Homemade Rye Bread

Homemade Rye Bread has great flavor thanks to honey, caraway seeds and a long slow rise. Start this rye bread recipe night before to have fresh bread for lunch. 

a slice loaf of rye bread in a basket

I’m a huge fan of rye bread in just about any form. If you’ve got a bread starter I highly recommend my Sourdough Rye Bread, Sourdough Rye Crisp Bread or Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread. I also recommend this recipe for Marble Rye Bread.

I’m kind of picky about Rye Bread, so it’s always homemade in our house.

But this rye bread recipe is so easy there’s no reason not to bake it yourself.

If you want fresh bread for lunchtime, start the night before and your bread is half way done when you get out of bed. 

And that overnight rest is not only good for you, it’s also really good for the taste and texture of your Rye Bread.

Ingredients

Ingredients for homemade rye bread in bowls

Ingredient Notes

  • Rye Flour does not have the gluten forming properties of wheat flour. Use any type of rye flour in this recipe, light, medium or whole grain. Stone ground rye flour has an especially nice flavor and texture.
  • Bread Flour is a wheat flour with a high protein content. Higher protein means better gluten development.
  • Instant Yeast I prefer instant yeast to rapid rise yeast for a slightly slower rise.
  • Honey adds the slightest sweet note which works very well with the flavor of rye flour.
  • Caraway Seeds add the characteristic “rye bread” flavor, but they are optional.

How to make Rye Bread:

A bowl with rye bread sponge. Adding salt and honey to rye bread sponge.
.
  • Combine the water, yeast, rye flour and 1 cup of the bread flour in a mixer bowl. Set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  • During the resting time the sponge will activate the yeast, the flour will absorb water, and the gluten will start to form.
  • Add the salt and honey to the sponge. Add the rest of the bread flour.
a bowl of rye bread dough before and after kneading.
  • After adding the rest of the bread flour the dough will be quite sticky and shaggy.
  • After 5 minutes of kneading the dough should gather on the hook and clear the sides of the bowl.
a bowl of rye bread dough before and after rising.
  • Let the dough rise 1x, then punch it down. Put the dough back into the bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  • By the morning the dough should have risen again.
  • Sprinkle caraway seeds on top of the dough. Knead the seeds into the dough and shape the loaf.
  • Cover the loaf and set aside to rise until doubled in volume.
  • Once the loaf has doubled in size, make 5 slashes across the top of the loaf, brush it with egg white, and sprinkle with the rest of the caraway seeds.
a loaf of rye bread on a cooling rack.
  • Bake until the loaf is golden brown and the internal temperature of the loaf is 200F.

A timeline for making Overnight Rye Bread:

  • Mix the dough the evening before baking day. Refrigerate the dough before going to bed.
  • Take the dough out first thing in the morning and shape the loaf.
  • Leave the loaf at room temperature to rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
  • The dough can be baked the same day it is made. The entire process, including cooling time, takes about 5-6 hours. To have bread ready for lunch, start before 7am.
  • If you use rapid rise yeast your rising times will be quite a bit faster, possibly half the time. But remember, the longer rise creates a better tasting loaf.

How to Enjoy Rye Bread

A slice of fresh rye bread slathered with good butter is a simple and perfect treat. But there are many ways to enjoy this bread.

Rye Bread is essential for the classic Reuben Sandwich. Take two slices of rye bread and layer them with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island or Russian dressing. Grill the sandwich and enjoy.

Rye bread is also traditional in a tuna melt. Stuff two slices of rye bread with tuna salad and swiss cheese. Grill until the cheese is melty. Yum.

How to Know when the Rye Bread is Done

The best way to know if your rye bread is done it to use a probe thermometer to check the internal temp. When the center of the bread registers 200F the bread is ready.

If you don’t have a probe thermometer you can try and judge if the bread is done by the color and weight of the loaf. A perfectly baked loaf of rye bread should be golden brown and will sound hollow if you tap the bottom of the loaf.

How to Store Rye Bread

Rye bread keeps extremely well at room temperature for 2-3 days. For longer storage slice the loaf, store the slices in a freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Defrost or toast the bread as needed.

Pro Tips for making Rye Bread in a Dutch Oven

  • Instead of forming the loaf into a football shape, form the dough into a round and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat a Dutch oven in oven while the bread rises.
  • Remove the preheated pan from the oven and remove the lid. Use the parchment paper to lift the loaf into the Dutch oven. Replace the lid on the pot and slide it into the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven. The loaf should be well risen and pale in color. Continue baking another 20 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned and beginning to crisp.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. Use the parchment to lift the loaf out of the pan. Use the parchment to place the loaf directly onto the rack in the oven. Bake another 5-10 minutes until the loaf is deeply browned and very crisp. Total baking time is about 40-50 minutes.

More Artisan Bread Recipes

a reuben sandwich on a wooden tray
Fresh rye bread with Swiss, pastrami and sauerkraut. The perfect deli sandwich at home.

If you love this rye bread recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a sliced loaf of Overnight Rye Bread
Print Recipe
4.56 from 176 reviews

Homemade Rye Bread Recipe

Homemade Rye Bread has great flavor and texture. Start the night before to have fresh bread for lunch. This recipe makes one large loaf.
Prep Time45 minutes
Bake Time25 minutes
Rising Time8 hours
Total Time9 hours 10 minutes
18 servings
Save Recipe

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces warm water (2 cups)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 5 ounces rye flour (1 cup, see note)
  • 16 ¼ ounces bread flour (3 ¼ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 egg white

Instructions

  • Combine 16 ounces warm water, 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast, 5 ounces rye flour and 1 cup (5 oz) of the bread flour in a mixer bowl. Mix until a thick batter is formed. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  • If you're using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook. Add 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons table salt and and remaining bread flour. The dough should begin to clear the bottom of the bowl and form a ball around the hook. If the dough is extremely sticky sprinkle in a few more tablespoons of bread flour.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. If working by hand, stir in as much of the flour as you can then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes.
  • The dough may be a little sticky so keep your hands well floured. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl.
  • Rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough, cover tightly and refrigerate over night or up to 24 hours. To bake the same day you can skip the refrigeration step and go straight to shaping the loaf.
  • Remove the bowl from refrigerator and dump the cold dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with 1 tablespoon caraway seeds and and knead to distribute the seeds.
  • Knead the dough into a smooth ball then taper the two ends for form a football shape. Place the loaf on a wooden peel or sheet pan sprinkled liberally with corn meal. (It you plan to bake in a Dutch oven see notes below)
  • Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size and the dough springs back slowly when poked, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 °F. If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat.
  • Make 5 diagonal slashes in the dough with a single edge razor or very sharp knife. Brush the dough with egg white and sprinkle with another tablespoon of caraway seeds. Slide the dough onto the preheated stone or slide the sheet pan into the oven.
  • The bread is ready when the internal temperature of the loaf is 200 °F. Baking time is approximately 25 minutes.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

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Notes

If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
To bake rye bread in a Dutch oven, instead of forming the loaf into a football shape, form the dough into a round and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat a Dutch oven in oven while the bread rises.
Remove the preheated pan from the oven and remove the lid. Use the parchment paper to lift the loaf into the Dutch oven. Replace the lid on the pot and slide it into the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven. The loaf should be well risen and pale in color. Continue baking another 20 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned and beginning to crisp.
Remove the pan from the oven. Use the parchment to lift the loaf out of the pan. Use the parchment to place the loaf directly onto the rack in the oven. Bake another 5-10 minutes until the loaf is deeply browned and very crisp. Total baking time is about 40-50 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 2g | Calories: 131kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 261mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating




67 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious. My first time making rye bread, I just took it out of the oven 45 min ago and tried a slice. I’m very happy with the caraway rye flavour, great soft crumb and crunchy crust. I will definitely make again often. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. 5 stars
    Very delicious! This bread took me a bit more time to make as a beginner, but it was worth it. Only thing is I’d add more caraway seeds to the dough than the recipe states . This recipe is a keeper!

  3. 5 stars
    Best rye bread recipe I’ve made so far. I use medium rye flour. And I grind the caraway seeds in a coffee grinder. I’ve made it on my stones and also in the Dutch Oven….great each time. A lot of bread for just one person though. So will experiment on the best way to divide the dough and make smaller loaves that retain that great flavor and moistness.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite rye recipe. The process was easy and the bread looked fabulous coming out of the oven. I baked it per your instructions for a Dutch oven but at 475 for the covered part and 425 for the remainder. Thank you for sharing your recipies!

  5. 5 stars
    If your looking for more of a deli rye/Jewish rye flavor an easy fix is to add some onion powder,dash whorsteshire and replace a tablespoon or so of the water with pickle juice.You can also add a tsp or so of Dijon for extra zip! This is a good rye as is or with adding the extras! If I’m making Reubens I use the add-ins. All depends what im making it for? Good luck!( I make a sh*t ton of bread! Lol)

  6. Hands down one of the best overnight bread recipes out there. My dough came out extremely wet, nowhere near kneadable. Maybe because I let the initial proof go for almost 2 hours.. I went on regardless, not adding too much flour and left it as a soggy ball for the long rise. It got left in the refrigerator for 2 days (oops). But after all that came out amazing!! I added coarse salt on top which added a nice twist..

  7. Made this today and it tastes great and looks beautiful. I got a great rise too! Thanks for a great recipe.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi – I have just begun my first attempt at your recipe & am curious …… can the caraway be added when kneading the last of the bread flour before the rise? Thank you

  9. Have made this twice now and it is the best rye bread! I did the overnight and baked in the oven on my baking steel. Couldn’t get caraway seeds so I used fennel ( only used half as I don’t like seeds on the outside of my rye bread..) made the loaves to go with the Montreal smoked meat that my husband is curing as I type.. I’ll be freezing the loaves for the smoking day.
    Thank you for such a great recipe. I’ve made others with not great results.

  10. 5 stars
    Loved this! I followed the directions and cooked it in the dutch oven. I forgot the egg wash but it turned out fine without it. Is lighter than some other rye breads, but that’s what I was looking for. I did not have a problem with the cooking times provided as I see others have. This was easy and is simple enough for me to prepare the night before and bake in the morning. Delicious with eggs and blistered tomatoes! This recipe is a keeper for me.

    1. Thanks, Christine. The lightness of the bread will also vary based on the type of rye flour used. If you use dark rye flour the bread will be darker than if you use light rye flour. If you want a dark bread look for whole grain or dark rye flour.

  11. 4 stars
    The bread tastes pretty good, but it isn’t quite rye in my opinion. Your loaf will most likely need a little extra time in the oven. I imagine this would be great on a sandwich, and I will be buttering this up and making it my breakfast in the morning.

  12. 5 stars
    Best rye bread recipe I have found! Didn’t need the last 1/4 cup flour and baked an extra 10 minutes. No surprise, as flours and ovens can vary. Did the over night method, which worked well. Will definitely make this excellent bread again.

  13. 4 stars
    Didn’ t put in caraway seeds. The dough seemed to need a lot of flour to pull onto the dough hook. Bread tastes good. It’s a little more light tasting than I prefer. I baked it in a Dutch oven, and expected a tougher crust. Perhaps the egg wash caused that. Next time I’ll leave out the egg wash. Nice looking and tasting loaf.

  14. 5 stars
    This bread was awesome. Well with the work and the wait. We went through half of it with dinner. I’m starting another loaf in the morning. I did the Dutch oven method and it came out perfect.

  15. 5 stars
    I made this loaf following the refrigerator directions. The only negative thing I can say – is the oven baking directions say about 25 minutes at 400 degrees F on a baking stone. I ended up cooking it 50 minutes to get the internal temp to 200. The flavor and rise is awesome though.

    1. Glad you liked the bread. It is a personal favorite. The baking time will vary based on many factors, the temp of the dough, the accuracy of your oven temp, the size and shape of the loaf just to name a few.

  16. loved the recipe! apart from not being able to find caraway seeds in the grocery store…simply wonderful.. terrific directions, easy to follow.

    1. @lorene, check out a Bulk Store or European deli. Fyi, I use ground caraway. I buy caraway seeds and grind in my coffee/spice grinder so it’s fresh. My hubby is not a fan of caraway but I love it so by grinding he isn’t bothered with seeds and I still get the flavour. Also, Instead of egg was I use cornstarch and water (just a bit of cornstarch) so you get the shine. The crust is crunch when open to the heat. I also use dark rye.

  17. 5 stars
    This bread is fantastic. Our new Christmas bread with ham and cheese sandwiches. With chili ! Yum
    It freeze incredibly well also… If you have leftovers. LOL

  18. Hi! You mentioned there are instructions for baking the rye bread in a dutch oven but I’m not seeing them. Can you share them with me please? Thanks!

    1. Hi Julie, there is a section in the body of the article describing how to bake in a Dutch oven. I’ve also added those instructions to the Notes section of the recipe card.

  19. Hi Eileen,
    I’ve been searching for a rye bread recipe.
    I wonder can I use dark rye flour for this recipe?

  20. I am trying to reduce “ white” flour. Has anyone subbed Whole wheat flour for some or all? I will try 1/2 and half!

    1. @Mary, you know whole wheat flour is just less milled, right? If it’s an allergy issue this recipe won’t work for you BUT if it’s a sensitivity (which I have) you may be able to tolerate 2 pieces per day. I use dark rye flour and it works for me. A friend is recently very sensitive to all-purpose flour (AP) and finds sourdough bread works for her. Good luck!

    2. I’ve heard people with gluten sensitivity are using eikhorn sp? Flour with lots of luck! It doesn’t seem to bother them as much? I only heard about it a few weeks ago?

  21. Made this today and it came out great. The only thing I might do differently next time is add the caraway seeds along with the bread flour. It was difficult to knead the seeds into the cold dough. This recipe is a keeper.

    1. @Nancy, try using ground caraway, about 1/3 less. Mix it in with the flour. It’s available in most stores, European delis and bulk stores. I buy whole caraway seeds and grind in coffee/spice grinder. Good luck!

  22. Hi
    This recipe sounds really great
    But I’m a bit confused, do u not use any starter dough? As that would make this recipe so much easier:-)
    Hope to hear from u
    Many thx
    Gabrielle

  23. This was a great recipe thank you ! I followed the directions using my Dutch oven and it came out perfect! I wish I could add a pic of my loaf to show you but thanks again!

  24. Thank you so much for this recipe!! I usually bake Levy-Beranbaum’s Deli Rye, which is certainly tasty but an all day affair and also uses sugar in addition to the honey. I was looking for something I could bake over 2 days, with less sugar, and I am so glad I stumbled upon your recipe. This will be my go-to from now on, it is delicious and as beautiful as a bakery artisan bread. Also a huge thumbs up from hubby who is a native New Yorker and knows good rye bread. 🙂

    1. Ads are the only way I get paid for the FREE content I provide for you. I spent countless hours developing, testing, photographing and publishing this recipe and you get it for the low price of scrolling past a few ads. Not only that, I give you a “jump to recipe” button which takes you directly to the recipe in case you find the scrolling that onerous.

  25. I have used a near identical recipe and instead of warm water I make it with 2 cups of “Caf-Lib the uncoffee (Europeans call it children’s coffee) because of the malt in it or you can use a table spoon of malt powder with the flour. I also use cake yeast mecause I like the taste better.

    1. @Angie parenteau, I buy DME (Diastatic Malt Extract) from the u-brew beer and wine shop. Has really upped my yeast doughs!

  26. Hello. I read your recipe and I wonder why you are using a starter AND yeast. I have 2 sourdough ‘starters’ one regular white flour and one is a rye starter. Using these starters I do not add more yeast since the starter contains wild yeast already. Adding ‘commercial yeast’ seems like negating the benefits of using a wild yeast starter.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Brian. I sometimes use a little commercial yeast along with the starter to speed up the process just a bit. I also like the extra lift from the tiny bit of yeast. You’ll certainly get a wonderful bread without using the commercial yeast. But the rising times will be longer. If you have the time you can eliminate the dry yeast and make the bread with just a starter and you’ll have a wonderful loaf.

  27. Thanks Eileen,
    I’ll have a look at your post shortly to see what comes closest to cracked wheat.
    I baked another loaf of Rye bread because I had visitors dropping in for lunch yesterday and we managed to flatten the last loaf. So I baked another one last night and this morning. I used molasses as we’ve run out of honey right now.
    Looks and tastes fantastic – a shade darker in colour.
    kind regards, Paul

  28. Hi Eileen,
    Thanks for posting my pic on your Facebook page – I’m flattered!
    I had a look at your Cracked Wheat Bread. It does look very tempting. I will have to scout around to see if I can lay my hands on the right ingredients. Maybe it is what is known as ‘crushed wheat’ or possibly whole wheat flour in our local stores.
    On our supermarket shelves we typically seem to have: white bread flour, brown bread flour, nutty wheat and whole wheat flour. Then, of course Rye flour in some stores.

    Off the bread scene, I have been baking plum turnovers with much admiration from family and friends. During late Summer we get these lovely large black plums with small stones. Their taste is nice and tangy – a bit of sugar is added however. The pastry is based on white bread flour, milk, butter, egg and dry yeast.
    As it is fall now the plums won’t be available anymore and I’ll have to switch to Apple turnovers!
    With kind regards.

    1. The bread was a hit on my Facebook page, as I’m sure it was at home. “Crushed Wheat” sounds like it might be similar to cracked wheat. I have photos of the cracked wheat in the post you can look and see if they’re the same.

      The plum turnovers sound wonderful.

  29. Thanks for the photo. It looks great. Nice crumb and crust on the bread. If you like this recipe you might want to try my “Cracked What Bread” next.

    I posted the photo of your loaf on the Baking Sense Facebook page.

  30. 5 stars
    Hi Eileen,
    Success!!
    The bread is the best rye bread that I have ever baked. Texture great and tastes soo good.
    Thanks for your great help.
    Yes, you are right. I am contacting you from South Africa. We spent 7 weeks in Texas from Thanksgiving and into January this year, visiting our daughter and family of 5 grandchildren. It was great fun baking all sorts of breads for them and yes, a loaf was flattened in a day. That way I could keep going whilst here with just the two of us, it takes a while before our frozen bread is used up, justifying baking a new loaf.
    I’ve taken pics but just don’t know how to attach them.

    1. I’m so glad you had success. My husband and I are empty-nesters so we usually have to freeze left over bread when I bake. If you are on any social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you can post a photo and tag me.

  31. 4 stars
    Thanks for your quick response, Eileen!

    I’ve got one on the go right now. Followed your recipe and method. Just waiting for it to prove first time and then I’ll knead it down and place it in the refrigerator over night. Let’s see what happens tomorrow! – I’ll let you know.

    Just one observation: I’ve used up all the bread flour portion but the dough is still rather soft and sticky. (much softer than what I have made before). I needed to use a little flour to get it from the mixing bowl and to be able to handle it and place it into the oiled second bowl. Does that sound about right?

    1. Hi Paul,
      It is a fairly sticky dough. But as it proofs it should get easier to handle. Flours can vary by country (it looks like you’re not in the US?). So if it’s still too sticky to handle in the morning knead in a little more white flour.

  32. 4 stars
    Your bread looks just like what I would like to produce!
    Admittedly, I have not given it the overnight slow rise treatment but rather used warm ingredients and let it prove in a slightly pre-warmed top oven (just slightly warm to the touch). First rise for about 1.5 hours then knead down and form into a loaf. Second rising about 1 hour. Sour dough starter and additional dry yeast.
    Equal parts Rye and white bread wheat flour (300gm each). I add about 30 gm sunflower seed oil to 1kg dough.
    The consistency of the dough is firm enough to knead and requires a sprinkling of flour to prevent sticking to the board surface.

    Here comes my question:
    How do I prevent the loaf spreading sideways? My loaves always turn out fairly flat and the texture is not springy. Am I allowing it to over-prove?

    1. Hi Paul, It’s hard to say what the problem is without seeing the entire recipe and process. So much about bread making is dependent on time and temperature. My first thought is that putting oil in the dough could weaken the gluten. It doesn’t look like a lot of oil, but that might be part of the problem. You could also try using slightly more bread flour than rye flour.

        1. I make this bread all the time and don’t have a problem shaping the loaf. Make sure to allow the sponge to work before mixing the dough, this will help the water absorb into the flour and start the gluten development. Be sure to use bread flour, not all purpose flour. Bread flour will absorb more water than ap flour. Also knead the dough for a good 3-5 minutes to develop the gluten. A strong, moist dough will produce a bread that is moist and light. This is a stickier dough and, as noted in the recipe, you can sprinkle in a little more flour as you knead to make it easier to handle.