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How To Make Hearty Rye Bread with Your Bread Machine

Sneak Peek: Learn how to make Hearty Rye Bread with a recipe that lets your bread machine do the hard work of mixing and kneading. Shape by hand and bake the loaf in your oven to ensure a dependable outcome.

One of my readers taking my FREE bread machine email course asked for a dense rye bread recipe at her husband’s request.

Since I didn’t have one, I started experimenting with rye bread with the same enthusiasm my grandson displayed after discovering he could turn lights off and on.

hearty rye bread--sliced

With the pandemic in full swing, regular flour was scarce, not to mention rye flour. So this project was a challenge and a bit expensive.

Finally, I found a winner after too many tunnels and ugly cracks, but lots of tasty toasted cheese-on-rye-bread sandwiches. I hope my reader’s husband is satisfied and that you will be, too, when you get a chance to try it.

This rye bread is dense and hearty by design. It is excellent for a loaded sandwich or a panini as it is sturdy enough to hold many ingredients. However, don’t expect a soft, squishy loaf. The crust is slightly chewy, even more so if you glaze it.

HEADS UP! Start this recipe the day before you want to bake it. The extra time equals more flavor.

Recipe inspiration:

This particular recipe solved three of my biggest challenges with rye bread. I couldn’t be happy until I could bake a loaf that would satisfy these requirements.

1. A dense but consistently fine texture without a lot of holes or tunnels

2. A loaf that wouldn’t burst or crack in an irregular pattern on top despite deep slashes before baking

image of a leaf
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3. A round loaf or boule that bakes up high enough to make nice slices for sandwiches

Please keep reading to find out my solutions to these challenges.

But first, let’s talk about rye flour and what makes it different from wheat flour.

What you need to know about rye flour:

  1. It’s high in fiber.

One slice of rye bread itself has about two grams of fiber, which is not too shabby for bread. “Its high-fiber content makes it a heart-healthy grain good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol,” Sussi says. “Its slow transit time [in your digestive system] and ability to be only partially digested is beneficial for gut health.”

2. Rye flour prolongs freshness. A homemade loaf of rye bread will stay fresh for about three days. I’ve read that European bakers used to add small amounts of rye flour to many of their loaves simply as a preservative. Bread made with 100% rye flour will reportedly keep for weeks.

3. Rye is not gluten-free. Rye flour is high in gliadin but low in glutenin. Therefore, it has a lower gluten content than wheat flour. However, it also contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber. This quality is going to have an impact on any bread that contains rye flour.

Rye bread dough tends to spread horizontally as it rises instead of vertically. While the flat shape doesn’t affect the taste, it won’t make for a great sandwich shape or a pretty loaf. The higher the percentage of rye flour in your recipe, the more it will spread.

4. Rye flour makes bread dough sticky. That’s why a bread machine is ideal for mixing up this recipe.

rye dough mixing inside of the bread machine

“Because of the sap-like gum that appears naturally in rye, and because of its water-binding capacity, rye doughs will always feel moist and sticky when you test them with your finger. This makes it easy to add too much flour during kneading, so be careful not to add more than a tablespoon or two more than the measurement given in the recipe.

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine CookbookBeth Hensberger

5. It’s crucial to bake rye bread thoroughly. The center of the bread should reach 200˚-207˚F (93˚C). Use a quick-read thermometer, if possible. If you don’t check and end up taking it out too soon, your bread is likely to be doughy and sticky in the middle.

6. Allow plenty of time for rye bread to cool before slicing or wrapping it. Allow more time for rye bread because of its high moisture content. Cool for at least one hour. Some say three hours.

Solutions to three common problems with rye bread:

1. How can I keep from getting holes and tunnels in my rye bread?

Use a bread machine to mix and knead the dough. You don’t have to worry about over-kneading, which is easy to do with a stand mixer. You also don’t have to worry about under-kneading, which is tempting when doing it by hand.

using hands to press out the dough

As you press the dough into a flat circle before forming the dough into a ball, be sure to press all the air bubbles out first. This process is more straightforward if you let the dough rest 10-15 minutes after taking it out of the bread machine pan.

2. How do I keep free-form rye bread from flattening out while baking?

rye bread shown after second rising in a small OXO mixing bowl--done to reduce the possibility of blow-outs

Use a container like a mixing bowl or round casserole dish with steep sides to force the dough to rise upward during the second rise instead of spreading outward. You could call it “Paula’s modified version of a proofing basket or banneton.”

When you dump the dough onto your prepared baking sheet before baking, use your hands to push the dough to the middle and upward carefully. (See video.)

Quickly slash the loaf on top. Then, immediately place the prepared loaf into your preheated oven before it has time to spread out.

3. How do I keep rye bread from cracking unpredictably on top?

Even though I slashed the top of my rye bread with a sharp knife, many of the loaves would crack and “burst out” in other places while baking. It must be a common problem because I see it in many pictures of rye bread on the internet.

The solution:

When you use a proofing basket, banneton, or steep-sided bowl for the second rise (as seen above), place the bread dough ball into the bowl with the smooth part of the ball of dough at the bottom of the container (the part that will eventually end up on top).

dough in a 2 qt pyrex pitcher during 2nd rise--smooth side is down
pushing dough toward the middle with hands to cause the loaf to be taller.
The dough that was previously at the bottom of the bowl is smooth, unlike the picture above.

Uses olive oil to lubricate a glass or plastic bowl so the dough can slide out on its own. It’s less of a floury mess than a banneton and gives the crust a wonderful flavor along with a slight sheen.

When the dough has doubled in size, this is how you do it.

Turn the bowl over and let the bread fall out onto the cookie sheet. If it won’t slide out, use a skinny spatula to loosen it on the sides. (Use more oil next time and make sure you don’t miss any spots.)

Now the dough ball will be smooth on top like the picture above. Next, make decorative cuts with a sharp knife or lamé to help steam escape and give your bread some expansion cracks.

If you are unclear about how to do this, be sure to watch the video.

Ingredients and substitutions:

ingredients needed for rye bread

What equipment do I need?

Don’t get me wrong. You can make bread without any of these things. But they are an essential part of my arsenal. These tools are helpful, especially if you want to make bread following this recipe (and many of the other recipes on this website).

Note: You can see all of these things and more in my Amazon store. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (but it doesn’t make your cost any higher).

equipment need to make bread by this recipe
  • BREAD MACHINE: The DOUGH cycle is all I use in this recipe (and almost all of my bread recipes) so you don’t need a fancy machine.
    Note: I don’t recommend doubling this recipe. The dough is dense and sticky. A double recipe would likely over-stress your bread machine.
  • DIGITAL SCALES: Weighing the ingredients precisely, especially the flour, is an important factor in your success with this recipe. If you don’t have scales, see this article about the proper way to measure with measuring cups. In short, don’t be a scooper.
  • SILICONE BAKING MAT: If you plan to make much bread, it’s a good idea to get some of these. Use them to roll out the dough. They keep the floury mess in one small area. If you are making a free form loaf, like Ciabatta, you can leave the shaped dough on the mat (brush off extra flour) and transfer it to a baking sheet.

    Clean-up is a breeze. Either throw the mat in your dishwasher or wipe it off with a wet cloth.
  • WATER SPRAY BOTTLE: Water is important in this recipe. Instead of using flour to handle the stickiness, you will spray your mat or countertop with water, along with your hands. It works like magic.

    No water sprayer? Set a bowl of water next to your work area and sprinkle the water on the mat.
  • BENCH SCRAPER: This is such a handy tool–especially for bread makers. Use it to manipulate dough. In this recipe, you will spray it with water just like you do your hands. These are available in plastic or metal with a nice grippy handle. The latter is my favorite.
  • 2-QUART MEASURING PITCHER: My secret for making a rye loaf that doesn’t burst on top is a glass or plastic bowl that holds at least 1 1/2 quart of liquid. The straighter the sides, the better. Try a 2-quart batter bowl. My favorite is the smallest OXO plastic mixing bowl of the three-piece set.
  • A LAMÉ OR SHARP KNIFE: A lamé is a special tool designed to slash the top of bread. A really sharp knife or a new single blade razor will also do the job.
  • FLAT COOKIE SHEET: Because this is a “free-form” bread, you will want a flat cookie sheet so it will brown evenly all over. If all your cookie sheets have rims, turn one over and place the bread on top.
  • COOLING RACK: Rye bread has a long cooling period. A cooling rack is a must to avoid a steamed bottom. If you are a baker of any kind, you will find many uses for these.

Four ways to make a lighter-textured rye bread:

  1. Use less rye flour compared to wheat flour. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of rye, decrease the rye flour to 1/2 cup and increase the bread flour by 1/2 cup.
  2. Use light rye flour instead of dark rye flour. Dark rye is a whole grain flour. Light rye does not contain the bran or the germ. It’s comparable to the difference between whole grain wheat flour and white flour.
  3. Use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. Generally speaking, all-purpose flour contains less protein and therefore, less gluten than bread flour and whole grain flour.
  4. Add vital wheat gluten for more rising power. Start with 2 tablespoons to 3 cups of flour. You may have to add some additional water–start with 1 tablespoon at a time.
comparison of rye bread with gluten and without gluten
Left: Rye bread without gluten Right: Rye bread with gluten

I was specifically looking for a loaf of hearty and dense rye bread for this recipe, so I didn’t add any extra gluten.

How to make and shape this Hearty Rye Loaf recipe:

mixing biga in the bread machine
1. Combine water, rye flour, and yeast the day before.
what the biga should look like the next morning
2. The biga should be bubbly the next morning.
rye dough that is too wet
3. After kneading, the dough will be elastic but sticky. Don’t be tempted to add more flour.
perfectly kneaded rye bread
4. Let dough finish rising until the end of the DOUGH cycle or when it has doubled in size.
transferring dough from bread machine to the wet work surface
5. Wet your work surface and your hands. Remove dough from the pan onto a wet surface.
shaping dough into a ball
6. Knead dough into a ball. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Then use your fingertips to mash dough into a flat circle pressing out all air bubbles as you go.
folding after pressing out the air bubbles
8. Fold edges of the dough toward the center and press down to stick. Keep repeating this until you have a round ball.
dough ball is prepared for second rise
9. Drop the rounded dough ball into a well-greased bowl with the smooth side down.
allowing the dough to rise
10. Cover and allow to rise until double the original size. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
releasing the dough from the bowl
11. Turn the bowl of risen dough upside down onto a prepared cookie sheet.
dough dropping out of proofing container
12. Be patient and allow the dough to drop onto the cookie sheet. Loosening the dough from the sides of the bowl with a thin spatula may help to release the dough.
using a serrated knife to make slits
13. Make quick, sharp, and deep slashes across the top of the loaf.
14. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 200˚F.
Baked Rye bread cooling on a rack
15. After baking, move the baked rye bread to a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

What is the next bread recipe you would like to see?

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Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.

p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at

Hope to see you again soon!

Baked loaf of bread-machine rye bread

Hearty Bread-Machine Rye Bread

This dense and hearty rye bread boule is flavored with molasses and caraway seed. Make a "sponge" the night before in your bread machine, then add the remaining ingredients the next day. This simple step will give you a better texture and more complex flavor.
Paula Rhodes
4.67 from 9 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Additional Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Bread
Servings 10 slices



  • cup cool water - 5.4 oz or 160 gr
  • ½ cup dark rye flour - 60 gr
  • ¼ cup all-purpose unbleached flour - 30 gr
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast - 4 gr


  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon water - 4.5 ounces or 135 gr
  • 2 teaspoons molasses (not blackstrap) - 14 gr
  • ½ cup rye flour - 60 gr
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour - 240 gr
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds - 5 gr
  • 1 ½ teaspoon table or sea salt - 9 gr
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil - 8 grams

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 egg large - 50 grams


Mixing the sponge:

  • Add all ingredients for the sponge to the bread machine pan in the order given.
  • Choose the DOUGH cycle. Let the sponge mix for about 5 minutes. Use a small spatula to clean the flour out of the corners. Unplug the machine and let sit overnight or for at least 10-12 hours.

Mixing the dough:

  • Add all remaining ingredients (but the olive oil) to the sponge you already mixed the day before. Select the DOUGH cycle. After about 5 minutes, add the olive oil.
  • When the DOUGH cycle completes, pull the rye bread dough out of the machine onto a surface you have sprayed with water. (I like to use a silicone baking sheet so I can also bake on it, then throw it into the dishwasher.)
  • Wet your hands and manipulate the dough to form a rough ball. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Press the dough into a large circle approximately 9-10 inches in diameter being careful to push out all the air bubbles.
  • Fold the edges to the middle and press to secure. Keep folding the dough toward the middle to make a tight ball.
  • Use olive oil to thoroughly and completely coat the inside of a round (1 1/2 to 2-quart) container with high and steep sides. (More details are provided in the post itself)
  • Place the ball of dough with the smooth side down into the oiled container.
  • Preheat oven to 425˚F
  • Cover loaf with a tea towel or a cheap plastic shower cap. Allow to rise until double the original size.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with a silicone mat, a piece of parchment paper, or sprinkle with semolina or finely-milled cornmeal.
  • Remove cover and use a thin spatula to carefully loosen dough from the edges of the bowl
  • Carefully turn the bowl upside down and let bread gently fall onto a cookie sheet. The smooth side of the ball should now be showing.
  • (Optional) Whisk one egg in a small bowl. Use it to glaze the loaf. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Work quickly.
  • Make three to five slashes across the top with a clean single-edge razor blade or a very sharp knife. They should be at least 1/2-inch deep. Repeat the same slashes if necessary to make the slits deep enough.
  • Without delay, place bread into a hot oven before the dough has a chance to spread out. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a quick-read thermometer reads 200˚F and the rye loaf is nicely browned.
  • After taking the loaf out of the oven, remove it to a cooling rack to cool for a minimum of 1 hour. This is an important step. Slicing into the loaf before it is cooled can result in a gummy texture.



To bake in a pan:
Use a non-stick 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350˚F.


Serving: 1gCalories: 162kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 5gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 359mgPotassium: 115mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 26IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 2mg
Keyword bread, bread machine, rye bread, sandwich bread
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating


Saturday 22nd of January 2022

I just made this bread for the second time, OUTSTANDING. The crust is so crunchy, the inside is as soft as a babys ass. I just love it. I recieved a breadmaker for christmas and i've been tearing it up, but this by far the best. If you havn't made a pumpernickle yet please statrt soon.Sorry ain't checked yet lazy ass.


Saturday 22nd of January 2022

Great to hear from you, Mark. High five on the rye bread. I haven't made pumpernickle yet. I need to work that into my schedule.


Saturday 16th of October 2021

Hi Paula,

Just cut into this loaf of Rye bread! YUM! Thank you, Paula! This reminds me of the Bohemian Rye we used to get (can't anymore). It's gonna be good for the corned beef panini tonight.

Thank you!


Saturday 16th of October 2021

I wish I was eating dinner at your house, Cherie. Those paninis sound delicious! Thanks for your affirming words.


Tuesday 13th of April 2021


Thank you so much for a great recipe, and the help you offered to make this the best rye bread I’ve ever eaten. I made it in a bread pan, and it came out perfectly sized for sandwiches. I added 1/4 cup rye flour and reduced the white flour by the same amount. I also added 2 tsps of gluten to ensure a full rise. I did have to bake it for over 40 minutes to get the proper temperature, but the biggest problem was waiting 3 hours to taste it. 😁


Tuesday 13th of April 2021

High Five!!!! I'm so glad it turned out good for you.


Tuesday 13th of April 2021

This turned out to be the best rye bread I’ve ever had. The texture is firm, and the rye taste outstanding! I switched a 1/4 cup of rye flour to make it more rye tasting, which worked out perfectly.


Friday 9th of April 2021

The video shows adding all the ingredients to the bread machine and then running the dough cycle. The recipe calls for a sponge, let sit overnight, and then run the cycle with all the ingredients. Is there much difference in taste and consistency if you do it either way. Letting a sponge sit overnight isn’t a problem, and I would guess the preferred method for taste, but curious of the results using each method.


Saturday 10th of April 2021

Hi Al,

Yes, you are right on all counts. I inadvertently left that part out of the video. What was I thinking? I'll blame it on Covid and the cabin fever that was going on back then.

Your bread will be better if you make the sponge the night before. However, you may not care about having the "best" so it's OK to skip it. I always make the sponge because it is hardly any trouble--just have to think of doing it. I plan to redo the video.