)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. (Note: If you let the dough rise in the oven, make sure to remove the pans before preheating the oven!)
- Bake breadsticks for 13-15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
- While breadsticks are baking, make the garlic topping by whisking together the melted butter, kosher salt, garlic powder and oregano.
- Brush breadsticks with this mixture when they’re still hot out of the oven.
Looking for more tasty bread and breadsticks recipes? Check out these other favorites, too:
Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Breadsticks
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I’ve actually been to OG twice, because there was one in the city where my kids went to college, and it was one of many chain restaurant options. Not my favorite, but I do remember the breadsticks, and also that they had a pretty good bruschetta! Great recipe.
We don’t go to Olive Garden all that much either. After all, I like to cook (and bake) and that means we always have a ton of leftovers here in the house. But Olive Garden does make one heck of a breadstick! (Although, to be fair, I think these homemade ones are even better…)
Nothing like freshly made bread or breadsticks. I bet these smell as good as they taste. A bunch of these, some cheese and wine and I’m set! I bet it would be lovely with a big ol’ bowl of soup too 🙂 Can’t you tell that I’m hungry right now, LOL. Have a great week!!
Oh man, the house smells amazing whenever I bake a batch of these breadsticks, Dawn! The only problem is they disappear so quickly. 🙂 And, yes, add some cheese and a glass of wine, and you’ve got an awesome dinner right there!
Ha, did you ever feel that the bread (and butter) served at the restaurant was the best part of the meal? Sometimes it’s just because you’re hungry, but sometimes it’s simply more delicious than your entire order! Anyways, I’ve never heard of Olive Garden, but these breadsticks look delicious. In fact, they remind me one traditional Atlantic recipe I’ve been planning to make…forever (garlic fingers) – you will love them too (Even though they’re more like a pizza than breadsticks.)
I totally know what you mean about bread and butter at restaurants – I love bread, so of course I always look forward to the bread and butter that comes out first! I’m not familiar with garlic fingers, but they sound like something I would love. Looking forward to seeing that recipe sometime soon, Ben!
I haven’t had Olive Garden breadsticks in so long! But these look spot on, David! Well done!
Forget going out to get the Olive Garden breadsticks, Michelle…just make a batch at home! (The only problem is you seriously can’t eat just one…haha!)
How can anyone resist these garlicy, buttery bread sticks? When I go to Olive Garden I must admit, I eat my fair share! Having them at home means I don’t have to keep asking for more, plus homemade is always better! These will be perfect with the spaghetti I have planned for this week!
Homemade really is always better…and that’s totally the case for these buttery, garlicky breadsticks. They are amazing! And if you serve ’em warm? Oh man, there is no hope of having any leftovers. Haha! Thanks, Kathy! (Also, now I’m craving spaghetti and meatballs…)
Ive been to Olive Garden only once in my life but I do remember the breadsticks! Definitely love them, and now thanks to you, I can make it at home
Truth be told, we don’t go out to Olive Garden much ourselves. There’s a location right in our town, but I think we’ve gotten take out from there twice in 10 years. I just prefer to make the breadsticks at home instead! 🙂
David, I’m sure I’ve eaten my weight (which is no small matter), more than once, in OG breadsticks. I know what you mean about no having that endless supply for takeaway. When I traveled in the US for business, I always looked for a Hampton Inn that had an OG nearby so I could takeaway. I remember staying at one that had a takeaway box that held a bottle of wine and loads of breadsticks.
Great recipe and one I plan on making so as to have with copy cat OG minestrone soup…
Haha! I totally hear ya about eating your weight in breadsticks, Ron. They’re just so easy to eat…and then you realize you ate the entire basket! A takeaway box of wine and breadsticks sounds pretty heavenly to me. Yes! Add in a bowl of copycat minestrone soup, and you’ll feel like you are traveling for work again – except the bed will be more comfortable at the end of the night! 🙂
These breadsticks look spot on to Olive Garden’s, David! But I know that yours are even better! Such a perfect side for soups this time of year.
These really would be great for soups at this time of the year, Marissa! Or just open a bottle of wine and sit down with the entire pan. 🙂
Truth be told, Lil S and I have always gotten the salad and breadsticks when we’ve gone to The Olive Garden-oftentimes, nothing else. We haven’t been since the pandemic mainly cos, as you said, a takeout order does not involve an unlimited quantity of THOSE breadsticks – and now I don’t think we’ll be setting foot in there cos THIS recipe! Cannot wait to try this one out! Thank you so much David!
You know what? I can’t blame you one bit about ordering just the salad and breadsticks – that can easily be a meal in itself! I often order some sort of pasta dish, but 90% of it comes home in a doggy bag. I’m with ya on the eating out – we’ve been doing the same. But making these at home is WAY better! 🙂
I made these last night and they were a huge hit! Super easy and delicious. I plan on making them again later this week and have a question for you, David. After the dough rises for 40 minutes is it necessary to bake right away? I’d like to bake these for a dinner on Friday night and want them to be served hot when the rest of the meal is ready, but it may be hard to coordinate the timing. I was hoping to have the dough ready to go early and then place bake them later.
Hey Julie! First of all, I’m so glad these breadsticks were a huge hit in your family. Whenever we make these, I’m always amazed how quickly they disappear!
As far as your question about rising times, that’s a tricky one. Yeasted breads are always difficult to time for dinner. However, with that said, I think there are a couple of tricks you can use here to get the times to line up a bit better.
After you make the breadsticks and put them on a pan, you can refrigerate them to slow down the rising time. The yeast slows down in cold temperatures, so the dough won’t rise as quickly in the fridge. With this said, you’ll still need to let the dough rise – it won’t rise enough in the fridge alone.
Full disclosure: I haven’t done this with this recipe, so these times are an educated guess. You can make the dough earlier and then refrigerate it for 4-6 hours. Go ahead and shape the breadsticks and put ’em on a pan (lightly covered) before you put them in the fridge. Then just pull the pan out about ~1 hour before you want to bake the breadsticks. At this point, the dough might’ve risen a little bit, but the breadsticks should still look more or less the same as when you put them into the refrigerator. (If they rise too much in the fridge, then just flatten each one out and re-shape it.) Let the dough rise at room temperature (still lightly covered) for this hour. Then just bake as normal…and hope they don’t all disappear too quickly! 🙂
Let me know how this turns out. I’m fairly certain it will work well, but I just haven’t tried it with this recipe yet. (Anything longer – say overnight in the fridge – would be too long I’m afraid…)
My family loved it! I made a double batch and they were still gone within the hour.
It’s not letting me rate, but I’d give it 4/5
Thank you so much, Willow! And thanks for taking the time to leave a comment here, too. I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed these breadsticks – they are quite tasty!!
I was on bread at Olive Garden years ago baking or should I saying warming up the American iconic staple at dinner time. There’s a secret to the breadsticks that for one not homemade nor baked fresh. The breadstick at Olive Garden here in Hampton Roads area gets bread shipped from a bakery in Norfolk named Flowers. Secondly once the bread sticks arrive at Olive Garden well I at the time and those who currently do it simply just place the sticks on a tray and in oven, rotate warm again. After warm on two rotations of 40secs at 400 degrees Fahrenheit I was then instructed to slapped on literally a glob a whole lot of butter from a paintbrush fit for a kitchen then in finalization sprinkling a mix of garlic salt and Italian herbs on bread to only next arrive at your table in the restaurant.
The Olive Garden Fake bread!!!!
Hey Levar! Interesting notes about the ‘real’ Olive Garden breadsticks. I appreciate you sharing the insider’s knowledge here. As I was reading your comments, it made me think about bread and other baked goods in supermarkets. It’s a similar story. They might say ‘baked fresh in store’ but what they don’t tell you is the dough just comes in frozen and they pop it in the oven. We have these visions of bakers getting up early to start the bread for the day…but in reality, that’s not the case at all. I guess it’s more economical to make them at a commercial facility and then ship them out to stores (or to Olive Gardens).
Either way, I love this homemade version! It’s always a huge hit when we make a batch here.