Homemade Rye Bread

BakingBread

This homemade rye bread is light and soft inside with a crusty crust. Make it with or without caraway seeds. Great for reuben sandwiches, grilled cheese, and more!

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas and Elise Bauer

For as long as I knew my friend George he was an enthusiastic bread maker. Often when I visited his home in Carlisle, Massachusetts, he had a freshly baked loaf of rye bread for us to enjoy.

One time when George came to visit my family in Carmichael, I put him to work, showing me the way he makes his rye bread.

What Is Rye Bread?

Rye bread is simply bread that is made with rye flour. Rye has an earthy flavor, and using more or less of it in combination with other flours a loaf will give it more or less of that flavor. Rye bread is often made with additions like molasses and cocoa powder, which add color and flavor. Caraway seeds can be added as well, for an even more distinctive flavor.

While you can make a loaf that is made 100% rye, those tend to be quite dense and heavy. For a lighter loaf that still has good rye flavor, mix rye flour with bread flour, which helps form a better gluten structure within the dough.

As for this particular bread from George? It was wonderful. Lightly flavored, soft inside, with a crusty crust. My father doesn’t like caraway seeds so they were kept out. I love them so the next time I make this bread they’re going in.

George holding his rye bread

George holding his rye bread

Best Way to Learn to Bake Bread? Hands on!

I don’t think one can easily learn to make bread by reading about it.

It really helps to get your hands in it and learn directly from someone who can say, “See? This is the right consistency for the dough.” Bread making is something that you just have to practice. The more bread you make, the better you get at it.

That said, if you are interested in learning more about bread making, here are a few links that you may find useful:

A stack of slicked homemade rye bread slices on a board

Ways to Enjoy Rye Bread

Rye is, of course, essential for a good reuben sandwich or a classic liverwurst sandwich with pickled onions. It makes the perfect bread for a grilled cheese sandwich.

Have leftover rye bread that’s going stale? Make them into bread crumbs and freeze them to use later. You can sprinkle them over salads, casseroles, or this Hot Reuben Dip.

Storing and Freezing Rye Bread

Rye bread will keep for several days at room temperature if kept in a paper bag. To extend its life another few days, wrap it in a plastic bag instead.

Rye bread also freezes very well. Wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then store in a freezer bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven if desired.

Best homemade rye bread on a counter spread with butter

Love Baking Bread? Try These Recipes

Updated January 26, 2020 : We spiffed up this post with new photos and some extra info to make your next loaf extra-amazing. No changes to the original recipe. Enjoy!

Homemade Rye Bread Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Total Rising time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
  • Yield: Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons or 16 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (just barely warm to the touch)
  • 2/3 cup molasses (regular unsulphured; not blackstrap)
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 5 cups bread flour

Method

1 Dissolve the yeast: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the molasses. Put yeast mixture into a large metal bowl.

2 Make the dough: Add the caraway seeds, salt, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups of rye flour and then 2 cups of bread flour, mixing into the yeast mixture after each addition with a wooden spoon.

Add more bread flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is not so sticky and it is too hard to mix it with the wooden spoon. At that point, spread a half cupful of flour onto a large, clean, flat surface and put the dough onto the surface.

3 Knead the dough: Knead the dough by pressing down with the heel of your hand, stretching it, turning the dough a quarter-turn, pulling the dough back toward you and then pressing and stretching again. Knead additional bread flour into the dough until it reaches the right consistency. Knead for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

4 Let the dough rise: Spread some vegetable oil around a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning it so it gets coated in the oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5 Divide the dough: Gently press down on the risen dough so some of its air is released. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few turns and then divide it by cutting it in half with a sharp knife.

6 Shape the loaves: Shape each half into loaf. Place dough loafs into either oiled 8x4-inch bread loaf pans, or onto a flat baking sheet or peel that has been sprinkled with corn meal, depending if you want to cook the loaves in pans or directly on a baking stone. Cover with plastic or a damp cloth.

7 Let the loaves rise: Let the bread rise again, this time not doubling in volume, but rising by about half of its volume, about 30 to 45 minutes, half as long as the first rising. The dough should be peeking over the top of the loaf pan if using a loaf pan.

8 Heat the oven: If you are using a baking stone, place the stone in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F for at least half an hour before baking.

9 Bake the loaves: If baking on a stone and not in the pan, score the loaves a few times on the top of the dough right before putting it in the oven.

Put loaves in the oven. If you have a mister, mist the dough with a little water the first 10 minutes of baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until done. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Homemade Rye Bread

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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150 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Mai

    I replaced molasses with brow sugar and it still worked, although must have tasted slightly different. My first rye bread! I am so happy and thank you so so much for the simple and effective recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Ng shu tian

    Do I still need to use the molasses if my rye flour is dark?? Can I use instant dry yeast?

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Nancy Nagel

    This is the best rye bread I have ever had. I now walk past the bread isle at the store. I know I can make two loaves of much better bread than you can buy at the store if I were to sell it I would charge $10 a loaf!!!!it’s that good!!! Now I’m going to try the potato bread!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Dianna

    This is a lovely recipe. I followed the recipe exactly except for the flour. I used 2 cups of freshly ground rye weighed @ 135g each, 2 cups of freshly ground spelt @ 120 g each, and 3 cups of organic unbleached all-purpose flour weighed @ 120g each. I baked one in a stoneware loaf pan and the other in a French loaf bread pan. My loaves turned out light and made beautiful Reuben sandwiches!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Nancy

    I want to make this bread but I’d like weights for the flours instead of cups. I’ve read that 1 cup of rye flour only weighs 102 grams, where as bread flour has about 130g/cup. Please advise ie spooned, packed, weighed, etc.

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