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Rye bread is a beloved ingredient at delis across the world. It adds a little something extra in terms of both flavor and texture to just about any sandwich. 

But you don’t need to go to a deli—or even to the supermarket—to get your hands on a delicious loaf of rye. Keep reading to learn how to make rye bread at home

What Is Rye and Rye Bread?

You’ve probably heard of all the most common grains, like wheat, oats, corn, barley, and quinoa. And while you might be familiar with rye bread, it may come as news that rye is simply another grain to add to that list. 

Rye is related to wheat and barley but was once considered the grain for the “lower classes,” since it’s known to grow well in poor-quality soil. It’s lower in gluten than wheat and is a good source of soluble fiber, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and potassium, which makes it a healthy ingredient. It also retains more of its nutrients than wheat because its grains are more difficult to refine.

Rye bread, then, is a type of bread made with flour produced from rye. Great rye bread tends to have an earthy, slightly sour flavor and a chewy, heavy texture. And it’s great for making sandwiches! 

Is it Healthier for You than Sourdough? 

Healthline names both sourdough and rye bread on their list of the healthiest types of bread. Each has its own healthy properties, and determining which is “healthier” actually has a lot to do with your personal needs and goals. 

Let’s talk about sourdough first. Relative to other breads, sourdough is easy to digest, thanks to the presence of prebiotics and probiotics. Sourdough also has a low glycemic index, meaning that it’s less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar that will leave you hungry before too long. One slice of sourdough only has 120 calories, 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and no fat.

And now rye bread! Rye is often considered more nutritious than breads made with wheat, because it has even less of an impact on blood sugar than other bread options. Rye bread has even been shown to lower a body’s insulin response. One slice of rye bread is estimated to have 60 calories, 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of fat. 

On the whole, rye does have more nutritious properties than sourdough, but that doesn’t mean you should cut sourdough out of your diet—especially if you have digestive issues. 

Is it Easier to Make than Sourdough?

Fun fact: recipes used in this tutorial (and this one too!) teach you how to make sourdough rye bread, so they actually integrate elements of making sourdough, namely the use of a starter. And since making or finding a starter is often the trickiest part of making a loaf of sourdough without rye flour, it would seem that the playing field between these two types of bread is actually pretty level. It’s not necessarily any easier than making sourdough, but it’s not much more challenging either. If you love the taste of rye, there’s no reason not to give it a try. 

Let’s get into how to make rye bread at home! 

Learn More Bread Basics

Simple Sourdough Bread + Rye Loaves

How to Make Rye Bread

Step 1: Get or Make a Starter 

bread starter in jar
Rye bread starts with, well, a starter. 

In preparation for making a loaf of rye bread, you’ll need a starter. You can find starters at many online or brick and mortar kitchen stores, but if you really want to get adventurous, you can also make your own. This process will take about a week, so plan ahead!

To make a starter for rye bread, mix ½ cup of dark rye flour with ¼ cup of warm water in a large jar until it has a pasty consistency. Cover it with a lid and let it rest in a warm spot. Check it every 24 hours. If you see bubbles, it means your starter is beginning to ferment, which is good news! 

On the third day, it’s time to start feeding the starter. Add ½ cup of rye flour and ¼ cup of warm water. Cover again and let it rest for another 24 hours. Continue to feed the starter for roughly seven days, or until it’s doubled in size. 

Step 2: Prepare Other Ingredients

dough recipe
Gather all of your ingredients before you mix. 

Here are the other ingredients you’ll need for homemade rye bread:

  • 68.8 ml of water
  • 260 grams of dark rye flour
  • 287.5 grams of rye starter
  • 16.9 grams of salt
  • 32.5 grams of barley malt

You can purchase dark rye flour and barley malt from any kitchen retailer. 

Step 3: Mix the Dough

mix in bowl
Rye bread does not require as much mixing as other breads. 

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Start with a wooden spoon. To bring the ingredients together, it might also be helpful to get your hands in there! 

Unlike other breads, rye bread does not need a lot of gluten, which means it doesn’t require a lot of mixing either. You only need to mix until the ingredients have come together enough to be shaped into a loaf in a tin. 

Step 4: Shape the Loaf 

bread in tins
Prepare the rye bread dough for the oven.

Grease two bread tins with oil. Split your bread dough into the tins, then push it down with your hand so that it’s evenly distributed in the tins. Beyond that, you won’t need to do a lot of shaping! 

Step 5: Proof the Dough

bread
When the dough looks like this, your loaves are ready for the oven. 

Cover the tins with a towel and leave them in a warm place until the dough has reached the top of the tins. That’s your signal that it’s time to bake!

Step 6: Bake!

rye braed
After 50 minutes in the oven and some cooling time, you can enjoy your homemade rye bread.

Preheat your oven to 230℉. Place your bread tins in a shallow tray filled with water. Bake for 35 minutes, then turn the tray around and bake for another 15 minutes.

If you remove the bread from the oven and you’re not sure that it’s ready, test it with a thermometer. The ideal temperature is about 200℉. 

Don’t let your dough stay in the tin for too long, because rye bread tends to stick. Run a knife along the edge of your tins to help the bread release from the sides. Let the bread cool overnight to make it easy to serve.

Rye Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 68.8 ml of water
  • 260 grams of dark rye flour
  • 287.5 grams of rye starter
  • 16.9 grams of salt
  • 32.5 grams of barley malt

1. Preheat the oven to 230℉. 

2. Mix ingredients with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Use your hands to incorporate the dough, just until it comes together. 

3. Split the dough into two bread tins greased with oil. Cover with a towel and let the dough proof in a warm place until it reaches the top of the tins. 

4. Set the tins in a shallow tray filled with water. Bake for 35 minutes, then turn the tray and bake for an additional 15 minutes. 

5. Remove the bread from the tins by using a knife to release it from the edges. Let it rest and cool overnight before slicing and enjoying. 

After some practice with the basic rye bread recipe, you might be ready to graduate to more specific versions, like German rye bread and Jewish rye bread. You might explore how to make marble rye bread or how to make dark rye bread. Rye bread pizza is even an option! Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, there are so many variations to investigate.

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