Nordic Whole-Grain Rye Bread Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Claus Meyer

Adapted by Julia Moskin

Nordic Whole-Grain Rye Bread Recipe (1)

Total Time
2 days
Read community notes

Scandinavian rye breads look nothing like the slices that clamp together the sandwiches at your neighborhood deli in New York. Made from whole grains and naturally risen, they are chewy, fragrant and deliciously dark. With butter and cheese, or as the base for avocado toast, they are amazingly satisfying. The taste and texture are addictive, and many enthusiasts also appreciate that rye bread contains more fiber and less gluten than wheat. This recipe, with a small amount of yeast, is quicker than the truly ancient version, which takes at least three days. Don't worry if the dough seems runny and sticky: That is typical of rye bread, which needs lots of water to soften the grain. —Julia Moskin

Featured in: Rye, a Grain With Ancient Roots, Is Rising Again

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Yield:2 large or 3 medium loaves

    For the Starter

    • cup/85 grams buttermilk, skyr or yogurt, at room temperature
    • 2cups/250 grams medium rye flour
    • ½ teaspoon/2 grams active dry yeast

    For the Grains

    • 2cups/340 grams cracked rye berries or coarse rye meal
    • 1cup/170 grams sunflower seeds

    For the Bread

    • 4cups/400 grams medium rye flour
    • 4teaspoons/20 grams kosher or coarse sea salt
    • 3tablespoons/40 grams malt syrup or molasses (not blackstrap)
    • ½ teaspoon/2 grams active dry yeast

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 servings)

1815 calories; 50 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 17 grams monounsaturated fat; 22 grams polyunsaturated fat; 304 grams carbohydrates; 50 grams dietary fiber; 39 grams sugars; 58 grams protein; 1499 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Nordic Whole-Grain Rye Bread Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    On Day 1, make the starter: In a medium-size bowl, mix ¾ cup warm water with the buttermilk or yogurt. Whisk flour and yeast together, add to the buttermilk mixture and use your hands to mix together until sticky and moist; add more warm water as needed. Cover tightly and set aside at cool room temperature overnight, or up to 24 hours.

  2. Step


    Also on Day 1, soak the grains: Mix 4 cups cold water with the rye berries (or meal) and sunflower seeds. Cover and set aside at cool room temperature overnight, or up to 24 hours.

  3. On Day 2, make the bread: Drain the soaked grains in a colander. Measure 35 ounces/1,000 grams of the grains and place in a deep bowl. Add 14 ounces/400 grams of the starter and mix well. (Any remaining starter can be saved to use with other bread recipes.) Add the flour, salt, malt (or molasses), yeast and 2 cups water. Mix dough firmly by hand to combine. The dough should be grainy, but quite runny and wet, almost like a thick batter. To achieve that texture, add cold water, ¼ cup at a time, mixing after each addition. To test: When a walnut-size piece of dough smeared on the rim of the bowl slides slowly and smoothly down the inside, like a snail leaving a trail, the dough it is wet enough.

  4. Step


    Thickly butter 3 medium or 2 standard-size loaf pans. Divide the dough evenly among the pans, filling them about half full. Cover and let rise at room temperature until dough almost fills pans, about 2 hours. (Dough will not rise more during baking.)

  5. Step


    Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake loaves for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 360 and bake until firm and glossy brown, 80 minutes to 2 hours more depending on size and moisture content of loaves. Let cool completely in the pans before turning out. Bread freezes well, and lasts for at least a week at room temperature, wrapped in paper.



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Cooking Notes


My Norwegian mother-in-law puts the dough in a cold oven, sets the temperature to 225 degrees F and lets it rise for 30 minutes. Then she turns the temp up to 350 F and lets the loaf bake until done (1 - 1 1/2 hours). Dense and delicious!


Never, ever did an instruction call for an accompanying video more than this one: "When a walnut-size piece of dough smeared on the rim of the bowl slides slowly and smoothly down the inside, like a snail leaving a trail, it is wet enough."


If you save the water you drain from the soaked grains you can use it as part of the water you add in the final mix. This might add nutrients that otherwise would go down the drain.

Julia Moskin

Dear readers,

I'm so sorry about trouble with this recipe; the moisture content of the dough is tricky. An initial blast of heat will help. Also, it's necessary to keep baking well after the temperature hits 210.

Step 5 should begin:

"Heat oven to 450 degrees. Bake loaves for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 360 and bake until firm and glossy brown, 80 minutes to 2 hours more depending on size and moisture content. Let cool..."

Thanks and sorry again


Dave Kerr

Medium Rye Flour? Is that White Rye Flour?


If you want to try this without having leftover leaven and grains, you can make the starter with:
138g water
66g buttermilk
194g rye flour
2 g yeast
For the grains, you can soak 234g cracked rye and 117g sunflower seeds in 650g water.


I live in Denmark, and I make this kind of bread a lot. An important tip -You should never try to slice this kind of bread until at least 12 hours after baking. It's also a good idea to wrap the warm loaf in a dishcloth and leave it out on the kitchen counter overnight after baking.
If you don't have any luck with this recipe, you might want to try the Danish cookbook author Trine Hanneman's:

Gary johnson

Second try worked! I used a lot less water than first time. More of a wet dough than a batter. ( No snail.) Let it rise at room temp all night. Baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then 360 degrees for 90 minutes to 220 degrees internal temp and left the pan in the cooling oven another night. Sliced bread next day. Very good. The learning experience and the taste and texture of this thread was worth all the work.


What are the dimensions of the recommended pans? "Medium" and "standard" are confusing.


Here's a helpful chart of pan sizes that I found:

According to King Arthur and others, a "standard" loaf pan is 4-1/2 inches x 8-1/2 inches, and holds 6 cups. (two of them = 12 cups) A 4 x 8 pan holds 4 cups. (3 of them = 12 cups)


I would just use 400 gms of a rye starter. If you already do sourdough just take 1/4 cup of your reg starter and feed with equal amounts rye flour and water for several days to change it from wheat to rye.


Found a different recipe with a picture that looked right. Didn't require sourdough. Was amazingly easy to make. Soaked rye berries overnight. Beautiful when it came out of oven but way crunchy. Rye needed to be simmered to soften. Nearly inedible as it was, i turned these lovely ingredients into porridge. Crumbled a slice into small pot. Added milk, raisins. Simmered until the darn rye berries were soft- 12 min. Yum! Your failure can be eaten! Keeps tightly wrapped in fridge for ages.


I made this bread using 400 g of ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter mixed with 400 g dark rye flour, the soaked grain/seeds, and some soaking water. No yeast. I filled two random loaf pans I had with the dough coming up half way before letting it proof at room temperature (75F) for 6 hours. The dough had risen to the top of the pan by the time it went into the oven. I baked as per instructions and the temp. of the loaves was 211F after 80 min. It came out delicious and looks like the picture.


Check out the Farine blog. She had a similar issue with the first loaf and photos of 2 attempts. She lists some changes suggested by Stanley Ginsberg who wrote the book "The Rye Baker."

susan eddy

My bread came out like a viking ship ballast for an Atlantic crossing. Humor in cooking.


Second try worked great. First i didn’t simply drain the grains. I squeezed another cup or more-of the liquid out. Secondly my kitchen is on the cool side. So i move the rise out near the woodstove and let it rise about three and a half hours. Delicious.

Jennifer Y

Was nervous about this based on comments in the reviews, but mine turned out great. I used coarse rye meal rather than cracked rye berries and added 1.5 cups of water rather than 2 because the meal had absorbed so much when soaked. Baked for 80 minutes. Turned out with excellent flavor and texture. When toasted, the crust is super crunchy and the inside still moist and lovely. Much better than I was expecting!

Tara S

Followed the instructions to a tee:-Starter was pretty thick. Used all the starter so as not to waste the remainder. -Used rye flakes.-Didn't add more water.-After 45 mins in the oven I noticed bread was pulling away from the sides of the pan. Checked and it was fully cooked. -Would have preferred more salt to my taste. Turned out just like the Danish rye from my local bakery :)


I only had whole rye, and ran it threw my vitamix to break it down a bit. I like a nuttier bread so I added an extra 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds and added a nut crust on top. Added the water gradually to the dough til texture was as described. Didn't need all the water. Turned out amazingly delicious! It was so easy, just takes time to prep and waiting for it to cool! I enjoy it sliced thin and well toasted.


Followed the tip from Anna about starting with 1.5 cups of water and adding bit by bit and it worked perfectly first time. Also used the water from soaking for added flavor. Used King Arthur Baking Harvest Grains Blend as a sub for rye berries and sunflowers seeds. Looks picture perfect.


Disastrous. Separation of crust and inner, which is just a sad gloopy mess. This recipe should be taken down. A waste of ingredients and efforts.


Maggie that’s wrong. The recipe amounts are quite precise. No leftovers.

M Montgomery

I’ve made this recipe twice now, and it’s a great hit. I do have comments. There seems to be a typo in the amount of the medium rye flour, and it should read 500 grams for the four cups of flour. Also, couldn’t it be more efficient? Why drain the moisture out of the mash and then add water back? Couldn’t this all be measured accurately to begin with ?


Despite the reviews I attempted to make this. I reduced the salt to 15g, and with only 1 loaf pan timing adjustments were made.First loaf I let rise in pan on counter for 1h30, then in fridge for 5h, then room temp for 45m. After baking, top crust was completely separated from the loaf by a gap and the loaf was slightly underbaked.Second loaf stayed in bowl in fridge overnight. Put in pan, left at room temp for an hour, then baked for 1h30 at 350. No separation and looks much better than 1st


I soaked the cracked rye berries for 24 hours as suggested and when I went to make the bread, the berries were covered in mold! Eat that point, I threw them out and gave up.


Starter was too stiff so I used 1C instead of 3/4C like it says. I used my two "Standard" sized pans (didn't appreciate the vaguery but I went off another comments suggestion and used two 4.5x8.5s) I should have used two of the larger sized, or even three of the regulars! These rose quickly and still have more oomf. I transferred the dough from one of the 4.5x8.5 into a 5.5x9.5 but I wish I split it three ways. These two pans are too small to hold all the dough.


This bread is delicious. One question. The dough rises right to the edge of the pan, as it should, but in the course of baking it sinks back down, and the center slumps. What can I do to stop this from happening?

My lack baking skills exposed

I carefully followed measurements and ended up with a lot of extra seeds and starter. A bit of a waste.Then after baking for what I thought was the right time was soggy and uncooked inside. Tried to recover by baking longer, cutting off crusts and baking interior again. What a mess!At least the crusts tasted good


I had a stunning, thickly-sliced (!) Scandinavian tartine at Bellecour Bakery in Minnesota. I was craving it, selected this recipe, and read all the comments (thank you!). I accidentally baked it at 450 degree for 30 minutes, then 75 min at 360 until 210F. It's moist and well baked. The thin shell crust is maybe tougher than I would expect, and I would reduce salt next time. It's not Bellecour, but it's gorgeous, nutritious, and moist. I will continue to experiment. Video please.


My first ever attempt to make bread and what a sad disaster it was! Sunken in the center and gummy. Tried rebaking for 45 minutes at 350, now on dehydrate in my Breville. On a positive note, I made some awesome knekkebrod out of the remaining starter and grains. Added about 1/4 c more of rye flour, 1/8 cup each of pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds & sesame seeds, rolled it flat between parchment, sprinkled with salt & baked for about an hour at 325.

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Nordic Whole-Grain Rye Bread Recipe (2024)


How to eat Nordic rye bread? ›

Danish rye bread is often enjoyed in traditional open-faced sandwiches known as smørrebrød. These sandwiches are typically topped with a variety of ingredients such as pickled herring, cold cuts, cheese, and spreads. Additionally, Danish rye bread can be served alongside soups, stews, or as a side to accompany a meal.

Is it okay to eat rye bread every day? ›

If you do not have any dietary restrictions, rye bread can be a delicious and nutritious part of your diet. Just be sure to choose rye bread made with whole grains and limit your portion size to control your calorie intake. Something you can also do as part of a healthier lifestyle is to wear diabetic socks.

What is the most popular bread in Denmark? ›

Ask any Dane living abroad what Danish food they miss most and they'll respond: Danish rye bread! The first recipe of Danish rye bread goes back to 1703, but Danes have eaten rugbrød for more than a thousand years. Today, rye bread is still an absolute essential in Nordic cuisine.

Why is my rye bread not rising? ›

All rye breads need some wheat flour in order to properly rise, because rye is low in air-trapping gluten, so the real question comes down to the ratio of rye to white all-purpose flour.

How to eat whole-grain rye bread? ›

There's your everyday sandwich or open-faced toast: try a Reuben, turkey club, chickpea salad, egg sandwich, topped toast, tuna/patty melt, or BLT. But don't let the culinary creativity stop there. Rye bread can be added to stuffings and meatballs, or made into croutons, breadcrumbs, and even crispy crackers.

Are you supposed to toast rye bread? ›

All Good Rye bread is made to keep a long time and to be toast. Pumpernickel, volkenbrot and country rye are all good keepers and great toast.

Who should not eat rye bread? ›

Those vitamins and nutrients that are part of black bread are absorbed slightly worse than they are in wheat. As a result, only in a well-planned diet, a rye loaf will be a better source of vitamins than a white one. If the body has an individual gluten intolerance, this product should not be consumed.

Which rye bread is healthiest? ›

Dark rye bread

Dark rye is a better choice, since it's less processed and usually contains more fiber and nutrients. Pumpernickel is one type of dark rye bread. Different types and brands contain different amounts of rye. Try to find options with wholegrain rye as the first ingredient.

Can diabetics eat rye bread? ›

Therefore, rye bread or whole-wheat bread is recommended to limit hyperglycemia. With the recipe for good bread for diabetics, you should replace it with whole grains, almond flour, flax meal.... These are ingredients that ensure a healthy balanced diet and make them healthy. stabilize your health.

Why do Scandinavians eat rye bread? ›

The vikings were the first people who started to grow this type of grain, because they were of the opinion that rye gave them increased amounts of strength. Besides, rye was used in both porridge and breads, and by the middle Ages, rye was the grain most often used in Norway.

What is the Danish snack on bread? ›

A traditional Danish food classic: Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød is simply a slice of rye bread with various combinations of toppings such as pickled herring, roast beef and eggs topped with mayo and shrimps.

Should you knead rye bread? ›

Kneading and baking

There's not much point in extensive kneading, because there's so little gluten to develop in a rye bread dough.

How to tell when rye bread is done? ›

The very best thing to do is get a probe thermometer. Bread is around 98 degrees C on the inside when it is done. Rye bread is sticky by nature. It is a little less sticky when it is made with a sourdough starter, rather than wheat.

Can you freeze rye bread? ›

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.

How to eat finnish rye bread? ›

It is also considerably less sweet than Swedish rye bread, and is commonly enjoyed as a sandwich, dipped in soup or simply by itself, topped with a layer of butter.

How is rye bread served? ›

For example, smoked salmon and cream cheese go great with rye bread, and so do a variety of deli meats such as corned beef or pastrami. A reuben sandwich is also traditionally made with rye bread. Of course, it's also great toasted with butter gon the side of a diner-style breakfast with fried eggs.

How do you eat Udi bread? ›

A: I freeze all my Udis bread. Then I pull it out 1 slice at a time and lightly toast it for sandwiches. You could set out several slices at a time in a container if you're going to eat them within a few days.


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