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: